Essential oils (EO’s) have been gaining popularity in the recent decades but by no means is the use of essential oils a new concept. Essential oils have been used for thousands of years in many cultures throughout the world for various health, cosmetic and spiritual purposes. Primarily, essential oils are a type of oil that is extracted through careful steam distillation or cold pressing from a variety of raw plant material such as flowers, leaves, wood, bark, roots, seeds, and peels. They contain powerful antioxidants and phenols. They are typically inhaled or applied topically, as consuming them can be dangerous due to their high potency and numerous effects on the body. Always use caution and educate yourself on the effects and contraindications of oils before using them.
A Brief History on Essential Oils:
Ancient Egyptians are thought to be the first society to use these oils, dating back to 4,500 B.C.E.. In China the use of aromatic oils was first recorded between 2697-2597 B.C.E. during the reign of the legendary Yellow Emperor, Huang Ti. He included many aromatics and their uses in his famous book, “The Yellow Emperor’s Book of Internal Medicine” which is still used by practitioners of eastern medicine today. In Traditional Indian Medicine essential oils were blended into their healing potions and Vedic literature documents over 700 substances including myrrh, cinnamon, ginger and sandalwood as effective for healing. Aromatic plants and oils were also believed to be of great spiritual and philosophical influence in Ayurvedic medicine. The ancient Greeks were using essential oils for their healing and curative properties between 400-500 B.C. and Hippocrates documented the therapeutic affects of more than 300 plants including thyme, saffron, marjoram, cumin and peppermint. The knowledge and use of EO’s has since spread throughout Rome, Persia and the rest of the world.
“a perfumed bath and a scented massage everyday is the way to good health.” -Hypocrites
Top 7 Essential Oils to help Embrace Winter
Winter can be intense, both physically and emotionally, so we can use all the help we can get to keep our bodies warm, healthy and happy!
1. Oregano Oil
Our number 1 pick for winter is Oregano as it has powerful immune-boosting, antiviral, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Excellent for illnesses like the cold and flu and especially helpful for relieving a sore throat.
- Difficulty sleeping
- Reduces the fear associated with anxiety
- Sinus congestion
- Respiratory conditions
- Fungal infections
- Athlete’s foot
- Arthritis pain
Always use diluted and pregnant or nursing women should avoid using it. Diluted in water, it makes an excellent anti-bacterial spray for cleaning surfaces.
2. Eucalyptus Oil
Discovered in Australia, this distinct smelling oil has antimicrobial, antiseptic and expectorant properties
- Wounds, burns, cuts, abrasions, sores and scrapes
- Bug bites and stings (can be made into a salve or healing ointment)
- Chest congestion (either blended with other oils or alone)
- Sinus conditions
- Asthma (a salve made with it can ease asthma attacks when spread on the throat and chest)
- Fibromyalgia pain (rub into the affected area a few times a day)
- Shingles (add a few drops added to a compress and placed on skin affected-can ease the pain and may speed the healing process)
Eucalyptus’ disinfectant properties make it ideal to use in a spray for your kitchen and bathroom, or diffuse the oil in your bathroom to eliminate germs and odors.
3. Lavender Oil
Lavender oil is one of the most versatile oils as it is used for a wide range of conditions. It is antibacterial, antidepressant and anti-inflammatory.
- Nasal congestion
- Common cold
- Improves sleep
topically to alleviate:
- Skin rashes/eczema
- Insect bites
- Minor burns
- Cuts and scrapes
- Dry, flaky skin (moisturizing effects help keep your skin hydrated and healthy. You can also combine it with jojoba oil for an extra burst of hydration)
4. Lemon Oil
Lemon essential oil is antidepressant, anti-fungal, astringent, antibacterial, antiviral and antiseptic. This oil can be used to help prevent illness or to help fight illness if you are already sick. Citrus oils are very uplifting during the winter months and help ward off feelings of depression.
- Fights colds and infections
- Boosts mood and energy levels
- Aids in detoxification
- Alleviates depression and anxiety
- Alleviates stress
- Reduces sugar cravings
- Aids in weight loss
- Improves circulation
Lemon essential oil can make your skin photosensitive, so use with caution and avoid sun exposure for at least 12 hours after if used on skin. You can also use lemon as a household cleaner to remove germs and bacteria from your floors and surfaces.
5. Peppermint Oil
We all love the incredible and unforgettable smell of Peppermint but did you know that it is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antidepressant and antispasmodic? It’s so wonderful that it can help with so many common ailments.
- Enhances mood, eases depression and anxiety
- Eliminates fatigue
- Alleviates pain and relaxes muscles
- Stimulates immune system
- Alleviates sinus headache, pressure and pain
- Aids digestion
- Soothes stomach aches and pains
- Calms cough and chest congestion
- Eliminates odor
6. Frankincense Oil
Frankincense, also known as “liquid gold”, was found in King Tut’s tomb and has been used for many spiritual and medicinal purposes. It has immune-boosting, mood enhancing and purifying properties which can help to prevent you from getting sick during the winter season. Naturally antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant, anti-cancerous, analgesic and expectorant.
- Enhances mood
- Alleviates anxiety and depression
- Alleviates respiratory conditions
- Promotes relaxation
- Aids in sleep
Topically, you can use Frankincense for:
- Cuts and scrapes (it’s a great disinfectant)
- Scar tissue
- Insect bites
Frankincense is also great to use in meditation.
Tea tree oil is antiviral, antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-parasitic, anti-fungal, antiseptic, analgesic and is used topically to treat the following:
- Athlete’s foot
- Cold sores
- Nail fungus
- Insect bites
For use around the home, you can add a teaspoon of tea tree oil to water in a misting bottle to create a disinfectant spray.
Before using any essential oils, please do your research to educate yourself thoroughly on their uses and possible toxicities and always employ common sense when using them. I also recommend investing a few extra dollars on therapeutic high quality, organic essential oils.