Got a hangover? Suffering from a nasty cold? Feeling inexplicably blue and moody? We’ve all been there and we’ve all reached for the requisite OTC medication or greasy sandwich to feel better. While I’m all about a good bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, I’ve come to rely extensively on the tremendous healing power of essential oils to treat many common ailments from which I used to suffer regularly. Below, I’m sharing five of my favorite ways to treat these everyday infirmities.
1. To brighten your mood
Citrus essential oils, such as grapefruit, lemon and sweet orange
Why: With their light, bright and zesty aromas, citrus essentials oils are what I like to call “happy” scents. It’s not just the South Florida girl in me, either. One study found that the scent of lemon oil boosted participants’ moods; this finding was confirmed both through self-reported and empirical data (elevated levels of the anti-stress hormone norepinephrine were measured in the blood of participants).
How to use: Diluted in a carrier oil (I like to apply on my temples) or diffused, as in aromatherapy.
2. To alleviate a headache
Eucalyptus and lavender essential oils
Why: Menthol, a main component of eucalyptus oil, has been backed by many studies as a headache treatment, and a 2012 study pinpointed lavender essential oil as an effective alternative treatment for migraine headaches. Both will also help to relax and soothe you.
How to use: Diffused, in aromatherapy. (Use equal parts of both oils.)
3. To eradicate motion sickness
Peppermint and spearmint oils
Why: Peppermint has been used as a nausea treatment in folk traditions for centuries; in modern times, research has confirmed that inhaling the aroma of peppermint oil can help alleviate postoperative nausea and vomiting. Spearmint has similar effects – plus, it is a little milder than peppermint.
How to use: Put ten drops of each essential oil on an old rag or cloth. Hold the rag several inches away from your nose (do not cover your face) and inhale deeply when you’re feeling sick.
4. To treat the common cold
Rosemary, eucalyptus and peppermint oils; oregano oil used cautiously
Why: Rosemary and eucalyptus have an insane amount of cold fighting medicinal properties: they’re antiseptic and antibacterial as well as a decongestant. Peppermint’s high menthol content gives it the anti-inflammatory properties and antibacterial qualities necessary to fight a nasty cold. Oregano oil is an incredibly powerful oil that is both antibiotic and antiviral – it should be used sparingly and cautiously.
How to use: Diffuse any of the above-mentioned oils. Dilute eucalyptus oil in carrier oil to make a DIY Vick’s VapoRub; apply directly onto chest and throat. If you’re using oregano oil, opt for a pre-diluted version like this one and apply one drop on your tongue.
5. To fight insomnia
Jasmine and rose otto essential oils
Why: Because jasmine is a night-blooming flower, it makes sense that its oil is a great natural sleep remedy. Both jasmine and rose otto oils smell amazing and have calming and sedative effects. In fact, one study found that jasmine is equally as calming as Valium. Back away from the prescription meds!
How to use: Diffuse equal parts of the essential oils or add a couple of drops to your nightly bath – or even directly onto your pillowcase.