At this time of the year with Christmas and Yule come and gone and the celebrations of passing into the New Year, we’ve seen friends and relatives, we’ve sung and danced and we’ve filled ourselves up with food and drink usually of the stodgy variety and are making new years resolutions to diet, be more healthy, give up smoking or drinking, be nicer, be more positive, be more open to new things etc… and now the mundane world has slipped back in and our bodies have to process all that.
Is it any wonder then, at this time when the light is returning but it also feels like the darkness and cold are all pervading, that we begin to get sick or depressed or just plain ‘down’. At this time of year more and more people get colds, coughs and generally feel ‘under the weather’, so what can you do to help yourselves feel healthy during January.
I would like to help you with some ideas. As an clinical aromatherapist, I have studied the essential oils and I have found the best oils to help with colds, depression and other cold weather maladies are a combination of those that will warm you, kill the bugs and clear the body of dis-ease.
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus Globulus) is probably well known to most of you as you will have seen it in the ingredients of most cold and flu sinus treatments available, though it is my preference to use it in its nature essential oil state. Eucalyptus has many qualities including clearing the sinuses, lightening the mind, stimulating and refreshing the body, helping to refocus you and cooling the pores and skin.
Known most widely for helping with colds, coughs, catarrh, asthma, sinusitis, bringing down fevers, decongesting the body, muscle pains, poor circulation and boosting the bodies immune system, it really is the go to oil for this time of year.
A couple of drops of eucalyptus essential oil on your pillow at night will have the same effect as rubbing vicks on your chest or sniffing a sinus spray and make you feel a lot better and your body has not had to process the chemicals because the eucalyptus is completely nature and comes from nature’s chemist. You could also burn a couple of drops in an oil burner to spread the effects around your home, healing not only yourself but others around you.
Niaouli (Melaleuca Viridiflora) is another essential oil that is similar in effect to eucalyptus, coming from the same aromatherapy grouping of medicinal oils, it is gentler and more uplifting than eucalyptus, though just as effective though lesser known.
Niaouli is most known for being a cooling and stimulating oil, that has the effect of relaxing an atmosphere, clearing the body and gently uplifting the mind, so if you are feeling depressed and down, this oil will lift you back up. It can help to fights colds, fevers, flu, bronchitis, chest infections, tuberculosis, pneumonia, whooping cough, asthma, sinusitis, sore throats, catarrh, laryngitis and is a powerful decongestant.
I find putting niaouli on my handkerchief or pillow for a good nights, relaxed sleep very effective, possibly even on the collar of your coat so that you are constantly inhaling its healing properties during your commute or sitting in front of your computer. Don’t worry if after a little while you can’t smell it anymore, this is due to the olfactory senses getting used to the smell and switching off, the oil will still be working its magic in the background.
Sandalwood (Santalum Album) is a member of the woods family of essential oils and is primarily know for its perfume, having a lovely sweet smell that when smelled relaxes and calms the mind.
In this case we are looking at its more medicinal affects including its ability to fight the streptococcus (commonly known as strep throat) bug that hangs around when you have a cold or cough, this essential oil will fight and clear that from your body and from your home, helping you to feel healthier quicker.
Together with fighting strep throat, sandalwood is highly calming, relaxing and harmonising for the mind and body, having the effect of reducing stress, depression and tensions as well as having expectorant qualities. So you can use this oil in an oil burner (very sparingly as it is now quite rare) by placing one drop into water and allowing it to permeate your home, if you can’t smell it any more just walk out of the room and come back in again and this should awaken your smell senses again.
Frankincense (Boswellia Carteri) a beautiful oil known for its use in catholic masses, pagan rites and rituals and in clearing and purifying your space. It has a smell that is well known to most of us and I know that most of you have smelt it in my home on more than one occasion before a workshop or circle.
I suggest using frankincense at this time of year not because of its healing properties for the body but because it heals the mind. It is an excellent oil if you are feeling down, depressed or stressed because it allows space for you to see into these states and find the light that guides you through. I think you will agree that this is very important at this time of year.
Frankincense is best blended into a bath oil or lotion that can be rubbed directly onto the body absorbing into your system and healing on a very deep level. Try to leave the oil on without washing it off for a long as possible as this will give the frankincense more time to do its work.
Ginger (Zingiber Officinalis) is another oil that really fits with this season, not only for its wonderfully aromatic smell but also for its gentle warming, which is not surprising as it comes from the spice family of aromatherapy.
Ginger can help with colds, flu, catarrh, congestion, coughs, sinusitis, sore throats, chills and fevers and is also a pretty effective hangover cure (if any of you need that) and due to is calming and gentle warming of your environment it has the effect of completely relaxing your body and mind, very important for getting over the latest bug that is going around.
You could use ginger essential oil in 5mls of vodka, blended with some frankincense and sweet marjoram essential oils, into a hot bath to really help soothe those aching muscles and relax you as you lie back and enjoy the gentle aromas and steam. Of course with ginger you can also get the root to eat and use more of it in cooking or raw in hot drinks to help too (do not use the essential oil in this way!).
Lemon (Citrus Limonum) is the last oil on my list for today but not the least. Lemon is what we call in aromatherapy ‘a cure all’ it has so many healing properties that it will work on nearly every situation from depression and stress to physical issues, colds and flu.
Lemon is nature’s cleanser, we use lemons in nearly everything from kitchen and bathroom cleaners to cold and flu tonics, from candles to air fresheners because lemons have a natural disinfectant and uplifting quality that at the same time as killing the bugs it also allows stimulation of our appetites and a feeling of happiness and lightness of mood. So lemon is a good essential oil to have around.
You could use lemon in an oil burner, on your pillow, in the bath, as a spritzer, in a candle… there are so many uses that I leave the choice to you. Again as with ginger you can also use lemons bought from the shops in your food and hot drinks as an internal cleanser too.
Healing for you
There are other essential oils I could add to this list, for example, Thyme, Rosemary, Lavender, Rosewood, Bitter and Sweet Orange, Clove etc… and these will also help with the maladies that are around at this time of year, but for me the ones I have given above I have found to be the best for this seasons challenges. I will leave you to make your own choices based on smell and your reaction to each oil.
When you go to purchase your essential oils please make sure that they are the real thing, don’t buy essences as these are not true essential oils and will not have the same healing properties as essential oils. I would recommend your local health food shop as your best source or reputable online aromatherapy stores like Quinessence or DoTerra.
Please make sure when you are using essential oils that you don’t use them directly on your skin or ingest them in any way as this can have harmful effects, the only time you can use them safely in their pure form is in an oil burner or on your pillow or clothes (in areas that don’t touch your skin) etc…
The reason it is called aromatherapy is that it is the aroma of the essential oils that does the work and when used directly on the body they should ALWAYS be blended with cream, lotion, carrier oil or emollient to more efficiently absorb into your skin. Always ask a clinical aromatherapist (like myself) if you have questions or want advice on what blend would work for you.
Here’s to you all having a healthy and wonderfully smelling January 2015 🙂