Essential Winter Oils

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It’s no secret that I love my essential oils & herbal mixtures.  It’s also no secret that I sometimes forget to rely on them as the medicine, first-aid kit and immune boosters they are.  I’m far from the only person that has been conditioned to use pharmacological & medical resources to “get well” (think: headaches, muscle aches, common colds).  I’ve been making a concerted effort to use homemade muscle rubs instead of grabbing the Advil, diffusing lavender to help one sleep instead of taking a sleep aid, etc.

My oils and herbs bring me so much joy that I don’t see this shift in perspective as a struggle but as a fun and exciting adventure.  In celebration of my oily journey, I would like to share my “go-to Winter oils” list.  I hope it helps you get started in using more natural products or to think about the products you are currently using.  Please read the list knowing I am not claiming essential oils WILL cure or prevent anything – rather, they MAY help with the conditions listed.

 

Randi’s Go-To Winter Oils

  1. Frankincense Essential Oil – My absolute favorite essential oil of all time!!  I love resin based oils and the warm woodsy scent they emit.  But, more than the fragrance, I love the fact that I can use it for so many reasons that align with my energy work & massage business.
    • Skin care: May soothe dry and sensitive skin; may rejuvenate and prevent wrinkles of mature skin.
    • Mental health: Promotes deep breathing, helping to allay fears, anxiety, nervous tension and stress.  May be useful for combating depressive thoughts common during the long winter months.
    • Respiratory care: May counteract respiratory problems and may be useful in treating colds, bronchitis, asthma, cough and sore throat.
    • Immune system booster – May help stave off pneumonia, GI flus, and other “bugs” common in winter.
  2. Peppermint Essential Oil – At another time in my life I suffered from frequent migraines.  I arrived at work one day to find a co-worker had bought me a peppermint oil roll-on with instructions to use it at the base of my neck the next time I felt a migraine coming on.  I did & it worked well enough that a full-blown migraine did not develop.  Since then, I have always had a few extra bottles of peppermint oil on hand.
    • Digestive aid – May help alleviate acid reflux, heartburn or stomach upsets
    • Respiratory care – May help prevent colds and flus
    • Skin care: May clean and decongest the skin.
    • Headaches & migraines – May ease the symptoms
    • Mental health: Uplifting and stimulating – may be good for staving off the winter blues
    • WARNING: Only use in small amounts on the skin or in bath; Do not use in conjunction with homeopathic remedies
  3. Lavender Essential Oil – I grudgingly add this to my list.  Not because it doesn’t work because it absolutely does work – really well – for so many conditions!  I don’t like how it smells at all.  While I don’t love the smell, I appreciate its wide-range of uses.  If you google “best essential oil” lists, I would guess lavender is on many of them.  And here it is on mine.
    • May alleviate muscle aches & pains
    • May assist with sleep disturbances like insomnia
    • Respiratory care:  May help treat colds and pneumonia
    • Headache relief
    • Mental health: Balancing and calming; may help with mood swings and depression
    • WARNING – Avoid in early pregnancy, especially if you have a history of miscarriage
  4. Rosemary Essential Oil – I love herby fragrances but sometimes the herbal oils are so concentrated that they are off-putting (kind of like lavender).  Rosemary does not offend me but I’m not going to be dabbing it on my wrists or behind my ears to use as a substitute for perfume any time soon.  When I need an antiseptic, I reach for my rosemary.
    • Mental health: May revive, refresh and strengthen the mind
    • May relax tight & overworked muscles (shoveling??)
    • May relieve fluid retention & detoxify the lymphatic system
    • Dispersed in the air, it may help prevent the spread of airborne infections
    • WARNING – Avoid throughout pregnancy or if you have a history of epilepsy
  5. Ginger Essential Oil – Mmmm!  I love ginger in my food, in the air and as a way to help break up congestion.
    • May warm and stimulate circulation – great for cold hands and feet
    • May loosen sore & tired muscles, particularly when they are cold and contracted
    • Warming to the respiratory system – may break up catarrh and congestion
    • Mental health – warms and strengthens the emotions to a degree that it may be useful for those with the Winter Blues or suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder.
    • WARNING: Do not use if you have extremely sensitive skin. Do not use more than 3 drops in a bath.

This is not a comprehensive list of the oils I use but this list does reflect my most used oils during the winter, cold & flu season, and whenever I need a little warming up.  You may already use oils and have your own favorites picked out & that’s great!  Use what works for you – we are all built different so it stands to reason, what works for you may not work for another.

If you are new to using essential oils, I encourage you to pick a few that feel right for you.  Don’t rely on scent alone though!  While I don’t care for the smell of lavender, my body lets me know it likes it by unconsciously choosing it and thinking about it.  Blend your oils to come up with a mixture that works best for you & your body.  I often use lavender and frankincense together – the lavender sweetens or lightens the heavy woodiness of the frankincense.  And the combination creates a powerful mood elevator and germ fighter.

As a last note, please research and use your essential oils responsibly.  Never ingest an essential oil unless it is labeled safe for consumption.   Essential oils may be added to lotions, shampoos, or soaps.  They may also be used in baths, cold compresses, misters, or humidifiers.  Get creative but please follow these general dilution rules for specific applications and uses:

  • 1-2% for body oils and other applications that are applied to large portions of the body (e.g. massage oil, lotion, cream, body butter)
  • 4-8 drops per bath: the essential oils should be added to the bath along with a product that will help is disperse like vegetable oil, whole milk, vegetable glycerin or bath salts
  • 3-6 drops for a diffuser (for a 12 ft x 12 ft room).
  • 1% dilution for children, the elderly and those with sensitive skin or compromised systems.

Happy & safe oiling!!!  If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Winter Within

The beauty and magic of winter lies in the power of renewal and of the quickening of the spirit. It is the power of the Winter, when nothing appears to be growing, in which Mother Earth is gathering her energies for the new life that is to come.

It is the white snow of purity that brings the power of concentration and clarity of intent. It is the power that turns water to ice, the power that gives ice the strength to crush rocks.

It is the power of night when the physical is dormant but the spirit is active. It is growth wearing the cloak of rest, and new life attired in the shroud of death.

Excerpted from “The Medicine Way: How to Live the Teachings of the Native American Medicine Wheel” by Kenneth Meadows

I love living in the Midwest – I love the noticeable change of the seasons and the severity of the weather phenomena.  I am fortunate to be able to experience the extremes of the weather, to witness nature’s reaction to these extremes and be aware of the harmony that exists between these.

In all honesty, winter is my absolute favorite season.  The more snow, the better.  The colder, the better.  I look forward to this season of hibernation – the slowing down, the reflection, the gathering of strength and the clarity of intention that is born out of the quiet of this season.  I realize winter, snow and cold can drive a person mad – it frustrates, it denies and constrains.  OR, do we do that to ourselves by not living according to the season?  Denying the lesson of each season and just charging forward as if we are in control of the flow of life?

I spend a lot of time in nature just observing.  Observing the rush, the trickle or freezing of the waters and the relationship of the animals to these waters.  Observing the life patterns of the animals and how these are affected by the seasons, the weather and other animals. Observing the trees and plants and being aware that each has an optimal time for blossoming as another is becoming dormant and refueling.  I observe all of this and apply what I learn to my own life.  For me, it is very natural to slow down, hibernate and refuel in the winter – to come alive and feel energized in the spring as I’m planting new seeds – to take advantage of the long summer days in cultivating my gardens – and to feel the urgency of fall in the harvest.

The sickness of busy is a very real & dangerous ailment.  It disconnects us from our true nature AND nature itself.  A symptom of busy is not having good self-care habits – not granting yourself the time necessary to recharge and reflect.  Without recharging you are running on empty.  Without reflection you are running without a plan, needlessly expending your energy with no goal in sight.

In my darkest moments, the moments I’ve been most stressed and stretched to my limits, I have found peace, comfort and answers in the quiet of nature.  Time spent in nature connects me to all that is, reminding me I am not better than the plants I tend, that I am equal to the animals & birds I delight in and that, like the waters I am drawn to, my life will flow and cut away obstacles if I “go with the flow” and surrender to the currents of life.  My connection to Mother Earth is strong – it is one of my most treasured relationships.

If you have never tried it, I urge you to sit with yourself in a natural environment, if possible.  Reflect on the year that was & the year to come. Observe nature around you as you are reflecting – what is trying to tell you?  There is no right or wrong answer – only what you know to be true for you.  Use your observations to guide you through the seasons of life.  So, go!  Go within and gain strength of will. Gather your reserves. Let clarity of intention settle over you. Build a strong foundation for the year and seasons to come. Honor this season. Honor yourself.