Aromatherapy and travel
Every trip, especially long distance, is often associated with a change of climate, environment and different time zones. Inevitably the long trip, whether by train, plane, cruise ship or car, would cause us a rather close and almost intimate contact with other passengers, we become exposed to a lot of health hazards like viruses, foreign bacteria and the extreme weather conditions can contribute to challenging our immune system further. During prolonged travel, especially if changing a few time zones, we lack sleep leading to jet lag, we may not eat properly or at the correct times (who enjoys the food on a plane, if we are lucky to get it?) and we never seem to drink enough water, especially with the stringent airport security measures, restricting the liquids to 100 ml per person.
The result is often pretty harmful to our health- the lack of sleep, poor nutrition and dehydration, leave our bodies tired and weak, becoming easy victims to cold, flu and gastrointestinal diseases. Often the accommodations we end up in hotels and resorts may not be all that sanitary and we may be exposed to other issues, like mold, bed bugs, flees and insects.
Many people try to manage all these hazards using pharmaceuticals (melatonin or tranquilizers to help them sleep, antihistamines to fight bites and allergies), disinfectants and sprays against bacteria and insects, synthetic multi-vitamins and flu shots. The truth is that even if these chemicals help on some level temporarily, they all have side effects and ultimately can damage our delicate immune system even more.
Through a tedious trial and error, I have come to realize that the only way to go about facing such challenges is by natural means, i.e. with the help of super foods, herbs and essential oils, you can achieve optimal results protecting yourself and your family at home or abroad from infections and parasites, while strengthening your immune system, without any side effects.
When I first discovered the benefits of Aromatherapy, I could not believe that I had lived without it. Not only most of the herbs and essential oils are pretty inexpensive and easily accessible, but they have a wide range of benefits that even the strongest antibiotics can not achieve, for example the most potent antibiotic can only kill around 60 % of known bacteria and is totally useless against viruses. Not to mention, our bodies quickly become resistant to many antibiotics, rendering them further pointless and what is worse, some of their harmful elements build over time in our bodies. Many Essential oils on the other hand (tea tree, lavender, cinnamon, garlic, thyme, clove, eucalyptus, peppermint, oregano, frankincense, etc) individually, as well as in various combinations can destroy 99.9% of viruses and bacteria, without harm to the human body. The only potential hazard is if the essential oils are ingested (exception will be the food grade oils like certain brands of peppermint oil, some citrus oils, etc) or develop an allergy if any essential oil is used in excess or directly in its pure form.
The spectrum of health benefits of the essential oils is extremely broad- not only they help us live in a healthier environment by fighting mold, parasites and insects, but with their antimicrobial qualities, they can prevent or treat illness, enhance our immune system, help us replace and eliminate harmful chemicals in cleaning products, cosmetics and even help against sun damage. In short, the essential oils have many applications in our households and every day life, they are much cheaper than expensive chemicals and medication, they are easy to find, relatively durable (some last for up to two years), as well as they come in tiny bottles, making them practical to store and easy to carry.
While the benefits of EOs are endless and their detailed characteristics and usage are beyond the scope of this article, I will focus on their application during travel and how they can help us maintain our health when outside of our normal living conditions.
I can not rave enough about this great invention. The EO diffuser, contrary to the old fashioned oil burners and lamps, does not heat or burn the precious oils (which can ruin some of their beneficial aspects) , but simply breaks down the water and oils into molecules and disperses them into the air around it. This helps humidify and purify the air, spread pleasant aroma, kill harmful bacteria and viruses and create a spa-like atmosphere around us, uplifting everyone’s mood. As already mentioned, the effects of the EOs are numerous, and while they have similar properties, some are more potent than others. Depending on what oils you put in the diffuser (never more than 4-6 drops of one or several EOs in some water), you can achieve various health benefits, relax, concentrate, de-stress, breath easier, sleep better and some oils can even put you in the mood due to their aphrodisiac qualities 🙂
The diffusers very in size and quality, there are dozens of different types on the market and since I have tried several already, I can recommend the ones I found to be the best. Depending on where you need the diffuser to do its magic (you can put it in any enclosed area), you may want a larger capacity for bigger living- rooms, which also have a longer operational cycle. Medium size diffusers are suitable for bedrooms, offices, hotel rooms and cruise ship cabins. They come in different styles, many have the ability to change the ambient color and some can produce a soothing melody or natural sounds, thus combining aroma, color and sound therapy in one.
Also, the duration of operation can be 30 min, 60 min, 90 min and the larger ones have a setting that can lasts up to 8 hours. They are ultrasonic , eco-friendly and have the ability to automatically shut when the water in the container is finished, i.e perfectly safe and economical.
Myself, I have a couple at home (larger ones in both the living room and bedroom, as I like to have them operational for longer hours), one in the office and another in the cabin on the ship, a tiny one in my car that plugs in the lighter and even a small one that I like to travel with, especially when going on a holiday for more than a few days.
If you are going to travel or use the diffuser in different continents, just make sure that it is designed for the various electrical outlets. To be on the safe side, pick one with voltage 100-220 and with the help of an international adopter, you will cover all your bases.
The last thing that I want to mention is that the diffusers have one more calming quality- they produce a soothing bubbling sound, that reminds you of a running spring in a rain forest. I love this feature, as it always makes me think of tranquil scenes and helps me fall asleep quickly and easily.
Before we begin, it is probably prudent to make a brief mention as to what Essential Oils actually are- they are the product achieved mostly after steam distillation of those parts of the plant, not associated with the nuts or seeds, like the leaves, the bark and the roots. They are always produced in small quantities, come in miniature bottles and have to be used very sparingly- only a few drops go a long way and they should never be ingested (unless specifically instructed by a physician) or applied directly to the skin in their pure form, for the risk of developing an allergy or intoxication.
The EOs are usually deluded in carrier (base) oils, which are made of the nut or the seed of a plant, like Avocado, Almond, Olive, Apricot, Grape seed, Coconut, Jojoba and Castor oils. They are totally harmless and can be used in greater quantities. Traditionally, you will put 2-6 drops of an EO in a table spoon of a carrier oil to get the necessary ratio between the EO and the carrier oil. Like this, diluted, you can apply the oils directly to the skin, often at the bottom of your feet and massage gently until absorbed. You can also apply directly to the area of concern, like a particular muscle, joint or the temples, to treat a specific discomfort or condition. When traveling, I usually carry small bottles with a few blends that help me alleviate muscle strains, menstrual cramps, general pain and sun burn (the actual proportions and type of oils for menstrual issues you can find here).
Other ways of using the EOs is by inhaling them. You may have heard that when congested, you can have an inhalation that will help you alleviate the symptoms. If you boil water in a pot, you can pour a few drops of Eucalyptus, Lavender and Mint and by covering your head with a towel, you can lean on top of the steam to perform the inhalation. This is a great way to cleanse your skin as well, but make sure your skin is not prone to acne or easily irritated, as this can cause the pores to widen and deteriorate the condition if the skin is not properly cleaned and tightened with a clay mask after.
The best way to inhale the EOs and reap their numerous benefits is via a col air Diffuser. Mind you, it will not produce heat or steam, so it is not suitable for inhalations or skin cleansing rituals, for which you will need a hot air steamer.
OK, so now that we have a cold air diffuser, we need some basic oils to play with. Amazon and most of the famous brands like DeSensua, Eden Gardens, DuTerra, etc offer small starter kids with 6 generic oils, like Lavender, Lemon, Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Frankincense and Rosemary or ready made blends, like Stress Relief, Aphrodisiac, Purification, Relaxation, Stay Alert, etc that can also work well.
Over time, if you get into it, you can acquire bigger sets or buy oils individually, which is what I do, as I make my own blends, like to mix and match and have a different aroma every day, depending on my mood or needs. My top favorite oils for relaxation are: Ylang-Ylang, Lavender, Spearmint, Sandal Wood, Grapefruit, Rose oil and Sweet Orange. As I mentioned, most of them have soothing, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, so breathing them in the air, will bring their molecules to your lungs and via the blood stream will reach your organs and the brain to encourage relaxation, creativity and positive thinking.
Some oils have been recognized for their healing properties since ancient times, like Frankincense and Myrrh, praised and valued higher than gold. Some are extremely difficult to produce and it takes tons of material to extract as little as 1 ml of these precious oils, like Rose Otto, Sandal Wood and Frankincense, making them extremely rare and valuable.
When buying oils, you have to be careful and pay particular attention to whether they are 100 % pure, where they were produced, who is selling them and I find it beneficial to read some customer reviews as well, to get an idea of the quality of the product. I have bought oils from different sellers and no two oils are the same, but over time you will develop the skill to recognize the good stuff and will learn how to better select them ( my favorite brands: DeSensua, Eden Gardens, DuTerra, Alteya Organics).
I mentioned, that it is a good idea to have a small diffuser when traveling, as it would not only help you enhance the holiday experience with pleasant aroma, but will also disinfect rooms that you may have doubts about, especially in humid climate. Unfortunately with all the moisture at the seaside resorts, there are nasty little microbes that truly enjoy humidity and really thrive, like molds, mildews and other fungi. I have had close encounters with such nuisance in many respectable holiday properties. Tea Tree, Thyme and Cinnamon will help you fight the nasty smell and if you prefer to use them in a spray, you can add some Vodka as well, to serve as a drying agent. You can spray the area affected by mold or if not sure where exactly the smell comes from, you can spray the corners and the walls of the room or start up your diffuser- a few drops of these essential oils in some water will do the trick. Even if you do not manage to sterilize the room completely, you will purify the air and have a healthier environment to breath in.
When flying or riding the train or a bus, you will have people close to you, many times sneezing and coughing, spreading germs all over. I find it useful to have a small inhaler with EO that I can use to help me breath, or have a small spray bottle with EOs blend that I can spray my scarf with. Amazon sells small inhaler capsules that you can charge with whatever EO you wish. I have one of these kits and even made some inhalers for my family and friends, it was a lot of fun to play with 🙂
Very useful are also the EO sticks. They come ready made with blends or you can fill empty roll on bottles with your favorite carrier and EOs and use to apply all over your body as a perfume, mood uplifted or insects’ repellent (peppermint, eucalyptus, lemon, citronella).
My favorite are the ready made Aura Cacia sticks- soothing Lavender and Mint. There are hundreds of other types and another good choice are the blends that stimulate and balance the chakras – Grounding Root (featuring Vetiver and Nutmeg), Enlightening Crown (Frankincense and Neroli), Sensual Sacral (Sandalwood and Sweet Orange), Insightful Third Eye (Rosemary and Lavender), Opening Heart (Geranium and Lemon), Expressive Throat (Chamomile and Vanila), Empowering Solar Plexus (Lemon and Helicrysm).
Another fancy way to carry your oils is in your jewelry. You can have ear-rings or a necklace charged with EOs that can uplift your mood, keep you concentrated and at the same time reduce the germs around you.
I am sure all women have noticed that when traveling even a few hours on a plane, the skin suffers the most- despite the fact that I nap most of the time when flying, upon arrival at my final destination, I can barely recognize myself. I usually sport a puffy face, dark circles under the eyes and wrinkles I had no knowledge of, looking 5 years older at least. This is no surprise, considering that the pressurized cabins, the air-conditioning and the filtered air in the planes all work together to effectively dehydrate the skin and no matter how many expensive cosmetics we use, the result is abysmal. Recently, I found out, that applying carrier oils (enriched with EO) can retain the moisture in the skin much longer thus helping it look fresh and rested after long trips. My top favorite carrier oils are Rose Hip and Jojoba. For very dry skin I use Grape seed, Almond, Aloe or Avocado oil and I usually add a few drops of Bergamot, Rose Otto and Lavender, which help enrich and enhance the base oil further, helping the skin to retain moisture.
When traveling for a prolonged time, it is a good idea to carry all of your essential oils, as you may need to blend them for a specific condition and it is best to have them in their individual bottles. I found a really great carrying case on Amazon, which helps me carry all my oils, keep them safe from light and has a nice padding to protect them during transportation. It is important to keep the oils in dark brown or dark blue glass bottles, away from any light and at a room temperature, or else they may go rancid and loose their benefits.
Important note– some essential oils are not suitable for pregnant women or people with certain medical conditions. Check with your doctor before using them.
Here are some blends you may like to try in your diffuser:
YlangYlang- 4 drops
Lavender – 4 drops
Peppermint – 3 drops
Lemon – 4 drops
Basil – 1 drop
Rosemary. – 2 drops
Cypress. – 2 drops
Bergamot – 3 drops
Roman Camomile – 5 drops
Clary Sage – 3 drops
Take a spray bottle (8oz) and half fill with distiller water
Add Witch Hazel to almost fill the bottle
Add 40-50 drops of EO- the more, the stronger the spray will be. Choose from:
Citronella, Clove, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Cajeput, Eucalyptus, Cedar, Catnip, Lavender, Mint
Some injuries may do better with a cold compress.To make a cold compress, add the oils to the surface of a small bowl of water. Dip a facecloth onto the oils, and it will be sufficiently diluted. Apply to area of pulled muscle for relief.
If you have a spray bottle (4 oz), fill it half way with Witch Hazel.
Add 2 tbs of pure Aloe Vera gel
Add 10 drops of soothing Lavender Oil
Add 10 drops of cooling Peppermint Oil
You can apply the above mixture in a bowl of water and use it to apply it as a compress.
EO: Frankincense, Lavender, Geranium, Thyme, Rose Otto, Roman or German Chamomile, Tea Tree
Make Your Own Eczema Lotions – Add 20 to 25 drops of your favorite eczema EO(s) to every 8 ounce natural unscented lotion. Opt for a lotion with vitamin E and Shea butter for a better moisturizing and healing effect.
Important: avoid applying essential oils, both neat and diluted, directly into ears. Essential oils really shouldn’t be put inside of an ear, may be just a few drops on a cotton ball, placed in the outside part of the ear, or a few drops of oils on a compress, to press against the hurting ear, or massaging gently the area around the ear with a bland of carrier and EOs, but never any of these inside the ear. This recipe is for non-serious earaches caused by milk infections or a cold. If your earache is regular, persistent or severe you should avoid putting essential oils inside the ear and visit a doctor.
Add 6 drops of one or a mixture of the following oils (Tea Tree, Basil, Rosemary, Cajuput, Roman chamomile, Eucalyptus, Radiata, Lavender) to 1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil or sweet almond oil and on to 1 absorbent cotton ball. Apply this in the outer ear or on a compress and press against the ear. You can also massage it around the ear.
EOs: Chamomile, Majoram, Peppermint, Basil, Birch, Cypress, Ginger, Lavender, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Silver Fir, Spanish Sage, Vetiver and Wintergreen.
Add 4-6 drops of any of the above oils to a spoonful of carrier oil and massage gently on the affected area. If you blend several oils, the effect will be more profound, however consider the correct ratio between EOs and carrier oil to avoid higher concentration of the EOs than necessary.
Ligament strain is most helped by Lemongrass, Marjoram, and White Fir. Other essential oils that may be helpful are: Clove, Eucalyptus, Ginger, Helichrysum, Lavender, Rosemary, Thyme, Vetiver. Mix 4-6 drops of an EO in 1 tbs of carrier oil and apply in the affected area.
Best EOs – Majoram, Lavender and Roman Chamomile. Mix 4-6 drops of an EO in 1 tbs of carrier oil and apply in the affected area.
EOs: Roman Chamomile, Sweet Majoran, Rose Otto, Frankencense, Lavender, Clary Sage.
Add 5 drops of 3-4 EOs into 4 tbs of carrier oil and apply on the lower abdomen. If you add a heating pad you will speed up the relief.
8 drops Lavender and 4 drops Chamomile in 1tbs of carrier oil or
4 drops Spearmint, 4 drops Eucalyptus, in 1 tbs of carrier oil
8 drops Lavender, 4 drops of Spearmint in 1 tbs of carrier oil
When the blend is ready, you can pour a few drops on your fingertips and gently massage theforehead, temples, back ofthehead and the neck.
Important Note: It goes beyond the scope of this article to describe the details for each type of ailment or discomfort. For example, a headache or migraine can be a symptom of something quite serious or a muscle/ joint pain a sign of a chronic condition. This article is intended to give you tips and ideas that you might wish to try if you have infrequent, minor headaches, or you suffer of a condition during your travel and you need help before seeing a doctor. While the EOs offer a great relief when used properly, the tips mentioned here will not remedy or “cure” any underlying medical issues. If you experience any condition frequently, you should consult your doctor for treatment.