Zero waste living: Essential oils as natural medicine [free printable]

Essential oils, in my house, is exactly that – essential. Not only do we use the oils for cleaning, and in my homemade beauty products, but also as easy and effective remedies for a long list of ailments.

My medicinal journey started a few years ago when I attended a workshop on tea tree oil. Back then I was using natural products on my face and body, but still bought and used commercial cleaning products. I have never been big on medicine, always opting to treat sickness and disease with as little interference as possible. So I never even considered using oils as medicine since I didn’t use medicine. In the workshop, the presenter went in depth into the benefits and uses of tea tree oil and I was astounded. One bottle with all of those uses! Scientifically proven to work. No way! I started doing my own research and discovered that tea tree oil really is a first aid kit in a bottle. I was hooked and wanted to find out more. I read anything and everything I could find and tried to remember as much as I could. Slowly I started to make my own cleaning products and experimenting with the scents. Then I fell pregnant.

Pregnancy – that time when you need medicine the most, but cannot use any of it. The irony. Because your body is literally growing a strange being, your immune system must be suppressed meaning that you are a big wide target for any and all germs, viruses, and bacteria. But you cannot take meds because they might harm the baby.  So you have to survive on love and God’s grace alone. Luckily for me, I had info from my research and knew that some of the essential oils are safe to use during pregnancy if diluted properly and not used exclusively for extended periods of time. Ginger oil is great for nausea, eucalyptus for chesty coughs, chamomile to help you sleep and thyme mixed with honey for a sore throat. My oils got me through 2 pregnancies.

Then we had a baby. A small baby, who could not take most over-the-counter meds, and we tried to steer clear of strong medicines and antibiotics. Again the oils came in handy. Lavender in her bath water made her sleep better. Chamomile also helped. Dill could be found in my homemade gripe water, used to soothe cramping tummies. Lavender was dapped on mosquito bites to stop the itching.  My babies are now 3.5 and 1.5 years old, and we still predominantly use oils to heal, stop an infection, and cure. And not just for the kids, but for us as well! I burned myself with boiling water, and lavender oil was my saving grace. I can honestly say that oils form an integral part of our everyday lives, and they work. If you are ready to try them for yourself, here are my top 10 essential oils to include in your medicine cabinet as part of your natural first aid kit:

1.      Tea tree oil

mix with sweet oil for ear drops (we mix in clove essential oil as well). Add diluted to bath water to ward off bladder infections. Mix with filtered water, pour into a spray bottle and use as a hand sanitizer. Add a few drops to your laundry load to kill the germs that spread stomach bugs. Apply topically to cuts and blisters to stop infection. Add to shampoo to kill head lice and stop dandruff. So many uses! We have bottles in all the bathrooms, in the cars, and in the kids’ bags.

2.      Lavender

Lavender for burns, itches, scratches and blisters. We add it to our bath salts, soap, and bath oil to encourage calm before sleep.

3.      Eucalyptus

My favourite scent! We diffuse it for coughs, tight chests and to open blocked noses. Great oil to help treat croup, bronchitis and asthma. Mixed with rosemary, peppermint and coconut oil it makes a great chest rub.

4.      Peppermint

My go-to essential oil to control fevers. Dab on the bottom of the feet to almost instantaneously reduce fevers. Insect repellent, nausea fighter and stomach settler. Peppermint oil can also be used to clear blocked noses and open tight chests.

5.      Lemon

Great for treating sore throats, boost the immune system and is wonderful as a room freshener. Also, add to homemade toothpaste as a natural whitener.

6.      Lemongrass

Perfect for treating sore muscles, add this oil (diluted) to bath water or rub onto sore muscles and joints.

7.      Clove

We use it to cure earaches, toothaches, and thrush. Can also be dabbed on cold sores to treat and cure as well as on the soles of the feet to reduce fever.

8.      Rosemary

I use rosemary often to help with pain in my joints. Can also be used to open airways and clear a blocked nose. Part of my homemade chest rub as well.

9.      Rose geranium

We add it to bath water (diluted in coconut oil, for added moisturizing) to fight urinary tract infections, use it in my homemade bum cream to soothe nappy rash and diffuse to help with allergies.

10.  Orange

Used to treat joint pain, inflammation and to boost the immune system. Also a natural whitener, room freshener and all around happy scent.

In order to use essential oils safely and effectively, the following guidelines must be adhered to, at all times:

1.      Use externally only.

Although some oils are safe for ingesting in small quantities, do so under strict medical supervision only.

2.      Less is more.

You can build up a tolerance to oils if you use them too often and in too high doses. Since the oils are highly concentrated, a single drop is in most cases more than sufficient.

3.      Do not heat the oils.

Vaporizing in a bath or for steam inhalation is fine, but keeping oils somewhere where they will get hot damages the oils and can create caustic compounds that can irritate your body. Using in a hot diffuser is also fine, if diluted in filtered water and used correctly.

4.      Use good quality and therapeutic grade oils.

The only ingredient should be 100% pure essential oil, and the plant genus and species should be listed on the label. Make sure the brand and company that you support deserve your support.

5.      Choose organic as far as possible.

Since you are basically ingesting or using the essence of the plant, ensuring that essence is organic goes a long way. Again, only use high-quality oils from reputable brands.

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