Millions of Americans prefer the healing benefits of essential oils over pharmaceutical products. And as the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially during cold and flu season.
However, it can all be a little confusing. Dr. Josh Axe, the author of "Essential Oils: Ancient Medicine," outlines some of the most effective oils for what commonly ails us during the winter months and how to use them. As always, consult a health care professional before taking any new steps that could affect your health.
Thyme Oil: Known to kill both bacteria and viruses, it can also help ease coughing. Dr. Axe recommends applying it topically to chest and neck, taking one or two drops internally or adding five to seven drops to hot water and breathe in the steam. However, pregnant women, people with high blood pressure and epilepsy should avoid this treatment.
Ginger Oil: Has been shown to help relieve the congestion and discomfort that often accompany a cold. It also aids in clearing mucus from the lungs and throat. Dr. Axe suggests adding a drop to a cup of green tea twice a day or applying it topically to the chest.
Eucalyptus and Peppermint: These expectorant oils can thin and loosen the excess phlegm that builds-up when the airways in our lungs become infected. This makes it easier to expel the phlegm through coughing and allows us to feel better and breathe easier. A good way to accomplish this is with a steam bath. Pour one cup of steaming hot water into a bowl, then add 10 drops of eucalyptus or peppermint oil to the water. Place a towel over your head and inhale deeply for five to ten minutes. This should not be done on small children. Peppermint can negatively interact with some medications.
Tea Tree Oil: Kills H1N1 flu virus and eases congestion. Patients may sniff the vapors out of the bottle, diffuse for 10 to 15 minutes, or dilute two drops in one tablespoon of coconut and apply to the chest. This stuff is strong, so never take it internally and always dilute it with a carrier oil like coconut oil, almond oil or jojoba oil, before putting it on your skin.
Lemon Oil: Boosts Immunity, kills germs, promotes lymphatic drainage as well as clearing mucus and phlegm. Dilute one or two drops in a carrier oil and apply to lymph nodes and/or chest being sure to avoid direct sunlight for 12 hours afterward. Alternately, diffuse for ten minutes.
Thyme Oil: (see above)
Oregano Oil: Oregano is a powerful weapon against bacteria, even earning the nickname, "nature's antibiotic." Dr. Axe recommends a sore throat gargle by putting two or three drops of oregano oil and two or three drops of peppermint oil into a glass of water and gargling for one minute, then spitting out. Do this three times a day, but no more than ten days at a time. Pregnant women, infants, and small children should avoid oregano oil.
Cinnamon Bark Oil: This aromatic oil eases sore throat pain and boosts our immune system. Place one drop of cinnamon oil in hot lemon water with a little honey and drink in the morning.
Eucalyptus Oil: Clears sinuses fast. Place one or two drops in water and gargle or combine with a carrier oil and rub on the chest. Do not use near the face of young children.
Peppermint Oil: Reduces sinus swelling when you inhale the vapor directly out of the bottle or by diluting with a carrier oil and applying to the back of the neck and chest. Use with caution, as peppermint oil can adversely interact with some medications.
HOMEMADE VAPOR RUB:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup grated beeswax
12 drops peppermint essential oil
20 drops eucalyptus oil
Directions: Pour the olive oil, coconut oil and beeswax into a jar. Place a saucepan with two inches of water over medium-low heat. Place a jar in the saucepan and allow the oils to melt. Stir to combine. Allow to cool slightly and add in the essential oils. Pour the mixture into a glass jar or metal tins and allow it to set.