There are plenty of natural remedies out there for colds and flu, from a warm mug of herbal tea to a spoonful of ginger and honey. If you’re getting tired of drinking gallons of tea, diffusing essential oils can help ease your cold symptoms.
Depending on your particular symptoms - runny nose, cough, congestion, headache, fatigue - there are a variety of different oils that can help alleviate your discomfort. Blends of antiviral essential oils can help eradicate the illness from your home, decongestant oils can help you breathe easier, and relaxing oils can help you get the sleep you need to recover faster.
You can mix a few of your favorite essential oils and diffuse them throughout your home, mix them with a carrier oil and use as a relaxing massage oil, add them to a bath, inhale them through steam inhalation, or simply sniff them from the bottle to reap their health benefits.
What Essential Oils Are Good for a Cold?
Often when we have a cold, all we want is relief from our symptoms. Reducing levels of stress and anxiety, as well as getting a proper night of sleep, can help the immune system function more effectively and get rid of the cold faster. By using essential oils known for their relaxing properties, you can get the rest you need to heal.
- Lavender : Lavender essential oil is widely known for its relaxing properties. A 2017 study tested the effects of lavender essential oil on anxiety disorders, with the results showing that it is an effective natural way to lower anxiety levels. 1 Stress can put a strain on your immune system as well as negatively affect your sleep schedule. By diffusing lavender essential oil throughout your home or lightly spraying it on your bed linens, you can help alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety and get a better night of sleep.
- Roman chamomile : When you think of the perfect bedtime tea, often the first herb that comes to mind is chamomile. Roman chamomile essential oil offers similar soothing properties, and its high ester content makes it ideal for soothing frazzled nerves. In a 2013 study, the effects of essential oils were tested on sleep quality and anxiety levels of intensive care patients. The particular blend of essential oils used consisted of lavender, roman chamomile, and neroli. The results showed that those who received aromatherapy showed significant decreases in anxiety levels and a significant improvement in sleep quality. 2 Diffuse roman chamomile essential oil throughout your home or add a few drops to a relaxing bath to prep the body for a healing night of sleep.
- Sweet marjoram : Marjoram essential oil can help reduce stress, promote relaxation, decrease blood pressure and promote a healthy night of sleep. In a 2017 study, the effects of aromatherapy massage on sleep quality were tested on night shift nurses. The oil used in the massage was sweet marjoram, and the results showed that this oil helped to improve sleep quality due to its ability to relax the muscles and calm the emotions. 3
A cold is often marked by sniffling, sneezing, and coughing. Diffusing essential oils that have both a decongestant and expectorant properties can help loosen excess mucus, clear the respiratory tract and help you breathe easier in no time.
Eucalyptus : As soon as you take a whiff of eucalyptus essential oil you can feel its powerful decongestant and expectorant properties. This is one oil that is great to carry around with you throughout the day if are having trouble breathing. Eucalyptus oil is very high in 1,8 cineole (also known as eucalyptol) which is highly touted for its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to loosen phlegm. If you’re feeling congested, a great way of using eucalyptus essential oil is to breathe it in through steam distillation. Add a few drops of this oil to a bowl of hot water, cover your head with a towel and breathe in the steam for 5-10 minutes.
- Oregano : While oregano essential oil may not be the first oil you think of when it comes to clearing congestion, it boasts powerful anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties that can help improve respiratory function. It can help to loosen and expel mucus that has built up in the sinuses and can help reduce inflammation in the throat and lungs. Oregano essential oil can be diffused throughout your home, inhaled through steam inhalation, or added to a homemade vapor rub and gently rubbed on the chest and neck.
- Peppermint : Peppermint essential oil has a high concentration of menthol, which is known for its ability to relieve headaches, reduce fevers, treat asthma and soothe the respiratory system. Breathing in peppermint essential oil can help to soothe the sinuses, clear the respiratory tract and reduce headaches that may be the result of your illness. Breathe in this essential oil through a portable aromatherapy diffuser, diffuse it throughout your home, or add to a homemade decongestant salve.
A clean, germ-free home is very important for your overall health as well as the health of those that live with you. Store-bought cleaners are often filled with harmful chemicals that you don’t want in your home. Luckily, it is very easy to make your own homemade disinfecting spray that can rid your home of the harmful microbes that are making you ill. Mix up your favorite blend of disinfectant essential oils and start cleaning!
- Tea tree : A wide variety of studies have been conducted on the healing properties of tea tree, and this particular essential oil is largely known for its ability to heal wounds and naturally disinfect surfaces. Tea tree essential oil contains eucalyptol and a-pinene, which makes it another great choice for supporting the respiratory system. It also has powerful antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties that can help rid your home of harmful microbes. Diffuse throughout your home to cleanse the air or add to a homemade disinfecting spray. A simple mixture of white vinegar, water and 10-15 drops of tea tree essential oil is a great natural way to disinfect surfaces of the kitchen and bathroom.
- Lemon : Lemon essential oil boasts a wide variety of disinfectant properties, from antibacterial to antiseptic to bactericidal. Aside from being a great natural cleaner, it is also known to help boost immune system function and support the respiratory system. Diffuse lemon essential oil throughout your home to disinfect the air, breathe easier, boost energy and improve the mood. Lemon essential oil can also be taken internally (with caution), so add a drop of it into a glass of water or a spoonful of honey.
- Thyme : Thyme essential oil is a powerhouse, filled with terpenes that help to boost the immune system, support respiratory function, alleviate stress and anxiety, remove toxins and naturally disinfect surfaces. While it can be added to massage blends, diffused throughout the home, or added to a relaxing bath, it is also great when mixed with other antimicrobial oils in a natural disinfectant spray.
Being sick with a cold can leave you feeling fatigued and under-motivated. To get back on your feet, diffuse a blend of energizing essential oils throughout your home. Not only do these oils help give you the energy you need, but they also help to disinfect the air, support your immune system and boost your mood.
- Sweet orange : Sweet orange essential oil instantly boosts your mood as soon as you smell its delicious scent. If you need a quick pick-me-up in the morning, diffuse this essential oil throughout your home. In a 2017 study, the effects of aromatherapy on fatigue and relaxation were studied on new mothers. The results showed that those who used sweet orange essential oil experienced lower levels of fatigue and higher levels of relaxation. 4
- Grapefruit : Grapefruit essential oil can help stimulate the mind, soothe the nerves, boost the immune system and give you the energy you need to go about your day. This particular oil is also a great choice to add to a homemade disinfectant spray. Grapefruit oil can help to stimulate both the nervous system and the endocrine system, which can lead to optimal metabolic activity and increased levels of alertness. Diffuse grapefruit essential oil throughout your home or sniff directly from the bottle whenever you need an energy boost.
- Ginger : Although ginger is most commonly associated with reducing nausea, it offers a lot more benefits than just soothing the stomach. Ginger essential oil can help ease respiratory problems, prevent infections, reduce inflammation and decrease anxiety. This essential oil can also help balance energy levels, even in situations where you have missed out on vital sleep. Diffuse ginger essential oil throughout your home to reap all of its benefits.
The essential oils mentioned here are only the tip of the iceberg. If you prefer tangerine to orange, use that instead! If you’d rather use rosemary than thyme, go for it! Every essential oil has its own unique blend of terpenes that provides a wide range of healing properties. By experimenting with different blends and different ways of using oils, you can find the right match for your particular cold symptoms.