The Neem Tree is a power plant with healing goodness for breakout-prone skin, dry, cracked heels, bug bites and stings!
From leaves to bark, Neem has been used for millenia for maintaining wellness, body healing, skin and hair care and for repelling insects. In the ancient Siddha system of medicine originating more than 10,000 years ago in the Tamil Nadu region of South India, Neem is among the core plants used. It met the Siddha medicinal goal of maintaining health for long life. All parts of neem tree were (and still are) used in traditional Indian medicine remedies for various human dis-eases.
The word NEEM comes from the Sanskrit, Nimba, meaning bestower of good health. As far back as 5000 BCE, Indian Ayurvedic texts have described the Neem tree and its remarkable healing properties. In fact healing compounds containing its leaves were found at the excavation of Mohanjo-Daro and Harappa, ancient city sites that date back to this time period and older.
Back in that day (to this day), a Neem tree was considered sacred, symbolizing good health and protection. One would be planted in public gathering spaces or in the front garden of the temple or the home where became part of daily life. Kind of like living among the Ent healers. The Neem tree provided shade from the sun while naturally repelling insects for those sitting under its protective canopy. When wind blew through the Neem tree and into the home, it was believed that the winds carried with them the anti-bacterial properties of the tree, keeping the homes free of bacteria while providing residents with a cool breeze in the summer months. Neem was also used to protect animals, food and grains. Livestock and cattle were fed Neem leaves for relief from ailments; soil was fertilized with seeds, leaves, and bark which all doubled as pesticides.
Used in medicinals, its properties strengthened health and boosted immunity. Infusions from leaf and bark would be drunk to help maintain blood sugar, clear lungs and keep the digestive tract running smoothly; neem twigs would be used oral care; young neem leaves were included in vegetarian curries; the gum from the tree was sucked on to ease a dry throat; and in the summer, the fruit of the tree would be eaten. All this Neem goodness worked together to strengthen the immune system.
Traditionally, Neem was used topically to address such ailments as fevers, respiratory issues, tetanus infections, rheumatism, arthritis, jaundice, malaria, ringworm, lice, fungal and bacterial infections of the skin, scabies, hives, eczema and psoriasis. And to help help hair grow and remain thick and lustrous. Historically, Neem Oil was even used as a topical contraceptive.
That is one versatile plant, right?
Why Neem is so Good for Your Skin
Neem oil is extracted from the seeds of neem tree fruit. Neem Plant Powders are basically dried and finely ground Neem Leaves. So, what is in Neem that makes it so amazing for skin? Both Oil and leaves have serious Anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, Anti-oxidant, Astringent, Oil Regulating and Moisturizing properties:
Free Lion Body Care Products That Feature Neem Oil
When I was formulating Face Chai for Oily and Breakout Prone Skin, I researched ingredients extensively, looking into their properties, lore and historical uses. With all its benefits to healing breakouts and acne scars and its ability to balance out sebum production, Neem just had to be a featured ingredient. It works beautifully with the other Oily Skin supporting ingredients in this formula. FYI, Neem Oil has a really strong smell. But worry not. I mixed in other skin supportive carrier oils and essential oils to compensate. Your nose will be happy! Your skin will be happier.
Facial Oils for Oily and Breakout Prone Skin
Our Facial Oils are a complex blend of lightweight oils specially chosen for their ability to soothe, protect, repair and regenerate healthy skin. I love Neem Oil for its anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, antioxidant properties. I am also excited by how these properties help kill the bacteria that gets into pores to cause the infections we know (and don't love) as "zits". Hello Neem, bye bye breakout.
Neem also does its part to stimulate skin cells to regenerate. it also helps heal acne scars and sooth acne irritation, while balancing out the sebum in your skin to reduce the chance of future break outs. Such a win win!
Neem has antioxidants that help protect your skin from environmental stressors. It moisturizes and helps keep skin soft and supple by boosting skin collagen and elastin production to increase thickness, elasticity and firmness. It also helps to reduce hyperpigmentation caused by UV radiation, hormones or acne.
The Facial Oils can be used daily as a moisturizer, for oil cleansing, for overnight moisturizing or The feedback from peeps in my test crew who used the Facial Oils for Oily Skin is that pimples and other skin eruptions disappear overnight. The oils are light and easily absorbed, leaving a lovely skin glow.
Mask Grains for Oily and Breakout Prone Skin
I have included Dried Neem leaf powder in this wonderful combination of plant powders and clays that blend up into a mask with a pump or two of Facial Oils plus some yogurt, honey or just plain old distilled water. It all depends on what your skin needs in the moment due to hormones, diet, stress. You know, LIFE.
Neem brings its anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties to work once more, to help kill the bacteria that could lead to zits, regulate your skin sebum production, and soften and protect it. The formula is quite robust with ingredients that are soothing, oil absorptive, cleansing, astringent and exfoliating.
Feedback from my testing crew included loving the way the Mask Grains soothed their skin, settled eruptions and gave a gentle exfoliation, leaving a lovely skin glow.
I included neem oil in this formulation for its moisturizing properties. I love its ability to deeply penetrate skin and repair heel cracks caused by dryness. It works with the other oils to soothe itchy, red, inflamed skin.
I also chose Neem Oil for its anti-bacterial properties. It teams up with Tea Tree Oil, which has some serious anti-bacterial properties of its own. By soothing skin irritation and eradicating the bacteria that causes them, Neem Oil and Tea Tree Oil can calm Athletes Foot and nail fungus. Then there is Neems ability to help ease joint inflammation, stiffness, and pain. Neem works with Rosemary Oil to help ease your feet into relaxation.
Shoo Fly! For a Little Help with Bug bites and Stings
Neem oil is one of many amazing ingredients in this formula that helps soothe bug bites and insect stings. Neem oil has an impressive, well-researched track record of not only being incredibly moisturizing for all skin types, but anti-inflammatory and soothing as well. Shoo Fly! Is full of ingredients like Neem oil that will take the itchy edge off a bug bite and help decrease swelling of even nasty ones, like wasp stings.
I had originally formulated Shoo Fly to help keep bugs away. The ingredients I chose do have properties that do that, naturally. But as a small biz maker, my products are classified as cosmetic by Health Canada. Bug repellent, however, is classified as a drug. So I am not able to make direct repellent claims about Shoo Fly! But I CAN tell you about Neem and itâs amazing properties. You can try it to soothe bug bites. And if it keeps bugs away, well BONUS!!
Nature is full of wise plants who work with us to support our health and wellness. Thanks for hanging out with Neem and me,
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!
WHY USE FACIAL OILS?
The ancients in just about every culture all over the globe kept their skin vibrant and flawless with plant Oils. And this old-school beauty secret is making a pretty big comeback right now. It is concentrated nutrition for your skin that can mean the difference between dull and healthy, glowing skin. Here why to include facial oils in your skin care routine, no matter what your skin type.
YOUR SKIN NEEDS OILS TO BE ITS BEST SELF
Your skin’s epidermis generates its own oils to keep you safe from germs and dehydration. Think of your skin as your body’s shield. When your skin gets attacked or neglected it becomes:
In short, it's not a happy scenario. Here's where adding Facial Oils to your skin care routine can really help. The outermost layers of your skin are composed of fatty acids, cholesterol and ceramides, all of which can be found in natural oils. Facial Oils work with your skin, not against it. There's a false belief that putting oil on your skin will cause a break out. But this is far from the case. When you give your skin an ingredient like plant oils with high Omega fatty acids, you’re feeding it something it is already familiar with and knows how to use. Your skin takes in these nutrients fairly quickly and uses them to restore itself to optimum health.
A good facial oil contains plant oils with high levels of Omega fatty acids, antioxidants and skin repairers, all chosen for your skin type and its specific needs. Using one regularly can keep your skin healthy, soft and smooth by replenishing your skin’s natural oil content. Facial oils can help to:
That’s a lot of amazing work being done for your skin, isn’t it? Other bonuses include that you don't need much of it do the job. And the oils facilitate giving yourself a lovely facial massage to improve circulation and drain facial glands, which, in turn, improves your overall health.
Free Lion Facial Oils are a carefully chosen blend of plant oils that are highly effective while respecting your skin’s biology and needs. The ingredients lists for each blend tell you which oils are in there and what they will do for your skin type. If you have any questions, feel free to fire me an email here.
Sherazad Jamal, Free Lion Team.
It's flu season, and I’m down for the count with sniffles, cough, congested chest, sinus pain and a headache to beat the band. My go-to in this situation is a wellness tea passed on from my grandmother. Back in her day, Nanima was the neighbourhood Ayurvedic concoctionist. People would park themselves in her kitchen, chatting, while she blended them a healing brew. She wasn't a purist, though. She'd take the best of Western medicine alongside her home remedies.
In that spirit, I have Tylenol at the ready for head and sinus pain. And Nanima's tea to ease cough and congestion.
What’s in the Wellness Tea?
Freshly sliced ginger
Ginger contains a high quantity of antioxidants that help boost your immune system against the common cold or flu. Its potent anti-inflammatory properties effectively sooths a sore throat. It’s has antimicrobial properties help your body fight cold causing viruses. Ginger is also helpful for settling upset stomachs, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and cold sweats.
Flesh lemon slices
Lemon juice is rich in vitamin C which works to neutralize the disease causing pathogens along with boosting your body’s immune system.
Tumeric is full of curcumin which is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral. It can help relieve chest congestion, runny nose and open up the sinuses, especially when put in boiling water.
Honey soothes a sore throat, making it an affective, natural cough suppressant. It’s anti-microbial properties help reduce inflammation.
Activates the healing properties of these natural ingredients and adds the physical sensation of warmth and comfort.
Optional : Brandy
Brandy also has anti-microbial properties that help cut up the mucus built up by a cold. It is warming to the chest and throat. In small doses, it can be calming and settle you in for a good night’s sleep.
Free Lion Wellness Tea
1 tsp sliced fresh ginger
2 slices fresh lemon with zest
1/2 tsp tumeric powder
1 tsp honey
1 cup boiling water
Optional: 1oz Brandy
Place sliced ginger, lemon, turmeric powder, honey (and Brandy, if desired) in an 8-12oz mug.
Pour boiling water over ingredients, filling mug. Stir and let steep. Sip slowly until it’s all gone.
This flu season, rest up and be good to you!
Sherazad Jamal, Free Lion