Yikes. It is Saturday morning and nothing has been said about getting prepared this week. That does not mean that nothing has been done though. It does mean, however, that since beginning this week by week mission at the first of the year, my little household has been moving at a near frantic pace to put our emergency and survival stash together. And now we need to slow down and take my own advice to do things at a steady but more relaxed pace.
To that end, today I would like to address a topic near and dear to me: essential oils. It is my opinion that a few key essential oils are necessary in every first aid kit and further, if you can afford them (they are relatively cheap) to include a few for pure sensory relaxation, stress release and enjoyment.
The term aromatherapy is often used to describe the use of essential oils for holistic purposes so let’s start with a definition. The term aromatherapy is defined as:
A form of alternative and complimentary medicine based on the use of very concentrated “essential” oils from the flowers, leaves, bark, branches, rind or roots of plants with purported healing properties.
So why use essential oils?
- In the first aid kit, essential oils can help handle wounds, burns, insect bites, sprains and more with a combination of antiseptic and soothing qualities.
- They are cost-effective, portable, and never expire.
- They take up very little space.
- Non-toxic when used topically. Note: S.W. does not recommend ingesting essential oils
- They smell good and delight the senses
Recommended starter oils and suggested uses
Lavender: This is my number one choice. Lavender oil is a natural topical antibiotic and antiseptic that promotes healing and prevents scarring. It also stimulates the immune system and contributes to the healing process by stimulating the cells of a wound to regenerate more quickly.
Tea Tree oil: Unparalled antiseptic and antifungal. There is a lot of ongoing research on the properties of tea tree oil and it is commonly used to treat ringworm, sunburn, athlete’s foot, toothache and more.
Peppermint: Used as an anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. Applied topically, can alleviate headaches and migraines. skin irritations, and fatigue. Peppermint oil even repels mice, fleas and ants.
Eucalyptus: Cools the body in summer and is antiseptic and deodorizing. Effective as an insect repellent. I love the smell of eucalyptus oil!
Rosemary: Rosemary is both a physical and mental stimulant and is excellent in the treatment of muscle aches, sprains, and headaches.
Others to consider: Chamomile, Geranium, Thyme, Oregano, Lemon and Clove
I first became interested in aromatherapy and essential oils in the early 90s which was before they really became mainstream. I read every book I could get my hands on and dabbled at creating synergy’s (a combination of two or more oils that create a chemical compound that is greater than the some of its individual components). My bible then, and even now, is The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy: Over 600 Natural, Non-Toxic and Fragrant Recipes to Create Health – Beauty – a Safe Home Environment by Valerie Ann Worwood.
Side note. Shortly after my study into the practical benefits of aromatherapy, Survival Husband had bout of tendinitis. To this day, he swears by this concoction for pain relief:
PeppermintDilute 10 drops of each essential oil in 2 tablespoons of sweet almond oil, vegetable oil or other carrier oil. Massage gently on the affected area.
Flash forward a few years and S.H. had a total knee replacement. The scars were horrific, to me at least. We used the same formula on his scars. His ortho doc rolled his eyes at first but I have to tell you, a year later the doc asked for my “recipe”. The scars are practically non-detectible.
Okay, I am in. How much does it cost.
I just did a quick and dirty online tally of the cost of my top 5 essential oils and they ran between $5 and $8 each or a total of $33. Sweet almond oil adds another $10 or so. (Your local natural foods store may be cheaper.) All in all, not a bad deal. For the budget minded, I would suggest starting with Lavender oil and expanding from there.
In closing, I want to mention that because essential oils are so sweet smelling, it might be easy to to disregard them and assume their value is simply one charm and pleasure. You be the judge but for me, I am all for use of natural, non toxic remedies that not only work but are inexpensive and a joy to use.
Enjoy your next adventure, wherever it takes you!
Backdoor Survival Tip of the Day: Do you know that when a yellow jacket is squashed, its body releases a chemical that causes other yellow jackets in the immediate area to attack. If you are near a nest, hundreds of individual bees can swarm you. Not so good.
If you do happen to get stung, a few drops of lavender oil on the sting area will reduce both inflammation and pain. (This alone is a good reason to include lavender in your survival kit.)
From the Bargain Bin: Drugstore.com is currently featuring Aura Cacia essential oils at up to 30% off. Aura Cacia is a respected brand of pure essential oils and worth a try, especially if you need to stock up on other toiletries and personal items.
Be prepared with emergency supplies from Emergency Essentials®. If you have the bucks and the space, I highly recommend a water barrel.