The Power of Neem
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,
Rosemary In Legend, Lore and Self Care
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?
November 12th, 2017
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