Turn the heat up: Three warming essential oils

Cold toes, blocked nose, a-choo! Indulged by a mild winter, the recent sudden drop in temperature may have come as a shock to the system. These three essential oils are your winter power pack, use them regularly to keep warm, ward off viruses and soothe aches and pains. Unlike conventional medicine, aromatherapy oils have both physiological and psychological effects. An aromatherapy blend is sure to lift your spirits higher than a dose of Sudafed ever will.

Ginger essential oil, hot and tonifying

This energising essential oil is distilled from the dried rhizomes of the root. An expectorant, ginger essential oil inhalation helps the body to expel mucus. It also acts on the lungs and relieves headaches caused by congestion and blocked sinuses. Ginger will help overcome a fever as it causes the body to sweat. Dilute into a foot bath to warm up cold feet, inhale regularly to strengthen the immune system or use as a massage blend to treat arthritis aggravated by the cold.

To make a warming massage oil combine ginger with peppermint and juniper in a base oil.

Cinnamon essential oil, sweet and spicy

Steam distilled from the leaves and young twigs of the cinnamon tree, this sweet and spicy essential oil is great in a warming foot or hand bath. Add a few drops to a teaspoon of base oil and mix into a bowl of hot water, relax and enjoy. Cinnamon oil is also antiseptic and can be added to an oil burner to treat colds and flu.

Blends well with juniper and lemon in a base oil for massage.

Black pepper essential oil, hot and fiery

This often-taken-for-granted table top essential deserves more respect. Black pepper is not only a way to liven up dinner but has been used as medicine in India and China for over 4000 years. Black pepper is an intensely stimulating essential oil and boosts blood circulation, effectively heating up the body. Highly antimicrobial, black pepper essential oil works well as a steam inhalation for treating respiratory infections and is also effective as a muscle rub to relieve stiffness and soreness. When blended into a massage oil black pepper gets the blood pumping, flushes out toxins and helps to eliminate cellulite.

A salt and pepper bath will soothe and re-energise a tired, aching body. Mix 2 cups of Epsom salts and 3-5 drops of black pepper oil into your bath.

These essential oils should never be applied neat or directly to the skin, but must be correctly diluted into a base oil otherwise they will cause irritation.

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