As part of my resolution to find a new equilibrium in my life as a mom, I’m determined to buck up my immune system and keep this family as healthy as I can in 2013. I plan to share some of my attempts here, especially if I see results.
One thing I’ve started to use a lot lately (at the suggestion of my sister and a local naturopath) is essential oils. I was somewhat familiar with them already — I use body products that include essential oils, and I interviewed an aromatherapist here on SlowMama before — but with the recent bouts of sickness in my household, I’ve been reminded just how much essential oils can help when respiratory illnesses hit.
We use a warm humidifier in our bedroom in the wintertime, since the air is so dry, so when the girls came home I bought one for their room, too. When we all had terrible colds and respiratory infections recently, I placed some oils in the medicine cup of the humidifiers at night and noticed a big difference. The girls’ coughing pretty much subsided as soon as the essence dispersed through the room: They could breathe through their noses better, which meant no mouth-breathing, which eradicated the constant coughing and made for a deeper sleep, helping them heal more quickly. (I noticed the same in our bedroom, too — on the nights I got to sleep there, anyway — but our humidifier has only been working on and off.)
There are so many essential oils — all used for different purposes — but a handful are particularly great for respiratory illnesses, and I now keep them in the cabinet for use in our humidifiers:
Red thyme — A fairly strong-smelling oil with a reddish color, it’s used as an antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antifungal, as well as an immune-system stimulant. Herbalists often recommend it for circulatory and nervous-system issues, as well as for digestive problems and respiratory illnesses.
Eucalyptus — Most people are familiar with this scent; it’s considered a balancing oil and a common choice for relieving coughs, sore throats, and sinus problems.
Peppermint — Peppermint is said to be an effective decongestant that helps clear the head and unblock the sinuses. It’s nice to add a couple drops of peppermint along with eucalyptus when trying to treat respiratory issues.
I keep a number of oils on hands for other purposes, too: tea tree, lavender, lemon, and ylang ylang, to name a few. You can use essential oils in all kinds of ways — topically, aromatically, and even internally — but whatever the case, make sure they’re good quality, especially when using them in or on the body. For high-quality products at reasonable prices, I recommend Mountain Rose Herbs (you can find more about them in this post from last year). In a pinch, you can find some decent oils at a place like Whole Foods, which are fine for use in humidifiers. And for more information on essential oils and 25 ways to use them, check out this post on Simple Mom from last year.
Do you use essential oils, and have you seen results? What are your favorites?
Image: Zoe Saint-Paul