By Kris Vaughan, CH
Essential oils are growing in popularity and for good reason. Various essential oils have been proven to be antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal in several studies. I reference the studies below if you want to read them.
Essential oils are plant oil concentrations extracted by steam distillation making the finished product a highly concentrated plant oil. These oils can be used topically, as inhalations, and certain oils can be used orally. Essential oils are plant medicines that are easy to use and powerful in a short amount of time because of their concentration.
In cold and flu season there are several oils that are my best friends. I like to use these oils in combination as a steam inhalation or even as a chest rub to fight virus and bacteria but also to loosen congestion and to open airways.
The easiest way to do an essential oil inhalation is with a diffuser. You choose the oil, or oils, you want to use and then place a total of 10 drops in the diffuser. For respiratory illnesses I like to blend oregano, thyme, rosemary, and eucalyptus. Allow this to diffuse into the room for 15-20 minutes every couple of hours. This amount is safe and effective for fighting the germs and restoring breathing and reducing cough. It also disinfects the air in the room to cut down on the risk of anyone else catching your germ buddies.
If you don’t have a diffuser you can also do a steam inhalation by boiling several cups of water and pouring into a bowl. Add 3-4 drops of the oil you have chosen and then place your face several inches above the steam with a towel over your head. Close your eyes to avoid getting the oil vapor in them and breathe deeply for 1-2 minutes. Repeat this every 15-20 minutes for best relief. This should not be done for asthmatics, the diffuser option is safer for them.
You can also do a shower inhalation, sort of the quick fix method. Wet a wash cloth and drop 5-10 drops of essential oil on the cloth. Place this in the corner of the shower and take a hot shower for 10-15 minutes. The steam and the oils will combine and you will get an effective inhalation at the same time.
Another way to relieve chest congestion is to take a small amount of coconut oil or olive oil, add 3 drops of peppermint oil and rub onto the chest. The oil will be effective topically and as an inhalation. Peppermint oil is an expectorant and also antiviral.
Quality of Oils
There are different qualities or grades of oils and it is important to choose the right ones in order for them to be effective. There are perfume grade oils (non-therapeutic) which are only meant as a fragrance and are not to be ingested or used topically. Then you have therapeutic grade oils such as what is offered in our apothecary. Therapeutic oils have been proven effective for treating various health conditions and for actually changing or normalizing the function of various body systems.
If you are interested in learning how to use essential oils as a part of your home medicine kit then be sure to visit us in the apothecary or schedule a consultation in our wellness clinic. Using oils safely is very important and you can quickly begin bringing better health to your family this winter season.
Study #1: tested the effectiveness of 13 essential oils in the treatment of several types of respiratory viruses. It was concluded that cinnamon, thyme and clove were effective antimicrobials that are useful in treating these various infections.
Study #2: conducted in Italy found that eucalyptus oil was effective in treating various respiratory viruses and bacteria including strains of influenza, Streptococcus and pneumonia.
Study #3: A study conducted at the Central Institute of Medical and Aromatic Plants in Lucknow, India discovered that rosemary oil was helpful in the treatment of drug-resistant mutations of E. coli, Candida albicans and Mycobacterium smegmatis.
Study #4: A study conducted in China found that rosemary, as well as clove oils were effective in treating respiratory infections.