“Skin is an oil-loving organ,” says Dr. Terry Vanderheyden, a naturopathic doctor and registered herbalist in Barry’s Bay, Ontario, and St. Francis Herb Farm’s medical advisor. “And, oil is a wonderful carrier for infused herbs, helping them to penetrate the skin.” Here are five healing oils to use to help you and your family feel better, naturally.
Calendula oil: Apply calendula oil to a scabbed-over cut or scrape to improve wound healing and reduce scarring. Add a few drops to bath water to soothe eczema.
Arnica oil: “This is a very effective anti-inflammatory oil to treat soft tissue trauma like sprains, strains and bruises,” says Dr. Terry. Simply rub arnica oil gently into the injured area.
St. John’s Wort oil: Used as an antiseptic and antimicrobial in traditional herbal medicine, St. John’s Wort oil has been called “arnica for nerve pain.” Apply to skin to ease minor sunburn or hemorrhoids, says Dr. Terry.
Tea tree oil: Tea tree oil is known for its antiseptic and antifungal properties. For minor teeth and gum infections, add a drop to your usual toothpaste before you brush, says Dr. Terry. To treat nail fungus, combine a teaspoon of petroleum jelly with a scant teaspoon of tea tree oil and apply to the nail before bedtime.
Castor oil: Strictly speaking, castor oil is not a herbal oil—it’s extracted from the bean of the castor plant, and has been used for generations in Ayurvedic medicine. “It helps to stimulate the abdominal organs and is very effective for chronic constipation when you use it externally,” notes Dr. Terry. At bedtime, rub a generous amount of oil on the abdomen in a clockwise motion (which is the same direction as the colon), cover with a cloth and then apply a hot water bottle.
Ready to try some oils? Using gentle, natural oils is an ideal way to treat some everyday health problems for everyone in the family.
Occasionally people react to topical infused oils, so always test oils on a small patch of skin first and wait 24 hours to see if a reaction like redness develops