Ibiza's natural pharmacy

Most visitors to Ibiza have been known to refer to the island as magic, but what many people don’t know is the abundance of magical herbs and medicinal plants that grow wild in the lush forests of this Mediterranean paradise. It wasn’t all that long ago that going to the pharmacy in Ibiza meant taking a walk through the woods and collecting the things needed to treat one's ailments. Of course, things change and now Ibiza’s old town is peppered with the famous flashing green crosses that denote a farmacia, but if you look hard enough, you can still find wise practitioners who draw on the ancient knowledge and wild ingredients of the island to heal, such as Irene Apolo of Laire. Today, she combines the wisdom of the past of with her studies in Ayurvedic therapies to bring these natural methods back into everyday use. 

"Irene shares her knowledge of Ibiza’s healing herbs through several interactive experiences."

Irene’s journey into plant medicine started in her twenties, when she was faced with an illness that required consistent medication. Not comfortable with what the conventional medical world was telling her, she started to research alternatives. Eventually, she met up with a naturopath who was able to treat her condition with herbs. It was the opening to what would become a lifelong journey and would eventually lead Irene to leave her established career in Human Resources to embark in a new direction. She travelled extensively through her Extremadura homeland and greater Spain, seeking the elderly women in small villages who retained the ancient knowledge of the plant world. Time spent in a Maya village in Mexico further solidified her knowledge as well as studies in Ayurveda and other modalities.

These days Irene can be found either collecting wild herbs in the forests of Ibiza, concocting oils, lotions and plant treatments, attending to her small garden of medicinal herbs or running workshops to introduce people to the principles and power of plants. “Ibiza is full of medicinal plant,” she says. “Much of it is native to the island and what cannot grow here always has a local substitute. You have everything here.” There are many ways to harness the power of plants and Irene creates infusions, perfumes, creams, essential oils and distillates making sure that each process coincides with the natural lunar cycle of the plant’s growth.

Irene shares her knowledge of Ibiza’s healing herbs through several interactive experiences. Workshops might include a meditative walk through the forest to identify and collect different herbs for the creation of an infusion, the crafting of a perfume blended to the specific needs of the workshop participants or learning how to establish your own mini medicinal herb garden. Ibiza is overflowing with plant medicine goodness, and Irene focuses on some of the most common ones and their healing benefits.

"ROSEMARY, THE KING OF PLANTS"

Fragrant and delicious rosemary grows in wild abundance across the whole island. “Rosemary connects with all parts of our bodies and minds and is compatible for almost everybody,” says Irene. “I call it the king of plants.” Not only does rosemary taste wonderful in many different dishes, its also high in calcium, iron and vitamin B-6. Irene notes this native herb’s anti-inflammatory properties making it an excellent treatment for muscle pain as well as an immune and circulatory booster. Research has shown rosemary to be successful in promoting concentration and memory retention as well. Used in ancient times to purify and cleanse the body, mind soul and home, rosemary is indeed the king of all Ibiza plants.

The lavender that grows all over Ibiza is lavanda dentate, named for the tiny teeth that run along the edges of the pale, slender leaves. “Lavender is the partner of rosemary,” explains Irene. “It also grows in abundance in Ibiza and has so many uses, in addition to being a lovely fragrance.” Medicinally, this aromatic flower is used to treat anxiety, fungal infections, eczema, insomnia and hair loss. It's an excellent mood booster and also very good for menstrual pain. On a spiritual level, lavender is an opener that calms and purifies our emotional world releasing energetic blocks and creating a pathway to clear communication with others and the self.

The petite bright calendula flower also grows wild in Ibiza and is a favoured ingredient in many of Irene’s products. Long known as an excellent moisturiser for sensitive skin, calendula is often used for babies in addition to acting as a calming influence for eczema, dermatitis and burns. It connects wonderfully with the female reproductive system and is fantastic for hydrating and firming the skin. Metaphysically, the brightly coloured petals inspire optimism, vitality and dispel negativity.

"Endless herbs are hiding in the hills, valleys and coastal paths of Ibiza."

Known in English as lemon verbena, Irene says Hierba Luisa is a tri-dosha plant – useful for all the Ayurveda combinations. Growing plentifully in Ibiza, the citrus flavoured leaves make delicious hot or cold infusions. Even just leaving a hearty sprig in your water jug provides a refreshing and healthy beverage. “I use this plant a lot,” says Irene. “It's flavourful and excellent for the digestion.” The extracted essential oil contains high levels of anti-oxidant components and when the leaves are used in an infusion, the benefits include metabolic stabilisation. There’s also evidence that it protects muscles during exercise, acts as an anti-inflammatory and boosts immunity. Spiritually, it is said to help break old habits and promote sensuality.

The aromatic Frigola herb is related to the thyme family and is native to Ibiza – often used as a digestive ingredient in the local post-dinner drink hierbas. “Frigola is very powerful and used for the circulatory and digestive system,” explains Irene. “On the skin, it's very relaxing. We call it the Brave Prince because it provides you with courage and optimism.” It’s purifying for both body and home, dispelling negativity and promoting peace. Sage is another abundant wild herb found in Ibiza’s forests and gardens. The sage leaf is reminiscent of a tongue and therefore is frequently used to treat dental issues such as gingivitis and throat infections. It’s also delicious in cooking. Metaphysically, this herb’s connection to the mouth relates to issues of communication and helping you to express your truth.

Hiperico is a powerful herb also known as St. John’s Wort in English and has many uses. “The flowers are yellow,” says Irene. “But when I macerate the petals, the oil transforms into a very deep amber colour.” It’s used for circulatory issues, inflammation, mood enhancement and premenstrual syndrome and menopause. It can even be used to support people when they quit smoking. Because of the depth and strength of this herb, Irene explains that it can have potentially dangerous interactions with other compounds and thus should only be used in consultation with a professional.

"Irene encourages people to start incorporating herbs into their daily diets"

Endless herbs are hiding in the hills, valleys and coastal paths of Ibiza. Irene encourages people to start incorporating herbs into their daily diets and throwing a handful of torn herbs onto a salad or roast vegetables is a delicious and easy way to reap their enormous health benefits. Next time you take a stroll through the gardens of 7Pines Resort Ibiza, or across any part of the island, take a moment to enjoy the abundance of native herbs and flowers along the way. If you would like to find out more about the island’s natural pharmacy, get in touch with our Guest Services team to discuss taking part in one of Irene’s workshops.

E: guestrelations.ibiza@7Pines.com                             T: +34 971 195 200

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