10 Best Essential Oils for Colds and Flu
A Natural Approach to Relieve Symptoms
As the cold and flu season approaches, many people are searching for natural remedies to alleviate symptoms and promote faster recovery. Essential oils have gained popularity as a holistic approach to managing colds and flu. These plant-based extracts contain potent compounds that may offer relief from congestion, sore throat, and other common cold symptoms. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the benefits of essential oils, their uses, and the potential risks involved. So, let's dive in and discover the power of essential oils in combating colds and flu.
The Power of Essential Oils: A Natural Solution
Essential oils have been used for centuries across different cultures as natural remedies for various ailments, including the common cold. These concentrated extracts are derived from plants and contain a wide range of beneficial compounds. Unlike pharmaceutical medications, which often target a single symptom, essential oils offer a holistic approach by harnessing multiple properties of the plants they are derived from.
Dr. Yufang Lin, a board-certified physician at Cleveland Clinic Wellness, explains that essential oils have anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antimicrobial properties, among others. For example, lavender, a popular essential oil, possesses anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anti-anxiety, and anti-depressant properties. This multifaceted nature of essential oils makes them a valuable addition to your cold-fighting arsenal.
Understanding the Research on Essential Oils
While scientific research on essential oils was limited, there have now been many studies that support their potential effectiveness against the common cold. For instance, a study published in 2010 found that inhaling steam infused with chamomile essential oil helped relieve cold symptoms[^1]. Another study from the same year highlighted the antiviral properties of melaleuca oil, also known as tea tree oil[^2]. Eucalyptus oil, widely used to treat respiratory issues, has been shown to possess antiviral and antimicrobial properties according to a review from 2010[^3]. Peppermint oil, with its menthol content, acts as a natural decongestant and fever reducer[^4].
Anecdotal evidence and centuries of traditional use suggest that essential oils can be a valuable addition to your cold-fighting routine.
How to Use Essential Oils for Cold Relief
There are several methods for using essential oils to alleviate cold symptoms. Each method offers a unique way to experience the benefits of these natural remedies. Here are some popular ways to incorporate essential oils into your cold relief routine:
- Diffusion for Aromatherapy
Using a diffuser is one of the most common and convenient methods to enjoy the therapeutic effects of essential oils. Diffusers disperse a fine mist of essential oil particles into the air, creating a soothing and aromatic environment. Simply add a few drops of your chosen essential oil to the diffuser, follow the instructions, and let the mixture fill the room.
- Steam Inhalation
Steam inhalation is a direct and effective way to relieve congestion and clear the airways. Fill a bowl with hot water and add a few drops of essential oil. Lean over the bowl, covering your head with a towel to trap the steam, and inhale deeply for a few minutes. This method helps to open up congested sinuses and provides temporary relief from cold symptoms.
- Topical Application
Applying essential oils topically can also provide relief from cold symptoms. However, it is important to dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil to prevent skin irritation. Common carrier oils include jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, olive oil, coconut oil, and grapeseed oil. Mix a few drops of essential oil with a teaspoon of carrier oil and massage the blend onto your chest, throat, or temples to alleviate congestion, soothe a sore throat, or relieve headaches.
- Bath Soak
Adding essential oils to your bathwater can create a relaxing and therapeutic experience. Mix a few drops of your chosen essential oil with a tablespoon of carrier oil, such as jojoba oil or coconut oil, and add it to your bath. Soak in the warm water infused with the aromatic oils to help alleviate muscle tension, clear congestion, and promote relaxation.
Inhaling essential oils directly from the bottle or from a cotton ball can provide quick relief from nasal congestion and promote a sense of well-being. You can also add a few drops of essential oil to a tissue or handkerchief and carry it with you for on-the-go relief.
- Cold Compress
A cold compress infused with essential oils can help reduce fever and provide soothing relief. Dilute a few drops of essential oil in a cup of cool water, soak a washcloth in the mixture, wring out the excess liquid, and apply the moist cloth to your forehead, chest, or throat.
Remember to always follow the recommended guidelines for each essential oil, as some oils may require different dilution ratios or have specific safety precautions. Additionally, it is essential to perform a patch test before using any new essential oil to ensure you do not have an allergic reaction.
Essential Oils for Cold Relief: A Closer Look
Let's explore some popular essential oils known for their potential to alleviate cold symptoms. Each oil offers unique benefits and can be used individually or in combination to create personalized blends.
- Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca oil, is renowned for its antimicrobial, antiseptic, and antiviral properties [^2]. It can help reduce nasal congestion, fight respiratory infections, and provide relief from cold symptoms. Tea tree oil can be diffused, inhaled, or applied topically after dilution to enjoy its benefits.
- Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil is a popular choice for alleviating respiratory issues associated with colds and flu. It possesses antiviral and antimicrobial properties, making it effective against respiratory infections [^3]. Inhalation of eucalyptus oil can help clear congestion, ease coughing, and reduce inflammation. Dilute eucalyptus oil and apply it topically or use it in steam inhalation for maximum benefits.
- Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil acts as a natural decongestant and fever reducer due to its menthol content [^4]. It provides a cooling sensation that can soothe sore throats, reduce nasal congestion, and relieve headaches associated with colds. Dilute peppermint oil with a carrier oil and apply it topically to the chest or temples for relief.
- Lemon Oil
Breathe in the refreshing and uplifting aromas of lemon oil, while also reaping some of the therapeutic wellness benefits of this antioxidant rich oil. The powerfully fresh and positive fragrance of lemon oil can help support your wellbeing, as well as stimulate blood flow and enhance your mental function. Traditionally, lemon essential oil has been used as an aromatherapy remedy to support many areas of health such as cognition, blood flow, digestive health and immune health. Help enhance immune system function and relieve the severity of symptoms of common colds and flu as well as symptoms of mild upper respiratory tract infections.
- Rosemary Oil
Rosemary oil has been found to possess expectorant properties, making it effective in breaking up mucus and reducing inflammation [^5]. It can help alleviate congestion and coughing associated with colds. Dilute rosemary oil with a carrier oil and apply it topically to the chest or use it in steam inhalation.
- Frankincense Oil
Frankincense oil is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and has been traditionally used to treat coughs and bronchitis [^6]. It can provide relief from respiratory discomfort and promote a healthy respiratory system. Diffuse frankincense oil or dilute it in a carrier oil for topical application.
- Oregano Oil
Oregano oil contains a compound called carvacrol, which has antimicrobial properties [^7]. It can help fight off viruses and bacteria, making it a valuable addition to your cold-fighting routine. Dilute oregano oil with a carrier oil and apply it topically or inhale it for relief.
- Thyme Oil
Thyme oil also possesses antimicrobial properties and can help protect against viruses and bacteria [^8]. It has a warm and herbaceous scent and can be used in steam inhalation or diluted with a carrier oil for topical application. Thyme oil has also been historically used to promote sleep, which can be beneficial during a cold.
- doTERRA’s On Guard – Protective Blend
With Wild Orange, Clove and Cinnamon essential oils, doTERRA On Guard is a powerful blend that protects against environmental and seasonal threats. The main essential oil in doTERRA On Guard is Wild Orange. Its refreshing aroma
helps to create a cleansing and uplifting environment. Clove and Wild Orange Essential Oils give doTERRA On Guard its refreshing and clean scent, make it ideal for use in your DIY surface cleanser for the home. Wild Orange Peel, Clove Bud, Cinnamon Leaf, Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus Leaf and Rosemary Leaf/Flower essential oils.
My 2 favourite packs that have 7 of the best essential oils for supporting colds and flu are in these packs.
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In the meantime you can click the SHOP links above to learn more about the benefits of each of these essential oils in more detail.
doTERRA Essential Oils Australia
Certified doTERRA Essential Oils Specialist
BA Ed. BEd. Health + Physical Education