We've all taken Tylenol for headaches and Advil for sore muscles, but we've also heard about how hard these medications can be on the liver, kidneys, and stomach lining. And what about flu and cough remedies? Are all of these chemicals good for the body? Many people choose not to use them due to the potential side effects and suffer through the symptoms instead.
Essential oils make an excellent alternative to most over-the counter remedies, and with little to no side effects. Pure and highly concentrated extracts from plants, essential oils are the treatments Mother Nature intended. Diluted in a carrier oil like apricot kernel oil, sweet almond oil (a favorite), or grapeseed oil, only a few drops of essential oil are needed for any particular application or use. Of course there is no substitute for a physicians advice, but essential oils can often replace simple over-the-counter remedies with greater effectiveness and fewer potential side effects.
For aching muscles, consider passing on the Advil and instead running a bath with Epsom salts and a few drops of lavender oil. For a higher concentration, you can place a warm damp washcloth with a couple drops of lavender oil over your face. You could use a few drops to touch the forehead and the nape of the neck to help with a headache. Lavender aids in circulation, relaxation and sleep, relaxes tension, and has antibacterial properties.
Peppermint oil is a favorite alternative to Tylenol for headaches, whether due to sinus pressure or tension. Dot a tiny amount on the temples and the nape of the neck, taking a few moments to smell at the top of the open bottle. This will help with a headache. For a strain or other minor internal injury, very gently rub a couple drops (diluted if preferred) onto the affected area. Peppermint oil helps with tension, inflammation, fatigue, and even helps with digestive issues (place one drop in a cup of tea, or rub several diluted drops around the navel).
Finally, if it is the cold or flu you have, and you don't want to add insult to injury by ingesting chemicals, consider eucalyptus and tea tree essential oils. Both have antiviral properties. They can both be added to a bath or a steam bowl for inhaling the soothing vapors. Both reduce respiratory inflammation that causes coughing and both can reduce chest congestion. Eucalyptus can also be used to bring down a fever. In addition, both tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil are antifungal and antibacterial and can thus help with secondary infections that sometimes develop with colds and flus.