Winter brings us shorter days, little sunshine, lower tempratures, the prospect of coughs and colds and let’s not forget the stress of Christmas planning. Cold weather lingers for months so anything that eases the winter blues has got to be good news.
Aromatherapy can help in a number of ways. It can assist in the fight against colds even cleaning the bacteria from a sick room. Some eseential oils make us feel uplfted and better abl eto cope, others help us relax and face the challenges of the day. There are even some essential oils that will help provide the energy for the party season!
Each of the essential oils used in Aromatherapy can be used either alone or in combinations to create a desired effect. They are effective because they have an immediate impact on our sense of smell, known as ‘olfaction’. When an essential oil is inhaled, olfactory receptor cells are stimulated and the impulse is transmitted to the emotional center of the brain, or ‘limbic system’.
To fight off colds and provide curative help in a sick room consider the following essential oils always remembering that the better the quality of the essential oil the better the possible attributes and curative power.
Tea Tree - Natures Antisceptic
When fighting colds number 1 on your list should be Tea Tree – Much research has been done into the properties of tea tree, perhaps more than any other essential oil. It is now widely recognized by the scientific community as a powerful tool against a variety of infectious organisms. Mr. W. R. Penfold in 1930 found it to be 11 to 13 times stronger than carbolic or phenol as a germicide.
Tea tree will kill viral bacteria in the air, is a strong antiseptic and an anti-inflammatory. It is a very powerful immune stimulant and helps fight infections of all kinds and helps clear the skin. There has been some talk of using Tea Tee to fight MRSA. Use tea tree to help clear bronchial congestion, asthma, coughs, sinusitis, whooping cough and tuberculosis. It is also purported to be valuable in massage to clear up abscesses, acne, burns, dandruff, athlete’s foot and cold sores.
Put in a burner or diffuser if you do not have one then place on cotton wool and put on a warm radiator or use in an inhalation mixture. You could add 6 drops of the oil to a warm bath to help with breathing and congestion.
Eucalyptus - The Ancient Cure-All
Number 2 on your list could be Eucalyptus – The essential oil of eucalyptus is produced in such areas as Australia and Portugal. In fact, the Aborigines considered this oil to be a general cure-all.
Eucalyptus oil is used for various respiratory diseases such as asthma, sinusitis, and flu. It can relieve fever and skin irritations plus can clear the head and be uplifting. Use as for tea tree. Placed in a diffuser it will normally clear sinuses within 15 to 20 minutes depending upon the severity of the discomfort. The only problem with Eucalyptus is that the smell is as much disliked as liked however persevere with it to help those breathing problems.
Lemon - Anti-Bacterial
Number 3 on your list could be Lemon – Lemon is anti bacterial and an antiseptic. It is an amazing cleaner for work surfaces and hand cleaning. Add to the 2 oils above in an atomizer for a ‘sick room’ or deterrent against the flu.
For a hand scrub mix 30ml carrier oil, 2 tablespoons salt, and 20 drops of Lemon essential oil and store in a jar. Use a teaspoonful and massage over dampened hands. Rinse well, and moisturise as normal.
Hand Sanitser – You can make an effective hand sanitiser by mixing 75ml of vodka with 10 drops of good quality tea tree essential oil and 25 ml of water. The alcohol and tea tree oil are known to kill germs. Store in a small handbag sized spray bottle or close to your kitchen sink. Do not use excessively as alcohol can dry the skin. Always wash your hands well in soap and water if available.
Other essential Oils to Consider are; Essential oils of basil, peppermint and pine can help to ease nasal congestion. Choose one to three of these oils together with eucalyptus in a burner, diffuser or steam inhalation treatment. For chills add 3 drops of rosemary and 3 drops of ginger or black pepper essential oils to your bath. Use pure Rose Water, known as a hydrolat or hydrosol, for cooling and protecting the skin especially on the forehead with a fever. In addition to being a refreshing cooling agent rose water is also a great skin cleanser and can calm irritated skin. In the press recently, there have been articles about a new formula for beating MRSA and other super bugs. This ‘recipe’ is based upon a combination of different types of Thyme so it will be interesting to watch the progress of the testing that is taking place.
Lifting the spirit on long dark days – There are a number of essential oils that are considered useful for lifting our sprits and fighting back against the long dark days of winter. The most popular are; rosemary, grapefruit, orange, lemon, pine, peppermint, geranium, neroli and bergamot. In fact, all the citrus aromas provide energy and are great before going out to party. Select 2 or 3 that are your favourites and mix them together before putting in your warm bath, oil burner or diffuser. Essential oils have different strengths and longevity known as Top, Middle and Base Notes. This means is that some aromas will last longer than others and some will be more dominant over other oils. For example, the citrus oils are quite strong and pine is very strong so only use a small amount.
For that ultimate feel good moment – If you want to be relaxed and uplifted for that ultimate feel good moment then use the king and queen of oils and their partners. Rose is known as the Queen of Oils and is one of the best all round oils. It has been used for centuries for uplifting and rejuvenating, for skin care, and even relieving the symptoms of PMT. Jasmine is known as the King of Oils and is said to induce a feeling of optimism and confidence, particularly helpful where there is apathy. Sandalwood is an amazing relaxing oil that will bring harmony, contentment, calm and clarity to defeat tension, confusion, depression and stress. Neroli (Orange Blossom) has an amazing uplifting aroma and a great oil for lifting depression. Ylang ylang is soothing and relaxing. Last but not least, the great soothing and comforting oil that is so mild it is also ok to use with children, Chamomile Roman. Rose, ylang ylang and jasmine are also considered aphrodisiacs so watch out!. Use 1 or more of these oils, they all mix well with each other, and enjoy the amazing aroma.
Rose and Neroli are absolutes which means that they are distilled by a different method, are very strong and also, unfortunately very expensive. If you watched Dragons Den last series you will already know that Sandalwood Mysore (Indian) is one of the most expensive essential oils available. However, there is a slightly less expensive Sandalwood Australian and still in the same tree family the much cheaper, but less effective, Amyris oil.
Please note that none of the essential oils mentioned in this article should be applied directly to the skin, they should always be diluted in water or a carrier oil. For a massage blend add no more than 30 drops to every 50ml of carrier oil.
Central heating – If you have an oil burner or diffuser then using plain water to put moisture in the air can help combat the dryness caused by central heating. There is anecdotal evidence that some asthma sufferers will benefit from an increase in moisture in the air from an electric diffuser. Another problem made worse by the constant use of central heating is that our houses become a breeding ground for things that crawl!