I was taken down last week.
The nasty head cold / sinus infection / flu bug that is sweeping our school, took hold and floored me. I should have seen it coming though, as I made a bunch of rookie mistakes over the last week, such as running out of probiotics, taking on too many projects and not getting enough sleep, which all left me vulnerable.
So a colleague offered me some well-meaning advice on how to handle this bug by using over the counter decongestants he had found useful. Yeah, they knock you out for a couple of days but then you’re much better….right?
If I’ve learnt anything during my nutritional therapy studies, it’s that usually there is a natural alternative to most big pharma options. Now, I have the utmost respect for medication when it’s needed. I’ve been cured of a number of nasty infections through the use of antibiotics, and am in no way anti-medication. But I’m also a believer in the power of the body. Given the right support, the body will always try to heal itself. Think about it, when you cut yourself, your skin cells know exactly what to do to restore skin integrity. Plants are also masters in self healing and regeneration. So whenever possible, I choose to support my body through illness with natural plant based alternatives.
Step 13 – Heal and protect yourself with Essential Oils
Decongestants work by contracting the small blood vessels in the nose, throat and sinuses which in turn reduces the swelling and blocked up feeling. Luckily, there are a number of other ways you can banish the ‘my head feels like it’s been hit by a hammer and my sinuses are ready to explode’ feeling; which pretty much summed up my weekend.
My favourite alternative treatment is using Essential OIls. You know those little bottles in the health food shop or chemist? Well they do more than just smell amazing – they have some serious healing properties and have inspired many of the big pharma products.
This article about Essential oils for congestion gives you all the main information you need to start using EO’s.
My three must-haves for the winter season are:
Eucalyptus: A powerful expectorant and decongestant. The lovely smelling chest rub that we all remember as kids – is made from eucalyptus. Add a couple of drops to a bowl of warm water and enjoy the fresh air, inside.
Peppermint – This cooling oil is fantastic for upset tummies and headaches and is fantastic at clearing blocked noses.
Lemon: A big hitter in times of illness due to its antimicrobial and antiseptic properties.
How I use EO’s for healing and immune support.
Internally – If I’m feeling under the weather, a couple of drops of oil of oregano, taken with water or oil to dilute the super strong taste usually does the trick. Seriously, that stuff is a miracle-worker. Peppermint oil is amazing for a dodgy tummy, and a couple of drops added to my temples really helps with any tension headaches that may come my way during report card writing season!
Steam mug– I find these the single most effective way to clear a bunged up nose and headache. All you need is a steaming mug of water and a towel or scarf to make a tent with. Add 2 drops of lemon, tea tree, peppermint and eucalyptus, cover the mug with a towel/scarf over your head and inhale deeply through your nose. Stay under your towel tent for 10-15 minutes. You can repeat this as often as needed.
Humidifier – I have one of these in every room of the house and even in the office now! Add some drops of the PROTECT blend, or equal drops of eucalyptus and lavender to help keep congestion at bay and promote sleep.
Shower steam – This is as easy way to clear out any congestion, or even just give an extra lift in the morning. Place a washcloth in an area of the shower not hit by direct water flow. Add 3-4 drops of any essential oil and then enjoy a hot shower as normal. Peppermint is a good one for mornings and lavender for before bed.
PROTECT Essential Oil Blend
The PROTECT blend includes a range of essential oils all known for their antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. This stuff is truly awesome and can be used for prevention as well as in acute bouts of colds, flu or infection.
My favourite way to use the PROTECT blend:
Mix a couple of drops of PROTECT to a carrier oil (fractionated coconut or almond work well) and rub on the soles of the feet. Cover with socks and get a good night sleep. At the first hint of sniffle, my kids know to ask for a foot rub 🙂
Other ways to use PROTECT:
- Mix a 30:70 Ratio of PROTECT: carrier oil and place in a roller bottle. Use on chest or soles of feet whenever needed.
- Add to a steam mug or shower
- Add 4-5 drops to a humidifier and place next to the bed or in any room.
For more info on essential oils and their uses check out this page from world expert and functional doctor, Dr Josh Axe.
Stay healthy, friends.
Ps. Safety first peeps! Always be sure you are using 100% pure, therapeutic grade Essential Oils and not just the cheap, synthetic version. Check with a qualified aromatherapist if you are pregnant or using oils on little children.