There are two basic ways to use the essential oils: in the environment around you, and on your physical body.
Room diffusers can be electric or designed around a simple tea light candle. Follow the instructions that come with the product. If you don’t possess a diffuser, the essential oil molecules can be dispersed by using a glass bowl or cup filled with steaming hot water, with the essential oils dropped on the water.
The steam will rise and circulate the essential oils around the room. If there’s a lot of infection around, use 5–10 drops of essential oil per use with your diffuser. In clinical settings, equipment that emits a fine mist of pure essential oil is sometimes used to treat cases of severe infection. These include cold air nebulizers, oil vaporizers, and cold or fan diffusers.
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A simple anti-infectious room spray can easily be made using water and essential oil. As water and oil don’t mix, add the essential oils to a little colorless alcohol or vegetable glycerin to help emulsify them before adding to the water, and shake before each use. If you don’t have any emulsifier, just shake more vigorously before spraying the room. Spray high into the air, and avoid letting the water fall on wood, velvet, silk, or other delicate furniture and materials. Use a minimum of 20 drops of essential oil to each 3½ tablespoons (50 mL) of water — with or without 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of emulsifier. Use a clean, preferably new sprayer; plant misters are ideal.
Body sprays are easy to make and versatile, as they can be made small enough to carry around, even when traveling. Combine your chosen essential oils, then add to water or hydrolat (use a small amount of emulsifier if you have one handy).
Hydrolats often have antibacterial properties of their own, depending on the material they were distilled from. Shake very well and leave for 24 hours, shaking occasionally. Then filter through an unbleached paper coffee filter and bottle. Use the spray in the atmosphere and around your body.
Aromatic baths are very good for helping relieve the symptoms of colds and flu. However, many essential oils that treat flu cannot be used undiluted, or even diluted, in baths, as they could be irritating to the skin. So take care in your choice of oils. I’ve suggested several bath blends in this chapter. Choose oils that are specific to your particular symptoms — aching muscles or headache, for example. Use a maximum of 8 drops per bath, diluted in the medium of your choice before adding to the water.
Use no more than 30 drops of essential oil to each fluid ounce (30 mL) of carrier oil, unless otherwise directed. Choose the oils that are specific to your symptoms. Be aware that some essential oils, such as cinnamon and clove, can be skin irritants. The most effective time for application is before retiring to bed. This allows the essential oils to do their work as you sleep.
A body oil can also be applied before taking a bath, when the body absorbs the essential oil by osmosis and inhalation.
Paper tissues: Use 1 or 2 drops of your chosen essential oil or blend on a paper tissue and inhale as needed.
Disposable face masks: Adding liquid to any protective paper face mask can nullify the effects of the mask, depending upon the type of face mask used. I generally apply 1 drop of essential oil to a small piece of tissue and put that inside my face mask when traveling on planes and trains during an epidemic, such as swine or bird flu. Essential oils can irritate your nose, so always apply the oil to the tissue before use so it has a chance to soak into the paper. Good choices for this method would be tea tree, fragonia, thyme linalol, manuka, eucalyptus radiata, niaouli, frankincense, ravensara, and ravintsara.
Some wounds seem very resistant to healing and can easily become inflamed. In these cases it’s worth trying a honey wash. Add 1 drop of manuka essential oil to 1 teaspoon of good quality organic manuka honey (active 24+). Although there’s a difference between the manuka pollen collected by bees to make the honey and the essential oil distilled from the shrub-like manuka tree, they seem to complement each other therapeutically. Other essential oils can be added to this basic paste. Put the honey paste around the wound, not directly on it, as often as needed.