Winter is my favorite season. I love the cold, the rain, and honestly, I love the down time. I mean, when else can you feel not the least bit guilty spending a day in your favorite arm chair knitting because it’s raining outside? But, of course, winter brings its share of colds, flu, sinus infections, congestion and sometimes just a general sense of the ‘blahs’. Rather than reaching for over-the-counter or prescription meds, we reach for our essential oils and I can assure you – we’re never going back! Essential oils are aromatic oils derived from plant extracts. They have been used for health and healing for centuries but are recently enjoying a sort of renaissance as people like us look for alternatives to chemical intervention. Depending on the oil, they can be applied topically, taken internally, applied to surfaces like pillow cases, added to bath water or diffused into the air. I much prefer these options to popping pills and I’m guessing you will, too.
There are hundreds, or maybe even thousands, of essential oils on the market today. Personally, I use the doTERRA line of essential oils (warning: shameless plug – yes, I am a doTERRA wellness advocate), or eO’s as the experts say, because I like the quality and I trust the potency and efficacy of every product in their line, but there are certainly other fine oils available. Just remember, though, you get what you pay for. You want it to be pure. You want it to be tested. And probably most of all you want it to work! All of the oils I am recommending I use myself and I swear they work – even though I admit I felt a little cra-cra when I tried to explain eO’s to my husband for the first time!
These are the five oils I cannot do without to keep my family healthy and happy throughout the long winter days.
- Peppermint. Oh, how I love thee, peppermint! Nothing goes to work faster when you’re congested than a couple of drops of peppermint oil in a glass of water. Sip it and your lips and tongue will feel like that girl from the Binaca blast commercials of the 70’s – all cool and minty with perfect hair. Ok – it doesn’t really do anything for your hair – but you do feel cool, refreshed and within minutes your sinuses clear right up. Not in an eye-watering wasabi-type way. It’s more subtle, like “I’m the peppermint sinus ninja sneaking up on you.” Seriously, though. Drinking it gets it into your blood stream quickly and it goes right to work on congested sinuses. Oh, and your breath smells great ; ) A new product offered by doTERRA is Peppermint beadlets. If the straight oil is too strong for you, pop a tiny beadlet and let it dissolve in your mouth. Same awesome effect in a tiny package. Peppermint oil can also be diffused into the air, spritzed from a spray bottle, or added to bath water. Direct skin application might be a little harsh for people with sensitive skin so you can apply a carrier oil like fractionated coconut oil before applying a few drops of peppermint over the carrier oil. This dilutes it and slows the skin penetration. Oh, and did I mention peppermint oil is wonderful for easing an upset stomach?
- Breathe. Asthma? Allergies? Bronchitis? Chest congestion? Give Breathe a try. Unlike straight peppermint, which is a single oil, this is a proprietary blend of oils. It’s scent is reminiscent of the vapor rub your grandma probably rubbed all over you when you were a kid, but it’s a lot more pleasant. This really helps open up your airway and calms coughs. My sister’s little boy has asthma and seems to pick up every respiratory ailment that comes along (they’ve recently discovered he has food allergies so that might be part of the problem). She swears by Breathe. A few drops in the bath water. A couple of drops on the bottom of his feet before going to bed. Even a drop or two on his pillow case help him, well, breathe so they can both get a good night’s sleep. You can also apply a few drops to the chest after applying a carrier oil – again, grandma knew what she was doing with the chest rub. I diffuse it in our bedroom while we sleep.
- On Guard. This is another doTERRA oil blend and it is AMA-zing! First of all, it smells like the holidays. Think cinnamon, cloves, sweet orange and good stuff like that. I normally work from home but every once in a while I have to go in to the office where I swear it feels like running the germ gauntlet. If someone coughs or sneezes I hold my breathe and extricate myself from the crowded conference room, tripping over people and dogs (’cause we work in a dog-friendly work place), gasping when I reach the safe zone of the hallway kind of like when we were kids and we held our breath as long as we could while passing a cemetery so evil spirits didn’t fly up our noses. (Wait – you didn’t do that? I thought everyone did that!) I put a couple of drops of OnGuard on my hands every time I leave the bathroom. I wash first, or course, but once I’m back to my office I rub a few drops onto my hands. My office smells lovely and everyone says ‘is that your tea I smell?’, which is a greater opener for introducing newbs to eO’s. The clove and other extracts in this blend have natural anti-bacterial properties so it’s a wonderful germ fighter and it supports healthy immune function. You can also put it in a spray bottle and spritz it on to counter tops, door handles and other heavy-use surfaces. Teachers love to diffuse On Guard in their classrooms because you know those little buggers are germ factories!
- Digestzen. Oh, thank the Lord for Digestzen! This oil blend contains anise, fennel, coriander, peppermint, ginger and some other amazing oils that promote digestion and – I kid you not – soothe heart burn. Since ’tis the season for over-indulging at feast after feast after holiday party, you’re going to want to have some of this on hand. If I feel heartburn starting, I put a few drops in my water and it soothes the burn almost instantly. You can also add it to gel capsules if you’re not a fan of the taste. (It tastes a lot like black licorice, which I happen to love but not everyone does).
- Lavender. Lavender has been used for centuries to induce calm and relaxation. I use it every single day. I put mine in a roller bottle and rub a few drops on the arch of each foot before I go to bed. I also put some on the pulse points of each wrist if I really feel like I need a good night’s sleep. The sleep I get is so deep and restful. Some nights I don’t even wake up to pee, which if you know me, is a BIG deal! I’m one of those wakeup-every-couple-of-hours-because-I-have-a-tiny-bladder-and-I’m-a-light-sleeper kind of people. Getting a deep sleep is incredibly restorative. Our bodies need this time to regenerate, regrow cells and repair the damage we do to our bodies every day. Getting enough sleep is one of the most important things you can do to boost your immune system and stay healthy throughout the winter. Try lavender and ditch the sleeping pills. Lavender can also be applied to the temples and the base of the neck to treat mild headaches, particularly those caused by stress and tension.
So here’s the fine print: If you’re new to essential oils, please use good judgement. Try a tiny bit (just a drop or two) and see how you do with that. More is not necessarily better! Follow the instructions for use. Babies and children shouldn’t ingest any oil. And their skin is more sensitive than ours so if you’re going to use it topically, apply a small drop to the bottoms of their feet only. Better yet, diffuse it. You can talk to your doctor about using essential oils but don’t be surprised if you get a lecture or thinly veiled skepticism. Be responsible for yourself and do your own research like I did – don’t just take my word for it.
I hope this post has been helpful. It’s really rewarding to share healthful alternatives with others. I’m loving my essential oils and I hope you do, too. And if you’re interested in becoming a doTERRA Wellness Advocate, you can learn how to join here. I’d love for you to be part of my team – the health benefits are wonderful, you can get wholesale pricing on your oils and you’ll be eligible for super cool free product bonuses. If you’re looking to build diversified income sources like many homesteaders are, this could be just the growth opportunity you’ve been looking for.
Best wishes and good health from our farm to yours ~