With the onset of fall, the wind becomes cold, a time of the year, for colds and flu. No one likes getting sick especially when it can be transmitted so easily from person to person. The strains of the common cold and the flu vary so tremendously that there is no official vaccine or medication that will cure you or prevent the symptoms. That’s why it’s always a good idea to get your annual flu shots for whichever strain is the most common. The airborne viruses that cause a reaction lead to a compromised immune system, blocked and runny noses, itchy throat, chills, cough, and the flu.
The common cold and the flu are caused by aggressive and tenacious viruses that make their way into our systems around this time of year. The airborne viruses that cause a reaction lead to a compromised immune system, blocked and runny noses, itchy throat, chills, cough, and the flu.
Nevertheless, the symptoms of these conditions do not prove daunting when treated naturally with essential oils that come in handy to provide relief. However, before we look into the benefits of essential oils for colds, let us fully understand why and how these viruses attack us, especially during this particular season.
The Common Cold
The flu and the common cold exhibit very similar symptoms, but are the results of two very different pathogens. Many people confuse the two which can easily lead to misdiagnosis and improper treatment of your particular illness. Therefore, it is important to understand the differences before we begin talking about which essential oils are best for colds and which are best for the flu.
The common cold is an upper respiratory tract infection caused by rhinovirus and coronavirus. These have symptoms such as stuffy nose, dry infected throats, sneezing, coughing, headache, and fever. As the name implies, it is the more common of the two illnesses and often onle lasts for a few days to a week.
Influenza, on the other hand, caused by the influenza type A and B viruses, produces symptoms more intense than a cold while the type C influenza virus generally causes mild respiratory conditions. The aftermath of flu results in fatigue, weakness, aches and pains, which prolong up to nearly three weeks. Although other symptoms of the flu are similar to that of a cold, it causes muscle aches with frequent bouts of chills and cold sweats.
Differences between colds and the flu
The common cold and flu are airborne illnesses that are mostly contagious. A cold is restricted to the upper respiratory tract of the nose and throat and infection occurs when the virus enters through the mouth or nose. Influenza flu affects the lungs when viruses overwhelm the body’s immune system and precipitate a reaction, leading to a weakened immunity. These have a tendency to spread via coughing and sneezing.
Benefits of essential oils for colds and the flu
Certain essential oils possessing concentrated chemical substances prove naturally effective for enhancing immunity. The antibacterial, antiviral and antiseptic properties that are found in these oils further help boost immunity, by eliminating the harmful toxins from the body. In addition, due to easy absorption of oils, they enable effective absorption of vital nutrients and oxygen in the body.
So now that we know how these viruses affect us, we can effectively understand how to use certain essential oils for colds, coughs, and runny noses.
Top 10 Essential Oils for Colds/Flu
Several essential oils for colds help relieve symptoms of cold and flu like a runny nose, nasal congestion, itching throat, headache, etc.
1) Tea Tree Essential Oil for Cold and Flu
Tea tree oil derived from Australian Melaleuca tree contains antiviral, antimicrobial, antiseptic properties. This, therefore, works well to eliminate all kinds of infection caused by fungi, bacteria, and viruses, making it one of the most potent essential oils for colds. Besides these, the oil acts as a natural expectorant that helps relieve chest congestion, ease the respiratory tract and helps clear mucus. Inhaling the tea tree oil with any other carrier oil proves beneficial for combating symptoms of flu. Furthermore, being a potent immunostimulant, the oil enhances body’s immunity and increases resistance to ward off any kind of infections.
2) Lemon Essential Oil
Extracted from the lemon tree, this oil contains ample vitamins that help the body build immunity. Moreover, it helps in the development of white blood cells that strengthens the body’s defense mechanisms and safeguard against instances of sickness and other medical conditions.
3) Peppermint Essential Oil to Help in Cold and Flu
As one of the most commonly used essential oils for colds, peppermint oil consists of natural antiviral, antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-allergenic compounds that help ease colds, the flu, and coughs. A natural painkiller, peppermint oil relieves symptoms of aches and pains during flu and alleviates bacterial infections. Furthermore, it makes a wonderful remedy for clogged nasal passageways, chest congestion and clears mucus. Inhaling or breathing in a few drops of peppermint oil mixed with hot water really helps relieve unpleasant and painful symptoms.
4) Cinnamon Essential Oil
Cinnamon essential oil, packed with high concentrations of antioxidants and antibacterial substances, helps combat various infections and diseases that include infections of the respiratory tract. Besides, with immunostimulant properties, cinnamon essential oil helps enhance body’s immune health. A natural expectorant, the oil helps expel phlegm from the lungs and relieve coughs.
In addition, it clears the nasal passage by clearing and inhibiting mucus build-up. The anti-inflammatory compounds present in the oil combined with immune boosting antioxidant properties, accelerate healing by imparting a feeling of warmth to cure symptoms of flu and colds. Further, it brings down the temperature by precipitating sweating thus making it the perfect essential oil for fever body aches.
5) Thyme Essential Oil
A member of the mint family, thyme oil possesses unique antibiotic, antiviral, expectorant, bactericidal and antispasmodic properties that make thyme one of the most sought after essential oils for colds during the fall season. It makes a perfect antidote for respiratory conditions considering its effects on increasing mucus and alleviating dry coughs, phlegm, colds and sore throats.
Besides these, thyme scavenges and destroys the free radical elements and helps the body get rid of destructive toxins and encourages the production of white blood cells. This aspect supports and strengthens the immunity levels in the body, thereby boosting the body’s resistance to bacterial attacks, one of the main contributors for conditions like the flu and colds. Nevertheless, it is imperative to use this particular essential oil for colds in moderation as it may cause adverse reactions in certain individuals.
6) Ravensara Essential Oil
Ravensara essential oil is derived from the steam distillation of leaves from the ravensara aromatica tree native to Madagascar. Due to the antiviral substances that exist in the oil, it inhibits the attack and growth of disease-causing viruses and bacteria by breaking through the external layer of the virus and destroying it from within.
The expectorant elements in Ravensara help release the phlegm collected in the lungs thereby offering relief from coughs, breathing difficulties and congestion, and tightness in the chest. Furthermore, the oil augments immune health and prevents occurrences of flu and other respiratory problems. Natural antispasmodic Ravensara oil provides relief from muscular aches that normally happen during bouts of flu, making it one of the more extremely effective essential oils for body aches.
7) Eucalyptus Essential Oil to Relieve Cold and Cough
Eucalyptus oil is a by-product of the distilled leaves of the tree. Most commonly found in over-the-counter ointments, remedies for respiratory problems, and in soothing cough drops, this oil boasts of effective antibiotic, antiviral and antibacterial properties. Because of this, it makes an amazing cure for respiratory conditions like colds, cough, and flu. The medicinal substances in the oil alleviate inflammation and phlegm from the lungs, unblocks nasal passage and with inhalation, clears sinus. Further, this oil is one of the best essential oils for headaches and other symptoms related to the flu.
8) Oregano Essential Oil
Oregano oil is extracted from the oregano herb via steam distillation. The oil containing carvacrol and thyme, which are responsible for its unique fragrance, possess potent antibacterial substances that combat viruses in the body and make one of the best essential oils for colds. Besides the oil holds antioxidant and antibacterial substances that soothe an infected throat. An effective expectorant, oregano oil helps get rid of mucus and prevents further attacks of respiration conditions. The immunostimulant properties help production and activity of white blood cells, thereby promoting body’s resistance against antiviral or antibacterial attacks.
9) Lavender Essential Oil
Rich in specific compounds known as esters, lavender essential oil is one of the effective essential oils for cold and flu. The therapeutic uses of lavender oil offer relief from respiratory tract infections such as a cough, cold and flu. Besides, this also helps release blocked nasal passageways and dispels phlegm from the lungs and nose. Above all, it is effectual for improving the body’s immunity and protects them against all kinds of infections and diseases. If you’re looking for a heavenly fragrance along with
10) Clove Essential Oil
Clove oil is an ancient remedy for treating various illnesses. Due to the antimicrobial substances, gargling with clove oil allay an irritated sore throat. The anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties make it one of the best reliable options for sinusitis, coughs, and colds. In Addition, this oil remains on par with eucalyptus and oregano for its effectiveness for enhancing the functions of the immune system.
How to Use Essential Oils to Treat Cold and Flu
There are a few simple effective ways to use essential oils for colds at home to find relief from the symptoms. Here are a few tips and suggestions…
Beverages are great for using essential oils to work as one of the best remedies for treating colds and flu. However, it is imperative to check for allergies or reactions before ingesting them. Use water or milk as base liquid for preparing these medicinal teas. Coconut or almond milk works as an excellent option for any concerns with lactose intolerance. For this, heat the base liquid first and then add a drop of peppermint oil, a couple of drops eucalyptus oil and five drops of lemon essential oil and consume when hot. The aromatic tea clears the phlegm from the nose and helps soothe an irritated throat.
Essential oils for colds are one of the best-proven remedies when used through steam inhalation. Add a few drops of essential oil in a bowl of boiling hot water. Cover the head with a towel and inhale the steam for ten minutes. However, keep the face at least a foot away from the water and slowly inhale the vapor with eyes closed. This enables the steam to enter the lungs and sinus and helps clear the cold and flu viruses that cause symptoms.
Place a few drops of oil, or oil blends on a tissue and inhale the scent while moving around. As an alternative, stash the tissue under the pillow while sleeping at night. Breathing in the oil helps clear mucus build-up from the nasal passage and lungs.
Place a bowl of hot water in a room, mixed with a few drops of essential oil, such as eucalyptus/ peppermint or tea tree essential oil. Inhale the vapor and scent that emanates from the oil for relief from blocked nose and help the immune system combat the virus.
Mixing a few drops of essential oils blended with a carrier oil to warm bath water too proves beneficial for aches and pains.
Applying essential oils such as lavender or peppermint mixed with carrier oil directly on the skin enables quick absorption and penetration through the walls of the cells. Therefore, massage a few drops of oil on the back, chest, temples, shoulders and areas just next to the spine for assuaging headaches. Ravensara, eucalyptus or tea tree oil helps boost the immune system and help battle the infection.
Adding a few drops of eucalyptus, tea tree or lavender oil on a warm washcloth and placing them on the chest helps ease the phlegm from the lungs and diminishes congestion.
Suggestive Tips for Appropriate Usage of Essential Oils for Cold and Flu
- The human builds tolerance and becomes immune to essential oils. To prevent this, alternating oils and blends once a week might help
- Using essential oils thrice or four times a week proves effectual. Therefore, it is advisable to continue using oils for a few weeks.
- Not all essential oils, except a few, contain real antiviral properties. Therefore, it is crucial to check before use.
- Opt for essential oils in their purest unadulterated form.
- Avoid a shower for seven hours post application of essential oils.
- Prolonged inhalations of oils have a possibility of causing an enlarged liver.
- Asthmatic patients ought to maintain caution as inhalation might precipitate an attack.
- Topical application may cause allergies in sensitive skin. Therefore, conduct a patch test before use.
- Consulting a healthcare provider before ingesting any oil avoids any side effects or reaction.
- Dilute essential oils with carrier oils before application.
- Consult a medical practitioner for using essential oils during pregnancy
- Some oils are flammable; hence refrain from placing them near the fire.
- Essential oils are not recommended for infants, toddlers, and children.