Even in this day and age, moorlands have lost none of their magic or their mystery. They also contain a valuable medical raw material that provides protection and warmth.
Warmth, protection and a kind of barrier function
The peat extracts contained in Dr. Hauschka Moor Lavender Calming Body Oil, Moor Lavender Calming Bath Essence and WALA Solum Oil are gently warming and relaxing – a protective shell against external influences and a must for those prone to coldness and weather sensitivity. Combined with natural essential lavender oil, the product gives off a soft fragrance that paves the way for a good night’s sleep.
Moor (Peat) collection…
North of Bremen lies our destination – one of the largest continuous moorlands in the north-west of Germany. At the heart of the highmoor, we want to cut peat for later use in our medicines and skin care. Sound crazy? Perhaps it does initially. But peat has special properties that we have been harnessing for decades.
The Team from WALA/Dr. Hauschka Production are assisted in their efforts by a local farmer whose tractor we now follow along bumpy paths into the dense thicket, the mist still hanging heavy before our eyes. A lone cow eyes us suspiciously. Presumably it is a rare occurrence for so many people to troop by her remote meadow at the same time.
For centuries on end, the highmoor and its surrounding area had a cool, damp climate with high humidity and rainfall. Water accumulated in the soil, especially in the upper layer. Rather than decomposing, dead plant matter turned into peat owing to the lack of oxygen and the highly acidic nature of the constantly damp substrate – a process that bears witness to seclusion and stagnation. The moor grew constantly during this time, albeit very slowly – around one millimetre per year. Finally, it even extended above ground water level, hence the name ‘highmoor’.
The peat-cutting site looks rather unspectacular at first – a mud hole lined with young birches and pines, heather and mushrooms. Between the branches, spiderwebs glisten in the dull morning light. It is freezing cold. The men have to dig around two metres deep. In spite of the cold, there are beads of perspiration on their foreheads. “Good thing we had a hearty breakfast”, jokes Walter. As they work away, the men’s spades dig with a smacking sound into the ground, which is heavy and moist, greasy and black. A fine acidic smell wafts up from the site and the only sound is the laboured breathing of our colleagues working tirelessly with their implements. Otherwise muffled silence holds sway. The mist has swallowed up the world around us.
The farmer is already standing in the pit, some six feet deep. “The ground is starting to look lighter here”, he says, casting an expert eye on the work in progress. This is the layer of peat that we need. It is light brown and fibrous, containing pieces of conserved wood and plant parts. Six stainless steel barrels are lifted down from the tractor trailer. For the moment, they are still light, but once filled with peat, each weighs around 70 kilograms.
However, before we head for home, microbiologist Simon from WALA Basic Research, has another job to do: spade in hand, he jumps down into the pit and takes samples of the soil, which he then packs and labels with the utmost care. As he explains: “The bog has not only conserved many plant parts but also the pollen from the vegetation of the time. Based on this, we can determine the age of each of the layers of soil.” His initial estimation? “Between 3,000 and 5,000 years”, he says with a smile, “but when we have analysed it, we will have an even better idea what age the soil comes from and what vegetation turned into peat here over the millennia.”
Nadia from WALA’s Development of Medicines department views the lively scene with mixed feelings: “Normally, we don’t take so many people with us to cut peat.” Usually, it is just Walter and herself. After all, the peace and quiet of the moors and respect for nature are of great importance for WALA when extracting the valuable raw material.
This same peace and quiet is also central to the therapeutic use of moor extract – together with warmth, protection and a kind of barrier function. In order to produce the extract, WALA employees mix the peat together with purified water and treat it using the rhythmic light process. At sunrise and sunset, the mixture is taken to the light and stirred. After seven days, it is pressed and then further processed together with extracts of horse chestnut and field horsetail. This is done in different ways depending on whether the extract is to be used later on for preparations intended for internal or external application.
In this way, the lifeless peat from the cool, damp and secluded moorlands is transformed into a vibrant, medically effective substance. Among other things, it may help to strengthen liver functions, invigorate the body’s fluid processes, stimulate kidney activity. It also helps to relieve pains, to form a protective layer of warmth and to provide protection to those prone to weather sensitivity who are fixated by external stimuli.
Text: Elisabeth Menzel
Photos: Jigal Fichtner
Dr. Hauschka Quality
- Truly natural and organic skin care and make-up, certified to NATRUE standards
- Free from synthetic chemical fragrances, dyes and preservatives
- Free from mineral oils, parabens, silicone and PEGs
- Wherever possible, all raw materials come from controlled organic or biodynamic (Demeter certified) cultivation and are recovered under fair conditions
- We don’t test on animals, we test on happy to help out human volunteers
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