When the Cold bites, when the flu stings!
So why does the flu virus and infection spread primarily in winter months?
The answer has to do with the virus itself. Cool weather makes us more vulnerable to cold and flu because the virus is more stable and stays in the air longer when air is cold and dry. It is also possible that because when days are shorter we make less vitamin D which causes a diminished immune response.
Many of my friends and even siblings go for their annual flu shot, personally I’ve never been keen on it. Instead I choose to arm myself with natural defenses. These are my tried and true natural methods of supporting my immune system during flu season.
I am not a doctor and these ideas are not to be taken as medical advice, they are simply what works for me. I have been a New York State Licensed Massage Therapist since 1992 and an Aromatherapist
First off lets cover some basics as prevention is everything.
1. Wash your hands – we touch door knobs, subway poles, shake hands, etc. Keep your hands as germ free as possible. There are plenty of natural hand sanitizers out there.
2. Sleep – We’ve all heard it before but sleep is essential. Our bodies repair themselves when we’re at rest.
3. Eat Nourishing foods – If we want our bodies to function properly we must give it proper foods.
4. Cut out the sugar – White sugar especially compromises our immune function.
What are Essential oils?
Essential oils are the subtle, aromatic and volatile liquids extracted from the flowers, seeds, leaves, stems, bark and roots of herbs, bushes, shrubs and trees, through distillation. The essential oils are what is responsible for the plants unique aroma. There are a number of essential oils that contain anti-viral properties. But what does that actually mean? When a substance has the ability to to destroy a virus or reduce that viruses capability to multiply and reproduce it is said to be anti-viral. There are many essential oils that have this ability. For today I will recommend lavender, thyme, oregano, and roman chamomile.
If you are new to using essential oils, start slowly and remember that they are highly concentrated, and a little will go a long way. If you are using a new oil or blend for the first time, test it on a very small area first to be sure your dilution rate does not cause skin irritation. Some people test oils at the bend of the arm opposite the elbow or on the wrist. In some cases, the essential oil may be tolerated initially but can cause dermatitis reactions with subsequent use.
Lavender has a wide usage and can heal in many ways, which might be the reason it’s the most popular amongst the essential oils. It is also one of the safest. For cold and flu, and similar ailments it packs a powerful punch. It is anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, helps with insomnia, stimulates the immune system, has huge respiratory benefits, works as a cough suppressant and is great for headaches, muscle aches and is a great calmative.
Thyme has long been known as an expectorant. It helps to clear out your lungs faster so that you feel better sooner. Thyme is an antiseptic antibacterial, and antiviral. It is one of my favorite viral blasters.
A Few Words of Caution: It is an irritant to some people, as well as a hypertensive substance that increases blood pressure, therefore it should be avoided during pregnancy and by those with elevated blood pressure. It also may cause allergic reactions in some cases. Do not use it undiluted directly on skin.
Oregano essential oil stimulates the production and function of white blood cells, the body’s main line of defense, this boosts the immune system. The health benefits of oregano essential oil can be attributed to its properties as an antiviral, antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial. In tests has been comparable to penicillin. Oregano essential oil can cause irritation of the skin and mucus membrane if taken in high concentrations or dosages. Pregnant women should avoid using it.
It’s therapeutic profile, characterized by both gentleness and effectiveness, make it useful in treating fever, inflammatory conditions such as joint (rheumatic) disorders, and for pain and swelling of the lining of the nose and mouth, sinus pain (sinusitis), and as a gentle sedative. Roman chamomile mitigates the effects of stress, nervous tension, and insomnia, analgesic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-neuralgic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, and disinfectant. Roman chamomile can safely be used on children, the elderly, and animals.
How to put them to use!
Diffuser, Bath, Steam inhalation, Massage.
One of my favorite methods of delivery, I use mine every day.
I have whats called an Air Oil Diffusers or a nebulizing aromatherapy diffuser. They work by blasting small drops of pure essential oil with compressed air. The result is a “nebula” of pure essential oil mist that flows out of the reservoir bottle and into noses and lungs of people the room. By using this diffuser and it’s dispersing micro-fine particles that stay suspended there for several hours, It can eliminate and destroy airborne germs & bacteria. This also increases ozone and negative ions in the air, which in turn increases the body’s ability to transport oxygen into the cells, resulting in a healthier immune system and creating an unfriendly terrain for bacteria and viruses within the body.
I make a blend of about 10-20 drops of chosen oils and allow it to run. Mine has a timer function 10 minutes on then off for an hour cycle.
It is NOT necessary to dilute the oils in a carrier oil such as almond or jojoba if you’re diffusing in the air. I use mine neat (direct from the bottle).
*** VERY IMPORTANT POINT ABOUT DIFFUSING OILS:
Whatever you do, DO NOT HEAT YOUR OILS. Keep them around room temperature.
Heating the essential oils will not only ruin the therapeutic value of the oil, but it can also harm you.
Research shows that high temperatures will change the chemistry. This changed chemistry can be toxic to the human body.
The best way to use essential oils in the bath is to mix them first with salts or an emulsifier such as milk or a carrier oil such as almond or sesame. Aromatic bath salts disperse the oils safely into the water, and whole milk and almond or sesame oil emulsify the essential oil so that it disperses. Without salts or an emulsifier, drops of essential oils will float on the water and then get directly on the skin which can cause dermatoxicity, especially if the oils are of a heating nature. Oils that should be avoided in the bath included spice oils such as cinnamon oil, oregano oil, thyme oil, and tulsi; phototoxic oils such as citruses, especially bergamot oil; and those with specific irritant potential such as lemongrass oil. My recommended recipe is 6 drops of tea tree, 6 drops lavender, and 4 drops eucalyptus. (all anti-viral) Enjoy a good soak!
Probably the most popular method of aromatherapy application is massage. Blending drops of essential oil with carrier lotions (almond, cocoa butter, shea butter, etc.) can affect the body both psychologically and physiologically. The olfactory sense is triggered using essential oils during massage, and some oils are absorbed into the skin and ultimately the blood stream to produce healing effects.
Dilute 5 – 8 drops of essential oil into 2oz of your favorite carrier oil and apply on affected areas such as chest, neck, sinuses, underarms, and feet. Theses areas are great for absorption into the bloodstream.
One of the most successful means of kicking these symptoms to the curb is doing steam inhalations with anti-viral and expectorant oils.. This is amazing for sinuses and congestion. When steam and essential oils are combined they form a very potent way to help treat some ailments, especially those of the upper respiratory tract, nose and sinuses. The warmth from the steam is soothing and the moisture helps to loosen and move mucus within the sinus cavity and in your chest.
Instructions to do steam inhalation
3 drops of the essential oil that you have selected in a bowl with boiling water, (I tend to use eucalyptus) place your head about 12 inches (30 cm) above the bowl and cover your head with a towel in such a way that the sides are totally closed and you in actual form a tent over the bowl. Keep your eyes shut and breathe deeply through your nose. Breathe deeply through the nose for cold or sinus infections, or through the mouth to soothe a cough. Continue for 10–15 minutes. If you feel that the treatment is getting too much for you, raise the towel so that fresh air is brought into the area and breathe through your mouth a couple of times and then resume the treatment. Should you at any time feel uncomfortable discontinue the treatment. When using this treatment with children or elderly people make sure that they do not burn themselves by getting too close to the bowl, or that the steaming water is upset and burns result. Seriously do not use more than 3 drops, I usually will only use 2.. It is very strong.
**Those suffering from asthma should not use these oils in steam inhalation and all other individuals should consult with a medical professional prior to using essential oils to see if you are at risk of developing side effects or complications from current medication use.
In Aromatherapy the quality of oils is everything.
Medicinal aromatherapy has amazing health-supportive potential. It can help you look and feel younger and more alive, enhancing your life and sense of well-being in many ways. But in order for it to work, you need to use quality oils. The problem is about 98% of essential oils produced in the world today are not intended for serious aromatherapy; they’re produced for the perfume/cosmetic or food industries. Yet, marketers will bottle these lower quality oils and sell them as aromatherapy products. If you attempt anything more than recreational aromatherapy with any of these oils, you’re likely to be very disappointed. Because a quality essential oil is so chemically complex and all of these constituents must be present in the oil in their proper ratio for the oil to have its expected effect on the body. One key to producing therapeutic-grade essential oils is to preserve as many of these aromatic compounds within the oil as possible.
Should you need assistance with your aromatherapy, whether it be obtaining reliable therapeutic grade essential oils, or a nebulizing diffuser please contact Kristen Antzoulis who will get you in touch.
Be in good health.