Winter is here and the cold weather brings with it the misery of blocked noses, sore throats, coughs and dry chapped skin – summer seems a long way away.
So I’ve compiled a list of my favourite essential oils that can naturally help support your health, lift your spirits and fight off those winter ailments.
Most people are familiar with the scent of eucalyptus. The essential oil is distilled from the leaves and young twigs and has a very strong, somewhat harsh odour. Due to its expectorant action, it is a wonderful oil to use in a steam inhalation when you have catarrh or a cough and can also be added to a massage oil to help with muscular aches and pains and to improve poor circulation. It blends really well with pine, cedarwood, lemon and lavender.
Although the oil is non-sensitizing, I wouldn’t recommend using it with children – Scotch Pine would be a better kids-safe option.
Scotch Pine (Pinus sylvestris)
Also known as pine needle oil, this essential oil is a really good all-rounder for Winter and is a good alternative to eucalyptus for children or if you find eucalyptus too over-powering. It has a strong, balsamic-woody scent and blends really well with cedarwood, eucalyptus and lavender.
It’s a wonderful oil for supporting a healthy respiratory tract – try it in a steam inhallation. It is also lovely oil to warm and sooth tired muscles and help improve circulation.
This oil can safely be used with children over the age of 2 but it could irritate sensitive skin.
Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha)
Synonymous with the Christmas story, myrrh essential oil comes from a small tree that is native to North East Africa and the Red Sea region. The trunk of the tree is cut to release a natural oleoresin which hardens into reddish-brown tears known as myrrh.
It has a lovely warm, slightly spicy scent and blends well with frankincense, lavender and pine.
Myrrh is a wonderful oil to help with chapped and cracked skin, but it’s also good oil to help with coughs, sore throats and if you’ve lost your voice. If you’re suffering from the winter blues, Myrrh is a wonderfully uplifting oil and diffusing a few drops of the oil can create a very calm and relaxing atmosphere.
Myrrh should not be used during pregnancy or whilst breastfeeding and is not safe for children.
Peppermint essential oil is a great one to have to hand year round. As you would expect, the essential oil has a wonderful fresh, cool, grassy scent. It is my go-to oil for headaches – just add a couple of drops to a carrier oil and massage around the hairline and on the temples. The oil has a lovely cooling effect and leaves you feeling soothed and energised at the same time.
It is also a great oil to use for digestive discomfort – perfect when you’ve eaten one too many mince pies! Place a few drops of diluted oil in the palm of your hand and gentle massage the abdomen in a clockwise motion.
You can diffuse peppermint and orange oil together for a wonderful Christmas scent and it also blends well with eucalyptus and lavender.
Peppermint isn’t suitable for children (chose Spearmint instead as it has a lower concentration of menthol).
Cedarwood Atlas (Cedrus atlantica)
This oil is mainly produced in Morocco from the wood of the tree. It has dry, woody aroma that isn’t too overpowering.
Cedarwood is my favourite oil for any respiratory problems. Just a few drops in a bowl of steaming water will help to clear that feeling of fuzziness when you have a head cold. It is also good if you suffer from dry or flaky scalp – simply add a few drops to your favourite shampoo.
It is a very gentle, safe oil that can be used with children.
Lavender essential oil really is the swiss army knife of oils! It can help with dry, chapped skin, improve circulation and alleviate muscular aches and pains, support your respiratory system and immune system among many many other uses. I really couldn’t not include it on this list!
It is a very safe oil to use with children.
How to use your oils safely
It’s important to remember that essential oils are extremely concentrated and should always be diluted before being applied to the skin. For the purpose of supporting your health during the winter, you can use your oils in the following ways:
In a room diffuser: Fill the diffuser with water according to the manfacturers guidelines and add 4-5 drops of essential oil. For best results diffuse intermittently (1/2 hour on, 1/2 hour off). Take care when diffusing around dogs – make sure they can leave the room if they find the scent too overpowering and never diffuse if you have a cat.
For topical application you should dilute your essential oil in a carrier oil such as coconut oil, jojoba oil or sweet almond oil). Add 2 drops of essential oil per 5ml (1 teaspoon) of carrier oil. This is a good way to use oils for sore, achy muscles or to sooth dry chapped skin.
Steam inhalation is a great idea if you looking to support any respiratory problems. Add 2-3 drops of essential oil to a bowl of steaming water. Place a towel over your head, close your eyes and inhale the steam for up to 5 minutes.
In a bath. This is one of my favourite ways to enjoy essential oils but it’s worth remembering that oil and water don’t mix. Any oils you add to your bath will sit on top of the water and there is a small risk of skin irritation. The best option is to add 3-4 drops of essential oil to a tablespoon of unscented body wash. The body wash will contain an emulsifier which helps the oil mix with the water.