With May comes that warm weather we’ve all been wishing and waiting for, it’s the perfect time to get outside and get moving. Leave your keys at home and ride your bike to the store, hike the Appalachian trail, or spend a night under the stars at your favorite camping grounds. Don’t let pesky mosquitoes or too much sun get in your way while you explore the great outdoors. Keep these powerful plant extracts nearby and venture on! You can order all of the mentioned essential oils and more online here to see what we have in stock. For additional information on what essential oils are and why you need them, read our previous blog post here.
Here at Carney Chiropractic Center, your health is our first priority, which is why we can’t stress enough how important it is to protect your skin before venturing outdoors! Your skin is your largest microbiome, and the latest research suggest even showering too often can kill off the good bacteria that dwell there to protect you from disease. Best to protect those outer layers with a high quality sunscreen before spending more than 15 minutes outside. Most store-bought sunscreens contain harmful chemicals - ingredients that can disrupt hormones and even have been shown to cause abnormal cell growth. Stay clear of these and try making your own with high quality essential oils. Studies have found that certain essential oils possess SPF properties and can protect your skin from burns. But be careful when selecting which essential oils to use, as some are photosensitive and greatly increase UV sensitivity.1,2 Lemongrass oil was found to have a SPF of 6.3. For a quick lather, mix 15 drops of lemongrass with ½ a cup of oil with SPF properties such as olive oil or coconut oil (both SPF 8) for any easy, all natural sunscreen! If you prefer a pre-made sunscreen for a less greasy look, you can add a few drops of lemongrass to your natural sunscreen for extra coverage. Other essential oils with SPF properties are peppermint and lavender.1 Try a combination of these while formating your sunscreen. We do not recommend applying lemongrass directly to skin, as some essential oils are “hot” oils, which mean they can damage skin cells if not first diluted. Other examples are wintergreen and peppermint. We call the diluting oil a “carrier oil” because it carries the essential oils safely and more slowly into the body through the skin. Lemongrass has many other qualities that make it a nature lover’s best friend including insecticidal properties.3 Apply a couple drops to the edges of your clothing to keep insects at bay. It also reduces excessive perspiration which makes it a great alternative to deodorant when mixed with a carrier oil.4
Citronella is a common ingredient in natural bug repellents; it is found in sprays and candles alike. Multiple studies have shown that when applied topically, it provides 100% protection against mosquitos.5 It repels mosquitoes by masking the carbon dioxide and lactic acid scents mosquitoes search for, making you much harder to find.6 Make your own bug spray by combining 50 drops of citronella essential oil with 4 tablespoons witch hazel in a 16 oz spray bottle. Fill the rest with distilled water. This spray is effective for up to 120 minutes so be sure to reapply as needed.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, & anti inflammatory properties that make it a great natural disinfectant. Use it to clean wounds when you’re on the go.7 It also increases white blood cell activity, thus speeding along the healing process.8 Simply combine a drop of tea tree oil with 1 tsp coconut oil, apply the mixture on your wound, and cover with a bandaid. You can also use this oil “neat”, or undiluted, as long as your skin tolerates it. Tea tree oil can also be used to alleviate athlete’s foot symptoms, such as scaling, inflammation, itching, and burning.9 It fights bacteria, fungi, and microbes that cause it.9 And it’s not just your feet that carry bacteria. Shoes sometimes smell even worse as bacteria transfers and sticks to them when we don’t wear socks! Try wiping down shoes with tea tree oil to deodorize and leave your shoes smelling fresh!
Peppermint is one of our favorite summertime essential oils. Its cooling effect helps the whole body regulate temperatures, and a little bit in water freshens breath! It contains menthol, which assists in numbing pain and providing a cooling sensation that will soothe minor aches and pains.10 Dilute with coconut oil and rub the mixture where you’re feeling sore. Or take an invigorating bath with pure peppermint essential oil and epsom salts to relieve tired muscles. If you’re dealing with more than just minor aches and pains, give us a call at (410) 882-0720 and we’ll set you up with a chiropractic adjustment! Peppermint essential oil can also be used to keep you cool on those sunny May days. Combine 10 drops with 1 tsp witch hazel and 4 oz of water in a small spray bottle for a nice cooling spray. If you’re overheating while you’re out and don’t have time to make a spray you can put a couple drops on the back of your neck for immediate relief. For springtime sniffles, put one drop on your thumb and press into the roof of your mouth for 5-10 sec. (Yes - you need to suck your thumb!). The menthol will open up your sinus passages and soothe membranes immediately! Finally, peppermint can be used internally to aid digestion and relieve nausea - its uses are seemingly endless!
You may not immediately think of lavender when you’re thinking of outdoor must-haves but lavender lines up to its one-size-fits-all reputation even in this realm. It can draw out splinters and treat burns and bites. Lavender has “astringent properties that remove oiliness and dry up & shrink skin”, which can help draw out splinters by bringing them to the surface to pop out easily.”11 Add 2 drops to your bandage, wait 2 hours, then squeeze and the splinter should come out smoothly. Continue adding lavender to your bandages even after the splinter is removed as it also promotes wound healing.12 If you forget your citronella bug spray, lavender will pick up your slack. It can treat bug bites by reducing irritation, pain and swelling with its anti inflammatory properties.3 For those days you spend a little too much time in the sun, you can make your own sunburn salve with 20 drops lavender, 2 teaspoons of olive oil, and 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel. And after a long day of hiking or sunbathing, sleep peacefully by diffusing it by your bed or placing a few drops on your pillow case. Keep lavender at the top of your must have list for the great outdoors - it is gentle enough for babies, even undiluted. For more information on how to get started with essential oils, read our blog or contact our office. If you are ready to purchase a starter kit and become a wholesale customer, you can do that here. To purchase individual bottles at retail, contact us or text carneychiro to 91998. We can chat with you live during our business hours. Make essential oils part of your families first aid kit for the great outdoors this year - it will protect you from exposure to countless chemicals, saves you money and space in your cabinets since these tiny bottles offer a variety of benefits for every ailment! References
- Kaur, C. D., & Saraf, S. (2010). In vitro sun protection factor determination of herbal oils used in cosmetics. Pharmacognosy research, 2(1), 22–25. doi:10.4103/0974-8490.60586 Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3140123/
- Young Living Staff. (2017, May 30). Photosensitive Essential Oils: Summer Safety Tips. Retrieved From
- Patterson, S. (2017, May 16). 3 Multi-Purpose Essential Oils You Should Always Have In The Great Outdoors. Retrieved from https://www.naturallivingideas.com/essential-oils-for-great-outdoors/
- Patil, K. (2019, February 25). 17 Amazing Benefits of Lemongrass Oil. Retrieved From https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/essential-oils/health-benefits-of-lemongrass-essential-oil.html
- Maia, M. F., & Moore, S. J. (2011). Plant-based insect repellents: a review of their efficacy, development and testing. Malaria journal, 10 Suppl 1(Suppl 1), S11. doi:10.1186/1475-2875-10-S1-S11. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3059459/
- K. (2019, April 7). Citronella Oil as a Mosquito Repellent. Retrieved From https://insectcop.net/citronella-oil-for-mosquito-repelling/
- Carson, C. F., Mee, B. J., & Riley, T. V. (2002). Mechanism of action of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil on Staphylococcus aureus determined by time-kill, lysis, leakage, and salt tolerance assays and electron microscopy. Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy, 46(6), 1914–1920. doi:10.1128/AAC.46.6.1914-1920.2002 Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC127210/
- Budhiraja, S. S., Cullum, M. E., Sioutis, S. S., Evangelista, L., & Habanova, S. T. (1999, September). Biological activity of Melaleuca alternifola (Tea Tree) oil component, terpinen-4-ol, in human myelocytic cell line HL-60. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 22(7), 447-53. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10519561
- Tong, M. M., Altman, P. M. and Barnetson, R. S. (1992), TEA TREE OIL IN THE TREATMENT OF TINEA PEDIS. Australasian Journal of Dermatology, 33: 145-149. doi:10.1111/j.1440-0960.1992.tb00103.x
- Baumann, L. S. (2013, November 8). Peppermint and Menthol. Retrieved From https://www.mdedge.com/dermatology/article/78827/atopic-dermatitis/peppermint-and-menthol
- A. (2017, July 22). How to Draw Out a Splinter with Essential Oils. Retrieved From https://www.themiracleofessentialoils.com/draw-splinter-essential-oils/
- Mori, H. M., Kawanami, H., Kawahata, H., & Aoki, M. (2016). Wound healing potential of lavender oil by acceleration of granulation and wound contraction through induction of TGF-β in a rat model. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 16, 144. doi:10.1186/s12906-016-1128-7. Retrieved From https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4880962/