Essential Oils for the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us again, and with all of the joys also come the stresses to both mind and body. Here are a few of my favorite essential oils for the holiday season. Note that many of these oils can not only be used for health and wellness, but also in cooking. Of course at the top of the list are frankincense and Myrrh. With a warm , woody, sweet balsamic, spicy fragrance with just a hint of lemon, frankincense was highly prized in ancient times. It was as valuable as gold and was presented as one of the three gifts of the Magi to the infant Jesus. It may slow down breathing and produce a sense of calm. This tends to bring about an elevating and soothing effect on the mind. Perfect for that holiday stress. Myrrh has been an integral part of religious ceremonies, beauty treatments, and perfume for thousands of years. Both frankincense and myrrh have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Myrrh is applied to the mouth and gums and makes an excellent toothpaste. Myrrh unites the physical and the spiritual and is very grounding. It may be used in an oil burner or inhaled directly. It is said to improve with age.

Another Biblical oil, Cinnamon, is ant-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral. Cinnamon was one of the oils that was used by grave robbers during the 15th century plague. Cinnamon, Clove, Eucalyptus, Rosemary, and Lemon made up the “Four Thieves Vinegar” that was used to protect the robbers from contracting the plague. Cinnamon, clove, rosemary, and lemon can all be used in cooking. Add them to a tea to sooth a sore throat. Break off a bit of a pure cinnamon stick and chew on it to freshen breath. A “nail” of clove can also be used for the same purpose. The Buddhist monks chew on a piece of clove to purify their breath and sooth their throats after long hours of chanting.

Pine oils are relaxing and bring out a sense of balance. Several different species of pine are distilled for the essential oil. The most familiar of these is the Scotch Pine, long used as a favorite ornamental plant at Christmas time. The oil of the longleaf pine is the essential ingredient of turpentine. Pine resin is obtained from the trunks of the trees much like maple syrup. The sticky resin oozes from the cut bark into pots, then the resin is collected and then heated in a still until the volatile turpentine compounds are liberated and captured. Many pine oils are anti-inflammatory and immune enhancing. Pine can be diffused or applied to a cotton ball to spread the aroma.

Peppermint is probably the most multipurpose holiday oil. It’s great for freshening breath, calming an upset stomach and cooking. Peppermint can ease nausea and vomiting. When rubbed into the skin, peppermint oil plays a trick on the nerves: It stimulates them to produce a cool, soothing sensation and desensitizes those that send pain signals. By reducing inflammation in the nasal passages, peppermint can help to relieve the congestion that is associated with colds and seasonal allergies. Peppermint oil when added to bath water may help release tension and dissipate fatigue. Try rubbing a little of the oil on the ear lobes and the back of the neck to reduce stress.

Remember that the quality of the oil matters. Only purchase therapeutic grade essential oils, not synthetic ones or ones that have been altered. You get what you pay for.

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