We hope that with spring almost here and winter behind us, all those cold and flu germs would have disappeared with it. But those lovely germs appear to be floating around again and we are seeing so many people struggling to stay well.
My ‘go-to’ solution is always the right blend of essential oils used in the most effective way. They can be great for warding off germs when you know you are going to be exposed to them, or just when you are feeling particularly susceptible and want a natural way of giving yourself a boost.
They can be used in a bath blend, in a steam inhalation, on a tissue to inhale, in a room diffuser or as a body oil to apply directly onto the skin. Just don’t forget to dilute them well in a base oil first! Any vegetable oil, almond or grapeseed are good and are easily available in most supermarkets. But it is always sensible to ask advice from a qualified professional to ensure they are safe for you to use first!
My top 5 ‘winter wellness’ oils:
- Eucalyptus. This is a brilliant antibacterial oil and the one that I ALWAYS use if I’m with someone who has a cold and I want to avoid catching it! A spray containing just 2% of the oil will kill 70% of airborne bacteria so I tend to pop six drops in a diffuser or oil burner to ward off any germs floating around. It is so clever that two of the chemical constituents that make up eucalyptus cause a chemical reaction when they come into contact with oxygen, which produces ozone in which bacteria cannot live. It works a treat!
However, if you find the aroma of traditional eucalyptus (eucalyptus globulus) a little too strong, lemon eucalyptus (eucalyptus citradoria) has a fresher, more citrus scent which can be more fragrant and a little less medicinal when using it in a room diffuser. Which might be a little less obvious if you’re expecting guests with coughs and colds! Eucalyptus radiata also has a more pleasant aroma but is just as effective.
It also has antiviral and decongestant properties and is great for coughs and colds when inhaled. Putting one or two drops in a bowl of hot water and using it as a steam inhalation helps to relieve nasal congestion and should encourage the ability to breathe through your nose again. Always a relief! If you have any congestion in your respiratory tract, eucalyptus is a good choice of essential oil.
We all know that this is great for eating or drinking if you are feeling nauseous but, according to traditional Chinese medicine ginger can and often should be used in any condition where the body is not coping with internal or external moisture. And in our western world, catarrh is classed as internal moisture. The fieriness of ginger and its stimulating and warming properties help to combat this and really get things moving! It is these properties that make ginger very effective at expelling mucus and helping to clear out the accumulated catarrh and mucus on your chest- all that horrible gunk that comes with a cold.
And if you’re struggling with a sore throat, you can also gargle with it – when mixed with vodka. Yes, seriously! (But DON’T swallow it! Essential oils are never to be taken internally.)
For a powerful tonic that is good for all respiratory infections, thyme is stimulating, warming, anti-infectious, antiseptic, antibacterial and great at getting rid of mucus. Especially when it’s affecting your chest and lungs. It will literally help you ‘cough it up and spit it out’ and it helps to open the chest and disinfect! Fortifying and uplifting when you need it most. And would like to stop coughing and spluttering!
Refreshing, stimulating, purifying, reviving, strengthening and soothing – all those things you want to feel when you’re getting over a virus and all notes that are associated with the essential oil of lemon. But it’s most important property? The ability to stimulate our bodies white blood cells ; the cells that defend us against infection. It cleanses and detoxes and is incredibly valuable when working against infectious illnesses.
And as a lovely bonus? It has a beautifully clean aroma and the ability to clear your head. Excellent for when you’re feeling heavy and fuzzy-headed.
In my opinion, one of the best immune-stimulants found in aromatherapy and one I use a lot in massage treatments when someone is feeling run-down and tired. It is excellent for when fatigue is brought on by coughs, colds, infections and stress. And we know we’ve mentioned the link between stress and illness a lot! As an antiseptic and anti-bacterial oil which acts as a tonic and helps to recharge energy, it is a real favourite for when a much-needed boost is required.
And a couple of drops mixed with two drops of Sandalwood oil in 10mls of a base oil can act as an effective chest rub for dry and tickly coughs too!
NB. If you are suffering from epilepsy, high blood pressure or are in the early stages of pregnancy, please seek advice from a qualified aromatherapist before using any essential oils. They need to be both safe and appropriate for you to use.
My double whammy, cure-all method of dealing with a cold (if it has been particularly persistent and I haven’t used essential oils at the first sign of it!) is an ‘anti-catarrh’ tea. Especially when its at that stage of stopping you from breathing through your nose and making you sound a bit like Darth Vader!
Some of you will have been given this recipe when you’ve come in to see me feeling full of cold and a bit fed-up but I think its time to share, so…
Take 2-3 one inch chunks of root ginger
2-3 cloves of garlic, cut in half
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tablespoons of Muscovado sugar (if you don’t have muscovado sugar, don’t use any sugar!)
3-4 mugs of water
Bring to the boil and simmer for a couple of minutes, strain and its ready to drink! And you can reheat when required.
I do hope that by using some of my top winter wellness oils (but safely, and please don’t forget to seek advice from a professional) you stay germ-free this winter and have your healthiest end to the year!