Essential Oils for Better Health
The use of essential oils for relief of respiratory infections has been in practice for centuries due to their antibacterial and anti-microbial properties, their effectiveness and the fact that these plant derived essential oils are relatively inexpensive, easy to come by and practical to apply.
Historically, vapours from certain plants and trees have been used to ease respiration from illnesses like the common cold, sinus pain and throat and chest infections. It was noted during World Wars 1 and 2, that soldiers that who were camping in cold climates in pine and eucalyptus forests were less susceptible to colds and flu than soldiers in warmer climates. The fortifying action of the vapours from the pine and eucalyptus trees was evident in the immune boosting effect on the soldiers.
How Essential Oils Relieve Symptoms
Essential oils are practical for respiratory infections because they are volatile, which means they naturally vaporise in the air. When used in conjunction with steam or dry heat they become more volatile and are able to act on the airways directly.
The particles that vaporise can be inhaled through the nose or mouth and have an effect on mucous membranes and the bronchi, right into the lungs. Their effect is as an expectorant – they increase mucous production (mucolytic), dilating or opening airways, and can be anti-spasmodic and anti-infectious.
The Hero Essential Oil for Colds & Flu – Eucalyptus, Tea Tree and Lavender
Certain essential oils are used to relieve respiratory infections, the most popular being eucalyptus. Others such as tea tree, lavender, pine, thyme, peppermint, and benzoin are also effective
Eucalyptus, one of the favourites to get rid of winter bugs, is effective to use preventatively as an immune booster. But most of it, it is mucolytic and helps to rid the airways of dryness, and to trap infectious particles that are then coughed out.
Tea tree has well known anti-infectious properties against bacteria, microbes and fungi. It is also non-irritant to mucous surfaces which line the respiratory tracts so is perfect in small concentrations for infections in the nose, throat or chest.
Lavender has many uses, but on the respiratory system it has anti-infectious properties. As well as being an expectorant, it soothes the mucous membranes, which is especially beneficial when treating irritated mucosa (lining of the nose, throat and chest) associated with allergies.
Applications of Essential Oils
The oils can be used in a number of ways to treat coughs, colds and flu. They can be used in their concentrated form in an aromatherapy burner, placed in a diffuser, vaporiser, sauna, or even a few drops on the shower floor. Sprinkled on a tissue, the aroma’s can be inhaled when desired.
Essential oils can also be used in a diluted form, mixed into a base or carrier oil, such as a cream or almond oil. The creams or oils can then be massaged into the chest, or around the throat or nose, and even around the ears to soothe flu symptoms.
Bath oils or salts with the effective essential oils are wonderfully therapeutic as they provide the steam effect, inhalation and absorption of oils into the body.
Precautions Whilst Using Essential Oils
When essential oils are used there are a few points to bear in mind:
Combine oils for maximum effect
Essential oils are effective individually as well as when they are combined with other oils for a synergistic effect. The whole effect is more than the sum of its parts, therefore a mixture of more than one effective respiratory oil is better than a single oil.
Less is better than more
It must be cautioned that less is better than more. With aromatherapy and essential oils very little is required to have a therapeutic benefit and because of their localised action, an effect or outcome is instant. Too much essential oil can cause irritation and because the oils are inhaled directly into the nose, mouth and lungs small quantities go a long way.
Dilute oils properly
It is advised to only use oils on the skin if they have been properly diluted. Moreover if there is any adverse effect the use should be terminated immediately.
MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR…
Doryce Sher, co-founder of Aromatic Apothecary is a registered pharmacist, aromatherapist, and reflexologist.
Please visit www.aromatic.co.za for more information.