There aren't many aches, pains and twinges that can't be cured with the pop of a pill. However, when our trusty Ibuprofen wasn't an option, our savvy ancestors had to get creative to ease their ailments. Originally discovered by the Egyptians, essential oils were a health essential to cure everything from rashes and sores to bouts of disease. It wasn't long before the Greeks and Romans got wind of these revolutionary apothecary secrets and they remain the basis of holistic medicine today.
Although essential oils are often scoffed at as remedies used by new age hippies, their powerful anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties have stood the test of time – and here's why:
THEY EASE SORE MUSCLES
Whether you smashed your PB in the gym or suffer from a more chronic form of pain, black spruce oil can soothe soreness, reduce inflammation and speed up muscle recovery.
THEY CAN SHORTEN A COLD
We've all been there – draping our head over a bowl of steaming water laced with a minty aroma in an attempt to rid ourselves of cold and fever. It's thanks to eucalyptus that we're able to clear a fuzzy head as its powerful antispasmodic, antiviral and antibacterial properties can unblock both our nasal passages and lungs, allowing us to feel more comfortable. We can even avoid the office lurgy before it reaches us by dabbing some eucalyptus oil on to a handkerchief and inhaling throughout the day as an effective preventative.
THEY CAN WAKE YOU UP
Feeling a bit lacklustre today? Take a whiff of peppermint to get you back on track. Known for its energizing effect, a few drops of peppermint oil in an aromatic diffuser or put straight onto your wrists (dilute it first if you have sensitive skin) can bring a cooling feeling to your skin and awaken your senses.
THEY CAN MAKE STRESS A THING OF THE PAST
As a time-poor nation, it's not hard to feel stressed. In between school runs, workout sessions, a social life and the day job, it's easy to reach for unhealthy options in the quest to feel calm. Adding a few drops of lavender oil to a warm bath can do just the trick. How? When we inhale the tiny molecules of lavender oil, it has a direct effect on our limbic system which influences our emotions, behaviour, breathing and stress.
THEY CAN GIVE YOU GLOWING SKIN
Whether it's pimples, fine lines or sensitivity, our skin woes never really disperse after adolescence. With an overwhelming amount of skincare products available, you can simplify your routine with rosehip seed oil. High in unsaturated fatty acids, it can regenerate cell membranes, minimize age spots and wrinkles, reduce scars and treat sun damage. Try adding a little into your daily face cream to help oxygenate and heal your complexion, as well as slow the signs of ageing.
THEY CAN BOOST YOUR DIGESTION
It may be a staple in the Christmas story but there's a lot more to frankincense than its gift status. Adding 1-2 drops of this oil to 8 ounces of water or to a tablespoon of honey can aid digestion as well as ease constipation and stomach aches as it helps speed up the digestion of food.
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