5 natural headache remedies to consider before reaching for the pills
We're all going through a lot of stress and change right now; which means headaches may definitely be a part of your day to day experience. Many of us pop a pill and carry on. But a headache is really your body speaking to you through nerve signals sent from the blood vessels and muscles in your head. Your body might be telling your it's missing something--like a breather, a drink of water or some essential nutrients. Or it might be sensitive to something in your diet or your environment. Headaches can be triggered by a number of things: stress, fatigue, allergies, eyestrain, poor posture, a hangover, low blood sugar, hormones, or gut issues.
So, how can you help your headache go away or prevent one from happening? And are there natural ways that can help? Answer? YES, of course there are! And here are 5 of them to consider trying before you reach for a pill.
1. Get Hydrated
Often a headache is a sign of dehydration. Being dehydrated can cause irritability and interfere with concentration, making symptoms seem even worse. In fact, studies have shown that chronic dehydration is a common cause of tension headaches and migraines. But the good news is that still other studies have shown that drinking water relieves headache symptoms in most dehydrated individuals within 30 minutes to three hours.
So, the first thing to try immediately is to drink a couple of glasses of water or an electrolyte drink. The latter are especially useful in the case of a hangover headache, as alcohol dehydrates. Ideally, choose an electrolyte beverage without artificial colors and sweeteners as these can add to a headache. My favourite electrolyte option is Hydralyte fizzy tabs. Not too sweet, easy to use and carry with you. Bonus: it’s made in Canada, my home on Native land.
To help avoid dehydration headaches, focus on drinking enough water throughout the day and eating water-rich foods. Between the two of these, aim to consume 2 litres a day.
Your headache could be your body telling you it’s low on magnesium, needed for over 600 cellular reactions from making DNA to controlling how your nerves and muscles work. Magnesium keeps your bones strong, heart healthy and blood sugar normal. It also plays a role in your energy levels. In the brain, Magnesium is the gate keeper for NMDA receptors which are involved in healthy brain development, memory and learning. Without enough magnesium, your nerve cells become overstimulated and could be damaged.
Experts think Magnesium helps to block or lower pain chemicals in your brain while keeping blood vessels from tightening. It may also prevent the wave of brain signalling called cortical spreading depression, which produces the visual and sensory experiences that come with a headache, especially a migraine.
And really, who can say no to dark chocolate with nuts?
3. Get Some Exercise
A little bit of exercise can make big difference in decreasing headaches. Going out for a walk or a bike ride can help oxygenate your system which can reduce headache pain. Not to mention releasing an endorphin or two, which help decrease your sensitivity to pain while boosting your mood and increasing your sense of well-being. Exercise and fresh air can also help promote a healthy sleep pattern, which also lowers the stress that can lead to headaches.
Yoga poses and other forms of stretching can help ease tight muscles and tension in the head, neck and shoulders. This, plus flowing breathing, helps ease headache pain. You can go one further by doing deep breathing and other relaxation techniques can help you focus on the present moment and not on your pain body.
My mother swears by Reflexology. Ask her for advice on healing a headache and she’ll tell you to go massage your big toe! And no wonder... because it works.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, Qi (pronounced "chee") is your life force energy. Just as your body has a blood circulation system, so too does it have one for the flow of Qi. When Qi is not flowing smoothly, it may eventually show up as physical symptom, like a headache. So, if you have too much Qi gathering in the head, you might experience intense headache pain. Too little Qi in the head, and you might experience a milder, and achy headache. The key to relieving the pain, intense or mild, is to get the Qi flowing smoothly through your head. That’s where Reflexology comes in.
Reflexology involves the physical stimulation of specific acupressure points on the feet and hands to promote Qi circulation to optimize body function. Reflexology points are thought to be connected to the internal organs, brain, blood circulation, and nerve function by your Qi. Massaging those points on your foot or hand unblocks the flow of Qi and brings the body back into a healthy balance. And yes, you guessed it, one of those pressure point lives in your big toe!
Visit Chinese Reflexology with Hollie Tse for a more detailed explanation of how to give yourself a headache relieving Reflexology massage,
5. Head Massage using Aromatherapy
Plants and their essences have been used for centuries for their medicinal and healing properties. Certain oils are known for their ability to ease aches and relax the accompanying stress. Our Head Balm is formulated with four of these for their headache relieving properties.
Peppermint Essential Oil is known for its cooling properties and ability to help relax muscles and ease pain. It also stimulates circulation, which brings more oxygen to the brain which helps ease tight muscles.
Lavender Essential Oil is commonly used for stress relief and relaxation. There’s also strong evidence that lavender can help treat headaches and migraine.
Eucalyptus Essential Oil will open up the nasal passages, clear the sinuses, and help relieve sinus tension that causes the headaches. If your headaches are caused by sinus issues, eucalyptus essential oils can become your new best friend.
Rosemary Essential Oil has powerful anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain-relieving) properties. It’s been used in folk medicine for hundreds of years for stress reduction, pain relief, and improved circulation, which can all help headaches.
We put those powerful essential oils into a salve which allows for good massagability. The beeswax in the salve does a brilliant job of holding those oils to your head for a longer period of time than a roll on, oil only headache remedy.
Half the magic of our Head Balm is the essential oils; the other half is the massage you give yourself. Rachel Richards walks you through the massage technique in the Video below. Melt some Head Balm between your fingers and thumb in both hands and then follow along with Rachel. Add more Head Balm as needed.
What are your favourite natural headache remedies?
Meet three Free Lion ways to get the benefits of Rosemary Essential Oil
Rosemary’s medicinal history spans centuries and was probably first used for respiratory issues. From Ancient Egypt and during the era of the Black Plague in Europe, Rosemary, with it’s antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, was burned, as sage is in North America, to clear the air of toxins, bacterial or spiritual. In successive years, rosemary was used to treat the Plague, melancholy, gout, epilepsy, arthritis, memory issues, and many other ills. Today, the herb is still used by many as a tea to treat sore throats, head colds; to freshen bad breath; to decrease dandruff and as an astringent in skin care products.
A little Rosemary Legend and Lore
“Where Rosemary flourishes, the goddess rules.”
Rosemary has played a role in our creative and cultural imagination for centuries. The genus name, Rosmarinus, comes from the Latin for “dew” (ros) and “of the sea” (marinus), reflecting the origin story of Venus, the Goddess of Love. Legend has it that she was seeded from the stars when a phallic looking object (apparently from Uranus) fell into her mother’s womb, the Sea. Venus emerged fully formed from the waters, her neck draped with rosemary. It is a gorgeous image of feminine beauty, power and love, born of both the stars and the earth.
The common name Rosemary is derived from the genus name with a twist. Legend has it that Mary, mother of Jesus, while fleeing from Egypt, sheltered one night next to a blossoming rosemary bush. When she threw her blue cape over the bush, its white flowers turned blue.
But Rosemary’s lore doesn’t end there. It is symbolic of enduring love. During the Middle Ages in Europe, a bride would wear rosemary in her headpiece and the groom and guests would wear a sprig as well. The newlyweds would plant rosemary on their wedding day to root their hopes for the future. It was said if a person tapped another with a sprig of rosemary with an open bloom, they would fall in love. Rosemary was also incorporated into love charms, placed under pillows to thwart evil spirits and between the sheets to repel moths. Ancient Greek students hung rosemary on their doors so that its scent wafted into the room, clarifying the mind and promoting better understanding. Legend has it that Rosemary oil was part of an immune system boosting blend that protected grave robbers from getting sick during the plague.
This legend and lore is not just a testimony to the Nature's wisdom and the power of the rosemary plant. Its also a testimony to human creative ingenuity. For this how we have passed on knowledge from generation to generation through myth and belief set in oral myth and beliefs. It's so much easier to remember a good story than dry facts. And really, that's pretty much how we humans got these things done before the advent of the printing press!
Rosemary’s Aromatherapy Benefits
Rosemary Essential Oil is derived from the aromatic herb Rosmarinus Officinalis, a plant belonging to the Mint family, which includes Basil, Lavender, Myrtle, and Sage. Its appearance, too, is similar to Lavender with flat pine needles that have a light trace of silver. Rosemary Rosemary Essential Oil is a heavy weight champ in the world of Aromatherapy, bringing physical benefits through topical application and to the body’s limbic system through inhalation.
Like many of its cousin plants named above, Rosemary Essential Oil helps reduce stress levels and nervous tension, boost mental activity, encourage clarity and insight, relieve fatigue, and support respiratory function. It is used to improve alertness, eliminate negative moods, and increase the retention of information by enhancing concentration. The scent of Rosemary Essential Oil is also known to reduce the level of harmful stress hormones released during tense experiences. Inhaling Rosemary Oil boosts the immune system by stimulating internal anti-oxidant activity, which in turn fights ailments caused by free radicals, and it relieves throat and nasal congestion by clearing the respiratory tract.
We’ve included Rosemary Essential oil in some of Body Therapy products because of the amazing job it does in relieving stress, inflammation and fatigue
Rosemary Goes Straight to Your Head
This is why we’ve included Rosemary Essential Oil as one of the Rock Star Essential Oils in our Head Balm. Half the magic of our Head Balm comes from the essential oils in it. The other half comes from the massage you give yourself when you apply it. Rub a little balm between your fingers and warm it up. Then, in a symmetrical fashion, massage it into both your temples and across the top of your forehead. Take some more Balm between your fingers and warm it up. Now massage this round onto the bone behind each of your ears, starting from the top of the ear to the bottom. This area holds acupressure points that connect to your brain Next, massage the balm into the back of the neck, from just below the hairline to the shoulders. You've just surrounded your head with relieving goodness.
Rosemary Has A Thing for Feet
Rosemary has been proven to stimulate blood flow, which makes it a fabulous ingredient in a revitalizing foot soak. It's also one of the reasons we include it in our Foot Salve. Rosemary delivers the added benefit of helping to relieve soreness in your feet, while tackling bacteria and odor.
Our Foot Salve is a beautifully nourishing blend of Shea Butter, Coconut Oil, Sunflower Oil; Neem Oil, which is fabulous for repairing heel cracks; Peppermint Essential Oil to stimulate circulation; Lavender for its antibacterial and relaxation properties; Tea Tree and Rosemary Oils to tackle bacteria and fungus; and Calendula oil to help skin soothe and repair itself. Apply before bed time and wear cotton socks for maximum impact.
Keeping the Pits Fresh with Rosemary
Rosemary oil may help to reduce tissue inflammation and is thought to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria strains. In addition, Rosemary Essential Oil has proven antioxidant properties. Since oxidative stress can play a role in underarm odor, Rosemary may help. You can find it in our Natural Deodorant. It works with Lavender to kill odor causing bacteria and take down stress levels. Our Natural Deodorant is formulated for application with your fingers. That way you can deodorize and give yourself lymphatics a draining massage at the same time for better health.
What are your favourite ways to use Rosemary Essential Oil?
So you grew a ton of zucchini. Here are three yummy ways to perserve and enjoy them.
End of Summer is Squash time in the garden. There is a proliferation of Zucchini coming off the vines. Rather than eating zukes until we can't look at them anymore, I've been casting about to find different ways to preserve them so that we can enjoy them into the fall, and possibly the winter.
Here are the three things we’ve made this month using zucchinis that turned out fabulously.
I wasn’t sure how this was going to go. Frankly, I was a Dill pickle-making nube. But I had made mango and carrot pickle, Indian style from scratch before . So I went in using that knowledge to mix it up in the recipes I found. Here is what happened:
So, all in all, Zuke Pickle was a big hit!
2 pounds small zucchini (preferably about 4" or 8" long), trimmed and cut into spears
4 tablespoons coarse sea salt or pickling salt, divided
2 teaspoons yellow or brown mustard seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon dill seeds
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
4 star anise clove
12 garlic cloves, halved
4 red jalapeños or Fresno chilies, split lengthwise
2 1/2 cups white wine vinegar
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
We love a good veggie spread at our house. There is nothing more satisfying than a Baba Ganoush or a humus and pita with a Greek salad on the side on a hot summer day. So when we stumbled across Zucchini Butter, we knew this would be a winner. It's basically Zucchini with a bit of butter, garlic and herbs, cooked down to a spreadable consistency. We have been eating it on baguette slices as an appy; in a veggie panini with Havarti cheese; and as a BBQ meat topper. It rocks in a burger or a-top a steak as an alternative to sauteed mushrooms. Added bonus: It keeps up to 2 weeks in the fridge and up to a year in the freezer.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
5 garlic cloves, gently smashed
2 large zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 2 pounds)
5-6 springs of rosemary (thyme and/or oregano is also good here)
1/2 teaspoon finely milled sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI BREAD
This recipe uses grated zucchini, picked fresh from the garden, semi-sweet chocolate chips and cocoa powder. The moisture from the zucchini gives the bread a decidedly brownie-like texture. Not complaining. Not now. Not ever! I’m loving this bread with a scoop of ice cream or a bit of custard and whipped cream. Okay, I’m now officially drooling!
I didn’t use all the zuke I grated so I measured out two cups, the amount needed for a loaf of Zuke bread, bagged and froze it for later use. This way we can keep enjoying Chocolate Zucchini Bread right through the fall, possibly winter.
2 cups grated zucchini (fresh or frozen then thawed)
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (use natural unsweetened cocoa, NOT Dutch processed)
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules (optional)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup nuts or seeds (optional)
6T tbsp unsalted butter, melted OR sunflower oil
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
Zucchini has not been a favourite with my kids over the years. They've always found it bland or too mushy, though I was always able to sneak it in with chocolate. And now, we have definitely upped our zucchini game. Plus, cooking with food harvested fresh from my garden is bringing me a lot of joy and satisfaction.
What have you been making out of zucchini lately?
Why being grounded is so important right now and some Essential Oils that can help
A few days ago, an artist friend of mine posted on her social media wall, wondering how the rest of us were dealing with pandemic depression. Those that replied weighed in with helpful suggestions and loving support. In the current social distancing scenario, social media is serving as a window we can lean out of to talk to our neighbours and maintain some kind of human connection. That's a very good thing.
But social media is also the site of many fearful, traumatizing stories that can put us off balance. We are in such a deep transition, and it is not clear how it's going to turn out. Being mindful of our thoughts and feelings is important to our mental and emotional health right now. It's also useful to remember that thoughts and feelings become things. This is how we create our collective reality. Metaphysics for Life explains:
"Thoughts become things when they are given substance with feelings in the Mind.
Thoughts are the DNA of the Universe. They contain the information that gives form to our physical life experience. Without feeling or substance, we would not be able to perceive the thought-forms in our Mind.
The feelings we use to give substance to the thoughts in our Mind come from one of two sources: fear or Love."
Our thoughts and feelings affect our body's pathways, creating hormone release and affecting our energy flow. Fear thoughts will release stress and anxiety hormones and prolonged stress can lead to dis-ease. Love thoughts will release endorphins and happy hormones which leads to sustained health and well being.
The collective consciousness is also affected by the predominant thoughts and feelings of any group. Studies have shown that group meditation, for example, can do things like reduce crime rates and promote peace. How does this work? According to Thrive Global:
"An experiment conducted during the Lebanon war in the 1980s showed that when 1,000 people in Jerusalem meditated on world peace, war deaths in Lebanon went down by over 75%. Not only did war deaths go down, but crime and other destructive happenings also went down on the days the group meditated. There are many such experiments and given such huge positive social changes brought about by group meditation, it is very much possible that large meditation gatherings will become very popular very soon, just as meditation has become mainstream."
So for the good of ourselves, each other and the planet, choosing Love over Fear, following our hearts and inner guidance, seems critical at this time in our human history. Aromatherapy can play a huge role in helping us maintain our sense of rootedness on the earth in these winds of change.
WHY IS BEING GROUNDED SO IMPORTANT RIGHT NOW?
Being temporarily ungrounded is a pretty common experience these days, especially in our current, fast paced, rapidly changing world. We are constantly bombarded by fear thoughts, and feelings of depression or anxiety. We worry about what's going to happen in the future (anxiety); we miss how it used to be (depression). Yet we are all being called upon to dream a new future for ourselves and the planet, individually and as a species. In order to make the best choices for ourselves, we have to be able to hear our own inner voice, our own personal creative muse. This is where being grounded comes in. When we are, we are choosing to place our trust in something much older and wiser than our fears. We are choosing to love and honour our soul's journey and this beautiful planet we call home. She's been here a lot longer than we have; and this too shall pass
Being grounded refers to being physically, emotionally, mentally, energetically and/or spiritually rooted. This doesn't mean staying rigid or unchanging; it means that, like trees, embracing the flow of the breeze; following the sun and growing while being energetically connected to the earth. The emotion behind being grounded is Trust--in the unconditionally loving connection between ourselves and the earth. People who are grounded are fully present in the moment, alert and aware of their physical experience and boundaries. They tend to be solid, clear and comfortable in themselves. This is a useful way of being, especially in the face of the unknown. Aromatherapy is an effective tool for helping us get back into our bodies, anchoring us so that we can manifest our dreams for ourselves and our planet.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I'M GROUNDED?
It's my experience that our bodies have a way of telling us. Here's how you can get ready to listen. First, become present in your body. Take a deep, cleansing breath in. Fill up your lungs and hold it for 5 seconds; then exhale out. Take a couple more deep breaths and begin to notice sensations in your body. When you feel relaxed, pick up your essential oil bottle and bring it to your nose. Inhale. Hold your breath for a few seconds and notice any sensations you might be feeling, primarily in the your chakra system, from the base of your spine to the crown of your head. Grounding oils usually speak to your Root Chakra, found at the base of your spine. When you inhale, you might feel a drop in your lower pelvis area--that's your Root Chakra responding to the oils. Or you might be aware of an energy sensation running down your legs to your feet. You might also sense your feel feeling solid and firmly planted. These are all messages from your body that you are anchored in the present moment. If you don't feel the Root Chakra drop right away, inhale again deeply. Repeat until you feel grounding sensations in your body
Now take a minute to notice your feelings. If you are grounded, you will notice an overall feeling of calm and relief, as though you just put a big burden down. You might also notice some feelings of hope in the space between calm and relief. That is the feeling of trust taking root.
MY FAVOURITE GROUNDING ESSENTIAL OILS
My blog post, Aromatherapy, Memory and the Art of Creating Scents explains the science behind how aromatherapy works in your body. The entire process from the moment of breathing in the oil aroma to the corresponding gland secretion in your body, takes place in a matter of seconds. This is one reason why Aromatherapy can be so powerful in effecting change to your mental, emotional and physical state.
Essential oils that are grounding tend to be derived from tree bark, needles and resin. Or they come from the roots and rhizomes of herbaceous plants. No surprise here. Nature is wise that way, creating what we need to ground with her quickly, leaving clear clues for us to find it. She literally seems to be saying, "Make like a tree and get rooted."
Here are my favourite essential oils that provide grounding and the Free Lion Scents that holds each one
Cedarwood has been used traditionally by Native Americans for its spiritual energy. It is grounding and centering while also helping to open the upper chakras. The Druids believed Cedar to be a relative of the Tree of Life, holding an energy that is deep, ancient, and protective. Cedarwood essential oil brings forth feelings of safety, grounding, support, love, and comfort. Its fragrance is purifying and safeguarding. It powerfully facilitates deep connection to the wisdom and sacred truths of the earth.
I use this one a lot. You'll find it in our Rose Garden, Sandalwood, Citrus Cedarwood and Tofino Breeze blends as an anchoring base note.
Fern is a staple of Native American self-care preparations. Spiritually and energetically, Fern helps build an earth-sky connection between that in you which needs to soar free, and that which needs to stay anchored and stable so that you don't lose your way home.
It's a much lighter scent, leafy and herbaceous. a "green" sort of smell. I use it in our Namika scent blend to give some grounding depth to green tea and jasmine.
Juniper Berry is the oil of transitions and new beginnings. Its warm and comforting smell evokes feelings of safety and security, like being in the presence of tall trees standing guard. Juniper berry is a powerful tool to purify, cleanse and detoxify the body, mind, spirit and environment. It supports us during times of stress, works to calm negative emotions and facilitates communication between the heart and mind.
It has a slightly fruity note to its otherwise woody smell, giving it a gentler presence. You'll find it in our Rain City and dancing with the citrus notes in our Citrus Cedarwood
Pine instantly connects on the deepest level with hundreds of years of tree wisdom with its restorative assistance and present-time perfection. Revered by Native Americans as the "Tree of Peace," this nourishing oil expands the chest as you inhale the fresh scent of revitalizing evergreen. I use it in our Rain City blend.
Frankincense is said to hold the wisdom of the universe, reconnecting you with spirit. It is elevating yet calming and grounding. It helps remove blocks and negativity to support faith and trust, creative vision and concentration. Frankincense was used by the ancient Egyptians and Greeks as an offering to the gods. It is said that it was gifted to Jesus by one of the three wise men.
The scent is less woody and more resinous. You'll find it in our Citrus Cedarwood and gently grounding the sweet, warm tones in our Mombasa.
Oak Moss evokes the scent of the wet forest, truly connecting you with the earth. It helps us connect with the earth plane, and to realize that we are on earth for a reason. I use it in our Tofino Breeze.
OUD or AGARWOOD
Oud or Agarwood is known for its spiritual and calming properties. It is used to clear the negative and destructive energies that surround the human aura, while increasing mental functionality, and a feeling of harmony and contentment.
I have a huge attachment to the smell of Oud. It reminds me of sacred ceremony. You'll find it in our Mombasa, in a sacred dance with Frankincense.
Patchouli has a comforting yet stimulating scent that supports both creativity and sensuality. It is both balancing and grounding, helping with manifestation of earthly matters. Basically, it helps you ground your creative intention. You might be able to feel this one in your Sacral Chakra too, just below your belly button. You'll find it in our Sandalwood blend.
Sandalwood evokes sacred, wise energy. Both grounding and spiritual, it is a wonderful aid in mediation or to create a sacred space. Sandalwood is an aroma that is said to stretch out into the universe, into the hallowed space between heaven and earth, connecting you with your divine presence. What a way to meet your inner voice! You'll find it in our Sandalwood blend
What are your favourite Essential Oils to use for Grounding?
8 AMAZING HEALTH BENEFITS; 4 WAYS TO HELP YOUR BODY ABSORB TURMERIC AND 1 YUMMY TURMERIC MILK RECIPE
When I was young, Mum used to make Hardar Waro Doodh (Turmeric Milk, known on the internet these days as Golden Milk or a turmeric latte) to help boost our immune systems. She'd also spice her curries with it, make tea with it and use it medicinally and in skin care. I use turmeric in much the same way, because I've experienced its efficacy in my health and wellness since childhood. Turmeric powder has an intense taste, which is nature's way of telling you not to have too much. Wise woman wisdom that I grew up with places the consumed limit at about 1 teaspoon a day.
A QUICK LIST OF 8 AMAZING TURMERIC HEALTH BENEFITS
So what makes Turmeric such a health boosting all-star?
Quite a list of benefits, is it not? Hooray, Turmeric!
I’m not sure turmeric, or its active ingredient curcumin, should be taken as a supplement, honestly, due to poor bio-availability. This means that in order for turmeric to be effectively absorbed into the body, it has to be combined with other ingredients or prepared in particular ways, as my mother’s old school methods of using turmeric show.
I see curcumin supplements more as a last resort than the best option. I’m more in the camp of incorporating healing plants into diet and skin care in their most simple form. It is my belief that if we live in alignment with nature, her cycles and her gifts, then we are most likely to experience significant improvements in well-being, from the inside out. That means living more holistically and taking care of all aspects of health and happiness, rather than trying to fix a problem with a pill. Of course this is only my opinion and not intended as medical advice.
4 WAYS TO HELP YOUR BODY ABSORB TURMERIC
USE THE WHOLE ROOT
Turmeric is more than just curcumin. There are over 100 compounds in the turmeric root which have been found to have potent pharmacological properties. When the root is processed, many of these compounds are lost, and some supplements contain only extracted chemical curcumin. Old school Ayurvedic medicine and Indian cooking has always used the whole turmeric root because the various compounds in turmeric work synergistically together and can aid in the absorption of curcumin. This reflects the belief that whole plants are usually better for health.
Mum would use Turmeric in its dried and powdered form, mostly because, back in the day, it was more easily accessed in North America than fresh roots. If you're using turmeric powder, choose organic. Use less as it’s more concentrated than fresh root. If using fresh roots, add much more to your cooking. Rule of thumb: 1tsp of turmeric powder is equal to 3 tsps of fresh turmeric root.
ADD BLACK PEPPER
My mother’s curries, as in most of Indian cooking, are a complex blend of spices that support each other’s efficacy for health and healing. One of her ingredients that directly helps your body absorb curcumin directly is black pepper. According to UMass Medical School’s Center for Applied Nutrition:
“Curcumin only makes up about 5% of turmeric, similar to black pepper where the active ingredient, piperine also makes up about 5% of the spice. Piperine is responsible for black pepper’s rich flavor and helps inhibit drug metabolism. For example, the liver gets rid of foreign substances by making them water-soluble so that they can be excreted, and piperine can inhibit this process so that curcumin is not excreted. This explains how piperine can help to make curcumin more bioavailable. With just 1/20 teaspoon or more of black pepper, the bioavailability of turmeric is greatly improved, and turmeric’s benefits are further enhanced.”
MIX WITH HEALTHY FATS
Mum would make her curries using ghee or high fat oils like coconut or sunflower. She would make Hardar Waro Doodh (Turmeric Milk) with full fat milk. This makes sense for bio-availability. Curcumin has limited solubility in water, but it does like to attach to fats, which are then more easily absorbed into the bloodstream by the gut.
HEAT IT UP
Many spices become activated by heating, which can be the key to releasing their best effect. Research shows that heating turmeric increases its solubility in water, enhancing the overall antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin. Turmeric is moderately sensitive to heat, so there is no need to boil it for a long period of time. Short cooking times (under 15 minutes) do not destroy turmeric, but will in fact increase the bio-availability of turmeric's many compounds, inclduding curcumin. So heating turmeric in Turmeric Milk or a turmeric wellness tea, or adding it to your cooking, such as in curry or scrambled eggs, will maximize its absorption by the body.
1 YUMMY TURMERIC MILK RECIPE
This is a fabulous drink to help boost your immune system. My mother would give it to us regularly as a preventative measure. More cups would be downed in the event of an illness. You can incorporate Turmeric Milk into your day as your morning drink or in the evening, after a meal or before sleep.
A WORD ABOUT THE INGREDIENTS
Milk - Choose the milk that works best for you. If using dairy, choose grass fed and full fat; or give goats milk a go. If not, add a teaspoon of coconut oil to increase fat content for better absorption of turmeric into your body.
Black Pepper - Packed with manganese and Vitamin K, pepper stimulates the taste buds to get hydrochloric acid going, revving up digestion. When combined with black pepper, turmeric becomes 5,000 times more bio-available.
Ginger - Anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral, ginger is pro phytonutrients, especially potassium, magnesium, and Vitamin C. Loved all over the world as a digestive aid, it calms upset stomachs while improving nutrient absorption and circulation.
Cardamom - Loaded with naturally occurring minerals calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and Vitamin C, cardamom is the go-to spice for mellowing out respiratory ailments, colds and flus, and sluggish, unhappy guts.
Turmeric - Already ‘nuf said above!
Coconut oil - Helps your body absorb curcumin while adding more fatty acids that that are beneficial brain food.
1 cup milk of choice. If using dairy, choose full fat. If not, add a teaspoon of coconut oil to increase fat content.
¼- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
A Pinch to ⅛ tsp black pepper
¼ teaspoon ginger powder
⅛ tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp honey or to taste
Place all the ingredients into a pan. Whisk together into the milk. Simmer on medium to low heat until the milk starts to steam (not so hot) or bubble (hotter). Whisk again to foam milk (optional) Pour into your favourite mug and enjoy!
A few little things you can do for yourself everyday to enhance your wellbeing while replenishing and protecting your skin
The secret to being naturally beautiful rests not in a jar of expensive creams. Rather it is in a few little things you can do for yourself everyday to enhance your wellbeing while replenishing and protecting your skin from damage. So here are seven healthy habits that will leave you feeling and looking your best, naturally.
1. SLEEP IT OFF
A night of tossing and turning and a mirror check in the morning is all you need to understand just how much your skin needs a good night's sleep. A 2013 case study says as much. In a first-of-its-kind clinical trial, physician-scientists found that sleep quality impacts skin function and aging. The study, commissioned by Estee Lauder, demonstrated that not having enough sleep increased signs of skin aging and slowed recovery from a variety of environmental stressors, such as disruption of the skin barrier or ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
Those were just the physical symptoms. Not having enough sleep also decreased energy levels and sense of confidence and self worth. It was easier for a tired person to look in the mirror and find fault than someone who was de-stressed by complete rest. So in short, sleep well because it will help your skin, mind and spirit regenerate.
2. SWEAT IT OUT
Your Skin is your body's largest organ. Just as exercise keeps your other organs, like the heart, in healthy form, it also enhances the skin's ability to repair the effects of aging and other damage. In fact, the moment your heart starts beating faster, muscles pump out more of a protein (IL-15) that powers your skin cells' mitochondria to act youngerâover time, that can make skin some 25 years younger at the microscopic level, according to a study at McMaster University in Ontario.
You don't have to go crazy on cardio for your skin to get the benefit of exercise and increased oxygenation in your body. Pick something that works for you and do it regularly. Consistent exercise will likely help on the sleep front, too.
Also, consider hitting the sauna or the steam room on a regular basis (though in this COVID period, a steaming hot shower could do the trick, too). It's a lot like having a facial but for the whole body. Fifteen minutes in the steam room opens pores, increases sweating, stimulates circulation, and eliminates toxins. The elevated heat and the increased sweating and circulation stimulates the reproduction of collagen and deeply cleanses and rejuvenates your skin.
3. WALK IN THE SHADE
Protect your skin from the sun with sunscreen, yes. But also by covering up with long flowing garments or a sun parasol. Don't forget your sunglasses for UV protection (and the fashion factor). And when you're outdoors, seek shade, especially between 10am and 4 pm. It would be a good time to go for a grounding forest bathing walk. Here are some summer shading suggestions from our Wild Beauty Blog, Three Chill Ways to Protect your Skin from the Sun.
4. STAY HYDRATED
Keep the water going all summer long. If you're not a big fan of plain water, add fruit to create a lovely tasting fruit infused beverage. Or add a little bit of fruit juice to your water in a 1:4 proportion.
If you're feeling a bit weak out there in the sun, your body may be low on electrolytes. Stay away from the Gatorade, though--it's full of sugar which causes other skin issues. Instead, consider throwing a Hydralyte tablet into your water bottle. Hydralyte is a Canadian made fizzy tablet, formulated with the right balance glucose and electrolytes for rapid rehydration. Thom uses it frequently through the summer, as heat and dehydration can exacerbate his MS symptoms. But it's brilliant for anyone who needs a little boost in the hydration department.
5. DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY
When you're stressed, cortisol goes up and does a number on your collagen proteins, causing dry skin and wrinkles. So find ways to bring your stress levels down.
Meditation with deep breathing helps calm your cortisol count while oxygenating your body. It can also help you get a good night's sleep. Book a massage or a hair cut or any other self-care service that you find relaxing. Hit the yoga mat at home or join a socially distanced Tai Chi class. Sing out loud or dance up a storm all over the living room furniture. Binge watch something hilarious. Or get on computer and hilari-chat it up with your besties.
Again, choose your stress reliever (one or more) and engage regularly and consistently.
6. SCRUB AWAY THOSE DEAD SKIN BLUES
Skin cells turn over constantly, and sometimes they need help to fully slough off. Give your skin an assist and exfoliate once or twice a week. For a scrub and polish, try Free Lion Namika Salt Scrub. It's formulated with some old-school Japanese beauty care ingredients like adzuki bean flour, rice flour and seaweed. The scent is a delightful blend of green tea and jasmine. Or try our Lavender Salt Scrub. This one is blended with clay and apricot kernel shells. The scent is pure relaxation as only Lavender can deliver. If you have sensitive skin, try our Rose Garden Sugar Scrub. It's blended with some skin soothing oat and chickpea flour. The scent is both grounding and uplifting. And you want to wake up your skin and smooth out that bumpy cellulite look, give our Espresso Sugar Scrub a go. It's a caramel macchiato for your skin!
7. CULTIVATE KINDNESS AND GRATITUDE
When you can, reach out to someone to lend a hand, an ear or your heart. Things are difficult for many people these days and a kind, friendly word can help make all the difference--to them and to you. When we give of ourselves and connect with others, we get to step out of our own stories for a while and experience the reality of our interconnectedness. This is especially important during this COVID period when isolation feelings can be overwhelming.
Bookend your day with all the things in your life you are grateful for. Write them down or simply affirm them to yourself. This simple ritual will help clear the anxiety clouds of future thinking and open you up to receive the best the universe has to offer in this moment now. Your heart (and your skin) will thank you.
Sherazad Jamal, Free Lion Team
Resmaa Menakem on healing black and white trauma; Austin Channing Brown and Brené Brown on the humanist work of anti-racism; Brené Brown on shame and accountability
This week has been a bit of a roller coaster ride--again--as our human story unfolds. Things are opening up a little as we venture into Phase 2 of the COVID response plan. As expected, new case numbers have spiked in various locations, causing adjustments in the plan. I am grateful to be living in BC where Dr. Bonnie Henry has been so pro-active about maintaining our health protocols.
Truthfully, I have enjoyed the "sheltering at home" period, the quietness in the world, the songs of the birds being so audible in the city, the decrease in traffic and road rage, the care people have shown for one another. This pace feels "normal" to me, what life should be like so that we can stay grounded, connected and not lose our minds in stress frenzies. My neighbours have been echoing much the same and are not eager to return to how things were. They've enjoyed the experience of being at home with their families; homeschooling; taking classes online; working from home; having the Canadian governments use taxpayer money to bail Us, the citizens, out (for a change). They, like me, are wanting a revisioned new normal.
Ignited by the anti-racism protests currently occurring all over the world, my desire also extends to wanting to write racism (and every other divisive "ism") out of our new normal. As a person of colour, anti-racism work, in all its complex nuances, has been a part of my life since childhood. It hasn’t been easy or fun. It’s actually been exhausting--but necessary. Without standing up for myself as often as I have, I'm not sure I would still be here, self-value more or less in tact. Along the way, I have met amazing people of colour who have been willing to do the hard work of standing up against relentless systemic behemoths, only to be beaten down time and time again, but relentlessly rise up and do it again; and white people, who have been willing to do the hard work to unlearn racism and become an ally, standing in that interstitial space between the oppressor and the oppressed.
In my walk so far, I have found that we are more alike than different. We are a human family, as Dr. Maya Angelou has said, albeit a dysfunctional one. But as in all dysfunctional families, repair is possible with a lot of hard work. It seems to me that in order to revision a new normal, we’re going to have to dismantle the old one, its inequities and systemic abuses. Its going to take a lot of honest introspection and perspective shifting grounded in a vision of unity, equity and love. For in the end, fear isolates; Love liberates.
1. Resmaa Menakem: Notice the Rage; Notice the Silence
First, a perspective-shifting interview with Resmaa Menakem, trauma specialist and author of My Grand Mother’s Hands. In his examination of why anti-racism work hasn’t taken root, so to speak in the last 20 years of equity movements, he speaks about the trauma of Racism as it lives in both the oppressor and the oppressed. I’d never thought about it this way before but as soon as he said it, I thought, “Of course, it makes sense.”
Trauma, he tells us, is stored in the DNA for generations, it’s role being to inform our survival reactions in the here and now. So a trauma that might have terrified an ancestor becomes recorded in our DNA which, in turn, triggers our own survival mechanisms. In order for us to heal division in our human family, we have to heal that trauma that signals danger, causing us to fight or flight. Resmaa Menakem is working with old wisdom and very new science about our bodies, our nervous systems, and all that we condense into the word “race" to offer us the possibility of change, beginning at a cellular level.
Using a gradual process, we can learn to take our survival reactions off autopilot by observing and noticing the trauma reaction, moving the body itself to unlock stored trauma, and then choosing to replace the trauma reaction with mindful, loving responses (not reactions) that fall in the realm of what Angel Davis calls Radical Self Care. Menakem shows us the possibility of being able to change and let go of our collective traumas.
Having been through trauma recovery counselling myself, I can tell you that this method--slowing down, noticing and then making a choice to respond rather than react on the survival fight or flight autopilot--is crucial to transforming traumatic experience into lived wisdom. It takes time, but once it's done, the effects are far reaching and profound. And without diffusing trauma reactions, we will have trouble hearing each other rationally.
2. Brené Brown with Austin Channing Brown on I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness
Brené Brown’s podcast interview with Austin Channing Brown, I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness, is an exercise of witnessing one way in which hearing each other across the race divide gets done. Austin Channing Brown is a writer, speaker, media producer, thought leader on racial justice in America is invited to share the Brené Brown mike. They have worked together on the issue of race before and have a lovely back-and-forth banter.
Their conversation raised a crucial point for my exhausted Social Justice worker self: The work of un-learning Racism is about being a better human. That’s it, plain and simple, period. It’s not about shaming or blaming or maiming. It is simply about the will and desire to be a better human being and to make sure that everybody, regardless of colour, has the space to experience and just be without fear, dignity and self-worth in tact.
3. Brené Brown on Shame and Accountability
In another podcast about unlearning racism directed mainly at her white audience, Brené Brown continues on, examining the role that Shame plays in accountability, through examples from her own life. One of the main nuggets is that being held accountable or called out on Racism is not the same as being shamed, even though one’s ego’s survival self-defense mechanism might get triggered. As a shame expert, she unpacks this part of the human psyche in a way that is succinct and easy to follow; and she shares her strategies for bringing her thinking brain back on line after a survival trigger has gone off. She's also echoing much of what Resmaa Menakem is saying about defusing trauma reactions.
I share these resources because they put into words some important tools that can help us navigate times of flux and change. For it’s not just racism that is falling apart as a system of control right now. All other "isms" are up for review too: sexism, homophobia, trans-phobia, casteism, cultural phobias, and the list goes on. In short, any difference that has been exploited by power hegemonies to ostracize, divide, conquer and control segments of the human family. My hope is that if we can actually transform some of this division trauma in ourselves, we might actually be in a place to collaboratively revision and reinvent our world from a place of love and not fear, a place where there is enough for everyone, where the dogs no longer have to eat dogs. The new normal.
How’s your week been?
Sherazad Jamal, Free Lion Team
3 benefits of drinking mint tea; Make your own from fresh mint
I first met Mint tea in Morocco and I was smitten. I loved the sweet, hot, pungent flavours of the tea and could completely understand why it could be drunk all day long. Mint not only tastes good, it's good for you. And it's an easy perennial to grow in small gardens, outdoor or indoor, giving you your own organically grown supply. Making your own mint tea leaves from scratch? Easy, you've got this.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF DRINKING MINT TEA
1. AIDS DIGESTION. Mint tea can help settle an upset stomach, calm nausea. reduce bloating and gas. It's a wonderful drink to have after a meal to help your stomach calmly digest.
2. ANTIOXIDANTS. Mint tea contains a large amount of antioxidant compounds that help your body protect against and repair damage caused by harmful molecules that can lead to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress has been linked to chronic conditions like heart disease, cancer and diabetes. In the skin department, these antioxidants can help in the anti-aging process, as oxidative stress breaks down skin collagen, without which wrinkles happen. Antioxidants also help the skin repair itself by reducing inflammation.
3. REDUCES STRESS AND HELPS SLEEP. Mint tea can help decrease anxiety and improve sleep. The menthol in the plant has a relaxing, sedating effect on the body.
MOROCCAN MINT TEA RECIPE
If you have fresh mint growing, you can make Moroccan Mint Tea, . Cooking with Alia has a recipe to make it, authentic style, using Gunpowder Green Tea and fresh mint. She offers the recipe from her home country in text as well as a video. You get the foam on top by raising the tea pot spout 2 feet above the glass and pouring in a steady stream. This way of pouring also helps cool the boiling tea to a temperature comfortable for your mouth. By the way, this is also how chai is served, old school, foaming in a glass.
DIY YOUR OWN DRIED MINT TEA
While we love the convenience of buying a box of mint tea, the potency of the leaves fades the longer that box sits on the shelf. If the mint tea leaves are looking brown, they're old and stale. But no worry, it's easy to make your own from fresh mint that you grow or buy. And tea leaves made from fresh mint is hands-down tastier than store bought.
Mint is such a hardy perennial that loves to propagate itself. Our mint growth has doubled over since last year. By the way, I don't consider myself a gardening genius. This is just Nature doing her best work, for which I'm grateful because I really like drinking mint tea right through the year. Especially on those nights I'm having trouble sleeping. So I'm taking this time, while it's freshly growing in the ground, to make the most of our mint harvest, which will likely continue through the growing season.
We're growing both Spearmint and Chocolate Mint. We harvested about a 1/3 of our small bed. But you don't have to be growing the mint to make the tea leaves. You can buy fresh mint. You'll need 4 -5 bunches to get a decent amount of dried leaves out of it.
Here's what we did to dry the mint leaves for tea:
1. Separate the leaves from the stems
2. Lay wax or kraft paper on a flat surface, like a cookie sheet or cutting board or even a piece of cardboard.
3. Spread a single layer of mint leaves on your wax paper. Make sure the are not over lapping.
4. Leave them to air dry completely. This should take a few days.
5. Once the leaves are dry, run them through a food processor or chopper.
6. Put your dried mint tea leaves into a clean, dry bottle.
Now it's tea time! I put a tablespoon of the dried mint leaves into a drawstring paper tea bag. My son uses a tea ball. Or you can put it into your tea mug and strain out the leaves after the tea has steeped. I came across Bonesa Honey from Bulgaria who make a simply delicious rose flavoured honey. I add a teaspoon to my mug and then pour boiling water over my leaves and honey, letting it steep. If you want a stronger tea, boil the leaves (with or without teabag) in a pot of water on the stove on a roaring boil for 3-5 minutes. ENOY!
What are your favourite plant leaves to make tea? Do you grow your own? Please share any tips or experiences you have in the comments.
CHIA SEED OIL: A SUPER MOISTURIZING ROCK STAR
Sometimes you meet a oil that you just love, and loves you back, inside and out. Chia Seed Oil is one of those ingredient rock stars for which I just can't sing enough praises. On the inside, Chia Seeds are a super food that bring so many health benefits. On the skin, it's pure magic. It's moisturizing, soothing, softening, protective and anti-aging.
A BIT OF CHIA SEED HISTORY
They ascribed their military prowess to the power of Chia in their diets. It was also used in their sacred and worldly ritual. Chia was given as sacrificial offering to the gods; extracted as tribute payments from conquered nations; and often used it as currency. Now, that's one valuable plant!
WHAT MAKES CHIA SEED SUCH A NUTRITIONAL SUPERSTAR?
Chia is rich in essential fatty acids, specifically omega-3 and omega-6. They are 5 x richer in calcium than cow’s milk; extremely high in vitamin C, 7 x more than oranges; high in iron, 3 x higher than spinach. Last but not least, chia seeds are also high in potassium, selenium, zinc, magnesium, vitamin A, E and B6. Not to mention fibre and protein. Added bonus: they are gluten-free.
So with all that nutritional power, chia seeds promote the correct functioning of the heart, brain and immune system while helping blood circulation by exerting an anti-oxidant function. They benefit teeth and bones, help improve your mental acuity, keep blood sugar and pressure in check, and are quite filling, should you be on a diet. All that in a tiny little seed.
WHAT MAKES CHIA SEED OIL FOR FABULOUS FOR SKIN?
Once again, it's that Omega 3 and 6 fatty acid content that skin just soaks up. These fatty acids help maintain moisture levels in the skin which reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as well as relieving dryness and flaking. Chia seed oil can also help with issues like rosacea or eczema on the face. It leaves your skin feeling soothed, smooth, soft and replenished. This is wonderful for dry and sensitive skin.
Chia seed oil is also a great source of vitamin B3 and zinc, which helps with oily skin and clogged pores. It also can help take down the inflammation and irritation that comes with break-outs.
It's also full of amazing antioxidants, including chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid, as well as myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol flavonoids, all of which protect your skin from environmental stressors. In fact, the antioxidants in chia seed oil have shown to be even stronger than vitamin C and vitamin E, two common and powerful antioxidants. This is exactly the kind of care normal skin needs to fight off signs of aging.
Put all of chia seed oils properties together—moisturizing, protection, and calming you have the perfect natural ingredient for maintaining your skin through all its changes. And that is why I chose to include it in all our Facial Oil blends.
ON A PERSONAL NOTE
THE BEST PARENTING STYLE FOR HOMESCHOOLING SUCCESS
I was gifted two precocious and intelligent children. When they were younger, school was important to them primarily for social reasons. In the learning department, they were both bored out of their heads. My eldest was on the gifted learning spectrum. My youngest tested as “bright”. In order to help facilitate their learning needs, I part-time home schooled them through the lower grades of elementary school. They are now 27 and 23. I can honestly say that homeschooling has made a difference to their lateral and critical thinking abilities, depth of empathy, and desire to collaborate with others in meaningful ways.
I know many of you are facing the homeschooling challenge right now. I encourage you to not be daunted. It’s not as difficult as it might seem, because you are actually your child’s first teacher. Your child learned how to eat, walk, talk and navigate the world from you. So you’ve actually been homeschooling from the moment your child was born. In short, you’ve got this.
Don’t think that you have to replicate the classroom in your home. See it more as an opportunity to bond with your kids and teach them not just classroom curriculum but a model a set of values, ethics and tools that they can carry with them all life long. See it also as a opportunity to re-evaluate and hone your own way of being, life tools and parenting style. This is actually a great time to decide what is most important to you and your family, how you want to be in the world.
AUTHORITATIVE PARENTING FOR THE HOMESCHOOLING WIN-WIN
Homeschooling is a little different than conventional schooling. While schools set curricula and have expectations about children completing learning modules, these can be incorporated into a homeschooling method. But is not at the heart of it. At the heart is your child growing and learning how to be in the world. Homeschooling becomes a testing ground for his or her capacities, skills and talents, explorations guided and facilitated by you in a loving, safe environment.
Homeschooling as a methodology is based on a concept called “child-led learning”. What that means, practically, is that the course of learning is set by your child’s interests. The method of delivery is set by your child’s learning style. And you work with your child to determine areas of interest and corresponding projects. There are a lot of differing educational theories out there, to be sure. But I will say from experience that if your child is interested in the subject, and has a feeling of ownership of it, he or she is going to be more invested and inclined to stay with it. It is a really effective way to cut the boredom factor off at the knees.
So what does that have to do with your parenting style? Well, in order to really understand your child’s needs and interests, you have to be able to hear them, observe, and then problem solve with them. The way you parent will affect your ability to do this effectively. I’ve learned that one from experience.
According to Bright Horizons, there are 4 main parenting styles. As a side note, their website mentions that their research is based on North American culture. Having been raised in North America by Muslim parents, I can say that these styles are cross-cultural with differences in expression. While authoritarian parenting, for example, may look one way in North America and another way in Africa, the essence of the attitude and goal behind the parenting style remain the same.
If you’re not sure what your parenting style is, click the link to get to know parenting styles. Most of us parent in combinations of these styles. There’s an ebb and flow to it that depends on so many things. The challenge is to maintain balance between allowing your children to explore, learn and grow while providing a safe, non-judgemental space in which to do so.
From my experience, I would say the Authoritative parenting style is the Gold Standard in homeschooling. Authoritative parents are reasonable and nurturing, and set clear expectations for their children. The parenting goal is for children to be the best they can be, to thrive, grow and expand with all the support they need to do so. It’s parenting that comes from love and trust, rather than fear, guilt or punishment. In this style, children are seen as people who need care and guidance to grow into their fullest and best selves. Children with parents who demonstrate this style tend to be self-disciplined and think for themselves. And it’s thought to be most beneficial to children.
The Authoritative parent:
You don’t have to know everything there is to know in order to facilitate your child’s learning. You’re not expected to be a genius or an expert in every subject your child studies. But being a parent who observes, nurtures and responds to your child, who can communicate with them eye to eye, at a level they can understand, who sets boundaries consistently, who sets realistic goals and problem-solves with your child, and who engages in self care so that you can be calm and present for your child is a definite set up for success in both parenting and homeschooling.
Remember, You’ve Got This!
These Homeschooling blogs contain my experience and opinions. They are not meant as professional advice.