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,
Lavender tea's delicate, aromatic flavour drifts you to a good night's sleep. Here's why + a sleepy time tea recipe
We love our lavender, don't we? It's one of the most loved fragrances in the world, known for its restful calming effects, making it an essential in a sleepy time tea. Move over chamomile, make room for lavender!
Lavender tea is made from the fresh or dried buds of the Lavender flower, Lavendula angustifolia. Originating in the Mediterranean, it is now cultivated all over the world, including in my garden! Lavender brings a distinctive flavour and aromatic fragrance to foods. My son, Javid, flavours the most delicious ice creams with it; his gal Bri likes to flavour cakes and icing with it; and we make a simple syrup to add to drinks. Gin and lavender tonics anyone? I also use Lavender in my body care products for its calming scent and capacity to maintain clear skin complexioned boost cellular health. And I use it in a tea blend I make for a relaxed night's sleep. Between care taking of Thom and the garden, running all things Free Lion and being there for my boyz-to-men as required, I find getting a solid sleep can make all the difference to my day ahead.
But let's get back to talking tea. Lavender is a herb and a member of the mint, oregano and rosemary family. So it comes by its health benefits honestly. But what can a lavender tea do for you?
1. Improve Sleep
Lavender induces calm. Its relaxing effects can help improve sleep and be used to help you get there. According to Health Canada, Canadians are not getting enough sleep. 1 in 2 adults have trouble going to sleep or staying asleep; 1 in 5 adults do not find their sleep refreshing; and 1 in 3 adults are having trouble staying awake during the day. Health Canada puts this trend down to sedentary lifestyles and chronic stress. Not a surprise, given everything we're having to deal with these days. Enter Lavender Tea!
Drinking Lavender tea before bed can help you achieve a more restful sleep. According to a sleep study in Taiwan conducted with women post partum, Lavender tea helped participants' sleep quality improve. They also reported decreased depression symptoms and were able to be more present with their infants for better bonding. In another study of lavender and the nervous system, lavender taken orally, inhaled or massaged into the skin was found to decrease anxiety and improve mood levels. Yet another study conducted by psychologists at Wesleyan University with 31 men and women found that lavender increased slow-wave sleep, instrumental for slowing heartbeat and relaxing muscles. Participants slept more soundly with lavender than without. They also reported feeling more energetic in the morning.
2. Preventative Holistic Health
Western medicine is an allopathic system. That means it treats symptoms and not the whole person. Its goal is to eradicate, mend and repair, which is brilliant when you have a condition that will benefit from such treatment. The holistic approach is more about prevention, a philosophy that underpins many "Alternative" medical approaches.
Lavender tea fits in here perfectly. It can be taken as a preventative measure, to maintain balance in your body, delivering many desired health effects. Lavender tea is full of antioxidants to help you eliminate those pesky toxins from your system, working to prevent them from wreaking havoc on human cells through mutation, degradation or oxidative stress.
Lavender tea contains high amounts of antioxidants and antibacterial compounds (like Vitamin C, calcium and magnesium) that can help boost your immune system against colds, bacterial, fungal and viral infections. It has properties that can reduce inflammation which, in turn can help prevent a host of eventually serious ailments like heart issues or arthritis. Its antispasmodic properties can also help with joint pain while helping to minimize muscle spasms. The same can be really helpful with menstrual cramps.
Lavender tea can also help soothe digestive issues like nausea or diarrhea or indigestion. More importantly, it can help stimulate production of bile while will help your body break down foods more effectively. It can also help open up chest airways, making it easier to breathe. That's the added bonus of smelling your lavender tea between sips.
Lavender Borage Sleepy Tea
This calming warm tea is just the thing to help you unwind. The best time to drink a sleep tea is 30 minutes before crash time.
You can infuse the flowers into water. Or for an extra pre-bedtime sleep kick, infuse the flowers into the milk of your choice. Dairy milk and almond milk both contain tryptophan which increases serotonin, the precursor to the sleep regulating hormone, melatonin. I've honey as a sweetener but also because it helps release melatonin in your brain. You can replace honey with another sweetener for a vegan option.
You can have your lavender tea straight up, no chaser. Or you can blend it with other plants that promote relaxation and calm. For this recipe, I have included Borage flowers, a calming, cleansing staple in the Persian diet, for its relaxation and stress relieving properties.
1 cup of water, milk or almond milk
1 tsp dried borage flowers
1 tsp dried lavender flowers
1 tsp honey or stevia
1. Place the water, milk or almond milk into a small saucepan on medium heat. Heat to very hot, not a roaring boil.
2. Add the dried lavender buds and dried borage flowers to the saucepan
3. Allow to steep for 5 or 6 minutes.
4. Pour into a mug through a strainer
5. Add honey or sweetener of your choice.
6. Drink. Rest. Reset. Relax. Nite Nite!
Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor. The information I have provided about herbs and sleep are from my own research experience. I encourage you to find your own answers for what works best for you and your body.
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?
Why being grounded is so important right now and some Essential Oils that can help
A few days ago, an artist friend of mine posted on her social media wall, wondering how the rest of us were dealing with pandemic depression. Those that replied weighed in with helpful suggestions and loving support. In the current social distancing scenario, social media is serving as a window we can lean out of to talk to our neighbours and maintain some kind of human connection. That's a very good thing.
But social media is also the site of many fearful, traumatizing stories that can put us off balance. We are in such a deep transition, and it is not clear how it's going to turn out. Being mindful of our thoughts and feelings is important to our mental and emotional health right now. It's also useful to remember that thoughts and feelings become things. This is how we create our collective reality. Metaphysics for Life explains:
"Thoughts become things when they are given substance with feelings in the Mind.
Thoughts are the DNA of the Universe. They contain the information that gives form to our physical life experience. Without feeling or substance, we would not be able to perceive the thought-forms in our Mind.
The feelings we use to give substance to the thoughts in our Mind come from one of two sources: fear or Love."
Our thoughts and feelings affect our body's pathways, creating hormone release and affecting our energy flow. Fear thoughts will release stress and anxiety hormones and prolonged stress can lead to dis-ease. Love thoughts will release endorphins and happy hormones which leads to sustained health and well being.
The collective consciousness is also affected by the predominant thoughts and feelings of any group. Studies have shown that group meditation, for example, can do things like reduce crime rates and promote peace. How does this work? According to Thrive Global:
"An experiment conducted during the Lebanon war in the 1980s showed that when 1,000 people in Jerusalem meditated on world peace, war deaths in Lebanon went down by over 75%. Not only did war deaths go down, but crime and other destructive happenings also went down on the days the group meditated. There are many such experiments and given such huge positive social changes brought about by group meditation, it is very much possible that large meditation gatherings will become very popular very soon, just as meditation has become mainstream."
So for the good of ourselves, each other and the planet, choosing Love over Fear, following our hearts and inner guidance, seems critical at this time in our human history. Aromatherapy can play a huge role in helping us maintain our sense of rootedness on the earth in these winds of change.
WHY IS BEING GROUNDED SO IMPORTANT RIGHT NOW?
Being temporarily ungrounded is a pretty common experience these days, especially in our current, fast paced, rapidly changing world. We are constantly bombarded by fear thoughts, and feelings of depression or anxiety. We worry about what's going to happen in the future (anxiety); we miss how it used to be (depression). Yet we are all being called upon to dream a new future for ourselves and the planet, individually and as a species. In order to make the best choices for ourselves, we have to be able to hear our own inner voice, our own personal creative muse. This is where being grounded comes in. When we are, we are choosing to place our trust in something much older and wiser than our fears. We are choosing to love and honour our soul's journey and this beautiful planet we call home. She's been here a lot longer than we have; and this too shall pass
Being grounded refers to being physically, emotionally, mentally, energetically and/or spiritually rooted. This doesn't mean staying rigid or unchanging; it means that, like trees, embracing the flow of the breeze; following the sun and growing while being energetically connected to the earth. The emotion behind being grounded is Trust--in the unconditionally loving connection between ourselves and the earth. People who are grounded are fully present in the moment, alert and aware of their physical experience and boundaries. They tend to be solid, clear and comfortable in themselves. This is a useful way of being, especially in the face of the unknown. Aromatherapy is an effective tool for helping us get back into our bodies, anchoring us so that we can manifest our dreams for ourselves and our planet.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I'M GROUNDED?
It's my experience that our bodies have a way of telling us. Here's how you can get ready to listen. First, become present in your body. Take a deep, cleansing breath in. Fill up your lungs and hold it for 5 seconds; then exhale out. Take a couple more deep breaths and begin to notice sensations in your body. When you feel relaxed, pick up your essential oil bottle and bring it to your nose. Inhale. Hold your breath for a few seconds and notice any sensations you might be feeling, primarily in the your chakra system, from the base of your spine to the crown of your head. Grounding oils usually speak to your Root Chakra, found at the base of your spine. When you inhale, you might feel a drop in your lower pelvis area--that's your Root Chakra responding to the oils. Or you might be aware of an energy sensation running down your legs to your feet. You might also sense your feel feeling solid and firmly planted. These are all messages from your body that you are anchored in the present moment. If you don't feel the Root Chakra drop right away, inhale again deeply. Repeat until you feel grounding sensations in your body
Now take a minute to notice your feelings. If you are grounded, you will notice an overall feeling of calm and relief, as though you just put a big burden down. You might also notice some feelings of hope in the space between calm and relief. That is the feeling of trust taking root.
MY FAVOURITE GROUNDING ESSENTIAL OILS
My blog post, Aromatherapy, Memory and the Art of Creating Scents explains the science behind how aromatherapy works in your body. The entire process from the moment of breathing in the oil aroma to the corresponding gland secretion in your body, takes place in a matter of seconds. This is one reason why Aromatherapy can be so powerful in effecting change to your mental, emotional and physical state.
Essential oils that are grounding tend to be derived from tree bark, needles and resin. Or they come from the roots and rhizomes of herbaceous plants. No surprise here. Nature is wise that way, creating what we need to ground with her quickly, leaving clear clues for us to find it. She literally seems to be saying, "Make like a tree and get rooted."
Here are my favourite essential oils that provide grounding and the Free Lion Scents that holds each one
Cedarwood has been used traditionally by Native Americans for its spiritual energy. It is grounding and centering while also helping to open the upper chakras. The Druids believed Cedar to be a relative of the Tree of Life, holding an energy that is deep, ancient, and protective. Cedarwood essential oil brings forth feelings of safety, grounding, support, love, and comfort. Its fragrance is purifying and safeguarding. It powerfully facilitates deep connection to the wisdom and sacred truths of the earth.
I use this one a lot. You'll find it in our Rose Garden, Sandalwood, Citrus Cedarwood and Tofino Breeze blends as an anchoring base note.
Fern is a staple of Native American self-care preparations. Spiritually and energetically, Fern helps build an earth-sky connection between that in you which needs to soar free, and that which needs to stay anchored and stable so that you don't lose your way home.
It's a much lighter scent, leafy and herbaceous. a "green" sort of smell. I use it in our Namika scent blend to give some grounding depth to green tea and jasmine.
Juniper Berry is the oil of transitions and new beginnings. Its warm and comforting smell evokes feelings of safety and security, like being in the presence of tall trees standing guard. Juniper berry is a powerful tool to purify, cleanse and detoxify the body, mind, spirit and environment. It supports us during times of stress, works to calm negative emotions and facilitates communication between the heart and mind.
It has a slightly fruity note to its otherwise woody smell, giving it a gentler presence. You'll find it in our Rain City and dancing with the citrus notes in our Citrus Cedarwood
Pine instantly connects on the deepest level with hundreds of years of tree wisdom with its restorative assistance and present-time perfection. Revered by Native Americans as the "Tree of Peace," this nourishing oil expands the chest as you inhale the fresh scent of revitalizing evergreen. I use it in our Rain City blend.
Frankincense is said to hold the wisdom of the universe, reconnecting you with spirit. It is elevating yet calming and grounding. It helps remove blocks and negativity to support faith and trust, creative vision and concentration. Frankincense was used by the ancient Egyptians and Greeks as an offering to the gods. It is said that it was gifted to Jesus by one of the three wise men.
The scent is less woody and more resinous. You'll find it in our Citrus Cedarwood and gently grounding the sweet, warm tones in our Mombasa.
Oak Moss evokes the scent of the wet forest, truly connecting you with the earth. It helps us connect with the earth plane, and to realize that we are on earth for a reason. I use it in our Tofino Breeze.
OUD or AGARWOOD
Oud or Agarwood is known for its spiritual and calming properties. It is used to clear the negative and destructive energies that surround the human aura, while increasing mental functionality, and a feeling of harmony and contentment.
I have a huge attachment to the smell of Oud. It reminds me of sacred ceremony. You'll find it in our Mombasa, in a sacred dance with Frankincense.
Patchouli has a comforting yet stimulating scent that supports both creativity and sensuality. It is both balancing and grounding, helping with manifestation of earthly matters. Basically, it helps you ground your creative intention. You might be able to feel this one in your Sacral Chakra too, just below your belly button. You'll find it in our Sandalwood blend.
Sandalwood evokes sacred, wise energy. Both grounding and spiritual, it is a wonderful aid in mediation or to create a sacred space. Sandalwood is an aroma that is said to stretch out into the universe, into the hallowed space between heaven and earth, connecting you with your divine presence. What a way to meet your inner voice! You'll find it in our Sandalwood blend
What are your favourite Essential Oils to use for Grounding?
Make your Own Mint Tea
3 benefits of drinking mint tea; Make your own from fresh mint
I first met Mint tea in Morocco and I was smitten. I loved the sweet, hot, pungent flavours of the tea and could completely understand why it could be drunk all day long. Mint not only tastes good, it's good for you. And it's an easy perennial to grow in small gardens, outdoor or indoor, giving you your own organically grown supply. Making your own mint tea leaves from scratch? Easy, you've got this.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF DRINKING MINT TEA
1. AIDS DIGESTION. Mint tea can help settle an upset stomach, calm nausea. reduce bloating and gas. It's a wonderful drink to have after a meal to help your stomach calmly digest.
2. ANTIOXIDANTS. Mint tea contains a large amount of antioxidant compounds that help your body protect against and repair damage caused by harmful molecules that can lead to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress has been linked to chronic conditions like heart disease, cancer and diabetes. In the skin department, these antioxidants can help in the anti-aging process, as oxidative stress breaks down skin collagen, without which wrinkles happen. Antioxidants also help the skin repair itself by reducing inflammation.
3. REDUCES STRESS AND HELPS SLEEP. Mint tea can help decrease anxiety and improve sleep. The menthol in the plant has a relaxing, sedating effect on the body.
MOROCCAN MINT TEA RECIPE
If you have fresh mint growing, you can make Moroccan Mint Tea, . Cooking with Alia has a recipe to make it, authentic style, using Gunpowder Green Tea and fresh mint. She offers the recipe from her home country in text as well as a video. You get the foam on top by raising the tea pot spout 2 feet above the glass and pouring in a steady stream. This way of pouring also helps cool the boiling tea to a temperature comfortable for your mouth. By the way, this is also how chai is served, old school, foaming in a glass.
DIY YOUR OWN DRIED MINT TEA
While we love the convenience of buying a box of mint tea, the potency of the leaves fades the longer that box sits on the shelf. If the mint tea leaves are looking brown, they're old and stale. But no worry, it's easy to make your own from fresh mint that you grow or buy. And tea leaves made from fresh mint is hands-down tastier than store bought.
Mint is such a hardy perennial that loves to propagate itself. Our mint growth has doubled over since last year. By the way, I don't consider myself a gardening genius. This is just Nature doing her best work, for which I'm grateful because I really like drinking mint tea right through the year. Especially on those nights I'm having trouble sleeping. So I'm taking this time, while it's freshly growing in the ground, to make the most of our mint harvest, which will likely continue through the growing season.
We're growing both Spearmint and Chocolate Mint. We harvested about a 1/3 of our small bed. But you don't have to be growing the mint to make the tea leaves. You can buy fresh mint. You'll need 4 -5 bunches to get a decent amount of dried leaves out of it.
Here's what we did to dry the mint leaves for tea:
1. Separate the leaves from the stems
2. Lay wax or kraft paper on a flat surface, like a cookie sheet or cutting board or even a piece of cardboard.
3. Spread a single layer of mint leaves on your wax paper. Make sure the are not over lapping.
4. Leave them to air dry completely. This should take a few days.
5. Once the leaves are dry, run them through a food processor or chopper.
6. Put your dried mint tea leaves into a clean, dry bottle.
Now it's tea time! I put a tablespoon of the dried mint leaves into a drawstring paper tea bag. My son uses a tea ball. Or you can put it into your tea mug and strain out the leaves after the tea has steeped. I came across Bonesa Honey from Bulgaria who make a simply delicious rose flavoured honey. I add a teaspoon to my mug and then pour boiling water over my leaves and honey, letting it steep. If you want a stronger tea, boil the leaves (with or without teabag) in a pot of water on the stove on a roaring boil for 3-5 minutes. ENOY!
What are your favourite plant leaves to make tea? Do you grow your own? Please share any tips or experiences you have in the comments.
May 29th, 2020
CHIA SEED OIL: A SUPER MOISTURIZING ROCK STAR
Sometimes you meet a oil that you just love, and loves you back, inside and out. Chia Seed Oil is one of those ingredient rock stars for which I just can't sing enough praises. On the inside, Chia Seeds are a super food that bring so many health benefits. On the skin, it's pure magic. It's moisturizing, soothing, softening, protective and anti-aging.
A BIT OF CHIA SEED HISTORY
They ascribed their military prowess to the power of Chia in their diets. It was also used in their sacred and worldly ritual. Chia was given as sacrificial offering to the gods; extracted as tribute payments from conquered nations; and often used it as currency. Now, that's one valuable plant!
WHAT MAKES CHIA SEED SUCH A NUTRITIONAL SUPERSTAR?
Chia is rich in essential fatty acids, specifically omega-3 and omega-6. They are 5 x richer in calcium than cow’s milk; extremely high in vitamin C, 7 x more than oranges; high in iron, 3 x higher than spinach. Last but not least, chia seeds are also high in potassium, selenium, zinc, magnesium, vitamin A, E and B6. Not to mention fibre and protein. Added bonus: they are gluten-free.
So with all that nutritional power, chia seeds promote the correct functioning of the heart, brain and immune system while helping blood circulation by exerting an anti-oxidant function. They benefit teeth and bones, help improve your mental acuity, keep blood sugar and pressure in check, and are quite filling, should you be on a diet. All that in a tiny little seed.
WHAT MAKES CHIA SEED OIL FOR FABULOUS FOR SKIN?
Once again, it's that Omega 3 and 6 fatty acid content that skin just soaks up. These fatty acids help maintain moisture levels in the skin which reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as well as relieving dryness and flaking. Chia seed oil can also help with issues like rosacea or eczema on the face. It leaves your skin feeling soothed, smooth, soft and replenished. This is wonderful for dry and sensitive skin.
Chia seed oil is also a great source of vitamin B3 and zinc, which helps with oily skin and clogged pores. It also can help take down the inflammation and irritation that comes with break-outs.
It's also full of amazing antioxidants, including chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid, as well as myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol flavonoids, all of which protect your skin from environmental stressors. In fact, the antioxidants in chia seed oil have shown to be even stronger than vitamin C and vitamin E, two common and powerful antioxidants. This is exactly the kind of care normal skin needs to fight off signs of aging.
Put all of chia seed oils properties together—moisturizing, protection, and calming you have the perfect natural ingredient for maintaining your skin through all its changes. And that is why I chose to include it in all our Facial Oil blends.
ON A PERSONAL NOTE
May 09th, 2020
DIY DISWASHER TABS
The other day, I masked and gloved up, then hit the socially distanced grocery line up. The shopping list was long but wouldn't you know, I forgot to buy dishwasher tabs, a fact discovered after arriving home and unpacking our haul. The frustration didn't last long. I did a little research and hit the kitchen to whip some up. I'm so amazed at how well these dishwasher tabs work, I wanted to share the recipe.
You may have the ingredients lying about the house. Each has its own benefits. Baking soda (or washing soda, you pick) helps cut through the grease and is a great all-purpose cleaner. Borax is also another great cleaner that (bonus) helps disinfect. Salt helps mitigate the effects of hard water. Vinegar adds more cleaning power and helps to bind the ingredients together. Finally a bit of essential oil, for its anti-bacterial properties and lovely scent.
You will need:
1 cup of baking soda or washing soda. Both work equally well.
1 cup of Borax
1/2 cup of coarse salt
3/4 cup vinegar
15-20 drops of essential oil. I used Sweet Orange. You could also use Lemon, Tea Tree, Lavender, Rosemary, or Eucalyptus, as all these oils have antibacterial properties.
In a bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Measure out the of vinegar. Add it slowly to the dry ingredients, mixing as you go. There might be a little fizz from the chemical reaction between the vinegar and baking soda. Mix until the vinegar is evenly distributed through the powders. Now add your essential oil and mix it through again until evenly distributed.
Spoon the powder into a silicone ice cube tray mold. Then pack it down with your fingers. Gloves are optional. Let the tabs set overnight.
Next day, turn the mold over and pop out the tabs. They should hold their shape. If they don't, save the powder. You can still use it, just spoon it into the soap dispenser in your dishwasher.
Come dishwashing time, put a tab in the soap dispenser and set your dish robot to its usual settings. If you have a super crusty set of dishes, you can add a few drops of dishwashing liquid. Ya, I know they don't advise it, but found that a little, tiny bit boosts the cleaning power of these tabs.
Et Voila! Clean dishes! Everything came out shiny and clean, even the glasses; no spots. I hope this recipe is of use to your family.
What are your favourite DIY house cleaning recipes?
Stay well, stay kind.
October 15th, 2018
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
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.
August 18th, 2018
THE MAGIC OF CALENDULA TEA
A VERY SHORT HISTORY OF CALENDULA USE
Calendula has been revered as a magical medicinal plant for centuries. Ancient Egyptians used it to rejuvenate their skin. Bathing in water infused with calendula petals was thought to give give you a healthy, sunny glow, just like the flower itself. The Greeks and Romans used it as a culinary garnish. In India it was strung into garlands for weddings and religious rituals to call in powers of protection and good luck. Europeans and early American colonists used Calendula in soups and stews, relying on its gentle immune boosting properties to protect against the damp cold of winter.
What's not to love about this bright, yellow and orange, cheery member of the daisy family?
Calendula flowers are one of nature's most precious and useful gifts. The flower is loaded with powerful skin-healing, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, yet is gentle enough for most people and animals to use safely. Calendula can help get circulation moving and stimulate the immune system. My gardener friends tell me the flower is really easy to grow and requires low maintenance. Flowers and leaves of the calendula may be dried and stored for later use in making Calendula Tea. I'm not there yet in being able to grow my own for the amount I need to make Free Lion products. So here is where I get my Calendula Petals
And now here's the "how to" on Calendula Tea.
HOW TO MAKE CALENDULA TEA
One way of making a tea is basically pouring boiling water over plant materials and allowing it to steep. This is primarily the East Asian and European way. Then there's the way India does it--which is boil the water; add the plant materials and let it boil some more before you turn the heat off. That is how I do it. But I'll give you options. See which works for you.
1. The Steeping method
Place around 1 to 2 tablespoons of dried calendula flowers in a canning jar and pour around 1 cup (8 oz/240 ml) boiled distilled water over them. Cover and let steep for around 15 to 20 minutes. Strain petals out of tea before using.
2. The Sun tea method
Fill a canning jar 1/4 full with dried flowers and cover with cold distilled water. Cap and place in a bright sunny spot (like a windowsill or outside porch rail) for at least 5 or 6 hours. Strain out petals before use.
3. The Boiling Method
Bring 10oz/375ml of distilled water to a boil Place around 1 to 2 tablespoons of dried calendula petals into the water and let boil 3-5 minutes before you turn the heat off. Let the tea cool. Strain out petals before use.
HOW TO USE CALENDULA TEA
Now that you've made your Calendula Tea, here are some things you can use it for:
1. Use as a gargle for sore throat. Or use as a mouth rinse to help relieve canker sores, inflamed gums or thrush. Calendula's soothing properties will calm that gravely throat while its anti-microbial properties will go after infection-causing bacteria.
2. Pour some into a small, clean spray bottle to make a disinfecting wound spray. Spray clean strips of cloth or gauze with the tea and apply to wounds or scraped, itchy, scratched or otherwise inflamed skin conditions.
3. Take heavy duty paper towels and fold them into a container, one on top of the next. Pour Calendula tea over paper towels and let them soak up the tea. Voila! Now you have natural baby wipes to help ease diaper rash.
4. Strain through a coffee filter to remove all fine calendula flower particles. You can use this as an eye rinse to ease itchy eyes due to allergy, dryness and pink eye.
5. Wash your face with Calendula tea in the morning and at night if you're prone to acne and breakouts or have dry sensitive skin. If you don't want to make the tea, you can get our Face Chai Foaming Wash for Oily and Break-out Prone Skin or Face Chai Foaming wash for Dry and Sensitive Skin.
6. Pour some Calendula Tea into a foot bath for fungal conditions like athletes foot. Add some to your regular bath to help soothe and heal inflamed skin or rashes.
7. Use as a hair rinse, after shampooing to help ease an itchy scalp situation.
8. Calendula tea can be safely used on most non-pregnant animals as a soothing rinse for flea bites, scratches, scrapes, itchy coats or to help cleanse and heal minor wounds. You can also spritz it onto hot spots or chapped sun burnt noses, too.
So there you go, 8 ways you can use Calendula Tea. It's an amazing flower and it is no wonder that its popularity has not waned over centuries all over the world.
Before I go, let me leave you with this lovely flower bath surrounded by flower garlands. Treat yourself tonight!
Free Lion Team