Essential Oils and Cold Weather

Last week seemed to mark the beginning of the cold and flu season. Cyclone Debbie’s path of destruction was followed by a notable temperature decrease and the sudden transition from summer into autumn was noticeable as clients came into my studio with congested noses, sore throats and coughs.

When myself or my family experience these symptoms I tend to reach for my essential oils, however I realise that some of you might not have the same benefit of information that I gained while completing my Diploma in Health Science Aromatherapy at college.

I want to stop now and point out that there are a lot of factors to consider when deciding whether essential oil use is appropriate or contra-indicated for yourself or your family. I will not be covering those topics today, however I promise to do so in the very near future. In the meantime; do your research, take warning labels seriously, only purchase quality products and seek professional advice.

Essential oils have been utilised for thousands of years and have been studied in detail to try and discover why and how the specific chemical compounds found in each affects our bodies. Therapeutic properties are then attributed to that oil and this can be very helpful in determining which oil may be best suited for you.

Following is a list of therapeutic properties beneficial for respiratory complaints:

Antimicrobial: Resists or destroys pathogenic organisms

These oils can be effective in preventing initial infection

Antispasmodic: Prevents or relieves spasm of muscles

- These oils are most beneficial in assisting with dry coughs

Decongestant: Relieves or reduces congestion e.g. of mucus

- These oils are most beneficial in helping you to breath easier

Expectorant: Helps to expel mucus from the respiratory system

- These oils encourage coughing to remove mucus

Mucolytic: Dissolves or breaks down mucus

- These oils help breakdown or change the thickness of mucus making it easier to move

Stimulant: Increases the physiological function of the body

- Specifically immunostimulants assist your immune system to combat the infection

By carefully considering the presenting symptoms and the therapeutic properties presented in the table, you should be able to identify a list of essential oils most suited to your circumstances.

Your next step is to spend a bit of time researching (try doing a Google search for the therapeutic property you require). From the results you should be able to find the names of some appropriate essential oil choices, however here are a few suggestions for each therapeutic category:

Antimicrobial: Eucalyptus, Lavender, Lemon, Niaouli, Pine, Tea Tree, Thyme

Antispasmodic: Cajeput, Cypress, Eucalyptus, Hyssop, Sandalwood, Thyme

Decongestant: Cypress, Eucalyptus, Fir, Lavender, Niaouli, Peppermint, Pine, Sandalwood

Expectorant: Aniseed, Cajeput, Everlasting, Eucalyptus, Frankincense, Hyssop, Spike Lavender, Myrrh, Myrtle, Pine, Sandalwood, Tea Tree, Thyme

Mucolytic: Aniseed, Eucalyptus (esp Globulus), Everlasting, Thyme

Immunostimulant: Cajeput, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Niaouli, Tea Tree, Thyme

As you can see our native essential oils such as Eucalyptus, Niaouli and Tea Tree feature heavily. I personally don’t find this surprising when you consider how open your airways feel when walking through the bush in areas densely populated by these species.

From here you can decide if you want to utilise a single oil or create a blend of multiple oils, being careful to ensure your selection is not contra-indicated for your personal circumstances.

If selecting a single oil decide on one that either assists the majority of your symptoms, or one that will help with the symptom that you find the most difficult to manage.

Blends can sometimes be trickier to create, because although the oils work together on paper, their aromas may not be complementing, however this should not discourage you from having a go.

Finally it is time to consider how you are going to actually utilise the oil. With respiratory complaints inhalation is the most common method, as by breathing in the aroma you are transporting the volatile components directly to where they are needed.

For my clients last week we simply popped a few drops onto a tissue which sat under the face hole of the table for their treatment. Then they could take it home to ‘smell’ whenever they wanted. This is a very simple method and can be beneficial when you are time poor or are not yet confident applying oils directly to your skin.

Hopefully I have passed on some helpful information to get you started on your essential oil journey. As a trained Aromatherapist I regularly utilise oils with my clients, have a number of quality oils and associated products available for order as well as a preferred respiratory support blend for those who want to purchase an effective combination without a lengthy consultation.

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