Dilmah leads the world in conservation action

This tea company thinks globally and acts locally

by Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

First published in: Herbal-teas Blog


I have recently so much enjoyed my Dilmah tea that I started reading the box details. Although I did have other things to do, I was attracted to the claim that: “Dilmah is the world’s first truly ethical tea”, a strong claim to make. I went investigating (as one does when you sit down with a brew).

By the end of my investigation I chose to become a website ‘Fan’ of Dilmah tea and I have a trip to the Sri Lankan Dilmah tea factory and one of its amazing local initiatives on my Bucket List.

So what drew me to take that action? Here are some of the things I found out about Dilmah, along with links for you to go see for yourself.

Social responsibility to share profits

The Dilmah Tea Company is based in Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon. It uses only tea grown in Sri Lanka, and is NOT a blend. Unlike major tea monopolies, which purchase tea from anywhere at the cheapest price, the Dilmah company produces, packages and sells directly to supermarket chains in order to keep the profits in Sri Lanka.

“By supplying direct, profits are retained in Sri Lanka and are shared with workers, (and) the wider community.” (Quote from the packaging material) So where is the proof? First stop the M. J. F. Foundation ()

“The MJF Charitable Foundation was established by Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando, to fulfill his commitment to make his family business a matter of human service.”

Download e-book to read how this Foundation has fulfilled that commitment. The list is extensive and focused on local people.

Social responsibility to economic development

This video sums up Merrill J Fernando’s commitment to social responsibility

As well as the Foundation, Dilmah contributes to local environmental causes. On the Dilmah Conservation website they spell this out very clearly: http://www.dilmahconservation.org/

“In Sri Lanka, the private sector is the engine of growth. The combination of sustaining high economic growth rates and improving the lives of marginalised communities whilst not compromising on environmental conservation and restoration is one of the biggest challenges facing the country and the Asia region as a whole.” (Quote from the Dilmah Conservation’s Business @ Biodiversity Platform)

Environmental responsibility

The company has initiated setting up Conservation’s Business @ Biodiversity Platform. This organisation focuses on conservation and environmental concerns like:

  • Ecosystems Restoration
  • Culture & Indigenous Communities
  • Environmental Education & Awareness
  • Inland Species conservation – elephants, butterflies and frogs
  • Marine Species Conservation

“The demand for resource-intensive agricultural produce is rapidly increasing in Sri Lanka. The Dilmah Conservation Sustainable Agriculture Research Centre promotes healthy living by producing healthy vegetables and fruit using only organic composting techniques and zero application of agro chemicals.” The focus is on providing fruit and vegetables off a typical family-owned piece of land in a sustainable way.

Peace and healing responsibility

By far the greatest humanitarian intention of the Dilmah MJF Charitable Foundation is its work to unify the communities of the North and East that were so affected by the civil war with the Tamil Tigers trying to over-throw the government. The war caused significant hardships for the population, environment and the economy of the country, with an estimated 80,000–100,000 people killed.

The aftermath, as in all civil wars, has left people with disabilities, under-currents of anger and feelings of disempowerment. The Charitable Foundation, however, tackles this in practical ways, engaging the communities in initiatives that improve their daily lives.

“Reconciliation has been identified as an important factor in the quest for lasting peace in Sri Lanka. Coming out of a protracted three-decade long war, reconciliation between communities is of paramount interest in the face of rifts and misunderstandings. Dilmah Conservation, having recognised this need for reconciliation among the younger generations, initiated an environmental programme to build a common Sri Lankan identity.”

Spread the word for others to follow

Go see for yourself and become a ‘Fan’ too. In my mind, the company truly deserves to be applauded for its forward social, ethical and environmental forward thinking. Bravo! May other Western companies take a lead from Dilmah.



by Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

‘Old’ seems a long way from now

A message to the ‘youngs’

If you‘re an under-25 year-old reading this blog, then ‘old’ will seem a long way from now. Time, however, has a way of taking you by surprise and age creeps up, robbing you of “what I want to do’s” and the “if only I had started then” regrets. There are some things I wish I’d known and heeded early in life.

When our 14 year old daughter was earning extra cash working in a rest home she once told us that she never wanted to be ‘old’; instead she planned to kill herself before she got there. It could have been laughable except at that stage in her youthfulness she thought ‘old’ was anything over 30. And even though she feared getting ‘old’ she continued to behave in ways that harmed her body. Now as a happily married mother of two, she’s much more protective of her body and values things like good nutrition and even ‘old’ people like us!

Start good habits now

There are several ways you can avoid looking old and they have nothing to do with the expensive options being offered in a jar to panicking Baby Boomers (that’s basically anyone who’s retired). Most of the methods of holding onto your youthful looks start now – aged under-20. Here a few things I wish I’d learned early and followed.

The underlying premise to ‘youth’ is that staying young is to do with:

  1. What you put into your body
  2. What you put onto your body
  3. Your state of mind

What you put into your body

Your diet

What you eat affects your body, bones and skin, all of which affects the length of time you continue to look youthful. A ‘good diet’ is not about an eating regime that restricts your food intake in order to make you lose weight. Fad diets to make you fit into a Prom dress can deplete your body of good nutrition. Fad or bad diets can put stress on internal organs and lead to diseases of aging, like diabetes. If you follow a ‘good diet’ you will limit your intake of bad fats and high sugar foods (including most orange juices) and increase your intake of raw food and grains.

If you think you’ve got years ahead of you in which to change your habits – think again. The longer you stay in a bad habit of eating the harder it is to break and the more damage it stores up for when you’re ‘old’.

Here are some websites that give you real advice about eating regimes:

Health Talks with Dr Diana Galbraith

Active Beat – Daily Health News



Not sure what it’s like where you live, but there’s a lot of pressure around here on young people to drink themselves silly when they’re out on the town. The belief is that you’re not having a good time unless you get drunk. Trouble with that theory is you’re unlikely to remember anything about the time you had out unless you’re the sober driver. And the sober driver’s memory will be of helping their drunken mates into the car to take them home.

Absolute facts about drinking:

  • If you get drunk and drive you’re highly likely to have an accident and maim yourself and others – suffering pain makes you look older.
  • If you get drunk and take sexual risks, you’re highly likely to catch a sexually transmitted disease or, if you’re a girl, get pregnant. Children will put creases your face, mark my words.
  • If you drink excessively your brain cells die and your liver function is compromised.
  • If you drink excessively, your skin is affected and you’re likely to look older later in life. Think of any alcoholics you know. Do they look youthful?

Don’t take my word for it; take a look at the website of: The Foundation for a Drug-free World

But then you know all that don’t you? The sensible ones among you already avoid excessive drinking. You’re the ones who won’t be affected by the loss of a youthful face.

What you put on your body


Glamour is where girls approaching adulthood what to aim. That means wearing high heels that lengthen the look of your legs and make you appear taller in proportion to your body weight.


But take a look at this video created last year to show how wearing high heeled shoes long term can deform our feet:




No matter what the great icons of the make-up industry tell you, long term your skin does not benefit from make-up. Anything smeared on your face that blocks your pores from breathing, sweating and healing, cannot be good for you. You may start looking older than you actually are. That might seem like the aim of the game when you’re under 25; but when you’re over-35 the reverse is what you want. Okay, you could be like our ex-14 year-old whose cure for age was suicide, but I can assure you that when you reach 30 or 35 life is so full it’s worth living.

All makeup and moisturizers actually do some damage to your skin and with prolonged use wrinkles and other signs of ageing may be visible. Try the healthy glow of clean skin or at the most, use natural vegetable oils to protect your skin from the harsh elements of weather. To protect yourself from sun damage: You can make your own sunscreens without harsh chemicals. And cover-up with light cotton clothes, sunhat and sunglasses.

Take a look at this webpage to find out more about the effects of wearing make-up: List Crux

Your state of mind

Your state of mind is affected by many things; some of which you will not be able to control. Nowadays there are many courses, books and websites that support people to look at the positive in life. That might be hard to achieve, especially if you’re still affected by the hormones of puberty. However, making a habit of looking on the positive does change your state of mind, and is at the bottom of many therapies aimed at promoting mental health. A face that relaxes into a smile is far prettier and youthful than one that relaxes into a scowl. Our faces betray what’s going on inside. Positive thoughts, an enjoyment of life, and eagerness to learn radiate health.

If you’re feeling depressed about what’s happening in your life, take action now. Schools and other organisations exist to support people going through difficult times. Contacting them does NOT mean you’ve failed; quite the opposite. Getting help shows you have a level of maturity that will serve you well in adulthood.


The habits of life you start now can be carried into a healthy lifestyle for any age. You just have to distrust the promises of youthfulness attached to any product. Do your own research, but make sure what you’re reading about is written by someone without a financial benefit in convincing you to buy.

And in case you’re still afraid of growing old, let me assure you sweet young people, ‘old’ is always at least 20 years older than whatever you are currently. So maybe 30 could be ‘old’?

– ‘Grandma Sylvawood’ – Amazon Author

How to relieve bites, stings and itches naturally

Nowadays we have become used to reaching for pharmacy solutions to relieve the symptoms of insect bites and stings and other itchy, allergic reactions to poisonous plants. The plant world, however, has its own relief often growing nearby. The following information is based on experience in New Zealand, but some plants are endemic across the world.

Where I grew up was a coastal region of New Zealand, and the plants in our garden were mainly natives or vegetables. In my father’s eyes flowers were frivolous. That did not mean we were without flowers, because our natives had their own season for blooming, often small or insignificant flowers. The flowers, however, were not the prized part of the bushes or trees.

Ngaio and Titoki – natural insect bite relief

ngaio  Titoki

Native coastal lover, Ngaio (left), and bush based Titoki are both useful insect repellent

One tree I especially remember was a seedling my Dad planted when I was a toddler. That was a ngaio tree. Our parents warned us away from the berries or putting the leaves, which are poisonous, into our mouths. The young leaves or shoots, however, have the beneficial effect of being an effective sandfly and mosquito repellent. If you’re camping by the sea, and have forgotten the repellent, then try crushing and rubbing the leaves over exposed skin.

In the bush, identify a Titoki tree and gather some leaves. Crush the leaves and pack down hard into a jar. Pour over some ordinary cooking oil (use olive oil if you have it) and allow to stand for an hour or two. Rub over your skin to deter the biters. If you are bitten, both Ngaio and Titoki help sooth the itches.

Dock reliefs itches and stings


If you haven’t managed to avoid a bite or sting then search the garden for a dock.

Dock, in various forms, grows in many parts of the world. Most gardeners, however, are constantly trying to eradicate it as the plant propagates easily by seed (up to 40 seeds per season) and root. If you try to dig it out you must get every part of the root as each piece is capable of growing into a new plant.

Like many weeds, dock leaves do have some merits: when rubbed on stinging nettle rash or insect bites they can relieve the itchy symptoms. Again crush the leaves so that the juices run. You can also create a ‘poultice’ from chopped leaves and bind it onto the bite area with a bandage.

Other common natural insect repellents

Other common plants to repel and relieve insect bites include:

  • Pennyroyal mint (also said to work against fleas)
  • Feverfew
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Marigolds

The trick with all natural remedies to try them out as a repellent on a small area and stop if your skin reacts.

Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Going natural with plant oils

Natural healing remedies often get bad press from the pharmaceutical industry. But one age-old plant oil has found acceptance, even among mainstream pharmacies – that’s Arnica used externally for reducing swelling and bruising.


In New Zealand, I found that Naturo Pharm’s Arnica Cream happily sits on the shelves of pharmacies, alongside Voltaren Gel. The clinical pharmacology of Voltaren Gel is said to work  by inhibiting “the enzyme, cyclooxygenase (COX), an early component of the arachidonic acid cascade, resulting in the reduced formation of prostaglandins, thromboxanes and prostacylin. It is not completely understood how reduced synthesis of these compounds results in therapeutic efficacy.” That’s a bit of an act of faith!

Nothing natural in chemicals is there?

The chemical composition of Voltaren is explained in Wikipedia as: “The name “diclofenac” derives from its chemical name: 2-(2,6-dichloranilino) phenylacetic acid. Diclofenac was originally developed by Ciba-Geigy (now Novartis) in 1973.”

Naturo Pharm says their “range of natural homoeopathic remedies will help boost your body’s natural responses to a wide spectrum of life’s ailments and injuries.” Arnica Cream in particular is a “homoeopathic remedy Arnica Montana … manufactured from the herb commonly known as Leopards Bane. … Arnica assists the body’s natural response to shock, injury, fatigue and bruising and aids normal muscle recovery after strenuous exercise or exertion.” That’s also an act of faith!

Can chemicals and natural plant oils come together?

Having used both, I know that both work. So why is the remedy based on plant oils considered more ‘quackery” than chemical medicine? And is the attitude toward older remedies changing?

The reality is that natural plant oils are chemicals too. They have not had the scrupulous double-blind testing that chemical medicines have in recent decades. Instead, they have stood the test of time as centuries of wise men and women have passed on their knowledge of which plants work for which ailments.

The question is: Which is a better safeguard? Centuries of use or a double-blind test?

The question is also: Is western government’s insistence on double-blind testing a con pulled by chemical pharmaceutical companies to get rid of centuries-old natural remedies?

My favourite plant oils

I have a few plant oils I like to use and I find effective in treatment of minor ailments. I am currently using A.M.O’s Skin Treat Healing Cream that contains Arapawa Island’s manuka oil. New Zealand Manuka oil is a close cousin or Australian Tea Tree and probably of tea tree oils across the globe. To quote the advertising for the cream, the “blend contains manuka honey, red manuka and white manuka essential oils, essential oils of peppermint, lavender, orange, apricot, almond, and wheat germ in a rich and moisturising cream base.”


Manuka and Lavender flowers used for their plants oils in natural medicines

The cream is treating a skin irritation and is working. It’s said to be able to treat tinea, but I have already discovered how effective tea tree plant oil is on tinea (Athlete’s Foot). I use it daily in olive oil at a rate of 10 drops to a tablespoon of olive oil to cure and keep my feet clear or tinea. I add to the plant oil mix bergamot and rosewood purely for their pleasant smells, but you could add other oils, like lavender because of its “antiviral, bacterial and anti-inflammatory powers”.

Going natural with plant oils might be an act of faith, however, given the track record of double-blind tested medicines that have caused people harm in recent decades, my money’s on the natural remedies supported by centuries of people testing. I’ll still be aware of potential side-effects because everyone is different. But then, that’s taking responsibility for my own health and well-being.

Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

A Medium opens my eyes to faith healing

It wasn’t the usual thing I would choose to go to, but when a Medium/faith healer of television fame arrived in our town of Takaka (permanent population around 4000) I was tempted. I arrived to sit in old theatre seats feeling physically uncomfortable. My back was aching (regular occurring aftermath of a back injury), I had a sore knee and a painfully uncomfortable foot from a stress injury.

Pain is cured

I could have offered myself as a healing guinea pig, but the sceptic in me kept me silent and on my seat. However, I cannot give a rational explanation for what happened when the Medium offered to fix the sore knee of a member of the audience. She told us that anyone experiencing knee pain could allow the spirits in the room to help them heal.

As the session progress I felt the sensation of strong tingling passing rapidly up and down my leg through my knee. I asked whatever was doing this to also fix the pain in my back. When I left the theatre I no longer had any pain in my knee or back, although my foot is still a work in progress. The pain in my back and knee has not returned, almost a week later.

Faith healing

You could say that having been told we would be healed, I believed and was healed of the pain. And I’d be happy to agree. But isn’t that faith healing? Whether it happened from outside who-knows-what forces, or the forces of my own mind, the pain went – suddenly. That’s my version of faith healing.

What I need to learn now, is how to turn on faith healing whenever I need it, and not wait until someone who convinces me of their powers comes along and gives me faith.

Have others experiences of healing in this way?

Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Could Round-up be killing more than weeds?

Evidence could be mounting that Monsanto’s wonder weed killer could be having a detrimental effect on human beings.

Research published in the International Journal of Toxicology3 in January (2014) reveals that “glyphosate-based formulations like Roundup pose a threat to human health through cytotoxicity and oxidative effects. Such formulations were also found to be lethal to human liver cells.”

The article goes on to state: “You may think you are safe if you only eat organic produce but nothing could be further from the truth as most of the glyphosate contaminated crops are fed to animals. This means you also need to get organic meat and eggs. Also, beware you CANNOT wash glyphosate off your produce as it is actively integrated into every cell in the plant and impossible to wash off.” (See more of the article here)

Dr Stephanie Seneff has been conducting research at MIT for over three decades. Her research has uncovered significant correlations between the increased use of Glyphosate – the active ingredient in the herbicide, Round-up.

For the past 30 years, Dr Seneff has been passionate about teasing out potential causes of autism, after seeing what it was like for a close friend whose son was diagnosed. She points out the clear correlations between increased glyphosate use over recent years (the result of genetically engineered crops causing weed resistance, necessitating ever-larger amounts to be used) and skyrocketing autism rates.

This is the comparative graph of the rise in autism and the use of the herbicide that Dr Seneff’s research has revealed:


She points out that the rate of autism has risen so quickly, there can be no doubt that it has an environmental cause. “Our genes simply cannot mutate fast enough to account for the rapid rise we’re now seeing. The latest statistics released by the CDC on March 20 show that 1 in 50 children in the US now fall within the autism spectrum2,3, with a 5:1 boy to girl ratio. Just last year the CDC reported a rate of 1 in 88, which represented a 23% increase since 2010, and 78% since 2007.”

If you listen to te video interview you will hear that exposure to Glyphosate  either directly or in our food can cause:

  1. Gut dysbiosis (imbalances in gut bacteria, inflammation, leaky gut, food allergies such as gluten intolerance)
  2. Disrupted sulfur metabolism / sulfur and sulfate deficiency

Her research and related articles on the website Mercola.com make fascinating but horrifying reading.

An eco-friendly option to try

From Wendyl’s Green Goddess newsletter comes this welcome recipe. The ingredient should be readily available anywhere in the world, but I have added the contact for New Zealand readers to buy from Wendyl’s website:

Wendyl’s Wild Weedkiller
1kg tub of soda ash
Warm water to make up to 3 litres

Pour the soda ash into a bucket or your weed sprayer then top up with warm water until you have three litres. Shake to dissolve and then spray. Make sure the foliage is quite wet and please do this on a sunny day. You don’t want rain to wash it off. Leave to dry and you will notice a browning off of the plant within hours.
Click here to buy 1kg tubs of soda ash on our website or pop into our shop at 515 Great North Rd, Grey Lynn.