6 aromatherapy treatments that will keep you healthy this winter
Love it or hate it, winter is here — and the temperature isn't the only change we're dealing with. The chill in the air brings along coughs, colds, aches and pains, and while the instinct is to stock up on medicine and vitamin C at the drug store, there are a ton of options you might not have thought of that will help fend off the worst that winter has to offer. So, we brought in certified Aromatherapist and Natural Beauty Expert Sandy Gold to show us how to ease common winter woes with the help of aromatherapy.
Cold symptom remedy
Eucalyptus oil is great for cold symptoms relating to the respiratory tract. By applying it topically when you have a cold, the strong aroma of the oil acts as a vapour that when inhaled, helps to relieves congestion, loosen phlegm and clear up clogged nasal passages. There are many different types — all are great but Eucalyptus Radiata is the best. Not only is it rich in Cineol, which is known for its antiviral, decongestant and expectorant properties, it's great for the whole family, including children over 10-years-old.
Combine 5 drops of eucalyptus oil in 2 tbsp of coconut oil, then apply to warm skin. It works best to mix the coconut oil and eucalyptus in a bowl first, then apply it to chest, back and also nose.
The effects of Eucalyptus are greatly enhanced when used on warm skin, as the increased blood flow helps to enhance the penetration of essential oils. So this treatment is great to do after a hot shower or bath.
Sore throat remedy
For sore throats, Sandalwood essential oil (Santalum album) is AMAZING. The antiseptic and bactericidal properties of Sandalwood are what make it great for a sore throat, and those benefits can be achieved by inhaling the oil and applying it topically. Sandalwood smells like warm wood by a campfire, which adds to its soothing effect.
Pump olive oil onto cotton ball, apply 1-2 drops sandalwood onto the saturated cotton ball, then gently rub on the throat. This will help to chase signs of a sore throat away, or help decrease their severity.
Aches and pains remedy
In the winter, our joints and muscles tend to react to the cold conditions. But, it's easy to treat those aches with ginger. Ginger essential oil (Zingiber officinale) is great for muscle pain because it contains gingerol, which has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that help to soothe inflammation and relieve pain.
Combine 2 drops of ginger with 1 tbsp of carrier oil (or an unscented natural body lotion) and then apply to the areas needed.
It's common for allergies to flare up in the winter, as when we close our windows and turn up the heat we create the perfect conditions for dust mites to thrive and survive. A simple way to soothe allergy symptoms is to purify the air you breathe in with a blend of lemon (citrus limon) and pine (pinus sylvestris), combined to make a natural air spray.
Add distilled water to a glass spray bottle — you never want to use plastic when dealing with essential oil — and mix in 5-10 drops of each lemon and pine essential oil. Spray throughout your home. You can even spritz on your face for quick refreshment!
Winter blues remedy
Research from the Canadian Mental Health Association shows that more than five million Canadians get into a seasonal funk, while about three percent of the general population has seasonal affective disorder. Aromatherapy can help lift spirits when people are feeling down.
For more severe forms of winter blues, Clary Sage essential oil (Salvia sclarea) can work wonders. It has antidepressant properties and is one of the most effective euphoric oils of all the essential oils. It's known to calm the mind and body as well as help lower anxiety and blood pressure. However, Clary Sage has a drug-like effect, so make sure to avoid if pregnant or consuming alcohol.
Simply inhale Clary Sage oil directly from the bottle and/or apply 1-2 drops onto a tissue or handkerchief and inhale throughout the day as needed for a calming effect.
Headache and migraine remedy
The winter months can be a real headache for some people with 75 percent of migraine sufferers saying the weather is to blame. If you do suffer from migraines, you should consult your doctor. But, if you need quick relief, peppermint essential oil could do the trick. Peppermint oil contains menthol, which has analgesic and anaesthetic properties that, when applied topically, help to relieve pain and act as a natural alternative to pain relievers. It's found in many headache formulas on the market and has a nice calming effect on the skin as well as the ability to improve circulation, relax tense muscles and stimulate blood flow.
Note: Peppermint oil is a stimulant, so it may interfere with sleep if used at night. We recommend using it in the morning or early afternoon if possible.
To make your own headache massage oil, combine 4 to 8 drops of peppermint essential oil with 2 tbsp of a carrier oil. Massage gently onto temples and forehead with small circular motions for about 20 seconds. You can close your eyes while doing this to help increase relaxation.
Now that you've got the remedies on lock, here are a few essential things to keep in mind before you break out the oil:
- If you are pregnant, have a health condition or are taking any medications – consult a health care professional first, prior to using any essential oils, to make sure there are no contraindications.
- Essential oils are highly concentrated, so you should always dilute them first in a carrier oil. A carrier oil is a base/vegetable oil (like coconut or olive oil for example), that is used to help "carry" the essential oil onto the skin to help prevent irritation.
- Always do a patch test before applying a new essential oil to the skin. Dilute 1 drop of the essential oil in 1 tsp of carrier oil and apply to the inner forearm and leave on for 24 hours – if any irritation occurs, discontinue use.