Sunday, January 12, 2014

Aromatherapy Cold & Flu Remedies - Part 1: Raven's Wings Foot Balm

Hello Everyone!  Happy New Year!  Whew . . . January 2014 came in with an icy, subzero bang up here in Maine!  Power outages, loss of heat, pipes freezing, large trees snapping like twigs under the weight of the thickening ice, super loud "frost quakes" strong enough to shake the house, and sooooo much snow shoveling . . . boy am I glad to see a January-thaw - even if it is only 45 degrees.  That 45 feels more like 65 considering I was out snow shoveling over a week ago and it was minus 38 with windchills.  Brrrrrrr . . . .

Well . . . all that talk of shivering and see-sawing of temperatures brings me to today's topic (the first in a series of 4) of natural ways to prevent a cold or the flu from taking hold . . . or if you've already succumbed, how to get better fast.  It seems that when the temperatures fluctuate so much and the body is overexerted and stressed, people tend to get sick - at least that's a few of the factors. 

Cold & Flu Symptoms

You know when a dreaded cold is coming on . . . your throat and voice feel a bit scratchy, your nose begins to run, your eyes resemble those of a frog, your energy dips, you get the chills, and in general you feel like a blob.  Compound these symptoms with muscle aches, joint stiffness, occasional nausea, and fever, and you've got the flu.  According to my wise old grandmother, influenza used to be called "bone fever" because you ache right down to your marrow and it hurts for someone just to touch you.

When you want relief from your misery, instead of reaching for some chemical-filled pill or ill-tasting syrupy medicine that will just leave your brain feeling clogged, why not rely on the following four remedies (they'll all be revealed over the next 4 blogs), with their analgesic, antibacterial, antiviral, and respiratory-soothing properties?  They're guaranteed to help ease symptoms and bring comfort so you feel better soon.  Combine these treatments with more-than-ample bed rest, hot organic chicken or vegetable-garlic-onion soup, lots of herb tea, and hot baths with purifying herbal oils, and you've go the recipe for healing!

It's important that you be proactive, and I strongly suggest that you make all four of these remedies before cold and flu season arrives so you'll be armed and ready for defensive health maneuvers and a speedy recovery if the season's nasties do take hold.

Raven's Wings Foot Balm

A foot balm to help relieve cold and flu symptoms?  Yes, indeed!  The soles of the feet are full of sweat glands and have an amazing ability to absorb the healing properties of herbs, especially in the form of essential oils.  This is one of my ultra-favorite remedies when I'm suffering from a bad cold or feel like the flu is trying to take hold.  It's chock-full of antiviral, antiseptic, and respiratory-channel-clearing properties - in short, it will help your symptoms fly away on raven's wings.  This formula can also be used as a cold and flu preventive, as it fortifies resistance and general immunity and keeps microbes at bay, so you might want to use it daily prior to cold and flu season.

- 4 tablespoons refined shea butter (unrefined shea butter will work, bit its stronger fragrance will         often mask the amazing aroma of the essential oils - but not their therapeutic properties, though)
- 15 drops eucalyptus radiata essential oil
- 10 drops cajeput essential oil
- 10 drops ravensara essential oil
- 10 drops rosemary (chemotype verbenon) essential oil
- 5 drops peppermint essential oil
- 2 drops cinnamon bark essential oil
- 2 drops clove essential oil

Equipment:  Tiny stirring utensil; 2 oz. plastic or glass jar or tin
Prep Time:  15 minutes, plus up to 24 hours to completely thicken
Yield:  Approximately 1/4 cup
Storage:  Store at room temperature, away from heat and light; use within 1 year
Application:  2 times per day

Directions:  Warm the shea butter in a small saucepan (a 3/4-quart size works great) or double boiler over low heat, until it has just melted.  Remove from the heat.  Add the eucalyptus, cajeput, ravensara, rosemary, peppermint, cinnamon bark, and clove essential oils directly to your storage container, then slowly pour in the liquefied shea butter.  Gently stir the balm to blend.  Cap and label the container, and set it aside until the balm has thickened.  Unlike beeswax, shea butter takes a long time to completely thicken, and this formula may need up to 24 hours, depending on the temperature in your kitchen.  When it's ready, it will be very thick, semi-hard, and white (or creamy yellow if you've used unrefined shea butter).

Application Instructions:  Massage a small dab into the sole of each foot and between the toes, twice per day.  Put on socks immediately afterwards.  I also sometimes massage a bit of balm into my chest, as I find that the scent and healing properties really relieve sinus and lung congestion. 

BONUS:  Helps heal cuts, scrapes, boils, insect bites, bedsores and skin ulcers, blisters, and any minor to moderate infection.  Plus it smells wonderful!

NOTE:  This article was written by Stephanie Tourles and portions were adapted from her latest book, Hands-On Healing Remedies (Storey Publishing, 2012).  The information is true and complete to the best of her knowledge.  All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of Ms. Tourles.  She disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information.  It is for educational purposes only.