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Essential Oils as Natural Antiseptics for Your Family

Sep 6, 2008
Essential oils hold huge promise in the treatment of varieties infectious disease, and are most readily utilized by the home-practitioner in the form of antiseptics. An antiseptic is formally defined as 'a substance which reduces the possibility of infection when topically applied to living tissue'. Essential oils do this job exceptionally well, working powerfully and quickly to support the healing of cuts and abrasions through the prevention of infections. Many do a double-duty of actually stimulating tissue regeneration, while keeping the area free from potentially harmful microorganisms. Here's a quick look at some aromatherapy techniques for moms with children wanting to use natural products for the health and wellness of their families.

It turns out that nature has been doing a remarkable job of therapeutic blending of essential oils as antiseptics. Plants have evolved these volatile chemical mixtures called essential oils in-part as defense mechanisms against bacteria, viruses and fungi. The antiseptic properties of the oils provide the plant with protection from disease and microscopic invaders. We have significant advantages in using oils for our own microbial defense as humans: The defense mechanisms of plants have been evolving throughout history; these mechanisms are up-to-date with the evolution of the microbes being defended against. Combinations of chemical constituents found in essential oils have been shown in laboratory studies to be some of the most potent antibacterial agents available today.

It is important to consider your application for the safest and most effective result. Applying an Oregano formulation may be the best solution for a case of nail fungus, yet a recipe containing this oil is much too intense for use on soft tissue of any kind, particularly for children and those with sensitive skin. You can even easily mix an antiseptic with a soothing/pain relieving oil to improve the overall effectiveness. Here are a few well-regarded oils for home use, and some methods of application: Tea Tree, Lavender, Oregano, Geranium, and Lemon.

Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifola) is known throughout the world for its protective properties against infections, and may be the hands-down most popular antiseptic essential oil. The leaves have been used for centuries to heal wounds and skin infections, and with ten times the antiseptic power of phenol (a benchmark chemical used in studying antimicrobial action) Tea Tree is a must for every natural first aid kit. One of the safest and most effective ways of controlling minor infections is the immediate intervention action of Tea Tree. For minor ears, nose, throat, respiratory and general skin infections, Tea Tree essential oil will give quick healing support. Tea tree's tolerability allows it to be used for longer periods of time without the slightest irritation. A drop on a Band-Aid can keep the reddening indication of infection from children's cuts and scrapes, and when combined with Lavender, makes a soothing rendition of Grandma's healing tincture.

Lavender is the most versatile essential oils in use today., and in fact began the modern medical aromatherapy revolution through its quick healing of burns by a French cosmetics chemist. The cooling aroma disperses heat and inflammation and brings relief from pain, spasms, and general unrest. With its calming and balancing properties, the oil is exceptionally supportive of relaxation and rest. Lavender imparts this action in healing wounds as well; for healing unbroken skin such as burns, apply Lavender 'neat' to the wound several times a day; insect bites also get a 'neat' treatment. For cuts and scrapes, keep a equal mix of Lavender and Tea Tree on hand for the best all-purpose antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and pain relieving solution. Moms will really appreciate the synergy of the antibacterial nature of Tea Tree and the soothing effects of Lavender.

While the Tea Tree and Lavender blend gives us a formula for regular use, Oregano is the all-time heavy-hitter of essential oils for antimicrobial action. Oregano is serious medicine; it has been the subject of many successful scientific evaluations. Interest in the oil's efficacy growing in amongst the world's medical practitioners as infectious microbes become more and more resistant to synthetic antibiotics. Pure oil of Oregano is exceptionally strong - too strong for topical application except in the most stubborn cases, and then only with careful attention. Oregano holds the most promise as a systemic antimicrobial; Oregano oil can be found in enteric-coated (for targeting parasites and bacteria in the intestines) and regular capsules for support of the immune system during illness. Consult a qualified medical practitioner for dosage recommendations.

With a softer aroma and gentle effect on skin, Geranium is versatile choice for frequent use. Harmonizing and balancing, Geranium essential oil has the quality of equalizing hormonal and emotional extremes. These properties extends to the skin, where it creates balance between oily and dry states; Geranium helps to cleanse the skin while restoring balance, tone, and suppleness (experiment with your skin care formulas at concentrations between one and three percent of your base mixture). A non-drying, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, astringent, and general tonic, Geranium is traditionally indicated as a remedy for acne, dermatitis, eczema, and weeping wounds. The 'asperum' species is generally considered the most potent Geranium for its antimicrobial action, with a wonderful sweet and herbaceous aroma.

The 'old stand-by' of Lemon should not be overlooked when searching for ways to convert your home to a healthy 'green' lifestyle. Lemon oil, pressed from lemon peels, has historically been a component of many household cleaners - and because of its efficacy, low-cost and great aroma, it should continue to be. Lemon oil can be used alone at about 8 drops of oil per cup of warm water for an all-purpose mild antibacterial solution. You can add a little potency for kitchen and bathroom uses by adding oils like Eucalyptus, Pine, and Rosemary. Keep the total number of drops per oil the same, adding other oils in place of the Lemon. Eucalyptus may create the best antimicrobial synergy, and additional oils will build on this effect. You may increase or decrease the essential oil concentration as you see fit - if increasing, simply test your new recipe in small increments to insure tolerance for yourself and your family.

These are but a sampling of the antiseptic and antimicrobial essential oils available. They are easy to use, and offer a excellent means of bringing natural medicines and cleaners into your life. Many oils have specific action against certain microbes; if you or a friend or loved one needs more directed treatment, seek the advice of a licensed or degreed natural health professional, and consult a doctor to ensure the safety of any complimentary essential oil application. The acceptance of essential oils as valid medicines continues to grow. If you're new to the field, dive in with some of the suggestions here - you're sure to enjoy these great gifts of nature.
About the Author
The author is a consultant for Ananda Aromatherapy. Find more resources are available on aromatherapy supplies & essential oil formulas through the website.
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