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So where do you start if you're new to the world of essential oils? We suggest a medicine cabinet makeover of sorts. Try swapping out some of your frequently used products for their all-natural, multi-tasking essential oil counterparts, and discover for yourself what many natural healers have known since biblical times. Here are 5 simple swaps to get you started:
Whether you took a fall and have the bruise to prove it or are simply having an arthritis flare-up, forgo the acetaminophen or numbing creams and opt instead for a little arnica oil, which can bring the natural relief you need. Studies have shown that arnica, because of its potent anti-inflammatory properties, is useful in treating osteoarthritis as well as carpal tunnel syndrome. What's more, it's an ideal treatment for sprains and other sports-related injuries.
Whether you feel a cold coming on or are fighting the last remnants of seasonal allergies, swap out your OTC meds for some basil essential oil and enjoy some natural relief without the side effects. Basil oil contains high levels of antioxidants and other phytochemicals and has shown both antibacterial and antifungal properties, making it ideal to treat everything from ear infections to diarrhea and urinary tract infections. What's more, basil oil pulls double-duty as an odor fighter. Add a few drops to your natural toothpaste for an added level of bacteria-killing bad-breath prevention.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is a workhorse in the world of essential oils, and its versatility makes it a must-have for any medicine cabinet. Use it to treat bacterial infections, insect bites, cold sores, earaches, and even psoriasis. But if you (thankfully) don't battle any of those afflictions, keep some on hand anyway as a natural deodorant alternative. Tea tree oil's antimicrobial properties kill odor-causing bacteria. To recruit it for the battle against BO, apply it topically to your armpits or try this recipe for homemade deodorant. Or let it fight stinky laundry—a few drops added to the washer with the next load, and your clothes will smell whistle-clean without the use of funky chemical fragrances.
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If you're popping the "PM" meds to capture a good night's sleep, it's time to try something a little more natural. Easily the most popular of the essential oils, lavender oil is known for its wonderful smell and calming essence. If you still need more convincing, a National Institutes of Health study even found that lavender served a legitimate role in calming ICU patients who were struggling with anxiety that affected their ability to sleep. But lavender oil isn't just good for relaxation; it can also be used to balance blood sugar, heal burns and cuts, and provide overall antioxidant protection.
With millions of Americans struggling with various digestive disorders, it's no surprise that yearly antacid sales in the U.S. are in the billions. That number would plummet, though, if more people were aware of the healing benefits of peppermint oil. Peppermint oil is an ideal option for treating stomachaches and indigestion naturally, and studies have also shown it to be effective in treating IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome. And like other versatile essential oils, peppermint oil is good for more than tummy troubles. Use it to freshen bad breath, relieve muscle soreness, and improve mental clarity, for instance.
Five simple swaps—that's all it takes for a more natural approach to your daily health. See for yourself why essential oils do, in fact, offer a wonderful, affordable and highly effective alternative to traditional OTC medicines.
Note: When using essential oils on babies and children, there are a few things to keep in mind. Babies and children should never take essential oils internally; when using oils topically, they must be diluted with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil. Do not use oils on babies under 3 months old. Peppermint oil should not be used until the age of 6, as it may irritate the skin or eyes. It is safe to use lavender oil topically on children; however, it may alter hormone levels, so using chamomile instead is a safer option. Tea tree oil can cause skin irritations and should only be used in small, diluted amounts on children over the age of 2. Be sure to introduce oils only one at a time, keeping an eye out for allergic reactions or skin irritations. Always be sure to use a pure essential oil only according to the directions on the label.