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How You Can Treat Colds & Flu Naturally With Aromatherapy

17 Dec 2014

12dec11b2a14Despite our best efforts at self care, winter often brings with it at least one bout with a cold or flu.  Sales of tissues and over-the-counter cold medicines soar at this time of year, and both adults and children can get hit hard, even if they’ve had flu shots.

Colds and flu are both due to viruses, and asking the doctor for an antibiotic won’t help.  Antibiotics don’t work on viruses, but the good news is there is a much gentler, natural approach that’s effective and even pleasant: Aromatherapy. 

Aromatherapy involves the use of volatile oils extracted from flowers and other parts of aromatic plants.  Aromatherapy can be used both to prep your immune system to defend itself against these invaders as well as to help your body cope with the effects should you come down with a cold or flu virus.  These oils are called volatile oils or essential oils, as they contain the ‘essence’ of the plant or its signature fragrance.

Botanical oils such as rosemary, mint, rose, etc., can be used therapeutically in a number of ways.  A few drops can be added to a warm bath, or the oil can be massaged into the skin.  (Note:  Some oils should not be applied directly to the skin without the use of a carrier oil such as almond, jojoba, or another skin-safe oil).  Oils can be incorporated in creams or warmed in diffusers.  Certain oils can be used in vaporizers or steam baths.  And some oils, such as lavender (which promotes relaxation) can even be sprinkled on bed linens.  Inhaling a steam vapor which contains essential oils such as eucalyptus can not only open up clogged mucous membranes but also will kill germs on contact. 

Here are just a few of the essential oils commonly used for aromatherapy treatments for colds and flu:

  • Eucalyptus loosens mucous, works as a decongestant, and can soothe and heal nasal passages as well as the throat and bronchial tubes.
  • Ravensara is a natural antiseptic and antiviral.  Because it has a strong medicinal smell, it is usually mixed with a sweet-scented oil such as lemon.
  • A drop of peppermint oil rubbed into the temples can relieve headache pain (note that some people are skin-sensitive to peppermint oil; it’s wise to dilute it slightly with a carrier oil).
  • Rosemary has antiviral and antimicrobial properties.  Inhaling the oil can invigorate you if you’re feeling drowsy or run down. 
  • Lavender oil helps to induce relaxation and even help with a deeper sleep, which can be very healing and restorative if you’re sick.  Lavender also has disinfectant uses.

Of course, no one should embark on a program of using essential oils without being familiar with their effects, side effects, and proper use.  Aromatherapy is just one of the many holistic, natural health care therapies we include in the curriculum of our three bodywork therapy diploma programs.  And at our Minneapolis massage school, we also regularly offer continuing education courses which cover aromatherapy.  If you’re interested in learning more about how to use aromatherapy for health, why not check out our upcoming course, Aromatherapy for Colds & Flu.  This class is open to anyone, and will be held on January 24, 2015.  For more information and registration details, click here.  Registration is due by January 16th. 

Call us today at 952-562-5200!