As the weather turns colder, accompanied by wind, rain and later some snow, do you find yourself feeling unwell? Colds, flu, general aches and pains, dry skin and feelings of depression are just some of the trials and tribulations associated with the colder weather. But don’t despair, Mother Nature has provided us with array of treasures to help bolster our health and mood.
Viral infections are rampant during the cold weather months, probably easier spread due to lack of ventilation in rooms, and more time spent inside. The most common cold weather viral infections are the cold and flu, and these are the top reasons for a visit to the doctor. However, viral infections are not treatable by antibiotics (which treat bacterial infections only), so all we can do is try to relieve the symptoms, or protect ourselves against viruses so that they can’t take hold in the first place or at least have a lesser affect on our health.
Common Cold – The common cold is a mild viral infection of the upper respiratory tract which affects the nose, throat, eustachian tubes (ears), sinuses, trachea and bronchial tubes. Key symptoms include watery eyes, sneezing, a runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, a weakened sense of smell and taste, low-grade fever, sinus headache and a cough. It is highly contagious, although repeated exposure does build up some immunity, so pre and primary children are most susceptible. Most colds generally last for three to seven days, with or without medication, but it may take longer to fully recover.
Flu: Like the common cold, the flu is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract, with similar symptoms accompanied by a high temperature, chills, a feeling of fatigue and muscular aches and pains. This virus is much stronger than the common cold virus, is also highly contagious, and has the potential to cause complications, and can even be deadly in certain high-risk groups. Most people start to feel better within a week but may retain a lingering feeling of fatigue and a cough for another couple of weeks.
Natural Oils for Viral infections:
Black seed oil: A powerful immunomodulator to boost the immune system, black seed oil is perfect to protect against viral infections of the respiratory system and also to allay symptoms if one should take hold.
Application: 1 teaspoon every morning, plus may be applied topically to the chest and throat.
Essential Oils for Viral infections:
The power of aromatherapy can help to boost immunity, relieve the symptoms of a viral infection, and eliminate airborne pathogens.
Recommended: eucalyptus, frankincense, peppermint, bergamot, lemon, marjoram.
Natural & Essential Oils for Autumn/Winter Depression
As the temperature plummets, the days get shorter, and everywhere looks gray and derelict, do you find yourself feeling anxious, depressed, irritable, melancholy and tired? Many people feel this way to a certain extent as vitamin D levels decrease and circadian rhythms are disrupted due to limited sun exposure (causing the body to release more melatonin, the sleep hormone). However, if you are finding it particularly difficult to function you may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) which can be helped with light therapy. The following can assist in allaying some of the symptoms whichever the cause.
Natural Oils for Autumn/Winter Depression
Lettuce seed oil: This oil has a long history of use for its sleep inducing properties and for reducing anxiety and these properties have been confirmed by scientists who isolated a depressant chemical that blocks the excitatory signal processes of muscular and neural tissues, allowing for an affect comparable to one of the most commonly prescribed medications to treat anxiety and sleep problems. It also contains another substance that further helps in calming the nervous system.
Application: 2 teaspoons a day. May also be rubbed into the temples to induce sleep (particularly for children).
Natural & Essential Oils for Cold Weather Aches and Pains
The cold weather can be brutal for our muscles and joints, never mind the icy roads which can make us slip and cause a nasty sprain, twist or pull. Colder temperatures can cause muscle stiffness, and it is also much easier to pull a muscle when they are cold. A reduced lack of exercise in inclement weather can also cause the muscles and joints to become stiff and painful, particularly for arthritis patients. Doctors confirm, although the actual cause is unknown, that a reduction in barometric pressure makes arthritic joints more painful. It is believed that the drop in pressure may cause tendons, ligaments and cartilage to expand and contract in the already inflamed joint, thus causing increased pain. Another possible link is that synovial fluid, the fluid that lubricates the joints to prevent friction between the bones to allow ease of movement, becomes more viscous and thick in lower temperatures which causes stiffness in the joint.
If you feel like your muscles in your entire ache, it may be a sign of illness or infection such as the flu.
Natural Oils for Autumn/Winter Aches and Pains
Black seed oil: This precious oil can readdress the gentle balance between protective and destructive inflammation, thereby counteracting non-essential inflammation, and thus can reduce the symptoms of, and in some cases even overcome, chronic autoimmune diseases including arthritis. Studies confirmed black seed oil’s ability to critically rebalance the body’s inflammation reactions.
Application: 1 teaspoons a day, plus may be applied topically and massaged into painful joints and muscles.
Rucola seed oil: Helps to normalise the balance of the joint fluid, relieves inflammation and improves joint mobility, plus helps restore and strengthen cartilage tissue. It also prevents muscle pain and fatigue.
Application: 2 teaspoons a day, plus may be applied topically and massaged into painful joints and muscles.
Castor oil: Improves circulation, relieves inflammation, joint pain and muscle stiffness, and restores flexibility and ease of movement.
Application: Apply in a massage or warm poultice.
Essential Oils for Autumn/Winter Aches and Pains
When massaged into aching muscles or painful joints, essential oils act as pain killers, increasing blood circulation and clearing a build-up of toxins. Best applied with massage or warm compress.
Recommended: Clove bud, eucalyptus, frankincense and myrrh, peppermint, rose, pain relief oil.
Natural & Essential Oils for Dry Skin
The colder months are not kind to the skin – dry air, wind, cold, heating, too many layers of clothing – the list could go on. The common result is dry, chapped, cracked and inflamed skin. Both painful and unattractive.
Natural Oils for Dry Skin
Luckily nature provides an abundance of natural oils, full of essential fatty acids, minerals, vitamins and naturally occurring skin-loving compounds, which can help protect, heal and rejuvenate our skin. Natural oils (also known as carrier oils) are the perfect way to add essential oils in to your skincare regime. Plus they are also great for the hair, nails, feet and lashes.
Recommended: Almond oil, argan oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, wheatgerm oil
Essential Oils for Dry Skin
Like natural oils, essential oils are jam-packed with skin loving ingredients which can help to heal and rejuvenate our skin.
Recommended: Chamomile, frankincense, geranium, jasmine, lavender, lotus, rose, violet
Coconut Oil – Undisputed decadence for the hair, skin and body
Benefits of Jojoba Oil for Skin & Hair
Wheat germ oil – your saviour for all seasons.
Spotlight on Lotus Oil
Spotlight on Violet Oil
An overview of the top 7 oils for dry skin
Flower Power for Skin Care
homemade goodness: the 5 most effective coconut oil body scrubs to combat cold weather dry-s
Aromatherapy Applications for the Cold Weather
Humidifier/diffuser: Add a few drops to your humidifier or diffuser and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Also eliminates any airborne pathogens.
Direct inhalation: You can either inhale directly from the bottle or add a few drops to a clean cotton ball, handkerchief, or towel.
Steam inhalation: Add 1 drop to a bowl of steaming water. Steam with a towel over your head for 2 to 5 minutes to clear a stuffy nose and help break up chest and nasal congestion. Take care not to place your face too close to the steaming water as it can scald you.
Apply topically: For applicable oils – On the chest and back to help reduce fever. Under the nose to clear a stuffy nose and reduce a cough. On the forehead to reduce a headache and relieve tension. Around the throat to relieve a sore throat. Note: Do not apply on the face (especially near to the nostrils of a young child).
Warm compress: Soak a facecloth in hot (not boiling water), wring out the excess water, add a couple of drops of essential oil and apply to aching joints and muscles, or on the forehead or back of neck.
As a massage: Add a few drops to a carrier oil, to cool the body, alleviate stiffness and fatigue, and relax the mind.
To unblock sinuses: Add a drop to a handkerchief and inhale when your nose starts to feel stuffy.
In the bath: Mix 5 to 10 drops of essential oils in 1/3 cup of Epsom salts, a tablespoon of carrier oil of your choice and add to warm running water to enjoy the aromatherapy effects.
To aid sleep: Add a drop to your bed sheets or pillow.
Don’t let cold weather ailments disturb your enjoyment of the winter season. Rely on the power of natural and essential oils to heal and protect you.