By Nicola Biggs, Founder - Kolya Naturals Apothecary
The coming holiday season stirs emotions like no other; whether it be childhood nostalgia, longings for those no longer with us, memories of joy and delight, or dread about the many details that need to get done. We roller coaster through these days, seemingly with little control over how to react, or keep up the pace. Sometimes it takes a toll on our health, and exhaustion cloaks us like a heavy unwanted blanket. Yet does it doesn’t have to be this way?
We often have tools at our fingertips that can help us cope with the chaos of this time, but are easy to forget. I personally like to surround myself with people who take any excuse to squeeze the marrow out of this season. It is a bright spot in our winters, which can be dark, bitterly cold, and dreary. But since those people are not always around, this is what I do when I can’t chameleon myself to someone else’s joy…
I use a collection of essential oils to naturally and safely adjust and influence my mood. I use them to keep cold & flu bugs at bay, and to create aromatic atmospheres in my home. These treasures coax and seduce my mental and emotional state into what I prefer, which is calm, delighted and harmonious.
Allow me to explain (in an overtly simplistic way). When our nasal passages scent something in our environment, the odorant is picked-up by receptors, and converted into an electrical impulse. What does this have to do with the holidays you ask? Not much except the electrical impulses make their way to the limbic system in our brain – specifically to the hypothalamus. This “master gateway” part of our brain is responsible for a plethora of bodily functions, but for the purposes of this reference, we are only interested in the part that controls our blood pressure, regulates our heart rate, adjusts hunger and thirst, increases immunity, and balances our hormonal secretions. The limbic system also has a hay-day with our memories, creating pathways in our brain that can trigger past experiences years after the fact. In a nut shell - our body responds (physically, mentally and emotionally) within a millisecond of smelling a “pre-registered” odorant, or potent volatile molecule…in this case, an aromatic oil. The effects can be profound.
So which are my favorite Essential Oils for the next few months?
Spruce – I keep this around for two reasons… it’s smells of dense fresh forest in the depths of winter, and it supports our adrenal glands (who work overtime under stress). It is relaxing, elevating and fights exhaustion; a lovely anti-microbial too.
Eucalyptus – Many essential oils are helpful to the immune system, but Eucalyptus is one of the best… antibacterial, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and also an expectorant to boot. Only use this one in a diffuser or E.O inhaler though, because it has many safety warnings when used otherwise.
Orange – calms anxiety while uplifting the spirits. It’s a light, friendly oil that plays well with other essential oils when blending.
Cinnamon – a central smell of baking – need I say more? It gives the impression that I have been slaving away in the kitchen – without all the calories (unless it stimulates me to seek out cinnamon buns, but that discussion is for another day).
Frankincense - meditation & mindfulness– to remember what the season is about. This oil is ancient, revered and respected by many denominations, and non-religious alike.
Lavender - The classic. I can’t say I love Lavender, but I also am never without it. It’s antiseptic, combines beautifully in blends and keeps my emotions from over charging – This one’s great to put in a nose sniffer and leave in the purse for stressful outings and/or shopping. Calms you, and those around you.
Peppermint & Vanilla – these ones are self explanatory I think… candy canes, more baking and just plain fun.
Remember, there are no rights and wrongs here…which scents appeal to a person tend to balance them out are very individual,.
Combinations I enjoy:
Peppermint, Spruce & Vanilla
Frankincense, Cinnamon & Lavender
Eucalyptus, Spruce & Orange
How best to use these?
• Mostly, I put these oils in a diffuser – in my office, in my home, in my bedroom, in my car. A few drops in the receptacle go a long way…
• Sometimes I add them to my bath by adding about 5 drops of essential oils to 1 tablespoon of carrier oil or coconut milk. (Some oils are not recommended to be used on the skin or can be irritating so be sure to educate yourself on their properties before use.)
• I also like to create my own body oils—it’s very easy to do. I simply add 18 drops (oil dependent) to 60mL carrier oil, such as Sweet Almond Oil.
• Or, most simply, I use an E.O inhaler (remember the old Vicks inhalers?) I simply dip the cotton stick into the oil(s) and carry it the inhaler with me where ever I go - portable memory/emotion management – at my fingertips.
• For more Essential Oil Blending Basics, check out our guide
Kolya Naturals Apothecary in Edmonton, Alberta carries many premium essential oils.
Remember, essential oils are highly concentrated, powerful liquids. Their potency must be respected and they can be harmful if used incorrectly. The way you handle and use essential oils is very important…be sure to educate yourself their use and consult a health professional.
This information is for information purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, prescribe, or treat for any health condition. No medical claims are intended. Please consult your certified health professional for guidance on all health conditions.