Essential Oils for Support
Last week I gave you some tips on eating with the seasons. This week I thought I would follow up with another good way to prepare for the change in weather.
The change in seasons brings with it temperature changes and environmental changes. What kind you ask? Levels of humidity, which can increase development of mold if not managed properly, for one. Excessively low levels of humidity, on the other hand, can lead to dry sinuses and nose bleeds. Changes in allergens, both indoor and out occur with the change in seasons. Seasonal bugs can place added burden on the immune system as well.
Essential oils can play an oscar-worthy supporting role year-round, but come in especially handy with the change of seasons as they help the body adapt. When used in conjunction with good practices for boosting immunity naturally, you have a new tool to enhance your arsenal.
I’ve shared some of my favorite all-around uses for essential oils and how to choose them here and here. Today I’m going to focus in on using essential oils for wellness in the changing seasons. IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTE: Not all oils are safe to use during pregnancy or with small children. Peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree, oregano, Roman chamomile, thyme, cardamom, cinnamon and clove essential oils should not be used by pregnant women without consulting with their physician. Consider sticking to citrus oils, lavender, frankincense, sandalwood, ginger, ylang ylang and patchouli.
Oils for Respiratory Support
The respiratory system is both an intake and a detox organ. We breathe in oxygen, which we need to survive and support cell health and respiration. We breathe out carbon dioxide as well as filter out dust, pollen, mold and other pollutants. Our nasal passage, unlike our mouth and throat, is lined with fine hairs and mucous membranes (like the stomach) that trap these pollutants to assist in keeping them from getting further into the system. That is a major reason to keep this pathway clear for breathing. When you breathe through your mouth you bypass this very important gateway and lose the protections of the nasal passage.
Craving spicy foods more so in the colder months is not just about how the foods relate to our changing nutrition needs. Spicy foods actually help the lungs in the detoxification process, which tends to need more support in colder months. I know when I eat spicy foods my nose runs. This is good as it clears out whatever is hanging out waiting to be expelled; so long as you ensure its exit.
If spicy isn’t your thing, fear not. There are oils you can use to help with the bad bacteria and other germs taking up residence in your respiratory system.
- Eucalyptus – that wonderful menthol smell. Shown to be highly beneficial in cold and flu season, especially through its ability to reduce the number of microbes in the air when diffusing. It’s also very soothing for sinus issues. If you like the old chest rub from childhood, you can recreate the effect by mixing a few drops of eucalyptus oil with equal parts of peppermint and coconut oil for a homemade vapor rub. Another great way to use eucalyptus oil is as a steam. Just boil up some water and place in a heat-proof bowl in the sink. Add a few drops of eucalyptus oil and get just close enough to inhale the steam, covering your head with a towel to trap and direct the steam.
- Peppermint is also very soothing and aids in clearing the sinuses. It can be used in the same manner as eucalyptus if you just can’t stand the smell of eucalyptus. Just know that peppermint is also known for its energizing properties and you may not want to get too much exposure too close to bedtime.
- Thyme is an immune system supporter and helps to thin mucus. In combination with eucalyptus and peppermint, the trio packs a powerful punch. A steam with a few drops of each of these oils can assist with easing seasonal respiratory issues.
Oils for Immune Support
Another system we have talked about is the lymphatic system, which carries infection-fighting white blood cells throughout the body. Keeping this system moving is one part of maintaining a healthy immune system. The lymphatic system is the drainage system for removing toxins and waste trapped by the white blood cells. Supporting it when it’s overwhelmed is critical to the body’s ability to fight off infections. You can learn more about the role of the lymphatic system and how to support it regularly here. As for supporting it with oils, here are some tips:
- Tea tree – although not a pleasant smelling oil, it is very powerful. It has quite the medicinal smell and has research supporting its antiviral activity against flu virus subtype H1N1. If you’ve been in crowded places during flu season, or even been in environments you suspect are teaming with this viral bugger, diffuse some tea tree when you get home and do the triple threat steam above.
- More tea tree – if you like to use hand sanitizer, you can utilize tea tree for a safer solution by mixing 3 tbl of aloe vera gel, 1 tbl of distilled water, 5 drops of tea tree oil and 1 tsp of vitamin E oil together to create your own. Feel free to add in a couple drops of peppermint, orange, lavender or lemon essential oil for a more pleasant scent and an added boost. Just be careful not to underdilute your oils, as they are very powerful. If you want to up the oils, just add a little more aloe vera and water to properly dilute the strength. Additionally, I encourage you to take the time to find a silicone bottle rather than using a plastic bottle. Why undermine all your hard work by adding endocrine disruptors to your blend from plastic?
- Eucalyptus, peppermint, thyme, oregano and frankincense are all immune supporters that can be diffused. Thyme and oregano should be added to your herb arsenal for cooking. You can read more about using herbs and spices for support here.
Oils for Boosting Mood
The winter blues and holiday stress can take a toll on our health and deplete the immune system. Are there scents that you know make you smile or make you feel more energetic? Then diffuse them. Here are some oils to help you get through the coming months, feeling as though the sun was still shining warm and bright on cold, dark winter days:
- Citrus oils are naturally uplifting. Add orange or grapefruit to your winter diffuser blends of clove, cinnamon and cardamom.
- Lavender, geranium and Roman chamomile are great for relaxation and calm when things get crazy at the holidays. I use a combination of ylang ylang, sandalwood, lavender and clary sage in my diffuser pendant when I know I’m going to be in a high stress situation. It keeps me calm, centered and balanced.
- A blend of peppermint, orange and patchouli are great for the afternoon drag at work. Clove is also a good energy booster.
- Feeling down? Try bergamot, ylang ylang, lavender or Roman Chamomile.
- Typically, just diffusing peppermint provides a good boost.
What am I diffusing right now? Peppermint, rosemary and tea tree oils. The peppermint helps mellow out the strong tea tree and rosemary is great for cognition as well as respiratory support.
Well, that’s it for now. Post below and let me know what your favorite oil is and why.
Yours in Wellness,