Each year the flu season seems to be getting worse and this year’s flu season is off to a roaring start with 140 total flu death so far this season according to NC Department of Health and Human Services.  If you get the flu vaccine for whatever reason, is there another way to keep yourself healthy from the virus and if you do get the flu, what can you do to reduce the symptoms?

While I didn’t get the flu, a few weeks ago I wasn’t feeling well. I felt like I was coming down with a cold and had no energy.  I initially thought it was just seasonal allergies but within a few days my body ached, my nose was runny, and I was sneezing constantly.  Allergy medicine wasn’t really helping me at all. I felt crummy.

My wife had received a box of essential oils and a diffuser from a friend of hers for Christmas and she suggested we give it a try. Her friend had rave reviews of what essential oils had done for her.  I was up for anything to make me feel better so, why not?  I had nothing to lose at this point, I just wanted to feel better. With knowledge of what oils to use to relieve my symptoms, my wife filled the diffuser with water and created a “cocktail” of the following oils to help with my symptoms:

Eucalyptus – 3-5 drops

Frankincense – 3-5 drops

Lavendar – 3-5 drops

Rosemary – 3-5 drops

I was skeptical of course but I must say, the next morning I felt 100% better. Was I cured? No, but the body aches and the running nose had subsided, which meant I could breathe through my nose, which also meant that my wife was probably getting a better night sleep since I wasn’t keeping her up with whatever weird noises I was making attempting to breathe. I became a believer in the healing power of essential oils.

My wife had received a starter kit of 8 essential oils from a company called Art Naturals. There are many different companies that sell essential oils, such as Doterra, and Young Living. Each of these companies have a wide selection of essential oils to choose from.

Let’s take a look at where essential oils come from and their proposed healing properties.

ESSENTIAL OILS-WHERE DO THEY COME FROM?

Essential oils are derived from plants, seeds, stems, flowers and other parts of a plant. When you notice the smell of a particular plant, you are smelling the oil associated with the plant. The smells of the oil apparently protect the plant from enemies (bugs) and help with plant pollination.

According to draxe.com, here are some of benefits of the oils I used when I wasn’t feeling well.

Frankincense – reduce stress, boost immune system, disinfectant, help balance hormone levels, decrease inflammation and pain.

Eucalyptus – works as an expectorant by cleansing the body of toxins that make you feel sick. Eucalyptus also helps with sinus and allergies. It also helps dilates blood vessels so more oxygen can get into the lungs. This could help with those suffering from asthma and bronchitis.

Lavender – lavender help improves sleep, brain function, alleviate headaches, reduce anxiety, and can relieve pain.  This oil is a must have and has become of the most popular oils to have.

Rosemary – believed to have antiseptic properties as well as a powerful antioxidant. Rosemary is believed to also help reduce inflammation.

Dr Axe’s website has an essential oil guide that talks about all the different properties of each essential oil listed. You can also check out Organic Daily Post as they have an in depth essential oil guide as well.

There are many other essential oils that you can try including peppermint, lemon tree, orange, etc.  Check online for the best deals, but be careful. Not all essential oils are the same.

Different companies have different levels of purity. A fairly easy way to tell the purity is to check the inside of the diffuser when the water and oils have evaporated. If there is a film of what looks like soap scum, you might want to try a different brand.

There are no standards in the US for essential oils so how will you know if you are getting what you want? Here are a few suggestions to consider:

  1. Is the Latin name of the plant provided so that you are sure you are getting the right essential oil? For example, there are several species of lavender.
  2. Is the name of the country in which the plants were grown provided? A consumer would not be expected to differentiate oils from different countries, but this information is important to aromatherapists because quality can vary by country. This is an indication that the company is marketing to knowledgeable parties as well as general consumers.
  3. Is there a statement about purity? You should be informed if it is not 100% essential oil (meaning, it has been altered or mixed with something else).
  4. Is the cost comparable in comparison with other brands of the same essential oil? If it’s really cheap, it probably isn’t the real thing.
  5. Does it smell as you expect it to smell?
  6. Is there information about organic growing or wildcrafting(gathering wild plants)? Most essential oils sold in the U.S. are not certified as to their organic status, but some European brands are.

Above information according to The University of Minnesota Taking Charge Website

authored by dave radin, cscs