Going on a trip is usually thought of as a wonderful experience, one that we and our family may have planned and looked forward to for some time. To have the most fun, to get the most out of the experience, it’s important that we and our loved ones have the means to overcome those little ailments and discomforts that make the experience range from mildly unpleasant to downright unbearable. How can we include a little ‘trip insurance’ to our already overstuffed luggage? Aromatherapy has an answer with some readily-available essential oils.
Motion sickness, bug bites, digestive difficulties, and general travel weariness, to name a few, are common discomforts experienced when venturing away from home. A small collection of inexpensive essential oils provide great relief from these amusement-threatening ailments. Treatment with these oils is simple, ranging from inhaling a little oil from a tissue, to adding to a bath, to drinking a drop of food-grade oil with a warm cup of water. And, thankfully, relief often comes quickly because of the oils’ powerful properties and compatibility with our own bodies.
We’ll begin with ‘getting there’ as any trip starts with traveling. By car, boat, plane, or otherwise, motion sickness commonly affects many people, particularly children. This easily makes the ‘traveling’ portion of our experience absolutely no fun. Enter peppermint essential oil.
Peppermint has long been used to calm uneasy stomachs, and is easily used. One drop of food-grade peppermint(it is strong!) in a cup of warm water, sweetened if we like, and sipped before and during the voyage. For the fussy ones, a drop added to a small amount of honey and taken from a spoon for the same effect.
Ginger essential oil is also known for its calming of upset stomachs, a little inhaled from a tissue or diluted in a carrier oil and rubbed on the abdomen brings relief. One drop of food grade ginger essential oil into warm water and drink it as a strong tea, this may be effective for some food-related stomach issues as well, particularly when combined with the abdomen massage method. Beware ginger is powerful and too much will burn.
Peppermint also uplifts the weary driver or passenger. With a drop or two placed on tissues in the car or near our seat will release the aroma into our surroundings. Be careful with this oil however, as getting it on sensitive areas of the skin (directly under the nose, and certainly near the eyes) causes irritation. Tissues with the oil on it should not touch these areas directly.
Lavender, lovingly named ‘a medicine chest in a bottle’ due to its wide range of effects. The aroma of lavender is uplifting and relaxing, useful for stress in congested airports or crowded highways. Breathing this very safe essential oil is effective for adults and children alike, inhaling drops from a tissue directly, or from one’s placed in our surroundings help us be at ease.
Lavender essential oil is an effective wound-healer due to its anti-inflammatory, mild antibacterial, and skin-regenerative actions. Used directly in case of burns, mixed 50:50 with tea tree and put on band aids it prevents infection, or when blended with thyme linalol and eucalyptus (2:4:2) and added to a bowl of water, it becomes an effective disinfectant wash.
Lavender is also useful for treating bites and stings, just place a little undiluted on the affected area. This versatile oil, when a component equal parts of lavender, thyme linalol, and peppermint, and a double-dose of lemongrass essential oil becomes an insect repellent. A drop or more placed on tissue or cloth about our room keeps the insects out of our space; 3 drops of this blend mixed in a teaspoon of lotion or carrier oil, and it is suitable for the skin. Always patch test with anything new before proceeding.
Lavender in combination with geranium, chamomile, peppermint and eucalyptus oils helps to relieve the effects of jet lag. Getting out of this weary state as quickly as possible makes any trip more enjoyable. This requires getting ourself and companions in-synch with local time, a good rest at night and a gentle lift in the mornings and throughout the day.
To get ourself into the swing of local time, relax and be ready for bed with equal parts of lavender and geranium essential oils, chamomile may also be used in place of the geranium, and works especially well for soothing children (if they are irritable for ANY reason). Put it in a mister, and spritz it as a nap and bedtime Fairy Spray. Add a few drops to a bath or use in a massage oil. For a morning eye-opener, do the same using equal amounts of peppermint and eucalyptus. We will find these useful at other times when we need a little clarity and lightening-up.
Lemon also has some wonderfully diverse uses. It is effective as an antibacterial, yet not so strong as to be an irritant. Adding several drops per quart to our drinking water will help purify it, and the water acts as a disinfectant for washing our fruits and vegetables. The need for this certainly depends on our location, yet it is not a bad idea whenever bacterial contamination may be a possibility. Further, regularly drinking water with added lemon oil gently stimulates the lymphatic and digestive systems, helping alleviate that sluggish feeling that often accompanies extended plane and car travel.
Eucalyptus, the narrow leaf variety is a favourite with a great range of uses as well. It cools the body when too hot, and protects it when too cold. It is found in almost all formulas used to relieve congestion, it supports circulation, and brings lightness to a travel-weary head.
Eucalyptus oil used like peppermint(with similar precautions) to uplift and invigorate during long intervals in an automobile. Added to a cool bath or used on a cold compress in cases of heat exhaustion and heat stroke (accompanied by, of course, copious amounts of water and electrolytes!), and used in a similar manner to reduce fever.
Eucalyptus oil, blended with geranium as a massage oil (3 drops eucalyptus and 2 drops geranium per teaspoon of carrier oil) relieves heat cramps. For congestion relief: to a drawn bath, add 1 drop eucalyptus, 3 drops lemon, 2 drops thyme, and 2 drops tea tree, soak and breathe deeply, or simply add a few drops to a steaming bowl of water and inhale.
These are just a few examples of ways to make our travel experiences more enjoyable with aromatherapy. With a little effort, we will expand our knowledge of these oils, discover further uses, and find other oils that work well for our particular needs.
These essential oils are readily available, and fairly inexpensive, though caution should be used when buying oils, as some can be adulterated, and others are mass-produced with techniques that may limit their therapeutic benefits. The more pleasant and ‘well rounded’ an oil’s aroma, generally the higher the quality. Our nose will know! And as with any aromatherapy application, start slowly, essential oils deserve a healthy respect.
The art of aromatherapy practiced for thousands of years and in many ancient traditions. Though aromatic oils were used to treat and cure various ailments and conditions into antiquity, the formal study on their therapeutic properties only started in 1928.
In its simplest form, aromatherapy is the use of essential plant oils for therapeutic purposes. Normally employed to relieve a person from stress and a variety of stress-related conditions, they also promote an individual’s general well being, invigorating the body and the psyche.
Aromatherapy works by flooding the olfactory nerve cells with aromatic oils, which then carries the message out to the limbic system, and into the brain. The limbic system is the part of the brain responsible for controlling memory and emotions.
Aromatherapy concerns itself in the workings of both the physical and emotional aspects. Physically, aromatherapy helps relieve specific conditions acting to stimulate the nervous, immune and circulatory systems. Emotionally they work to evoke pleasant memories and uplifted moods.
Although the medical community may not always agree whether aromatherapy in itself is instrumental to healing various medical conditions, the idea of recovery through aromatherapy is widely accepted.
Essential oils derived from the distillation of the elements of a plant like the leaves, roots, flowers, stems and bark, hold high concentrations of the essence from which they originally came. Though termed as oil, essential oils normally do not have the real properties of oil. Some essential oils are yellow like that of the lemongrass and orange and many are clear.
Oils are used in a variety of methods: through inhalation, adding them in the bathwater and applying diluted oils on the body. The use of oil in aromatherapy is only restricted to those with unadulterated qualities. The purest of the essential oils have the greatest therapeutic value.
The following is a list of the common essential oils used in aromatherapy. Some of which are used as carrier oils (also known as vegetable oils or base oils):
– Almond, Sweet
– Apricot Kernel
– Cocoa Butter
– Evening Primrose
– Macadamia Nut
– Rose Hip
– Shea Butter
Here is the list of essential oils that are not advisable to use in aromatherapy, especially if not supervised by a professional aromatherapy practitioner.
– Almond, Bitter
– Birch, Sweet
– Boldo Leaf
– Broom, Spanish
– Deer Tongue
Aromatherapists put into practice the workings of aromatherapy in a spectrum of work environments including:
– private practice
– mobile visiting practice
– natural health clinics
– beauty therapy clinics
– health clubs
– hospices and
– nursing homes.
In spite of the lack of formal research on aromatherapy, therapists and European physicians often prescribing certain aromatic oils for a range of complaints including colds and flu, insomnia, sinusitis, migraines, digestive problems and muscle pains. It should be understood though that aromatic oils must never be taken orally and should be first skin tested to determine the degree of sensitivity and reactivity one has to the oils.
I remember when I first discovered aromatherapy several years ago. I was fascinated by essential oils and excited to try using them. Looking back, I realize I should have done a bit more research before diving into aromatherapy. I offer the advice I wish I’d had when I was an aromatherapy novice:
1. Buy One or Two Aromatherapy Books
Choose just one or two books to start our aromatherapy library. Select books that are general resources, which will give us home basic information and help us discover the areas in which we have the most interest.
2. Join Aromatherapy Discussion Forums
Facebook Groups, Instagram pages and other forums are great resources for aromatherapy newbies. Read past discussions, ask questions, and learn from others.
3. Choose Five or Ten Essential Oils to Start
Though we may be tempted to buy more, try to begin with just five or ten different essential oils. Essential oils can be quite expensive, so we may want to experiment with a few at first and then invest in more if we decide to pursue aromatherapy further.
4. Make Sure to Buy 100%, Pure, Unadulterated Essential Oils
When buying essential oils, choose a well-known and reputable manufacturer. Synthetic, fragrance, and perfume oils are not essential oils; they contain man-made chemicals and have no aromatherapeutic value.
5. Buy at Least One Carrier Oil
For nearly all topical aromatherapy applications, we will need to dilute essential oils into a carrier oil. Good all-purpose carrier oils include sweet almond oil, sunflower oil, and grapeseed oil. Buy cosmetic grade carrier oils, and use only a few drops of essential oil(s) per ounce of carrier oil.
6. Store Our Oils Properly
Essential oils should be stored only in dark glass containers. Since essential oils are volatile, keep the lids tightly closed. Essential oils and carrier oils should be stored away from heat and light. Carrier oils will go rancid eventually, so it's best to buy smaller quantities.
7. Learn How to Do a Patch Test
Essential oils can cause adverse reactions, due to allergy or due to sensitization over time. A patch test helps to determine whether we might react to a particular essential oil. Learn how to perform a skin patch test on ourselves with each new oil we want to use topically.
8. Don't Use Aromatherapy with Children or Pets
Until we are thoroughly familiar with essential oils and associated safety issues, don't use them on children or pets, or while pregnant or breastfeeding. Cats, in particular, may be adversely affected by essential oils—peppermint. Make sure essential oils are kept out of reach of children.
9. Don't Ingest Essential Oils
Though we will read conflicting information about taking essential oils internally, we should avoid doing this. Some essential oils that are fairly safe to use topically may be quite toxic if taken internally. In addition, some essential oils interact with prescription or over the counter drugs.
As we experiment with and learn more about aromatherapy, we become more confident using essential oils. There is so much to explore, so be safe and have fun!