Essential oils are used in the practice of aromatherapy for certain health problems. Citrus oils are light, uplifting oils that are particularly useful as the darker winter months approach. Although we traditionally think of warming oils, such as ginger and nutmeg, for winter ailments, citrus oils can uplift your mood and remind you of the warmer summer months!
Orange Essential Oil
There are various types of orange oil; these include bitter orange, sweet orange, orange blossom and petitgrain essential oils. However, both bitter orange (Citrus aurantium var. amara) and sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) oil are the traditional citrus oils. Bitter orange and sweet orange are obtained from similar trees, although the sweet orange tree is smaller than the bitter orange tree. The fruits of the bitter orange tree are smaller than the fruits from the sweet orange tree. Both oils, which are obtained by expression of the fruit, have a sweet, orange aroma. Orange essential oil is useful for stress, colds and flu.
Lemon Essential Oil
Lemon (Citrus limon) oil is also obtained by expression of the fruit from the lemon tree. Lemon is a light, uplifting aroma. It has several properties but is especially useful for the treatment of colds, flu and infections. Lemon is traditionally found in many over-the-counter remedies.
Grapefruit Essential Oil
Grapefruit (Citrus x paradisi) oil is not as well known as lemon or orange oil but it also has several aromatherapy uses. Grapefruit is a hybrid of Citrus maxima and Citrus sinensis. It is also obtained by expression of the fruit from the grapefruit tree. You can use grapefruit oil in a similar way to both lemon and orange oils. In addition, grapefruit is recommended for depression and nervous exhaustion.
Lime Essential Oil
Lime (Citrus aurantifolia) is sometimes used in place of lemon oil because the two oils share similar properties. Lime oil is extracted by expression of the fruit of the lime tree, although there is a distilled variety available too. Use lime oil for winter ailments such as colds, flu and infections.
Mandarin Essential Oil
Mandarin (Citrus reticulata) oil is often confused with orange oil, as the two fruits look very similar. Mandarins originated from the Far East and were brought to Europe and North America in the 19th century. In North America, mandarin is known as tangerine, although the tangerine species is slightly different in appearance than the European mandarin. Both oils are useful for insomnia, nervous disorders and digestive problems.
How to Use Citrus Oils for Winter
You can use citrus oils for winter problems in a couple of ways, depending on the type of problem. An aromatherapy diffuser is a good idea if you want to disperse the fragrance around a room to create an uplifting aroma or dispel cold and flu symptoms. However, for more specific cold and flu problems, use citrus oils in a massage oil. You can also use citrus aromatherapy candles; just make sure that they contain true essential oils and not fragrance oils, as fragrance oils have no therapeutic properties.
Cautions for Using Essential Oils
The majority of citrus oils are photo-toxic, which means that your sensitivity to sunlight increases, if you use them directly before going out into sunlight. However, citrus essential oils that are distilled are usually not photo-toxic. In addition, sweet orange essential oil is not known to be photo-toxic. If you are unfamiliar with the use of essential oils, consult a qualified aromatherapist for further advice before using them. Consult a medical practitioner also, if you have a health condition that may present contraindications for use (such as high blood pressure, pregnancy etc).
Citrus Oils for Winter
Citrus oils are an uplifting alternative to more traditional winter oils. They have several properties that help with common winter problems – and remind us that the warm days of summer may be gone for now, but the aroma still lives on!
- Davis, Patricia, 1999, Aromatherapy: An A-Z, UK: Vermilion
- Lawless, Julia, 1995, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, UK: Thorsons
- Author’s personal and professional experience
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