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?
SIX FRIENDS MAKE HOLIDAY CARE PACKAGES FOR THE HOMELESS
The Gandhi's (Mr. and Mrs.) said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." It means walk your talk and these are two people who most certainly did some serious talk walking!
It takes some strength and commitment to be of service to others. Some time ago 6 friends got together to figure out what they could do to be of help to people in need, in their own communities. They knew about a man named Sam who collects donations from various places and distributes them among the homeless in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. They wanted to do something similar, be more hands on, build relationships and connections with people, like Sam does. So this year they jumped in, feet first.
I delivered a box of mainly Body Butters, Balms, Salves and Paw Wax to Stacey Carruthers, one of this team of wonderful women. They put together gift packages for women, of essentials for women, like socks, bras, underwear, hats scarves, mitts, toothpaste, tooth brushes, personal care items and more. It is our honour to have our Body Butters and Body Therapy included in their packages. Our Paw Wax inspired gift packages for the dogs that also live on the street alongside their humans. They all need some good skin care, to protect them from the elements as best as possible, especially at this time of the year.
Stacey told me that the women were really happy to receive their gift packages. Our products gave a little bit of luxurious self care that they don’t usually get. She said, “Your products were the icing on the cake - SO much appreciated!.”
Stacey and her friends will be continuing their hands-on giving in the Downtown Eastside all year round. If you are interested in donating directly to their project, you can contact Stacey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Free Lion donates our products to non-profit organizations that support women and children. You are a part of this, too. For every purchase you make, we make a donation. It's our way of paying it forward, for the good of us all.
Sherazad Jamal, Free Lion Team
WHY SHEA BUTTER IS SO GOOD FOR THE SKIN
Shea butter is a rock star as far as natural ingredients go. For millennia in the hot Sahara, people have used it to protect skin from drying winds and sun as well as heal skin issues, minor cuts and burns. The Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, who was magnificently beautiful, was said to owe her legendary beauty to the use of Shea butter. Can’t argue with perfection!
At Free Lion, We truly love including Shea Butter in our products, especially those formulated for dry skin. More on that later; first, more on the Shea Butter story.
WHERE SHEA BUTTER COMES FROM AND HOW IT IS MADE
Shea butter is extracted from the fruit of the Shea Tree that grows in the savannahs of West Africa and East Africa. The English name Shea comes from its Bambara name sii, which means sacred. Traditionally, the tree was an integral part of the lives of the people, belonging to the entire community--it could not be owned by individuals even when found on private property. Its nuts help sustain the communities that depended on it. There is a tradition in Ghana to say a prayer, before collecting Shea fruit, to thank Mother Earth for her gift. The Shea tree is still treated with particular respect because of its ability to sustain human life, from skin care, to healing and nutrition.
The Shea tree grows up to 60 feet tall, can live up to 200 years and does not flower before it is 20 years old. This is a wise old tree whose magic is not given up easily. Preparing unrefined shea butter is a labour intensive process with a series of steps, commonly undertaken by both young and old women in a community.
It takes up to 30 hours of labour to produce 1 kg / 2 lb of unrefined shea, when processing by hand. The fallen fruit is collected and its pulp removed. The nut is left to sun-dry and then separated from its shell, ground, and roasted. The roasting process requires constant babysitting and stirring to avoid burning.
Roasted nuts are ground into a paste, which is transferred to basins of water where it is kneaded by hand until the oils separate and float to the surface of the water. The oils are then skimmed off the top, melted, and boiled until the water is fully evaporated. Finally, the unrefined shea is allowed to harden, after which it is packaged and distributed. Phew! That’s a lotta work!
There are modern-day facilities that help ease the production process, but despite the help of machinery, there is no getting around the need of manual labour to produce shea butter. Shea fruit still needs to be gathered from the ground, washed, de-pulped and then sun-dried (sometimes in special solar tunnel dryers) before the oil is extracted by cold pressing.
THE SKIN-LOVING NUTRIENTS IN SHEA BUTTER
Shea butter is rich in fatty acids as well as several other beneficial ingredients. The amounts of saturated fatty acids will vary depending on where the Shea is from, as both region and climate play a large part in the composition of the butter.
Palmitic Acid 2 - 9 %
One of the most prevalent saturated fatty acids in body lipids. In aging skin, levels of palmitic acid can decrease by as much as 56%. Applying Shea butter topically can help replenish skin.
Stearic Acid 20 - 50 %
A saturated fatty acid which acts as an emollient and emulsifier. It has been shown to protect skin's surface against water loss by enhancing skin's protective barrier And it helps cells regenerate, too.
Oleic Acid 40 - 60 %
A very moisturizing, softening and regenerating unsaturated fatty acid that also offers anti-inflammatory properties. The oleic acid in shea butter is easily absorbed by the skin
Linoleic Acid 3 - 11 %
An Unsaturated omega-6 fatty acid shown to be effective as a skin restorative, an antioxidant and as a skin-soothing agent.
Phytoesterols 5 - 10 %
These gives Shea some UV-B absorbing power as well as reparative properties.
A powerhouse ingredient that has value for skin on several fronts: It’s a skin-restoring, wrinkle-smoothing, firming ingredient and an antioxidant, allowing it to improve a variety of skin concerns, most related to visible signs of aging.
One of the most well-known and researched antioxidants for the body and for skin. Vitamin E occurs naturally in human skin, but can become depleted due to constant environmental exposure in the absence of sun protection. Shea’s natural content of E-vitamin contributes to its relatively long shelf life – which can be up to 2 years.
Highly regarded for its skin soothing, healing and keratolytic (ability to remove excess skin) properties. It helps shed the outer layer of the epidermis, promotes healthy tissue formation, softens the skin and enables it to absorb more moisture. It’s particularly effective at treating wounds, burns, skin ulcers, eczema, and any other abrasion in the skin.
YAY SHEA! THE SKIN BENEFITS OF SHEA BUTTER
Shea butter is a super star as far as natural ingredients go. Millennia of anecdotal evidence tells us it can protect your skin from UV sunlight, harsh climate, dehydration and pollution damage. As anti-aging agent, it strengthens your skin by stimulating the production of collagen, a protein essential to keeping your skin youthful, supple, alive, nourished and radiant. It can smooth wrinkles and fine lines or damage and revitalize very dry or damaged skin, bringing your skin back to beautiful life.
Shea butter does an awesome job of winter and after-sun skin care. It provides the extra moisture, vitamins, nutrients and protection your skin needs during the cold season and in the summertime. It is also the perfect ingredient to protect your lips from the cold and dry weather and keep them kissably soft.
Here are some our Shea Butter hall of fame products. Check them out and give your skin the nurturing love it deserves!
Sherazad Jamal, Free Lion Team