There are wide range home remedies out there for preventing the common cold, as well as alleviating the symptoms of a cold once it has already set in. While a number of them are helpful, there are others that offer no protection and have been passed down through generations as a common myth.
Luckily, there is plenty of science-backed evidence that attests to the efficacy of essential oils in both preventing the common cold as well as reducing the intensity of symptoms. Whether you’re looking to boost your immune system function, reduce congestion, or alleviate a pesky cough, there's an essential oil out there that can help
How To Use Essential Oils
The ways of using essential oils are almost as varied as the oils themselves. While many essential oils can be used in a diffuser, you can also add them to a bath, mix them into homemade bath and beauty products, sniff them directly from the bottle, rub them on the soles of your feet, or apply them topically to affected areas.
The way in which you use essential oils will depend on your particular symptoms and the different properties of the oils.
Aromatic Essential Oil Use for Colds
An essential oil diffuser commonly requires you to mix a small amount of water with a couple of drops of your chosen essential oil or blend of oils. The diffuser will then disperse a mist throughout the room that carries the scent of the oil with it.
This can be helpful if you're using essential oils to relax the mind, calm the senses, or promote proper sleep. Additionally, personal diffusers offer a great on the go alternative to your typical diffuser.
Steam inhalation requires adding a few drops of an essential oil to a bowl of hot water. You can then place a towel over your head and place your head over the bowl of water. The heat will create steam, which will allow you to breathe in the essential oils more effectively than simply through diffusing. This can be especially effective if you are suffering from congestion.
Store-bought vapor rubs are commonly used under the nose or on the chest to help relieve the symptoms of a cough or congestion. Instead of rushing to the drugstore, you can make your own vapor rub with natural ingredients. Simply melt beeswax with a carrier oil and essential oils of your choice. Pour into a small jar and let cool—you now have your own homemade vapor rub to use when needed.
Coming down with a cold can cause feelings of general malaise and may leave you feeling achy and sore. Mixing essential oils with a carrier oil creates a natural massage oil that can relieve achy joints and muscles and leave you feeling more relaxed.
In a Bath
Adding a few drops of essential oils to a warm bath provides you with the benefits of both topical and aromatic essential oil use. The heat of the bath allows you to inhale the steam while soaking in the oils allows you to reap the benefits of the heavily diluted topical application. To properly disperse oils in a bath, it is recommended to first add them to bath salts such as Epsom salts.
Ingesting Essential Oils
It is important to note that ingesting essential oils should only be done if the essential oil is specifically safe for ingestion. Since essential oils are incredibly potent, only a drop is needed for internal use. Additionally, you should always purchase certified organic essential oils from a reputable source.
Add to a Spoonful of Honey or Glass of Water
By adding a drop of an immune-boosting essential oil to a spoon of honey, a glass of water, or a hot herbal tea, you can reap the internal benefits of the essential oil.
Instead of ingesting the oil, you can also add a drop of an essential oil to a glass of warm salt water and gargle for 20 seconds to alleviate symptoms of a sore or irritated throat.
Best Essential Oils for Colds
Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Eucalyptus essential oil is known for its antiviral and decongestant properties, which help fight against the virus that causes the common cold and can alleviate congestion.
Inhaling the vapor of eucalyptus essential oil can help alleviate symptoms of asthma and bronchitis, as well as symptoms of the common cold and flu. This essential oil is also known for its analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and spasmolytic properties, as well as its ability to stimulate the immune system. 1
To relieve symptoms of congestion, add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil to a bowl of hot water and inhale via steam inhalation. You can also inhale it directly from the bottle or mix it into a homemade vapor rub and massage onto the chest.
Peppermint Essential Oil
A majority of peppermint essential oil is composed of menthol, which is well-known for its effectiveness in clearing the respiratory system.
Menthol is a powerful anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and carminative. Peppermint essential oil also has expectorant properties, which can help loosen mucus so it can be more easily expelled from the body.
For example, a 2013 study showed that the use of peppermint essential oil helped relax the bronchial muscles, which explains its ability to ease breathing and soothe coughs. 2
To help your cough subside, inhale peppermint essential oil through steam inhalation, add to a homemade vapor rub, or diffuse throughout a room. You can also inhale this essential oil directly from the bottle.
Clove Bud Essential Oil
Clove essential oil is commonly-associated with easing symptoms issues in the mouth or gums, but it is also especially effective at alleviating the pain of sore throats. Eugenol, one of the main chemical components in clove bud essential oil, is known for its analgesic and antibacterial properties.
Clove bud can also help support a healthy immune system, and its anti-inflammatory properties help support respiratory health.
To use clove bud essential oil to relieve the pain of a sore throat, add a drop or two to a cup of warm salt water and gargle for approximately 20 seconds, then spit it out. Repeat this a few times a day until symptoms subside.
Lavender Essential Oil
A 2015 study shed light on the analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties of the lavender essential oil. 3 These two healing properties make it an ideal candidate for easing sore muscles and joints that may be the result of contracting a cold.
To ease sore muscles, add a few drops of lavender essential oil to a carrier oil and gently massage over the affected areas. You can also add a few drops of this essential oil to a warm bath. To relieve the stress associated with your illness, diffuse lavender essential oil throughout the home or use in a personal diffuser.
Rosemary Essential Oil
Rosemary essential oil has been used throughout history as a natural remedy for headaches due to its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, increased stress can result in headaches, and rosemary essential oil relieves stress and anxiety.
To ease the pain of headaches, rub rosemary essential oil gently onto the temples. You can also diffuse this essential oil throughout a room, add to a relaxing bath, or use as a whole-body massage oil to alleviate stress.
Red Grapefruit Essential Oil
Suffering from a cold can leave you feeling lethargic, and you may simply not want to get out of bed. When you have an important day ahead of you but are suffering from a cold, you need an energizing essential oil to help give you the jolt you need.
Red grapefruit essential oil has stimulating effects that can boost your mood and energy. It is also high in antioxidants which help support a healthy immune system. Additionally, grapefruit essential oil is a natural disinfectant and can be sprayed in the home to reduce your chances of getting sick.
To use red grapefruit essential oil for its stimulating effects, diffuse it throughout your home. You can also add it to homemade lotions, candles, or cleansers. To keep its energizing properties with you throughout the day, sniff directly from the bottle or dab behind the ears as a natural perfume.
Essential Oils to Prevent Illness
While there are plenty of essential oils available to help relieve symptoms of a cold, there are even essential oils that can help prevent you from getting sick in the first place. Whether you’re using essential oils to disinfect your home or boost immune system function, you can naturally and effectively keep yourself healthy with essential oils.
Boost Immune System Function
Lemon Essential Oil
Lemon essential oil has powerful antibacterial and antiviral properties that can help keep both your body and home free from harmful pathogens. This oil also helps support the lymphatic system, which assists the body in removing toxins and waste.
To help boost the immune system and fight off viruses that cause the common cold, add a drop of lemon essential oil to a spoonful of honey or a glass of water and take daily. Alternatively, diffuse lemon essential oil throughout the home or add to a natural disinfecting spray.
Tea Tree Essential Oil
Tea tree essential oil is well-known for its powerful antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties. 4 All of these properties make it especially effective when used as a natural disinfectant, both for surfaces in the home as well as the quality of the air.
To create a natural disinfecting spray for the home, fill a spray bottle with 50 percent water and 50 percent white vinegar. Add 10–15 drops of tea tree essential oil and spray on surfaces of the home, especially in the kitchen and bathroom.
You can also spray the mixture onto a cloth and wipe down surfaces that are touched often, such as doorknobs or remotes. To disinfect the air, diffuse throughout the home.
Symptoms of the common cold can negatively affect everyday life, whether they prevent you from attending work or simply leave us feeling lethargic and melancholy.
Essential oils can help alleviate many of the symptoms associated with a common cold, and can even help prevent individuals from getting sick in the first place. Whether you’re using tea tree as a natural disinfectant, rosemary to relieve the pain of headaches, lavender to reduce stress, or red grapefruit to boost energy levels, the benefits of essential oils are immense.
By diffusing essential oils throughout the home, adding them to natural disinfecting spray, or soaking in a relaxing bath, you can ward off the common cold, flu, and other illnesses by creatively using essential oils.
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