The predecessor to Tortuga lotion was born in my grandmothers kitchen 100 years ago. I grew up with this ancient remedy as a cure-all that saved me from cuts, bruises, dog bites, scrapes and even being jilted by a girlfriend or two.
My grandmother was an herbalist, naturopath and alchemist before Adele Davis was born. I remember her picking weeds (herbs) and making potions, concoctions, soups, salves and rubs. She was always experimenting with something that she would try on herself and us kids.
I am writing this article to explain the origin of Tortuga. Tortuga has always been one of our most popular products. Recently we have seen a real surge in interest. This has come mainly through social networks of people trying to find solutions to skin disorders that western medicine have not been able to solve. Many people have written to us telling of remarkable turn-arounds in their conditions. For me, the credit goes to my grandmother’s bubbling caldrons. I must pay homage to her for what she taught me.
When we started Keys, I needed a lotion to complement our Island Rx. Wendy, my wife, suffered such disorders from all the prescription topicals in her post-Melanoma recovery. She needed something to soothe here skin and to aid her recovery. It had to work and it had to be benign because her skin was so sensitive.
When I began to develop Tortuga, I had to sit down and dig deep into my memory about how my grand mother made the famous lotion that she gave to friends that needed skin remedies.
In her old kitchen, she had a very old gas stove. On the range top between the burners on both sides was a pilot light flame that burned all the time as the igniter for the burners. Atop that pilot light was a small sauce pan that stayed warn and thickened over time until a spoonful was scooped out for a neighbor or one of us kids to use.
When I was challenged to recall what went into the lotion to make Tortuga, I struggled to remember. Even though I helped her to make the mixture from scratch and added ingredient periodically, as a small child I did not take too much stock I what went in the mixture. I even tried memory tools and even a form of hypnosis to recall the ingredient list.
As spooky or strange as it might seem, I awoke one night and literally saw a piece of paper in a dream with the ingredients and proportions written on it. Luckily it was profound enough that I sat up and wrote it down from the dream I had. In a funny sort of way, my realization is that all of the products I designed came to me in a similar fashion. So, maybe I am not the true designer of Keys products. They may just be all from my grandmother. What I can say for sure is that I implemented the final design based on the best ingredients available today with an eye on making it even better than my grand mothers brew.
With the list in hand, I analyzed what each ingredient contained and what it was know for. I even visited the Library of Congress in DC to find similar remedies that were distributed by the many wagons that crossed the US in the late 1800’s. What I discovered was that many ingredients that she used were and are being experimented with today in skin cancer vaccines. Needless to say, I was amazed and continue to be amazed at her insights and to this day, I am dumbfounded at how these concoctions really work. The tag line we use, “Ancient Remedies and Modern Technologies,” says it all and is my way of acknowledging my partner is design…my grandmother.
So as a kid, after seeing the ingredient list in my dream, it all came back to me. I remember grinding up carrots, gathering specific weeds and even branches from forsythia bushes. To this day, I can remember the smells as I mashed, chopped and cut various whole ingredients.
How did my grand mother know to use forsythia branches. How did she know that 100 years later that we now know that Betulinic acid is the byproduct. The reality is that she did not know. She just knew that it worked and that was it.
As simple as the ingredient list is for Tortuga is not an indication that it is simple. Looking at Avocado oil, Black Seed Oil, Carrot seed oil, Shea butter, Blood Orange and Rosemary oil are very complex functionality and when combined in a specific ratio achieve real results.
Thanks to all those that wrote in and offered your stories. Now you have my story about my grandmother.