Winter: Natural Remedies for Seasonal Ailments
Not only has winter arrived but also the biggest festive season in our calendar. This month we celebrate many old and new traditions in a very short space of time – the Winter Solstice, Christmas, New Year, Twelfth Night, Plough Monday to name a few. All are steeped in the wonderful mix of our traditions.
Natural remedies for seasonal ailments are probably the oldest of all traditions and Aromatherapy is at the forefront of these. One old tradition (sometimes forgotten these days) to ward off coughs and colds is the simple remedy of inhalation, involving:
A bowl full of hot, steaming water
Essential oils of choice – Eucalyptus globulus, Frankincense, Peppermint, Tea Tree etc.
You know the method and, although it leaves you red faced for a while, it clears the airways and settles the lungs. The important things to remember are to keep your eyes closed, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. (This method may not be suitable for use by anyone suffering from asthma).
A more modern approach is to use the oils in aroma sticks. These are very handy as you can carry them round and inhale discreetly all day long.
Diffusers are also a great way to provide protection around your house.
Of the oils -
- Tea Tree Oil has antiviral properties, meaning it could help squelch the nasties that lead to sinus infections and respiratory issues.
- Eucalyptus Oil: Beyond its forest scent, eucalyptus oil has both antiviral and antimicrobial properties reducing inflammation, suppressing coughs, it can reduce fever, loosens up chest congestion and is an all-around support during cold season. (Can cause CNS and breathing problems in young children – do not use on or near the face of infants or children).
- Peppermint Oil: Its minty goodness is a natural decongestant and fever reducer, due to its menthol. A study in 2013 found that it can help the bronchial muscles
- and could thus ease breathing if you have a cough (not to be used during pregnancy, on or near the face of infants or children).
- Rosemary Oil: Has been found to be good at breaking up mucus and reducing inflammation. (Not to be used on or near the face of infants or children).
Never forget the basics though, which are a critical component of staying healthy, warding off colds and recovering:
Get enough sleep!
Lavender Oil: Lavender is one of the best-studied essential oils. Research has shown that in low doses it helps you go to sleep, and may even lower your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Less stress, easier sleeping!
Sandalwood Oil: A rich, woody scent which has a sedative effect and can increase REM sleep (but for some people, it increases alertness! So maybe try it before a nap first).
Roman Chamomile Oil: The well-known calming and sleep inducing oil – also a 2010 study stated that breathing in chamomile essential oil in steam helps relieve cold symptoms.
Finally, I will leave you with an old traditional, seasonal recipe:
Apple Snow – uses pureed apple added to whipped cream and egg whites. Originally baked in the 17th century but more recently served cold:
750g Bramley apples, peeled & chopped
80g castor sugar
1 lemon juiced and grated
Simmer all three until pureed – leave to cool
Beat two pasteurised egg whites until stiff peaks form
80mls double cream beaten until stiff
Combine the pasteurised egg whites, cream and cooled apple puree by folding carefully
Serve “draped” over another food to give the appearance of snow having fallen on it.