By Penny Keay © 2010
There are so many ways to use essential oils. We use them in our diffusers, in our baths, in massage oils, in our lotions, creams and shampoo , etc. But an often overlooked way to use them is with a
Wet cloth compress.
A compress can be such a comforting applicable way to use essential oils. Simply place 1-2 cups of water in an appropriately sized bowl and add the 5-10 drops of the essential oils you need for the intended purpose. Swish around and using a soft cloth – ideally use an all 100% cotton wash cloth. Wring it out so no water drips from it and apply to the head, neck, leg, arm, hand, belly, back – well you get the point.
A compress can be hot, cold, warm or cool. Again the temperature will depend on your application. And in some cases you might be alternating between two different temperatures.
You can reapply compresses as needed. This is a very safe method of using essential oils. So you can use compresses as long as you like for almost all types of injuries or concerns.
Here is a sample list of ways to use compresses with essential oils. There are many more ailments you can use compresses. This is just the tip of the ice berg – so to speak.
COLD Compresses – Use very Cold water (drop an ice cube or two in the bowl to keep it cold) :
Insect Bites – using 3-4 drops of Lavender and 1-3 drops of Eucalyptus globulusin your bowl. Get cloth wet, wring and apply directly over the bug bite.
Headaches – depending on the type and cause of the headache you may want to use Lavender or other essential oils. Peppermint& Eucalyptus globulus helps with sinus type headaches. Do not allow any water to drip into your eyes as this will burn. Make sure your cloth is wrung out thoroughly.
If you do get a little essential oil in your eyes - flush with plenty of cool water and seek medical attention if necessary.
Sprains and Strains - Helichrysum, Peppermintand Eucalyptus globulus– for the first 24 hours after a sprain and strain. Apply as often as needed. Then after 24-48 hours you may want to switch to HOT Compresses.
HOT Compresses: Use Hot Tap water – Do not ever use boiling water! Just run water from your faucet like you were going to wash dishes by hand. It should be hot but not so hot that you can’t put your hands into it.
Boils and other types of ‘pus’ producing infections – These respond well to hot compresses. Add Thymeor Oreganoessential oils to your hot water. Just a drop or two of each or you can use any essential oil blend that contains these – our Pure Cleansing blend for example would be great for this. Apply the cloth until it cools, then repeat for 2-3 times. Do this every 3-4 hours as needed to help ‘draw’ the infection out.
WARM Compresses: Use slightly warm water – like the temperature when you wash your face and hands.
Chest congestion – Use any essential oil you feel has helped you in the past – Eucalyptus globulus, Pure Cleansing blend, Respiratory Blend, Easy Breathe Blend. Apply the Warm compress to your chest and then cover with a Dry cloth to protect your clothing while you rest. This will help to keep the warmth next to your skin. Once the cloth has cooled though – either reapply with another warm compress cloth or simply remove.
Nasal congestion – this time drape the cloth over your nose and mouth so you can inhale the essential oils. The extra moisture helps to relieve congestion and should get the mucous flowing. Blends like Easy Breathe Blendor just plain Peppermintor Eucalyptus globulusoften times work the best.
Do not use this method with small children (under 2 years) and especially do not use Peppermint or Eucalyptus globulus(these have been known to cause pharyngeal spasm and could cause respiratory distress in babies).
COOL Compresses: Just cold water from the faucet – feels cool to the touch when you place your fingers in the bowl.
Fevers – using Lavender, Eucalyptus globulus, Peppermint or Roman Chamomile(to relax a restless child) to help you and your child feel a little cooler. Don’t use cold compresses – just cool. Reapply as needed.
Hot Flashes – or just being Hot on very warm days – Use Peppermint or Spearmint(or any essential oil you like) on your cool cloth. Drape over the back of your neck. You may want to find a small light weight towel for this cooling method. You can also rub down your arms and legs. Apply to your face too!
Like I stated above there are many ailments that work great with essential oils and the Compress method. So next time you have a situation where you aren’t sure what might be the best way –
Think of using a wet Compress. It is usually a welcoming and pleasant way to use essential oils too!
If skin irritation should occur, which is rare with this method, just wash the area with mild soapy water, rinse and pat dry.