The Sun; Overexposure to Sun, Sea, and Wind

summer solstice sunDespite repeated warnings that skin cancer is caused at least in part by exposure to the sun, people still flock to the beach, where they lie prostrate, soaking in as much sunshine as they can. Hopefully, they are wearing a high factor sunscreen. But lying on the beach more than half naked with nothing much to do does provide the perfect opportunity to make a detailed note, in writing, of the mole’s we have. And as we seldom lie on the beach alone, our companion can examine the back of our body too. Making a mole map might turn out to be the most useful souvenir you take home with you, especially if you update it regularly to identify any new moles or any changes in existing ones.

One important thing to remember when using essential oils in the sun is that a few of them are what are known as photosensitive oils. This means they could increase our skin’s sensitivity to the sun.

Sunburn can vary considerably in degree. If the burn is severe and there is blistering, medical assistance may be required. If there is simply redness or a feeling of skin tightness and soreness, one effective first aid treatment is the miraculous oil of lavender.

As with all burns, it’s crucial to first get the heat out of the skin, so fill a sink or bath with cold water, add ice if possible, and immerse the sunburnt area as soon as you can. Then apply 1 or 2 drops of neat {undiluted} lavender essential oil over the sunburned area, bearing in mind that 1 or 2 drops of lavender will go quite a long way. You don’t need to overdo it; simply make sure that the lavender has covered the reddened area. If you haven’t got any lavender with you, use chamomile instead. Then, if you have it to hand, cover the area with cooling aloe vera gel. Pregnant women should not use lavender in this way, but they can use the aloe vera gel on its own.

If you do this, by morning hopefully you won’t notice a thing if you weren’t sunburned too badly. But do stay out of the sun for at least three days, even if the area looks perfectly fine.

Taking care of skin that’s been exposed to more than the usual amount of sunshine makes sense, and the following after-sun oils will also help repair it.

After-Sun Oil

Lavender: 10 drops

Chamomile-german: 5 drops

Geranium: 2 drops

Dilute in:

Sweet almond oil: 4 tablespoons {60 mL}

Sesame oil: 3 tablespoons {30 mL}

Apply as a body oil after showering or bathing, paying particular attention to areas of skin that have been overexposed to the sun.

After-Sun Bath Oil

Chamomile-roman: 4 drops

Geranium: 2 drops

Lavender: 2 drops

Dilute these after-sun bath essential oils in 1 tablespoon {15 mL} of jojoba oil and add it all to a bath. While in the bath, gently smooth the oil over the areas that have been exposed to the sun.

The following body and face oil is very effective in the drying conditions of wind and sun, such as experienced when skiing, sailing, or hiking.

Apres Ski, Sun, Sail, and Hike Oil

Chamomile-roman: 8 drops

Geranium: 8 drops

Lavender: 8 drops

Dilute in:

Jojoba oil: 2 teaspoons {10 mL}

Sesame seed oil: 1 teaspoon {5 mL}

Evening primrose seed oil: 1 teaspoon {5 mL}

Almond oil, sweet: 2 tablespoons {30 mL}

Blend the ingredients together well and use the oil every night before sleeping.

 

7 Essential Oils for Allergies

Essential oils are among the most popular natural remedies for allergies. These concentrated aromatic liquids are distilled from plants and have been used therapeutically for centuries.

Allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States, affecting approximately 50 million people. While there is no cure for allergies, there are several ways that allergy symptoms can be managed.

This article lists the most effective essential oils for relief of the symptoms of seasonal allergies and skin allergies and suggests some ways to incorporate essential oils into your allergy treatment regimen.

Fast facts on essential oils for allergies:

  • Although considered a natural product, this does not mean they are always safe.
  • Seasonal allergies can affect people during summer or winter, or all-year round.
  •  Eczema, dermatitis, and hives are some of the most common skin allergies.

Seasonal allergies

Bottle of peppermint essential oil with blooming peppermint leavesPeppermint oil may help to relax the muscles that cause coughing.

Symptoms of these conditions include watery eyes, stuffy nose, sneezing, coughing, wheezing, and chest congestion. People with these allergy symptoms may wish to try the following oils:

1. Peppermint

2010 study, although on animals, found that peppermint oil has a relaxing effect on smooth muscle, which helps to reduce the contractions that cause coughing.

According to other research, the oil may also help treat anxiety and mental fatigue, symptoms that are often experienced by allergy sufferers.

2. Frankincense

Frankincense is another oil that reduces inflammatory activity in the body. One study reports that frankincense exhibits anti-inflammatory effects in bronchitis, which causes inflammation of the airways, and sinus infections. It may also be beneficial for people with asthma.

3. Eucalyptus

Research suggests that using a blend of oils, including eucalyptus, for infections of the upper respiratory tract leads to a significant and immediate improvement in symptoms. Participants reported a reduction in hoarseness, cough, and sore throat.

The essential oil blend used in the study contained Eucalyptus citriodoraEucalyptus globulus, peppermint, Syrian oregano, and rosemary.

4. Lemon

In one study, it was found that a lemon-based nasal spray helped in the treatment of perennial and seasonal allergic rhinitis. Lemon essential oil can also inhibit bacterial activity.

It is not recommended to apply citrus-based essential oils to the skin before exposure to the sun. These oils can cause the skin to become more sensitive to sunlight, increasing the risk of harmful blistering or burning.

Skin allergies

Lavender oil bottle with pipette taking oil from it.Lavender oil can support sleep, which may be disrupted by the symptoms of allergies.

Symptoms caused by skin allergies include swelling, itching, and redness.

It is advisable to consult a doctor first and then proceed with caution when using the following essential oils for skin allergies:

5. Lavender

Lavender naturally quells inflammation, inhibits anxiety, and encourages a deep sleep, all of which can benefit people with allergies.

Lavender is an especially good option for skin allergies, as it is gentle on the skin and calms irritation, with research indicating that it speeds up healing. The oil can be applied directly to the skin, or added to baths, lotions, and other skin products.

6. Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil has proven antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. It also reduces inflammation, with research finding that tea tree oil applied topically significantly decreases swelling from histamine-induced skin inflammation when compared to paraffin oil.

It must be noted that, due to its potency, tea tree oil may induce allergic contact dermatitis in some people. Also, the oil should only be used topically and should not be ingested.

7. Chamomile oil

In a review of the properties of chamomile oil, it was reported that chamomile is an effective anti-inflammatory that can be used to treat skin conditions, inflammation of the mucous membranes, and symptoms of sinusitis.

It may also relieve the itching and swelling associated with eczema when mixed with a carrier oil and applied topically.

How to use essential oils for allergies

Essential oil burner for diffusion aromatherapyEssential oil burners can diffuse the oil, helping to clear respiratory congestion or irritation.

Essential oils can be used in a variety of ways to treat allergies. Some of the most popular include:

Diffusion

Add a few drops of the oil or oils to a plug-in diffuser or oil burner. This method is especially beneficial for treating the symptoms of seasonal allergies, as well as other respiratory conditions.

Direct inhalation

Essential oils can be breathed directly from the bottle or by putting a drop or two on a handkerchief.

People with seasonal allergies may relieve congestion by adding a few drops of essential oil to a bowl of hot water and breathing in the vapors. For nighttime allergy relief, a person can add 5 drops of essential oil to their pillow.

Topical application

People with skin allergies and symptoms such as itching, hives, and rashes can apply the oil to their skin.

Most oils should be mixed with a carrier oil, such as jojoba, coconut, or sweet almond oil before application. A ratio of 2 drops of essential oil to 1 tablespoon of carrier oil is recommended.

Take care when applying lemon essential oil or other citrus-based oils to the skin, as they are sun and light sensitive and cause discoloration of the skin.

Targeting allergens

Some oils, such as lemon, eucalyptus, and tea tree, can help kill molds and dust mites, both of which are common allergens that trigger symptoms.

To do this, a person should add 20 drops of essential oil and a tablespoon of white vinegar to 1 cup of water. The mixture can then be used to spray on bathroom fittings and other areas prone to mold, and on to mattresses and other textiles to kill dust mites.

Always do a patch test and wait 24 hours before spraying on larger areas of fabric.

Potential risks and side effects

People should bear in mind the following guidelines when using essential oils:

  • Always choose high-quality oils from a reputable source.
  • Follow the instructions for use carefully.
  • Do not apply undiluted oils to the skin.
  • Do not take essential oils internally.
  • Children and pregnant and breastfeeding women should only use essential oils under the guidance of a qualified professional.
  • Always do a skin test for allergic reactions before applying to larger areas. If none occurs after 24 hours, it should be safe to use. Each essential oil must be tested separately.
  • It is advisable to speak to a doctor before beginning treatment with essential oils.

Essential oils are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and so should be used with caution.

Essential Oils for Treating Cold Sores

Cold sores, which are also called fever blisters, can be itchy, painful, and embarrassing. They are typically caused by the herpes simplex virus.

Cold sores can be treated with antiviral medications, which may shorten how long the symptoms last. There are various home remedies, as well, which are used to ease their discomfort.

Furthermore, a lot of studies have been done that show compounds in certain essential oils may help treat cold sores.

Essential oils might have some advantages over medication. For instance, essential oils usually cause fewer side effects than antiviral drugs.

Although they may be helpful in treating the symptoms of the herpes simplex virus, essential oils can be harmful if taken orally. When used to treat cold sores, the oils are applied topically to the skin only after they are mixed with a carrier oil, such as sweet almond oil or coconut oil.

In this article, we take a look at 10 essential oils that research suggests may be able to help treat cold sores.

Essential oils for cold sores

The following essential oils may be useful for treating cold sores:

Lavender

Applying certain essential oils may help to reduce cold sore irritation.

Lavender oil has been used for years to treat a variety of issues, including skin irritation and bruises.

Although it may not have any effect on the virus, lavender oil may be helpful in reducing pain associated with cold sores. In one study, lavender oil appeared to have the potential to decrease pain and inflammation.

The first time someone uses lavender oil, they should dilute it with a carrier oil. If there is no reaction, they might be able to use a stronger mix.

Lavender oil can also be used undiluted, as it does not usually irritate the skin. One or two drops of lavender oil can be applied directly to the sore.

Peppermint oil

In one study, peppermint oil was shown to inhibit the activity of both the herpes virus type 1 and type 2. The study concluded that peppermint oil might be useful in treating recurrent herpes infections.

A few drops of peppermint oil diluted with a milder oil, such as almond oil, can be applied to the sore.

Chrysanthemum oil

Although chrysanthemum oil may not specifically treat the herpes simplex virus, research has suggested that the oil has a strong anti-inflammatory effect, which may reduce symptoms.

Allergies to chrysanthemum oil are not uncommon. It is best to test a small area of the skin before using the essential oil on a cold sore. Never apply directly to the skin, and always dilute in a carrier oil.

Eucalyptus oil

Eucalyptus oil may be useful in treating cold sores due to its anti-inflammatory ability.

A paper in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology indicated that eucalyptus oil could decrease inflammation. By reducing inflammation, eucalyptus may speed up the healing process of a cold sore.

Users should be sure to dilute eucalyptus oil in a carrier oil before applying it to the skin to avoid irritation. Eucalyptus is a known allergen, so people should not use it if they have a reaction.

Clove oil

The effect of clove has been studied on the herpes simplex virus as well as other viruses, including hepatitis C.

Clove may have an antimicrobial and antiviral effect on the herpes simplex virus. It also may decrease pain associated with a cold sore.

Clove is irritating if applied directly to the skin. It should be diluted with a milder oil, such as coconut oil. Users should use caution when applying the mixture to the sore.

Chamomile oil

Chamomile oil interrupts absorption of the herpes virus into the cells differently than antiviral drugs, according to some research.

This oil may also be useful in treating drug-resistant strains of herpes. Again, chamomile oil must be diluted in a carrier oil before being applied to the skin.

Tea tree oil

According to a review published in the International Journal of Dermatology, tea tree oil has shown the ability to stop or kill the herpes simplex virus.

The oil is strong, so it is best to use it with caution. Users should dilute it with a carrier oil to decrease the chances of a skin irritation.

Hyssop oil

Research on hyssop oil showed that the essential oil caused a decrease in viral activity.

A few drops of hyssop oil can be diluted and applied to the cold sore.

Lemon balm oil

Lemon balm oil, which is also called Melissa extract, may have an antiviral effect on the herpes simplex virus.

One study indicated that the oil prevents the herpes virus from penetrating the cells.

Users should apply the diluted oil to the cold sore with a cotton swab three or four times a day for best results.

Thyme oil

Thyme oil has been examined to determine its ability to treat herpes simplex virus type 1. The results of one study indicated that the essential oil shows antiviral action against the virus.

Thyme oil should always be diluted with a carrier oil before it is applied to the cold sore.

Risks and considerations

lemon balm essential oil in glass bottle with fresh leaves
To reduce the risk of an allergic reaction, essential oils such as lemon balm should be diluted with a carrier oil before being applied to the skin.

When using essential oils to treat cold sores, it is important to understand the risks. Some essential oils can be irritating to the skin and may damage the skin if they are used too much.

An allergic reaction is also possible when using essential oils. Hives, redness, or itching at the site of application are signs of an allergic reaction.

If signs of an allergic reaction develop, people should stop using the oil immediately.

Diluting an essential oil with a carrier oil may be useful and necessary. Dilution means the carrier oils provide better absorption as well as less irritation to the skin.

Common carrier oils used to dilute essential oils include:

The ratio of essential oil to carrier oil may vary. Typically, a ratio of 2–5 drops of essential oil diluted in 1 ounce of a carrier oil is used.

Additional home remedies for cold sores

aloe vera dripping its gel in to glass bottle
Applying aloe vera may help to calm cold sore symptoms.

In addition to essential oils, there are also other natural home remedies that can ease the symptoms of cold sores.

Home remedies that may help ease cold sore symptoms when applied include:

  • aloe vera
  • hot or cold compress
  • zinc
  • vitamin E
  • witch hazel

Home remedies do not kill the herpes virus or prevent future flare-ups of cold sores. Instead, home remedies may ease cold sore symptoms, such as pain, redness, and itching.

Summary

Cold sores can be painful and annoying. The essential oils listed here may help decrease symptoms and treat the sores.

It is wise to keep in mind that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), who regulate medications, do not control the use of essential oils.

It may be helpful to consult with a certified aromatherapist to find the best brands and uses of various essential oils for cold sores.

If cold sores occur frequently, it is also best to consult a doctor to work out if additional treatments are needed.

Five Effective Essential Oils for Headaches

Essential oils are used as home remedies for a variety of ailments. But is using essential oils an effective way to relieve headaches, and, if so, which essential oils are best?

An essential oil is a concentrated liquid extracted from a plant. Aromatherapy is an alternative therapy based on the use of these oils. Aromatherapists believe that each essential oil offers a different set of health benefits.

Research supports the health benefits of certain essential oils, while other claims are based on tradition. This article explores five of the best essential oils for treating headaches, as supported by scientific evidence.

It is estimated that more than half of the adult population worldwide experiences occasional headaches, with the most common type being a tension headache.

While there are a number of over-the-counter and prescription medications available for headaches, these treatments can cause side effects.

When someone experiences headaches regularly, they may look for natural treatments, including essential oils.

Which essential oils help headaches?

There are a number of studies that show specific essential oils may be beneficial for headaches. These include:

1. Lavender oil

Lavender is often used to help people get to sleep and to reduce stress, anxiety, or depression.

Many believe that it can help relieve headaches and migraines that are triggered by stress.

2012 study suggests that the inhalation of lavender essential oil can be a safe and effective treatment to manage migraine headaches.

2. Rosemary oil

Rosemary oil is traditionally used to treat headaches and improve circulation.

There are few studies that specifically support rosemary oil as an effective headache treatment. However, a 2008 study suggests that rosemary oil has anti-inflammatory and pain-killing properties.

Another study from 2013 found that rosemary oil helped to reduce pain and insomnia in people going through opium withdrawal treatment.

These research examples suggest that rosemary oil may reduce the pain associated with a headache. However, more studies on humans are required before this can be confirmed.

3. Peppermint oil

Bottle of essential oil surrounded by peppermint leaves and flowers.
Peppermint oil is stimulating and may relieve tension headaches when applied topically.

Peppermint has been used in alternative medicines for thousands of years. It is one of the most popular essential oils for treating headaches.

A recent 2015 review of published studies on essential oils states that applying peppermint oil to the temples and forehead provides relief from tension headaches.

The active ingredient in peppermint oil is menthol. Research published in 2015 shows menthol may be effective in treating migraines when applied to the head as a gel.

4. Chamomile oil

People traditionally drink chamomile tea to relax and unwind. Chamomile oil is commonly believed to have a similar effect.

Research from 2012 showed that chamomile oil might improve some of the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

As headaches are often caused by stress and anxiety, it follows that chamomile oil may help treat headaches.

There are anti-inflammatory properties in chamomile that may also reduce a headache, but more research is needed into its health benefits.

5. Eucalyptus oil

Eucalyptus is traditionally used to clear sinuses and reduce inflammation. People experiencing headaches due to blocked sinuses may find that inhaling eucalyptus reduces their symptoms.

One study found that eucalyptus oil was effective for relieving pain and lowering blood pressure when it was inhaled.

How to use essential oils for headaches

Woman massaging her temples.
Essential oils can be diluted and massaged into the temples or forehead to help relieve headaches.

There are a number of different ways that you can use essential oils to treat a headache. These include:

  • Applying oil to the temples or forehead: Essential oils need to be diluted with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil before they can be applied to the skin. Once diluted, the oil can be massaged into the temples and across the forehead.
  • Inhaling oil: Essential oils can be inhaled by adding a few drops to a tissue, holding the tissue under the nose and breathing deeply.
  • Using a compress: Create a compress by soaking a towel in cold water with a few drops of essential oil. The compress can be applied to the forehead or neck.
  • Adding oil to the bath: Adding a few drops of essential oil to a hot bath can be a relaxing way to treat a headache.

Risks and considerations

As with many alternative remedies, essential oils are not regulated by the U.S. Food & Drug Association (FDA), so it is important to buy a reputable brand.

Essential oils are generally safe when used properly. It is important to dilute them with a carrier oil before applying them directly to the skin. They may cause skin irritation if used undiluted.

Some people are allergic to essential oils even when diluted so it may be helpful to put a small amount on a patch of skin first to test for an allergic reaction. If there is no reaction within 48 hours, then the oil is safe to use.

If a person has any existing health conditions, it is a good idea to speak with a doctor before using essential oils.