Essential oils in the prevention of H1N1

This article was written last spring, when a growing number of people were concerned about the possibility of contracting the H1N1 (Swine) Flu. The essential oils mentioned here can be used for any type of ‘flu strain. What many are starting to discover is that there are a number of holistic alternatives to protect themselves and their families. For some there are personal reasons for avoiding vaccines, for which holistic remedies can provide a safe and natural alternative.

One such branch of holistic medicine that can aid in the fight against H1N1 is Essential Oil Therapy. Essential oils have many chemical properties, which have been shown to be an effective treatment, both preventative and post infection, against influenza. These chemical properties, such as being antiviral, antimicrobial and antiseptic, protect against influenza and/or shorten the duration of its symptoms.

For example, oils from the Myrtaceae family (niaouli, ravensara, tea tree) are effective against viruses, due to their high levels of terpenes, terpineol and cineole. Terpenes are antibacterial and antiseptic. Additional essential oils with antiviral, antimicrobial and/or antibacterial properties include cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, rosemary and thyme. Some of these same essential oils also help to boost the immune system, helping to protect you and your family from a myriad of ‘flu season viruses.

The wonderful thing about essential oil therapy (EOT) is that there are several methods to use and apply the essential oils, which, in most cases, mean that use and application of essential oils are both convenient and flexible. Some methods of application include using an aroma pot, which includes placing a few drops of oil in water and heating it; the oil evaporates into the air and is inhaled as well as attacking any airborne viruses; adding a few drops to the bath, which not only gives direct contact with your skin, but also allows for a relaxing method of inhalation; putting a few drops on your pillow at night, providing you with both inhalation and killing any viruses or bacteria found in and on your pillow; adding a few drops to a plain, unscented lotion and rubbing it onto the back, neck, chest and soles of the feet; or using an inhaler. Where the influenza virus is concerned, the best methods of application are through inhalation and/or topical application to the body.

A natural hand sanitizer can be made using aloe vera gel and 10% essential oils. Alcohol can also be added, but this may dry out your hands. Add 24 drops of essential oil to 240g of aloe vera gel and mix well. The gel can be put into small squeeze bottles and should be used within six months.

To prepare for this cold and ‘flu season, we have our Cold & Sinus formula with pure essential oils and the milder Children’s Cold & ‘Flu formula. Our two newest products, are an Antibacterial Spray and Cold & ‘Flu Essential Oil Inhaler.

Michelle Reynolds, CAHP

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In vitro antiviral activity of Melaleuca alternifolia essential oil. Garozzo A, Timpanaro R, Bisignano B, Furneri PM, Bisignano G, Castro A.
Screening of the antibacterial effects of a variety of essential oils on microorganisms responsible for respiratory infections. Fabrio A, Cermelli C, Fabio G, Nicoletti P, Quaglio P.
Antibacterial activity of essential oils and their major constituents against respiratory tract pathogens by gaseous contact. Shigeharu Inouyea, Toshio Takizawab and Hideyo Yamaguchia.
Inhibitory effect of cinnamaldehyde, derived from Cinnamomi cortex, on the growth of influenza A/PR/8 virus in vitro and in vivo. Hayashi K, Imanishi N, Kashiwayama Y, Kawano A, Terasawa K, Shimada Y, Ochiai H.
Medical Aromatherapy, Kurt Schnaubelt, PhD.

Essential Oil Therapy for a natural and healthy pregnancy – Part 1

More and more pregnant women and new parents are looking for natural alternatives to prescription drugs. Although conventional medicine and medicines can be helpful in more extreme cases, for the more common ailments associated with child birth and parenting, natural alternatives like Essential Oil Therapy can prove to be just as, if not more, effective. Below are just a few ways that Essential Oil Therapy can help with a more natural pregnancy and childbirth.

Prenatal

Massaging yourself with nourishing carrier oils and the essential oils of neroli (citrus aurantium) and mandarin (citrus reticulata) during your pregnancy may help to reduce the chance of getting stretch marks, and alleviate dry, itchy skin. Be sure not to forget to massage your breasts and thighs, along with your growing belly. In an attempt to prevent striae gravidarum (stretch marks), a treated group who used a massage ointment was two thirds less likely to develop stretch marks, vs. a controlled group who was one third less likely to development stretch marks.1

If you are suffering from headaches and migraines, using essential oils can be a good alternative to conventional pain relievers. Essential oils such as peppermint (mentha piperita), chamomile (anthemis nobilis) and lavender (lavandula angustifolia), among others, in a carrier oil, can be used in a roll-on applicator, and applied to the temples and nape of the neck.2

The essential oils of peppermint, chamomile or ginger (zingiber officinalis) can be effective in relieving the nausea associated with morning sickness. Ginger  has been found to be more effective than vitamin B6 for relieving the severity of nausea and just as effective for decreasing the number of episodes.3 Ginger was also found to be as effective as dimenhydrinate  in treating nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.4 Pieces of dried ginger can be chewed or the capsules taken internally. Peppermint and/or chamomile tea can be drunk to ease nausea. Simply inhaling peppermint and ginger essential oils can ease the nausea for many women.

A warm bath with essential oils added, can soothe your sore muscles, help you to relax, and be emotionally uplifting as well. Research has confirmed that the mother’s emotional state affects the child, both pre and post natal. Massage yourself, or even better, have a partner massage you, to help with sore muscles, relaxation, strengthening the emotional bonds and help prevent fluid retention in your legs and feet.

For years, many midwives have recommended massaging your perineum daily during the last six weeks of pregnancy, to help reduce the chances of tearing or having an episiotomy. Three trials, involving more than 2,000 women, concluded that prenatal perineal massage reduces the chances of perineal trauma, mainly episiotomies, and ongoing perineal pain.5

A resource on how to perform the massage can be found at: http://parenting.ivillage.com/pregnancy/plabor/0,,midwife_46dl,00.html

For inflammation, acne and other skin issues, toners with lavender and chamomile hydrosols are soothing and calming to the skin. Many women see changes in their skin and some develop acne, similar to when they were in their teens.

Please visit http://www.aromatichealthshop.ca/Mother/cat255520_181677.aspx for details about products for pre and postpartum health.

Please look for Part 2, in using essential oils for Labour and Postpartum.

Michelle Reynolds, CAHP
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1. Attempt of preventive treatment of striae gravidarum using preventive massage ointment administration. Wierrani F, Kozak W, Schramm W, Grünberger W. Wien Klin Wochenschr. 1992;104(2):42-4. PMID: 1609525
2. Effect of peppermint and eucalyptus oil preparations on neurophysiological and experimental algesimetric headache parameters. Göbel H, Schmidt G, Soyka D. Cephalalgia. 1994 Jun;14(3):228-34; discussion 182. PMID: 7954745

3. Comparing ginger and vitamin B6 for the treatment of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy: a randomised controlled trial. Ensiyeh J, Sakineh MA. Midwifery. 2008 Feb 11. PMID: 18272271
4. A randomized comparison of ginger and dimenhydrinate in the treatment of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. Pongrojpaw D, Somprasit C, Chanthasenanont A. J Med Assoc Thai. 2007 Sep;90(9):1703-9. PMID: 17957907
5. Antenatal perineal massage for reducing perineal trauma. Antenatal perineal massage for reducing perineal trauma.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006 Jan 25;(1):CD005123. PMID: 16437520