Natural dyes are sometimes referred to as medicinal colors. In an emotional sense, the dynamic and living pigments bring peace of mind and channel the therapeutic benefits of plants. For me, they inspire awareness of my surroundings, ground me in place, and allow reconnection to the child inside that would play with the flowers and run in bare feet. 

Science has also shown the physical benefits of wearing and surrounding oneself with plant colors. These medical benefits include: 

  • A non-toxic alternative to synthetic dyes. Our skin is our largest organ and it is extremely porous. Research shows that our skin absorbs toxins from our environment, including our clothing. Daily exposure to carcinogenic or allergy-producing synthetic dyes can lead to many health problems. 

  • Through these same properties, the skin has the ability to absorb the effects of color extracted from medicinal plants. A lot of natural dye sources are also medicinal. The red color of Madder roots, for example, comes from an anthraquinone. Anthraquinone derivatives are used in antiinflammatory, antimicrobic, antibacterial,  and anti-diuretic drugs.

  • Many plant dyes have also been found to have incredible antimicrobial properties due to the presence of phenol, tannin, and quinone. Pomegranate skins and eucalyptus, for example, have a high concentration of tannins. Additionally, any naturally dyed vegetable fabric mordanted with the aluminum method will also contain tannins. 

  • Tannins are also able to absorb UV light. Materials pre-treated in a tannin solution will make the dyes more resistant to fading. When worn, they also protect the skin against aging, skin _____, and other effects of the sun.

  • It has been observed that alumn-mordanted fabrics also have deodorizing effects (due to their antimicrobial properties). As well as mosquito-repelling qualities. 

Sources:

Antimicrobial effect of natural dyes on some pathogenic bacteria

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