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Component of the Moment: Eucalyptus Oil

December 4, 2009 Leave a comment
Eucalyptus Oil is excellent for cold and flu symptom relief.

Eucalyptus Oil is excellent for cold and flu symptom relief.

There are several common (and popular) players when it comes to naturopathic treatments for the various symptoms of cold and flu. Mint, echinacea, oil of oregano and (truly naturopathic or not) the latest hot topic in my own sphere of influence: Cold FX. Being currently pregnant, the choices for easing my own ills (and supplimenting to prevent them) are significantly reduced, with most of the above being in a ‘no-go zone’ in general opinion.

Eucalyptus, however, is apparently a viable option for those in ‘my condition.’ Not only does it make up a good part of the medicinal ingredient in many a cough drop, but it’s also one of 3 active ingredients in the much-loved and deceptively-named mentholatum ointments on the market. 

But this particular plant has a good number of other things going for it these days as well. It’s garnered a good amount of global attention as an eco-friendly and fast-growing wood source, and also for its oil’s natural applications as an insecticide. It’s been used in many an impoverished area to help illiminate malaria, suck up swamp water, and add to the local natural resource inventory. Not bad for what, for many, is considered for little more than its ability to feed those cute little koalas down under.

Since I can’t recall too many claims that focus on renewable resources can assist with nasal congestion, Eucalyptus oil is what we’re all probably interested in here. As with most such oils, Eucalyptus oil is a considerable multi-tasker. It can be used as a disinfectant, insect repellant, and can even be used internally in small amounts (ergo, cough drops). To see where it really shines, though, just follow your nose.

The vapours and fresh scent of Eucalyptus Oil are known for loosening phlegm and soothing other cold and flu symptoms. Just apply on the chest and back and then snuggle down with a scarf to keep the area warm and you’ll likely find yourself considerably more comfortable in no time. Better yet, add a few drops of this oil to some Sweet Almond Oil or other suitable carrier oil and have your sweet baboo give you a soothing neck/back/chest massage at bedtime. Not only will you likely sleep like a baby, but you may also find your congestion significantly lessened in the morning.

Other popular methods of application include steam inhalation, and other aromatherapy-based techniques. It can also be coupled with other oils and scents for combined effects and occassionally to decrease the possibility of irritation for sensitive users.

Do note, though: a little goes a long way with Eucalyptus Oil. Use to much, and it can be irritating to the skin in strong concentrations. Also, it is generally not advisable for long-term use.  All in all, though, one would expect worse from an extract from a tree known to spontaneously combust when the weather is hot and dry enough.

Rating for burners: Yes
Rating for baths/massage: Yes
Rating for creams/lotions: Yes
Safe for use during pregnancy: Yes
Other notes of note: Avoid use in children under 6 or if you have high blood pressure or epilepsy. Excessive use can cause headaches. Not suitable for regular (ie daily) use.

For a more in-depth look at this oil, check out http://www.essentialoils.co.za/essential-oils/eucalyptus.htm.

Note to flu-phobes: Vitamin D is your friend

November 6, 2009 Leave a comment

With the advent of the dreaded(?) H1N1 virus, Vitamin D is popping up in the news again as a hot-topic flu-fighter (see this article). Ever the sceptic, my first question (after “Really?”) was “How exactly?”

As it turns out, the vitamin in question is purportedly not your average vitamin. It’s a secosteroid (a steroid where one of the bonds has been broken). Most other vitamins aren’t, and so the behaviour is a bit different. Read more…