Natural First Aid for Winter Ailments
Most of us feel lucky if we get through the winter without succumbing to flu, coughs, sore throats, a cold, or all four. Dropping temperatures and a lack of sunlight weakens our immune system which means we pick up bugs more easily! So, for your best chance of keeping healthy for the rest of the winter, wrap up warm, get as much sunlight as possible and try some of my natural remedies to help keep those winter ailments at bay!
People with arthritis may experience their condition worsening in the winter months with the cold causing even achier bones and joints. For smaller areas such as knees, fingers, hips and neck use Arnica Salve. For all over use try a blend of aromatherapy essential oils including Lavender, Ginger, Black Pepper, Clary Sage and Marjoram. Hot Wheatie Bags can also be used – these are heated in the microwave.
You could also use Bergamot and Lavender Essential Oils in a burner or on a tissue behind a radiator to fragrance your room.
Bronchitis symptoms can be caused by viruses or bacteria and is a sign that your immune system is under performing. Tea-Tree in the bath or in a burner would be my first suggestion. Lemon is also anti-viral and antibacterial but is inappropriate for the bath if you have sensitive skin. Diet and lifestyle issues should be considered, particularly any stress. My favourite ‘de-stressing oils’ include Bergamot, Geranium, Frankincense and Clary Sage. Any of these works well with Tea-Tree or in combination.
Benzoin is also a particularly good oil for chest problems and Melissa (Lemon Balm) can also help. Avoid the ‘hot’ oils that are likely to sensitise the mucous membranes of your respiratory tract, like Eucalyptus and Menthol/Mint. Vicks and Olbas Oil both include these ingredients. For a ready-made solution try Organic Defence.
These are very common in winter, especially with people whose mobility is limited. Ginger is one of many oils that may help. However, Thyme is stronger and likely to be more effective.
Chilblains are swellings, usually on the fingers and toes. They occur in cold weather when small blood vessels beneath the skin narrow to help keep blood warm: if they narrow too much, insufficient blood and oxygen reaches the skin. Chilblains may become infected if the skin breaks down. Try a blend of Chamomile (natures’ steroid) and Tea-Tree to help stop itching.
Are are caused by the Herpes Simplex virus. Herpes Simplex is ‘systemic’, which means it is in all of us – usually harmlessly. However, when the immune system is compromised, it can lead to highly infectious outbreaks of blisters/sores. Tea-Tree if used regularly in the bath or on the skin will control the symptoms but if outbreaks are frequent a GP’s advice should be sought.
For nasal congestion, a few drops of Chamomile, Geranium and Lavender on a tissue inside your pillowcase or nearby can be beneficial. Chamomile has a natural anti-inflammatory action, Lavender is antibacterial and Geranium is balancing for the hormones and relaxing. Three other oils that may help are Benzoin, and Tea-Tree. Avoid ‘hot’ oil and camphoric treatments such as ‘Vicks’ or ‘Olbas Oil’ as they are stimulants and, in the long term, can irritate the mucous membranes of the body. Eucalyptus Salve is a good alternative.
I would also suggest that when running a bath you run hot water first to create a steamy atmosphere. Add Tea-Tree and Lavender (six drops of each) to the bath (not directly under the tap). Leave the steamy atmosphere to develop for five minutes or so, and then add cold to suit and bathe for at least 10 minutes. Lavender is antibacterial and a painkiller, whilst Tea-Tree is anti-viral and also an immune system tonic, which will help your condition.
Using Your Oils
Once you’ve decided on your blend of oils use one of the following methods for treatment:-
Mix 4-10 drops with milk (to aid dispersion) to the bath.
Put 4 – 6 drops in water on top of an Aromatherapy burner.
Add 2 drops to a tablespoon full of Sweet Almond Oil and massage affected area or back.
Add 2 drops to a tablespoonful of fragrance free shampoo or bath and shower gel.
Put 2 drops onto a pillow or night clothes. Or, put the oils on a tissue and breathe in the aroma or put the oils on a hanky and lay on a nearby radiator.
Note: For children it is important to adapt the quantities according to weight. The above guidelines are based on the treatment of an individual weighing 10 stones and the quantities need adjusting down according to the weight of the child. Oils are not suitable for use during pregnancy.