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.
ACHES, ECZEMA AND CRAVINGS? IT COULD BE LEAKY GUT
What could joint pain, skin, problems, sugar cravings, food allergies, food sensitivities, constipation and autoimmune disease have in common? Would you believe, Leaky Gut Syndrome?
The ancient Greek physician and Hippocrates said that âall health and disease begins in the gutâ. Maybe he was on to something. Today, scientific, published study after study (which number in the several thousands) have grown our understanding of how modern diets and lifestyles negatively affect gut function and so lower our disease immunity In short, we could be currently eating ourselves into unwellness.
When my partner Thom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2006, the neurologists tried a few drug combos, none of which worked. They verbally patted his head and told him that there was nothing to be done, that he should just accept his fate like a good boy. The condescension is not exaggerated. Enter me into his life in 2011, unable to accept that verdict. As a 3rd level Reiki practitioner familiar with plant-based remedies and aromatherapy, I had been around enough situations where people (including myself) could turn around physical conditions without having to revert to Western Medicine and its âtriage managementâ approach. And so the research into what could help Thom began. Which is when we met, âLeaky Gut Syndrome".
WHAT IS LEAKY GUT SYNDROME?
Your gut is a powerhouse that works night and day to process the food-fuel you put into your body. Your gut lining is like a security guard that lets beneficial nutrients into your bloodstream while keeping the toxic waste out so that it can be eliminated. Now imagine that there are so many toxins in your intestines that they have riddled your gut lining with holes through which undigested food particles, toxic waste products and bacteria are free to enter your bloodstream and poison your body. Now you have Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Studies show that 80% of your immune system cells live in your gut. When random particles enter your bloodstream, your body sets off its warning alarm to tell your immune system to call in the troops and fight the infection. Your immune response will protect you, but each time itâs triggered, it causes systemic inflammation. And if the stream of toxins is relentless, your immune system will go into overdrive, preventing your body from being able to heal and repair itself naturally. The long-term effects of this could be more chronic illnesses like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis and irritable bowel syndrome. Leaky gut has also been linked to autism, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, obesity, cancer and Multiple Sclerosis. Cue Light Bulb Moment.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE LEAKY GUT?
According to those same studies, thereâs a direct link between the gut and the skin (gut-skin axis) gut and brain (gut-brain axis). What that means is that thereâs a long list of symptoms you could have when your immune system is fighting toxic infection. Here are some of them:
â¢ Skin conditions like acne, eczema, psoriasis
â¢ Allergies, food sensitivities, and food intolerances
â¢ Digestive symptoms, like bloating, constipation, diarrhea
â¢ Candida yeast overgrowth
â¢ Irritable Bowel Diseases, like Celiac Disease, Crohnâs and ulcertaive colitis
â¢ Autoimmune diseases, like Hashimotoâs, rheumatoid arthritis, MS
â¢ Depression, anxiety
â¢ Hormonal imbalances, including PMS and estrogen dominance
â¢ Nutrient deficiencies
â¢ Brain fog
ââ¢ Chronic fatigue syndrome
The ones that twigged for Thom were Autoimmune disease, food allergies, skin conditions, brain fog, asthma and depression. So I began to research how we might be able to heal his gut.
CAN YOU HEAL A LEAKY GUT? EAT GUT HEALING FOODS
Our modern, North American fast food/processed food diet really sucks for health and wellness. The major culprits, in our experience, are refined sugar and carbs, trans-fats, gluten, non-organic dairy products,, wheat, additives and preservatives and pesticides. These pro-inflammatory foods are most damaging to gut health. Yet in North America we consume them on a regular basis.
So we made changes to his diet. Bye Bye Donuts, brownies, dairy, pasta, bread, noodles, lagers. Hello Green Smoothies, grass fed meat, coconut oil, veggies and fruits, seed butters, bone broth, sauerkraut, and Guiness. This process took some time. We eliminated foods and put them back to see what he reacted to. In the end, we found ourselves in the Paleo Diet terrain, which also works for me and my eczema. Iâve included a downloadable PDF from www.blog.kettleandfire.com of lists of foods that heal Leaky Gut and foods to stay away from. There are some things on the âNever Eatâ list that Thom can eat, just not everyday. Itâs all a matter of paying attention, trial, error. Or getting yourself tested to see what foods are âno go zonesâ for you. Scroll down to the bottom of this post to download the PDF.
Here are some gut-healing must-haves:
â¢ Bone Broth. It's full of collagen, gelatin and glutamine, which help heal and repair the gut lining. We make ours broth at the top of the week in a slow cooker. It get put into smoothies and other meals.
â¢ Lightly cooked veggies - steamed or stir fried in coconut oil. The rule of thumb is that raw foods can be hard for a leaky gut to digest. Iâd say see what works for your gut.
â¢ Coconut oil. Its natural antibacterial properties help combat bad bacteria in the gut; its anti-inflammatory properties can soothe and calm the intestinal lining. Besides, it provides much needed âbrain fuelâ. An essential ingredient of Thomâs smoothies, and my go-to for stir frys.
â¢ Grass fed meats are rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 essential fatty acids and mineralsâ two nutrients needed for gut health. And it tastes WAAAAY better than grain-fed meats.
â¢ Wild fatty fish or fish oil is an excellent source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 essential fatty acids. Fish also contains vitamin D, which has been linked to gut health. We also use flaxseed oil.
â¢ Oat Juice. It helps soothe and repair intestinal linings. We found that this was the case with Thom. If you have serious grain intolerance, this might not work for you.
KEEP STRESS LEVELS DOWN
This one is critical because stress unleashes hormones in your body that can exacerbate the immune system. Here are some suggestions to beat stress.
â¢ Go to bed an hour earlier each night (bonus: every hour of sleep you get before 11 p.m. is said to be worth 2 hours). I must confess that Netflix and binge watching sometimes makes this one hard to do!
â¢ Turn off the Tech before bed time. The artificial blue light from screens is linked to disturbances in your natural sleep and wake cycles. Yeah, also not an easy one for me, much easier for Thom.
â¢ Spend time outdoors (even if itâs just a 20-minute walk during your lunch break) to absorb vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D is known as the âsunshine vitaminâ because it promotes a happier mood, and it also plays an important role in reducing gut inflammation. This one makes a huge difference!
â¢ Yoga, meditation, and exercise can help ground you through stress and release thoseâhappy hormonesâ, your bodyâs natural anti-depressants. Thom has been hitting the gym with our friend, Pam three times a week. His stability, strength and mood have greatly improved. I have been walking more and going to Zumba Classes. A little happy dancing goes a long way!
ââ¢ Hang out with with people who inspire and uplift. Do more things on your own that nurture your spirit. Spend less time with people and situations that depress or create anxiety. This is totally making a difference for Thom. And music is his go-to for soul nurturing.
PUT IN SOME GOOD BACTERIA
Probiotics are incredibly important when it comes to healing and preventing leaky gut. Not only do they help keep bad bacteria out of your digestive tract, they also strengthen the gut lining, to help prevent leaky gut. Thereâs a few things that can deplete good bacteria from your system: antibiotics, chronic stress, too many carbs, too much refined sugar and stomach viruses. But fear not, you can replace good bacteria with fermented foods like:
â¢ Unsweetened coconut or goat milk yogurt (organic cows milk yogurt if you donât have dairy sensitivities)
â¢ Apple cider vinegar (raw, unpasteurized, and with âthe motherâ)
â¢ Beet Kvass
â¢ Organic unsweetened goat milk kefir
âOr you can take a probiotic supplement that will contain several different strains of good bacteria. These can be found in the refrigerated section of your local health food store. Goat milk kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi are Thomâs go-tos. Mine is organic yogurt, which I have with fruit and nuts in the morning.
DETOX YOUR SYSTEM
Detox Your System
While you canât control all the toxins around you, there are steps you can take to reduce your exposure to them. Number three below is actually one of my inspirations for starting Free Lion Body Care in the first place.
â¢ Drinking plenty of clean, filtered water.
â¢ Choosing organic produce when possible.
â¢ Switching to natural cosmetics, body care products, and household cleaning products. I make my own (!!).
â¢ Making it a priority to sweat. Sweating through exercise helps your body eliminate toxins naturally.
âThe state of your gut matters to your health, on a daily basis. Even the most basic, little changes can mean the difference to feeling more energetic, having healthier looking skin, and having deeper, more restful sleeps. And who doesnât want that!?
It is my hope that these changes weâve made are setting Thomâs body up for some success in the eventually healing MS department. Already we have seen improvement, though not total reversal, in his symptoms. And dude is WAAAAY happier to be around these days. I have no idea if the damage already caused by the disease is actually reversible. Apparently, the MS doctors donât either. So it comes down to choosing between, âNothing you can do, but be a good boy and have this pill while youâre waiting to dieâ vs. âHell, YA, letâs give that natural remedy a try. Whatâve we got to lose? And are you up for sit skiing this winter, honey?â For us, that choice is a no brainer.
Sherazad Jamal, Free Lion Team.
This blog post represents my opinion and experience only. Do what works for you. Below is downloadable PDF infographic on foods the help or hinder the gut.
You are what you eat, popular wisdom tells us. While I don’t feel overly like a grass fed cow, I’m going with the truism. What you eat DOES affect your overall health and most definitely your skin’s health. Whether you’re soothing dry, flaky skin, preventing wrinkles or healing acne, paying attention to what you put IN your body can make a huge difference. The overall guiding principle is keep it simple and as close to raw and unprocessed as possible, drink lots of water, stay away from trigger foods and most of all, really enjoy what you’re eating.
There are some foods for the skin that are on my must-have list, and a few to stay away from. Full disclosure: I am not a trained doctor, nurse or dietitian. I’m sharing some things i’ve learned through experience and research over the 50 years I’ve spent trying to solve my eczema issues. We've put them together for you in a handy infographic, Eat your Way to Healthy Skin. You can also download it using the link at the bottom of the page. We hope, though, it gives you some inspiration, ideas and food for thought.
And now the disclaimer: Our Eat Your Way to Healthy Skin infographic is intended to provide information only and should not be considered medical advice.
Sherazad Jamal, The Free Lion Team
THE SKINNY ON HYDRATION, MOISTURIZING AND BODY BUTTER
Your skin is the largest organ on your body, and it needs needs both oils and water to keep it glowing and healthy. Moisturizing and Hydration. These words seem to be used interchangeably in descriptions of skin product properties. While both provide skin with much-needed nourishment, knowing the difference will help you make the best choice for your skin’s specific needs.
First a bit about skin: The main function of the skin is to provide a barrier between the body and outside environment. Think of it like a brick wall. The Bricks are the corneocytes (dried out, non-living cells on the skin’s surface that are ready to shed). The Mortar is an intercellular matrix composed of lipids (fatty acids, hormones that help maintain skin hydration, firmness and softness) surrounding the corneocytes.The Paint on the wall is the acid mantle on the surface of the skin, a physical and chemical barrier that keeps out microorganisms and irritants.
Healthy, normal skin is able to produce lipids. These cells trigger the skin’s natural ability to protect itself from moisture loss, communicating to sebaceous glands to produce more oil or sebum. If you’ve got a disrupted lipid barrier, the skin becomes unable to coat its surface with the appropriate amount of sebum, causing dry skin. Or fluctuating hormones can increase an excess of sebum production, resulting in an excess of oil on the skin. Hydration helps skin function optimally, maintaining the flow of live cells from deeper in the dermis to the surface.
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MOISTURIZING AND HYDRATION?
So let's talk Moisturizing. When the skin’s barrier function is damaged, it needs repairing and strengthening. This involves replacing the lipids in the skin that have been depleted or removed. Barrier repair ingredients are typically rich in lipids that are similar to the intercellular lipids found in skin. And guess what...beeswax and Plant Oils and waxes have been used over centuries for this purpose because they are a good source of fatty acid lipids. They are also protective, providing a temporary film over the skin to help it retain moisture. Yep, our grandmothers certainly knew what they were doing!
Now on to Hydration. While moisturizing ingredients seal moisture into the skin, hydrating ingredients help increase the water content of the skin. A humectant, for example, has the ability to attract water from the air and bind it to the skin’s surface, facilitating hydration. And plant extracts can also bring water, minerals and vitamins to skin.
Bottom line? Dry skin lacks oil and needs moisturizing; Dehydrated skin lacks water and needs hydration. So if you work with water all day, your skin will be hydrated but will likely have lost all natural moisture (oils) from its surface. Your skin may feel soft, pruny even. But as soon as the water evaporates, hello dry, scaly skin! If your skin is dehydrated, skin cells move more sluggishly to the surface. While your skin will retain all its natural surface oils, it appears tight, dull, lifeless--which, if you’re auditioning for that role in Zombie Nation, may not be a bad thing! So ideally, you need skin care products that will deliver both Hydration and Moisturizing.
WHY FREE LION BODY BUTTER IS SO GOOD FOR YOUR SKIN
Enter Free Lion Body Butter. Our Body Butter is a blend of both moisturizing and hydrating ingredients to help your skin regain healthy moisture balance. The beeswax forms a protective seal on the skin’s surface, helping to reduce the risk of evaporation of existing moisture throughout the day. We use Shea Butter, Rice Bran, Avocado and Sunflower Oils--moisturizing ingredients full of super fatty acids and vitamins A and E, needed to repair and replenish skin. We also add hydrating Aloe Vera Extract and Glycerin. Glycerin is a humectant that draws moisture from the air; Aloe Vera is high in minerals, vitamins, poly and monosaccharides and water-stocking ability, deeply nourishing skin.
Show your skin some love this winter. To help you do that, we’re are offering 20% off our Body Butters until February 28, 2018.
Sherazad Jamal, Free Lion Team
The science behind Aromatherapy; How we use it to create our signature scents
You know what I mean. You’re walking along somewhere and you smell something that transports you back to another time when you smelt it before, feeling all the emotions you felt then. It’s known as “odor-evoked autobiographical memory” or the Proust Phenomenon, after French writer Marcel Proust. In his novel, Swann’s Way, the narrator does just that—transports through time and memory triggered by the smell of a Madeline cake dipped in tea.
For me, its the smell of chicken curry that does it, taking me back to a memory of comfortably sitting on my mother’s lap and being fed, her fingers forming balls of rice and curry then lovingly depositing them in my mouth, Mama Bird to Baby Bird. It brings up feelings of safety, nurturing and care. Chicken curry and rice is indeed one of my comfort foods and needless to say, being fed by someone has formed a core phrase in my learned language of love!
Smells can take us sentimentally, happily wandering though positive memories. Or they can also be potent triggers of negative emotions. In studies of people with post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), a smell can trigger disturbing memories, feelings of guilt, fear, nausea or helplessness. With one whiff, you can suddenly be back in your own private hell.
WHY DOES SCENT TRIGGER MEMORY? THE SCIENCE BEHIND IT
The response to smell stimulus is fast and non-verbal. In a nano-second you can experience powerful emotions that can leave you smiling or crying. But why does scent trigger memory? And how does it trigger such strong emotions? The answer is literally all in your head, in the brain’s anatomy. When we get an incoming smell, its first processed by the olfactory system, which starts inside the nose and runs along the bottom of the brain, directly connecting to the Limbic System, a v-shaped structure that sits on top of the brain stem. It is made up of the hippocampus, amygdala, part of the thalamus and the hypothalamus and several regions of the cerebral cortex. This is the zone that manages the interface between emotion and memory. It’s also the oldest part of the brain where our basic drives, needs, instincts and fears live. The limbic system also plays an important role in selecting and transmitting information between short and long-term memories, which explains why a short-term experience (like smelling a baking pumpkin pie) can trigger a long-term memory and corresponding emotions (like happy family feasts at Thanksgiving).
THE ART OF CREATING FREE LION SCENT BLENDS
When we get into the Free Lion Lab (ok, kitchen) to blend scents, we’re definitely influenced by our own scent memories. There are smells that remind us of where we’ve been and happy memories associated with them. Like Tofino Breeze. This one was named for Tofino, a place on the Pacific Ocean where our young family vacationed. It is a place of windswept beaches and fine sand where the crashing waves are large enough to put Tofino on the world surfing map. It is also where both my sons learned to surf and where we spent many relaxing hours playing on the beach and exploring tidal pools and caves. When I was a child, Rose water would be splashed on individuals and crowds during celebrations—births, weddings, holidays. Rose Garden came from these memories with a desire to ground them more in the everyday happiness of kicking back in the garden.
I would say our creative process is part intuitive art, part measured chemistry. When we blend, we look to create a balance between aromas, with base, middle and high notes. This is the more rote part of scent blend development, where we experiment from a base recipe and sometimes using advice from more experienced formulators.
But then there’s “the Nose”—that ephemeral knowing you’ve nailed it but you can’t say why in words. I know we’ve hit it when I take in a full nose bouquet of a blended scent, close my eyes and feel my body’s “Ahhhh!” response. The body is wise—must be the hypothalamus and the way it communicates with the pituitary gland via neural and chemical pathways to release hormones into the body. Its also the art of, “it just feels right”!
Sherazad Jamal, The Free Lion Team