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?
HELLO FREE LION BODY LOTION
You've been asking me to come up with a body lotion for some time now, a lighter option to our Body Butters. After much deliberation in the kitchen lab and much testing, I'm proud to announce the birth of 8 bouncing bundles of skin hydrating and moisturizing joy!
ABOUT HYDRATION AND MOISTURIZING
First up, a little about skin and why it needs both hydration and moisturizing. Your skin is your largest organ. And its made up mostly of water, like most of our body cells. Water is constantly evaporating from those cells--especially the ones on the surface of your skin as well as the ones deeper down in the epidermis. In relation to skin care, hydration means increasing the amount of water in your surface skin cells, which results in a healthy, smooth and plump complexion. That's what the water-based ingredients in our body lotion are busy doing. Moisturizing means putting a layer of emollient (meaning soothing and softening) ingredients on the skin to prevent water loss from the deeper layers of the epidermis. That's what the oil-base ingredients in our body lotion are busy doing.
WHAT'S IN OUR BODY LOTION?
97% of the ingredients we've used in our body lotion are natural and plant based. So what are the rock-star natural and non-toxic ingredients doing your skin such a solid?
1. Calendula Tea
Most Body Lotions are made with water. We've infused our distilled water with the soothing, skin-calming treat of Calendula petals. Calendula is loaded with powerful skin-healing, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, yet is gentle enough for most people and animals to use safely. That's why we also use it in our Paw Wax.
Calendula Tea is just that little extra oomph we put into our lotions to give your skin some soothing calm while bringing out your inner glow. Yes, this is a thing. Read our previous post on The Magic Of Calendula Tea for more information.
2. Aloe Vera Juice
Aloe Vera is full of nutritional qualities and antioxidant properties that soothe, nourish and repair skin. Its leaves contain a plethora of antioxidants including, beta carotene, vitamin C and E that can help improve the skin's natural firmness and keep skin hydrated. Not only that, it feels cool on the skin--a definite benefit during hot months or hot flashes!
Aloe Vera is brilliant for all skin types, delivering amazing benefits to skin. Read more about the wonders of Aloe Vera in a previous blog post. If you're up for making your own Aloe Vera Formulas at home, here are some suggestions from me.
3. Rice Bran Oil
Rice Bran Oil is one of my favourite moisturizing ingredients. Oh, for so many reasons. Let me recount the ways!
The oil, extracted from the germ and inner husk of rice, has been a staple in Old School Asian beauty regimens for centuries. For good reason, too! Rice bran absorbs quickly into the skin. It is flush with skin-loving omega-6 fatty acids, wrinkle-busting Squalane and Vitamin E, and skin firming Vitamin B. Antioxidants like beta-carotene and lycopene protect your skin from environmental stressors; enzymes like CoQ10 provide active components that help skin maintain its youthful glow. Rice bran oil also has a slight ability to brighten the look of your skin, helping to fade out the appearance of dark spots and to even out skin tone. And what's not to like about that?
4. Macadamia Nut Oil
Macadamia oil has become one of my new favourite ingredients. Not just because its so easy and forgiving to work with; but because it's so wonderful on the skin. Like Rice Bran oil, it absorbs quickly into the skin without feeling greasy. Nutritionally Macadamia oil is a moisturizing all-star. It is high in both Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, which are moisturizing, softening, anti-inflammatory and regenerating for skin. Omega 6's help restore skin's barrier function and reduce water loss. It also contains Omega 7's, an active anti-microbial that is found naturally in youthful skin, helps slow down signs of aging. Added bonus: Macadamia oil can improve the appearance of scars, sunburn and other minor skin irritation.
5. Non-Toxic Synthetics
So, I do add some non-toxic synthetic ingredients to our Body Lotion. They make up 5% of the overall formula. Now why would I do that in a natural product? True confession: I have struggled over this question. I really wanted to be "all natural all the time". But the fact is that science does some things really quite well and can really give Nature a helping boost without compromising the effectiveness of natural ingredients.
So, for these reasons I add lab-made ingredients to my lotions: to improve the glide, absorbability and texture of the lotion; to give your skin an added protective barrier; to extend the shelf life of our lotions; and to ensure your lotion doesn't go moldy on you. I add two silicones--cyclomethicone and dimethicone for a smooth texture and to help your skin absorb the oh-so-good natural ingredients. I also add Germall Plus, a broad-spectrum preservative, necessary in any formula containing from both water and oils. Water is a hotbed for mold. Germall Plus provides for complete, broad spectrum preservation against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, yeast, and mold. It is composed of Diazolidinyl Urea, 3-Iodo-2-propylbutylcarbamate, and less than 1% Propylene Glycol.
Bear in mind again, these ingredients make up only 5% of the overall formula. The rest is all natural ingredient goodness for your skin. It's the calculation I've made to meet the desire for a primarily natural product that goes on smoothly, absorbs quickly and doesn' t go bad or moldy.
So what do you get when you put all these wonderful ingredients together? Free Lion Body Lotion in our eight fragrance blends! And hydrated, moisturized skin.
8 FABULOUS USES FOR ALOE VERA GEL
Aloe Vera is a cactus plant that belongs to the Liliaceae family. Known as the "Lily of the Desert", it is thought to have originated in the deserts of Sudan and then transported to the hot desert climates of the ancient world--Africa, India and China.
In ancient Egypt, Aloe Vera was known as the “plant of immortality.” Cleopatra used it in her daily skin treatments. Otherwise, it was used to treat burns, wounds, infections, parasites and fever in both China and Egypt. Legend has it that Alexander the Great, advised by Aristotle, conquered the island of Socotra, off the coast of Africa, for its supplies of Aloe Vera in order to treat wounded soldiers. Why he couldn’t have just traded for it, I don’t know. But it gives you an idea of just how valuable a plant Aloe Vera was to the ancients. More recently 1n 1944, the Japanese who were exposed to nuclear bombs applied aloe gel to their wounds and reported faster healing and less scarring. Wowza! That’s one powerful plant.
THE BENEFITS OF ALOE VERA IN HEALTH, WELLNESS AND SKIN CARE
Aloe Vera contains over 200 biologically active, naturally-occurring constituents including polysaccharides, vitamins, enzymes, amino acids, and minerals that promote nutrient absorption, digestive health, a healthy immune system, and a reduction of nitrates
Here’s a video from the Raw Chef showing how to remove Aloe Gel from the leaf.
SO NOW YOU'VE EXTRACTED THE GEL. HERE ARE 8 WAYS TO USE IT
1. Treat sunburn.
Aloe Vera helps with sunburn through its powerful healing activity at the epithelial level of the skin, a layer of cells that cover the body. It acts as a protective layer on the skin and helps replenish its moisture. Because of its nutritional qualities and antioxidant properties, the skin heals quicker. You can put pure gel onto your skin. You can also lay the aloe vera leaf rind that you took the gel from, gel side down on your skin.
2. Moisturize Skin.
Aloe moisturizes the skin without giving it a greasy feel. It`s perfect for anyone with an oily skin complexion because it will moisturize while healing breakouts and their aftermath scars. Aloe vera gel can be used as an aftershave treatment as its healing properties can treat small cuts caused by shaving.
3. Treat Acne and Eczema
Aloe vera gel contains two hormones: Auxin and Gibberellins. These two hormones provide wound healing and anti-inflammatory properties that gently and effectively reduce skin inflammation. Giberellin in aloe vera acts as a growth hormone stimulating the growth of new cells. It allows the skin to heal quickly and naturally with minimal scarring.
Aloe is soothing and can reduce skin inflammations, blistering and itchiness, while helping the skin to heal more rapidly. In Ayurvedic medicine Aloe is used to effectively heal chronic skin problems, such as psoriasis, acne and eczema.
4. Fight aging.
Need a little extra help on the fine line front? Aloe Vera gel to the rescue. As we age, we lose elasticity in the skin. Aloe gel contains a plethora of antioxidants including, beta carotene, vitamin C and E that can help improve the skin's natural firmness and keep the skin hydrated. It can work beautifully as a soothing eye gel.
5. Lessen Stretch Marks
Think of your skin as one big piece of elastic that’ll expand and contract as needed to accommodate growth. But if the skin stretches too far, too fast (due to pregnancy, say, or rapid weight gain or loss) the skin’s spring-back factor can be damaged, due to minor tears in the layers of the skin caused by sudden and excessive stretching And so…hello stretch marks. Aloe vera gel can help by healing these wounds and when they do, they fade. Goodbye stretch marks.
6. Nutritious Superfood
This solid material contains over 75 different nutrients including vitamins, minerals, enzymes, sugars, anthraquinones or phenolic compounds, lignin, saponins, sterols, amino acids and salicylic acid. Whew! That’s a mouthful but what does Aloe Vera ingested do for your body?
It can help boost your immune system. A major part of the immune system are the white blood cells that form the first line of defense by creating a barrier that hunts down and kills foreign particles, helping the body fight off infection and disease. A compromised immune system drops in white blood cell count; ingesting aloe Vera gel can help increase the body’s white blood cell count.
Aloe vera can also help the body clear out environmental toxins by boosting metabolism. It has a significant amount of antioxidant properties and it also helps the body absorb antioxidants from our foods and supplements.
Aloe Vera gel has also been shown to support healthy muscle and joint function, when ingested.
7. Soothes in Periodontal Disease.
According to a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Aloe Vera is extremely helpful in the treatment of gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis. It reduces bleeding, inflammation and swelling of the gums. It is a powerful antiseptic in pockets where normal cleaning is difficult, and its antifungal properties help greatly in the problem of denture stomatitis, apthous ulcers, cracked and split corners of the mouth.
8. Digestive Aid.
Aloe Vera helps maintain a healthy intestinal pH while promoting a friendly environment for probiotics in the digestive tract. It also can assist in controlling bad bacteria growth that can inhibit nutrient absorption. Aloe Vera has been known to improve digestion and to relieve ulcers. Some people consider it a laxative, while others attribute that effect to its digestive qualities (which normalize the system and induce regularity).
Sherazad Jamal, Free Lion Team
Do you have any favourite uses for Aloe Vera Gel? Please share in the Comments Section.
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