Wearing a mask isn’t fun. Whether you agree with mask mandates or not, and if they help prevent the spread of disease or not, if you’ve lived through the past 18 months, then you’ve had to mask up multiple times if you’ve ever left your house.
There are two ways to handle this situation we all currently face. Resist it, or look outside the box a bit.
I’ve decided to take what has been an anxiety-inducing, breath-taking (and not in a good way) and fatigue-causing practice and make it work for ME. If you can’t make lemonade out of life’s lemons, then you’re missing out on half the fun of being a sentient, awake, conscious creature. I’ve decided to take a not-so-fabulous situation and make it wonderful by leaning on essential oils.
Why essential oils? These herbal wonders address the top three reasons I don’t always love wearing a mask:
- They help me breathe easier.
- They help calm my mental state, reduce stress, lower cortisol, and even induce happiness.
- They reduce fatigue by increasing the oxygenation of my blood.
- They can boost my immune system.
The easiest way to incorporate essential oils into my mask-wearing days is to diffuse them using my face mask clips. When I’m at home, I just put a few of these essential oils into a diffuser and breathe deep. Knowing that I’ve got them working for me both at home when I’m maskless, and while I’m out and about is reassuring. I know I’m supporting my health and boosting my immunity no matter what I’m up to.
The Long History of Essential Oils
Essential oils have been used for centuries. It isn’t clear when they were first used, but the first written record of essential oils being applied come from ancient India, Persia, and Egypt. There are later accounts of the Greeks and Romans adopting the practice of anointing themselves with essential oils.
Essential oils come from the myriad flowers, trees, plants, shrubs, and roots that exist all over the planet. They weren’t always distilled into ethyl alcohol or distilled with steam – we can thank the Arabs for that development – but first ground, pulverized, or squeezed into fatty oils like olive oil, coconut oil, and other oils called “carriers.”
In later centuries, including the Middle Ages, European pharmacies would make essential oils from cedarwood, rose, rosemary, sage, cinnamon, and myrrh, among thousands of other plants and flowers.
Aside from essential oils making our ancestors smell amazing – think of the scent of plumeria, or jasmine, or lemongrass – essential oils were also used for their medicinal properties all throughout the world. In ancient India, village elders were well versed in the healing properties of plants, flowers, and trees in their area, and it was common for essential oils to be applied to heal everything from toothache to aching joints. These practices have followed into modern-day naturopathy.
Modern naturopaths love essential oils because they have a direct impact on other plant medicines they might prescribe, affecting the mind, body, and spirit positively. Naturopaths believe in treating the whole person, not just the “illness” that presents itself, so essential oils are a great, non-invasive way to guide organs into balance, hormones, homeostasis, and, subsequently, a patient’s mood toward a brighter and more uplifted state.
Moreover, essential oils ideally contain multiple plants and plant compounds that someone’s body can pick and choose from to rebalance a physiological process, much like adaptogenic herbs such as Reishi mushrooms or Ashwagandha.
That’s why I’m leaning heavily on essential oil use with my mask-wearing as of late, because I know there’s a 5,000-year history that supports the efficacy of plant medicine!
So let me explain further, my reasoning behind adding essential oil face mask clips to my face mask, one point at a time. . .
Essential Oils to Breathe Easier
There are a myriad of essential oils that can help you breathe better, which is one of my primary concerns when wearing a face mask. I’ve highlighted a few and their primary benefits:
- Peppermint: This essential oil soothes the bronchial passageways, cools the air as it enters the nostrils, and invigorates the mind.
- Bay Leaf: This essential oil has been used as a respiratory aid for centuries. It has natural antibiotic and antiseptic properties that help fight unwanted respiratory bugs and also helps to open up the respiratory pathways. Bay leaves also help your body get rid of mucus and phlegm. As an aside, if you burn Bay leaves, they can help to purify the air around you.
- Eucalyptus: Long used as a natural aid for asthmatics, Eucalyptus essential oil helps to open the airways, break up phlegm and mucus, and penetrates the lining of the nose and lungs to help you cough out the junk if you’ve got a cold, flu, or another virus.
- Tea Tree: This essential oil was used by Australian Aborigines to treat colds and flu. The plant’s compounds have antibacterial effects that can ward off bad bugs that cause colds and respiratory issues, and can help make a cough more productive.
- Lemon: What a wonder lemon is. Aside from the fruit being full of Vitamin C, lemon essential oils soothe nasal passageways and airways that become swollen with respiratory distress.
- Cardamom: This essential oil is amazing at helping respiratory health due to its high 1,8-cineole content. It is also used commonly for reducing inflammation for individuals who suffer from chronic asthma, and upper respiratory issues.
- Ravintsara: An Ayurvedic oil that is known as a cross between Camphor and Eucalyptus, this oil causes an uplifting mood, and also helps to open the bronchial passageways.
Essential Oils to Boost My Mood and Induce Calm
Even before Covid hit the world, most people were struggling with staying stress-free. Myself included. I’ve fallen in love with these essential oils because they induce calm, reduce stress, and help remind me not to breathe in the fight-or-flight pattern, which induces my nervous system to make more stress hormones (like cortisol) instead of less.
- Ylang Ylang: This essential oil, along with Bergamot and lavender, is a phenomenal way to lower serum cortisol, induce calm, and even lower blood pressure. Just inhaling this scent induces a feeling of happiness that I can’t really describe.
- Chamomile: Who among us hasn’t luxuriated in a cup of warm chamomile tea to de-stress? Well, it turns out the Chamomile essential oil is just as effective at inducing calm and peace.
- Bergamot: Also known as bee balm, this tried and true essential oil smells heavenly and has been used to reduce anxiety and stress for thousands of years.
- Clary Sage: This has been one of my favorite oils to use of all time. It smells heavenly, and it’s great at reducing stress. It can even reduce menstrual cramps and was once considered an aphrodisiac.
- Rose: Rose essential oil is so good at calming stress when pregnant women were asked to smell it they reported having less stress during labor, even more so than study participants who had a warm foot bath.
- Lavender: There are a thousand bath products that have lavender in them, and it’s because lavender essential oil is excellent at calming stressed physiology. It’s also been used in Chinese Medicine and ancient Ayurveda to treat anxiety, allergies, depression, insomnia, and even menstrual cramps. It is also anti-fungal. This essential oil directly affects the limbic system in a positive way.
- Patchouli: How amazing is this!? A randomized study conducted in 2020 found that emergency room nurses who smelled Patchouli essential oil were much less stressed out than the nurses who didn’t. If nurses don’t have tons of stress to deal with, I don’t know who does!
- Jatamansi Oil: Also known as Spikenard, this essential oil calms the mind, grounds the nervous system, and has been used traditionally in Ayurvedic medicine and yogic teachings to aid in meditation and to help release stored trauma in the body.
- Frankincense: Derived from the resin of the Boswellia tree, not only does Frankincense support brain health, it has also been used by naturopaths and ancient medics for as long as time to reduce anxiety and improve mental calm.
- Sweet orange: This essential oil has been used as aromatherapy to reduce pain and anxiety. The lovely citrus smell is also very uplifting.
- Myrrh: This essential oil has been used to aid meditation and induce calm and peace in many cultures throughout the world. It can help to eliminate nervous tension, redirect the mind, help you to feel more grounded, and instill a sense of easy strength.
While this list isn’t comprehensive, it’s a great set of “basics” to get you started. If you plan to wear these with a face-mask clip, feel free to mix and match a few essential oils into one personalized concoction that induces the state of mind and health benefits that you are after I enjoy mixing up the essential oils that provide mental calm, like Sweet Orange and Frankincense with Cardamom and Bay Leaf. Other days I’ll mix up Jatamansi essential oil with Patchouli and Lavender to help instill calm throughout my day and to infuse my body with peace so that later when I meditate, I feel less agitated and my mind isn’t as busy.
Essential Oils to Boost Oxygen in My Blood
Essential oils are so amazing. There are even some that boost oxygen in the blood. Frankincense essential oil increases oxygenation of the blood traveling to the brain, which means my brain cells get an oxygenated boost whenever I put this oil in my face mask. On the days when I need to be extra sharp mentally, Frankincense is my go-to!
I Can Boost My Immunity with Essential Oils
Using essential oil facemask clips, I can choose whichever essentials oils I like. Sometimes I’m more interested in reducing my stress levels, and others, I’m all about boosting my immunity, especially if I know it’s a bit compromised because I haven’t been eating well, or I’ve not gotten as much sleep as I’d like. In addition to taking my vitamins and supplements, I find the essential oils are the perfect immunity boost. Clove, ginger, and oregano essential oils are all full of amazing immunity-boosting plant compounds.
Clove: Cloves have one of the highest ORAC values, so it’s no wonder that it’s such an effective essential oil. It’s an antioxidant powerhouse with an ORAC value of 314,446. Just so you know how astounding that is, wild blueberries have a value of 9,621. Cloves are also antibacterial, antifungal, insecticidal, and one of the best essential oils to have on hand.
Ginger: This plant helps create an antibody response when my body comes into contact with any virus. When I make more antibodies, it means that I’m less likely to have symptoms of a cold, flu, or other viruses. Antibodies also help to eliminate disease-causing microbes from my body.
Oregano: Oregano essential oil is so effective at boosting immunity because of a compound called carvacrol. It’s ideal for reducing exposure to respiratory viruses and reduces sickness due to its high antioxidant levels.
Now I’m Wearing My Essential Oil Face Mask
If I’m gonna have to wear a face mask, I’m at least going to boost my health in the process and make it easier for me to breathe, stay focused mentally, and even reduce my stress in the process. I’m also going to boost my immune system. That’s just a no-brainer.
Essential oils worn with my mask and a facemask clip mean I’m making the best of these crazy times. With so many amazing plants to choose from, it’s almost like picking my favorite outfit for the day. I get to choose my “flavor” and make it work for me. I call that a super-win! If you’d like to order your own facemask clips, you can HERE.