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Traveling to the Tropics with Essential Oils

Post by Sandy Powell on January 5, 2015

Winter has settled again in the Northern hemisphere. You want to get away somewhere, anywhere warm for a reprieve. I travel quite extensively and am in the essential oil business so people always ask; what essential oils are best to travel with? In this article the focus is on the tropics and Caribbean.
I have access to literally hundreds of essential oils but will suggest common essential oils which are easily available to the average person, relatively safe and serve multiple purposes. I will also recommend some practical carriers and other supplies along with some simple recipes at the end of this article along with the usual disclaimers.

Change in Environment
If you are going to the Caribbean or other hot climate such as Thailand or India, sudden exposure to extremely different environments can shock your immune and nervous system more than you think. This alone can be a reason why many people will get away to their tropical holiday only to find that they become quite ill.

person being ill

The difference in food and water, plus cleanliness which may not be to your personal standards all have an effect. Despite those sun drenched beaches with waffling palm trees, many of these countries are considered third world status compared to our comfortable North American amenities.

The microbes and parasites which are found in food, water and transmitted by mosquitoes mean that essential oils which have prophylactic, immune boosting and antimicrobic properties are helpful to start using before you leave and continue use on vacation.

Insect repellents have become essential in these areas. In northern climates, mosquitoes are a nuisance and their bites generally cause nothing more than itchy discomfort for a few hours. In the tropics, mosquitoes can carry nasty disease and viruses such as Malaria, Dengue Chickungunya and now Zika. I will be writing more about this in a later article.

Since it is usually hot in these regions, some oils that contain alcohols, terpenes and oxides will help to provide cooling sensations plus some anti-inflammatory properties for injuries and sunburns which seem to be inevitable with the outdoor tropical life.


Useful Essential Oils : I suggest selecting 3-4 of the following that keeps choices simple and less to carry. Most of these are easy to obtain and multifunctional. I’ve listed some of their better attributes as it pertains to the tropics.

Eucalyptus (globulus): cooling, anti-microbic, anti-inflammatory, pain relief, immune boosting, insect repellent

Lemon Eucalyptus (Citriadora): Strong insect repellent, anti-viral, immune boosting

Geranium: immune boosting, skin healing, cooling, insect repellent (mosquitoes)

Immortelle: Strong skin healing properties for cuts, bruises, immune booster, delicate fragrant properties, all purpose functions.

Lavender: Cooling, anti-inflammatory, disinfectant, pain relief, skin healing, all purpose

Lemongrass: Prophylactic, antimicrobic, insect repellant, nausea

Myrrh: strong immune booster, coagulant, disinfectant (wounds)

Petitgrain (orange tree): very similar properties to lavender but has a distinct woodsy aroma for all of you who don’t like the floral scent of lavender.

Oregano: disinfectant, strong anti-viral, immune boosting

Peppermint: strong cooling effect, disinfectant, good for nausea, pain, headaches

Ti-tree: cooling, antimicrobic, antiseptic, immune boosting, insect repellent, pain relief

** I would leave the oils which can cause photosensitivity such as expeller pressed oils from peel of citrus at home. These include bergamot, lemon, orange, tangerine and grapefruit.


Other Necessary Supplies:
A small bottle of denatured alcohol or perfumers alcohol to dissolve essential oils prior to adding with water. Essential oils will not mix with water on their own. This is handy to make cooling and insect repellent sprays.

A small bottle of food grade or source glycerine: A non-fermented alcohol: to dissolve essential oils prior to adding with water. A good alternative if you do not want to use other alcohols. Essential oils will not mix with water on their own. This is also handy to make cooling and insect repellent sprays. Glycerine added to water also provides humectant properties which help to draw moisture to the surface of the skin. Great application for sunburn.

A bottle of plant based unscented cream and or lotion to add essential oils for first aid, soothing sunburn etc.

A few small empty clean plastic bottles with dispensing caps and spray tops to make sprays for current needs. You can add water as needed when you are there.

A few small jars to make creams for specific uses. While traveling I like to add lotion mixes to jars as it is easier to pour into a jar than bottles.

I would limit my selection of essential oils to about 3 or 4, along with 60-120 ml of alcohol or glycerine. It really depends on how long you are planning to travel. Take appropriate amount of lotion. Pure essential oils are to be kept in glass amber bottles. Most of this can fit into 1 or 2 large zip lock bags for convenience.


Suggested Uses

Insect Repellent
Dissolve 20 drops of any suggested oils in alcohol or glycerine or combination of both. Allow to sit for a few minutes. Add to 100 ml bottle and fill to top with water. Add spray top for easy dispensing . Shake before use and spray liberally around room and on body. Avoid spraying in eyes as it may sting.

Apply drops of any suggested oils to paper towels or tissues and leave around open windows or near lights that attract those annoying little prickers. Apply to areas outdoors when seated. If possible sit where there is a breeze, as mosquitoes have difficulty locating you in wind.  Spray clothing, bed sheets and pillows several times a day.  *See disclaimer at bottom.

After Sun Care / First Aid
To make a soothing spray, follow the same instructions for insect repellent spray, but add oils which are suggested as healing, anti-inflammatory and cooling. Use glycerine to dissolve essential oils. This works very well for sunburns and rashes.

Add max 10 drops of any combination of lavender, geranium, immortelle or peppermint to 1 oz (15 ml) cream or lotion and apply to rashes, sunburn or to cool the body.

Deep Cuts-  if you find yourself in this situation with no medical help, clean the cut as much as possible with fresh clean water, alcohol or any other disinfectant.  Then apply myrrh directly into the wound track, and hold pressure or wrap with bandage if available.  This will help to stop the flow of blood until proper medical assistance can be rendered.


Anti-microbic and Immune Support         

Regular inhalations of some suggested oils like eucalyptus, ti-tree, oregano, lavender or geranium. A few drops on a tissue will do.Put a few drops in a glass of water to gently diffuse into the air. You can also make a cream or lotion of about 5 drops combo in ½ oz cream or lotion. Apply liberally to back, shoulders, chest and throat daily.  Make a bigger batch before you leave.

We go on vacation to relax, get away, get warm, but some preparations can go a long way when mishaps or misfortunes occur. Hope you find this information helpful.  Enjoy your trip.

Sandy Powell

Nascent Naturals Inc.

©Nascent Naturals Inc.  2015  All rights reserved.


The above information is not meant to be a substitute for conventional medical attention or treatment. When in doubt, or faced with any of the above listed conditions, seek medical help immediately…. if it is available. Please ensure that you have adequate medical insurance as well so if you are able to obtain competent medical help, you may not end up bankrupt or washing dishes and scrubbing toilets on some obscure island that no-one has heard of for the rest of your life.
Health Canada has recently banned the use of citronella as a safe insect repellent even though it is used world-wide in areas where mosquito infection is very serious compared to Canada. The CDC even promotes the use of this along with lemon eucalyptus especially for prevention of bites by mosquitoes spreading Chikungunya. By all means, when in doubt, use DEET based products which were originally developed as pesticides. According to Health Canada, they are more effective and considered safe as the big companies that manufacture products have paid for testing on these patented ingredients that conveniently have great results which make them gobs of money.

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