Essential Oils for Common Cold Symptoms

Aromatherapy — the use of essential oils — can relieve pain and reduce the length of illness. Essential oils can be used topically or inhaled using a diffuser, cotton ball, or steamer. Oral ingestion of essential oils is not recommended unless directed by a certified practitioner because a great deal of knowledge and expertise of essential oils is required for safe use. Some essential oils are toxic if ingested or may react with medications.

While there are dozens of options, the following are common essential oils that are affordable, versatile, and effective for cold and flu relief.

Melaleuca, more commonly known as tea tree oil, is an antibacterial and antiviral. It provides relief from sinus infection, cough, congestion, bronchitis, and any other infection of the nasal or upper respiratory system. 

Carrier oils are used to dilute essential oils prior to topical application. Undiluted essential oils applied directly to the skin can cause minor to severe skin irritation in some individuals.  Virgin coconut oil, olive oil, and unscented lotions are simple carrier oils for topical use of essential oils.
 
Lavender oil is the queen of essential oils. Widely known for relaxing properties, it is also credited with antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. With a carrier oil, apply lavender topically to the throat for sore throat. A few drops on a pillowcase will provide relaxing aromatherapy to help you get some sleep.

Peppermint oil contains compounds that relax the airways and open congested sinuses and nasal passages. It has strong anti-inflammatory effects and must always be used with carrier oil. Beware that peppermint oil is too strong to use on children unless heavily diluted. Use a cotton ball for direct inhalation or put a couple drops in a warm bath or on a wash cloth in steaming shower.

Rosemary oil is gentle as a topical application with antimicrobial and pain relieving properties. It provides relief from congestion and its antiseptic action makes it useful for respiratory infections. It can be added to carrier oil and massaged on sinuses, forehead, neck, and shoulders to reduce pain. If applying to an adult, rub it over the sinuses if peppermint oil is too strong. Make a bath to relieve sinus congestion by adding five drops of peppermint oil, 10 drops of rosemary oil, a half-cup of baking soda, and one cup of Epsom salts to a warm bath.  

Antiseptic steam can be inhaled deep into the chest and nasal passages to loosen heavy congestion. Simply heat water to boiling point, remove from heat, and pour into a large ceramic or glass bowl. Add three to four drops of rosemary or tea tree oil, place your head above the steaming bowl and cover your head and the bowl with a large bath towel. The steam will be hot so be very careful not to put your head too close to the bowl. Inhale slowly to disinfect and relieve inflammation in your sinuses, throat, and chest.

Combine these essential oils to augment their healing properties. For sinus and chest congestion, steamers and baths are really effective. Headaches, sinus pressure, and sore throat gain quick relief with a topical application. Antiseptic properties may be enhanced when inhaled while asleep, so use a diffuser or put a cotton ball with oils in your pillowcase for overnight healing.

ADAPTOGENS

Maybe you've heard of adaptogens from your most health conscious friend or seen adaptogenic lattes pouring all over Instagram. But what are they, and why should we be taking them for our health? Adaptogenic herbs do what they say - they help our bodies to adapt to stress and return our bodily systems back to homeostasis. 

Currently, our lifestyles are overrun with stress. Our bodies adrenal systems are meant to control stressful situations by releasing adrenaline in fight or flight situations such as finding dangerous wildlife in our backyards. Assuming we are not living off the grid in nature, most of our bodies are responding the same way as if we've found a tiger in our living room when really it's a text notification on our smart phones. We are a culture of constant stimulation and living in a fight or flight mode all to often, wreaking havoc on our energy levels and digestive systems - insert our need for adaptogens.

Adaptogens work by bringing our stress hormones into balance. On a scientific level, when we take adaptogenic herbs over time, we are able to protect the mitochondria from stress induced damage because the herbs stimulate our cells to produce proteins that resist stress and create longevity for our immune and nervous systems.*

The most common used adaptogenic herbs are: Asian Ginseng for a boost in immunity and building endurance in the physical body, Holy Basil for heart health and overall stress on the nervous system, Milk Thistle to reduce stress associated with hormone imbalances, Ashwagandha for increased energy and sexual vitality and Rhodiola Rosea to reduce brain fog and mild depression and anxiety.

To find the best combination of herbs for your consumption talk to your healthcare practitioner and do your own research on these wonderful herbs for your wellbeing.

*Adaptogens: Herbs For Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief ©David Winston, RH (AHG), 2004; Revised 2011

WHY LOCAL HONEY?

LOCAL RAW HONEY BY NATURE'S HEX

Why buy local and 'raw' honey, do you ask? Honey that is not raw has been processed, heated and filtered since collected from the bee hive. Raw honey is pure and full of nutrients that help us gain energy, relieve sugar cravings, boost our immunity and works naturally to relieve allergies.

Not only is honey a better choice than refined sugar to sweeten your tea or toast, but choosing local and raw honey can provide relief from allergies this time of year. When ingesting honey, we eat exactly what the bees collect from plant to plant - this pollen could be the culprit of those pesky sneezes and uncomfortable itchy eyes. Studies have shown that taking one teaspoon a day of local, raw honey has shown tremendous relief to pollen allergies over a period of 8 weeks.

If you're reading this, it is safe to assume you live in the Milwaukee community. We now have Nature's Hex Pure Raw Urban Wildflower Honey and their Honeycomb stocked on our shelves for you to take home, made in our community by great people and gracious little bees! In order to take medicinally, simply ingest 1 teaspoon daily. For more creative flair, see our recipes below!

Honeycomb also has a tremendous benefit to our health. Honeybees create honeycomb in their hives, which consists of the beautiful hexagon shaped spaces that store their honey. This creation contains the purest form of honey and when we ingest the entire structure we are eating fatty acids that benefit our heart and decrease the bad cholesterol while increasing the good cholesterol. Honeycomb also contains antioxidants that can improve functioning of the liver. But eat the honeycomb in small doses. We suggest slicing off a bit of the comb to spread on grain free toasted bread or crackers. The honey will be pure and delicious, the comb will be tasteless but have a slight fibrous texture - swallow it all for all health benefits we've learned!

HONEY INSPIRED KITCHEN

+ TOAST SUBSTITUTE | FOR BREAKFAST +

Top your favorite rice cracker with nut butter and banana slices, then drizzle with local & raw honey for a satisfying breakfast on the go

+ BRIGHTEN UP THAT WRAP | FOR LUNCH +

Chop your favorite raw veggies and add a bit of protein to the center of a large collard green wrap. Whip up 1/4 C mustard with 1 T local & raw honey and 1 T of mayo for a sweet and savory sauce. Drizzle sauce on top of veggies and roll up collard green for a nutritious and crunchy lunch.

+ STIR FRY SAUCE | FOR DINNER +

Thin out your favorite nut butter with a little hot water, adding a tablespoon of local & raw honey, then add tamari and red-pepper flakes for a healthy chili sauce to enhance the flavor of your veggies or chosen protein for a stir fry.

+ GINGER HONEY TEA |  COLD REMEDY +

Add a teaspoon of raw honey and a large chunk of raw ginger or 1/2 teaspoon of raw ginger juice to a cup of hot water.  Perfect for scratchy sore throats, nausea, and the onset of cold and flu symptoms.  If there is a lot of congestion, add a squeeze of lemon juice. Kids will love this "honey tea" recipe.