It’s THAT season again — you know, the chilly one that causes your arthritic aches and pains to flare up, your nose to get stuffed up and your skin to dry up. Nobody wants these irritating ailments to ruin their precious time with loved ones during the holidays. But before you reach for the typical chemical-laden over-the-counter drug treatments, consider choosing a remedy that cultures around the world have favored for thousands of years: essential oils.
Essential oils are highly concentrated organic compounds extracted from the bark, flower, fruit, leaf, seed or root of a plant or tree. They are commonly created through a steam distillation process that separates the oil from the water-based compounds of plants.
“Essentials oils have been shown to have amazing healing properties when used topically, aromatically, as well as internally,” says Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, CNS, DC, founder of DrAxe.com and author of Eat Dirt (Harper Wave, 2016) and Essential Oils: Ancient Medicine (Destiny Image, 2017). “Many people love to use essential oils medicinally because they are noninvasive and not overly expensive, and a single drop can be enough to see benefits. Unlike medications, essential oils can be used in a preventative fashion and are derived from completely natural sources — unlike so many medications these days, which come with a plethora of unwanted and potentially serious side effects.”
Let’s explore some of the best essential oils for common cold-weather conditions and tips for proper usage:
“For me, essentials oils are a top choice for both prevention and treatment of a health concern,” Axe says. “I use essential oils every single day to ward off sickness and boost my overall health. High-quality essential oils can easily be found online and at health stores. Look for ones that are certified USDA Organic because these are the highest grade of essential oils with the greatest healing properties.”
Important Usage Tips
- To dilute an essential oil means that you are decreasing its potency. Because essential oils are so strong, some of them need to be combined with a mild carrier oil — such as coconut or almond oil — before use. Dilution recommendations can vary depending on the oil used, the health concern being addressed and individual skin sensitivity. A common dilution ratio is one to two drops of an essential oil mixed with equal parts carrier oil.
- To diffuse an essential oil is a form of aromatherapy. Using a device called a diffuser, essential oils’ molecules can be evaporated into the air of a surrounding environment. You can choose from several types of diffusers depending on what appeals to you. Some diffusers require water while others do not.
- Essential oils are potent and effective independently, but the benefit of combining multiple essential oils is that you can often address a wider variety of symptoms and therefore increase overall effectiveness.
- If you find that essential oils don’t improve your symptoms or your symptoms are getting worse, you should always use your best judgment and seek medical attention, if needed.