Written by guest blogger, Rachel Adams Gonzales
Essential oils can be an amazing tool for women, especially when pregnant, breastfeeding and caring for their babies. They can be an incredibly effective and safe alternative to typical western medicine remedies for viruses, like the flu. I personally was turned on to using essential oils when I came down with the flu in December 2010. I was searching for something that I was comfortable using on myself while breastfeeding and on my 7 month-old son. I was blown away by how quickly I improved once I started applying OnGuard, a blend of wild orange, clove bud, cinnamon, eucalyptus and rosemary. While antibiotics kill bacteria in the body, both good and bad, essential oils penetrate a cell wall to rid your body of harmful viruses and bacteria while leaving beneficial bacteria. This keeps from disrupting further the natural balance of flora in the body.
The last few flu seasons I have often heard people say "My doctor said this is the worst cold and flu season ever." As a mom with little ones and as a pregnant woman in past seasons, that kind of news is terrifying. The worst part for me is the helplessness you feel because of the fact that, you cannot or should not use most 'normal' remedies for cold and flu when you're pregnant, breast feeding, or on very young babies. I steer away from western medicine in general and really don't want to use over- the- counter or prescription medicine if it's not absolutely needed, especially during times when my body is the vessel of nutrients for my child. At the same time, there can be certain risks involved if you do nothing. This is how essential oils became such an empowering tool in my life.
So, where do you start when using essential oils?
First, it is important to keep in mind when applying essential oils that you use the highest quality available. Essential oils are widely produced synthetically, and oils that are not synthetic are often contaminated with other plants, pesticides, or carrier oils. I personally only use doTERRA essential oils, because they are sourced worldwide in areas where plants grow indigenously, maximizing medicinal properties of the oil. Additionally, once imported, they are tested in third-party laboratories to ensure the oil is completely free of any potential contaminant. All of my comments here refer specifically to doTERRA essentials oils.
Great essential oils for cold and flu season:
I mentioned OnGuard, a blend that is phenomenal in keeping viruses and infections at bay. This blend is specifically combined to kill 99.99% of viruses and bacteria including all flu strains and mRSA. It has been tested quite extensively and has been much more effective in keeping surfaces clean for extended periods of time. We diffuse OnGuard throughout the house to kill any airborne viruses that may be looming and put it on the bottom of everyone's feet at bedtime. I have a small glass roll-on bottle that I dilute with fractionated coconut oil, or whatever I have in the pantry at the moment, for my tiniest family members. I add a few drops to my surface cleaning spray and hand soap dispensers as well.
Next, I use a blend called Breathe, which is a combination of laurel leaf, peppermint, eucalyptus, melaleuca, lemon, and ravensara. This is amazing for opening up air passages. A drop can be placed on the palm of the hand, cupped around the face and inhaled and it can also be applied on the chest. Peppermint, however, should be used with caution when breast feeding as it can diminish milk supply. It does not have that effect in all women, but it can and it does for me personally. It also has a very strong cooling sensation that my children do not like, so I only use it on them heavily diluted or diffused. If you are avoiding peppermint, some great alternatives are eucalyptus, lavender, lemon, and melaleuca (tea tree oil). You can use them individually or make your own blend.
Lavender is known for it's calming properties and happens to also be a great anti-infectious blend. I love to put this behind ears at bedtime; not only does it get everyone relaxed for bed, it also works as the best ear infection prevention ever! It can also be applied to the forehead and cheeks with melaleuca oil when fighting a sinus infection.
Lemon can be used to dry out a wet cough, flush toxins and infection out of the body, and improve mood. Citrus oils are known for lifting mood as well, a great side-effect when you have a grumpy household getting over a cold!
A few things to keep in mind when you are applying oils:
1. Less is more. When using a pure therapeutic grade essential oil like doTERRA, you only need a very small amount to be effective.
2. Use often. Unlike western medicine, application of essential oils is most effective when used repeatedly throughout the day. If I am up against a really nasty bug I will apply oils every 30-60 minutes.
3. Test oils one at a time. Especially when you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or applying oils to babies, I recommend trying one type of oil at a time to see how it sits well. It is extremely unlikely that you will have any adverse reaction, like skin irritation, but it makes it easier to isolate the oil that is the irritant this way. For example, cinnamon is a very hot oil and I have very sensitive skin so I always dilute OnGuard for myself. This also makes it easier to identify if peppermint does affect your milk supply when breastfeeding, if you choose to test it.
4. Dilute. Oils will still be effective when diluted and should be diluted when applying to babies, often 1 drop of essential oil to 1-2 tbsp carrier oil.
5. All essential oils are anti-viral and anti-infectious. The properties of each oil differ but if you are not getting the results you need, or simply do not like the way certain oils smell, try another!
A couple of great books to have on hand: Modern Essentials: A Contemporary Guide to the Therapeutic Use of Essential Oils and Essential Oils for Pregnancy, Birth, and Babies, both by Stephanie Fritz.