When I first learned about essential oils, I was skeptical. I couldn’t understand how a few drops of oil from a plant could make any real difference in my health. I eventually decided to give them a try, slowly and reluctantly, and after some time experimenting, I’ve learned they can actually be quite effective. I was also happy to find that there’s scientific research to back up many of the related claims.
It turns out that essential oils can play a therapeutic role in healing, symptom relief, and immune support. So with cold and flu season upon us, it’s the perfect time to incorporate some of these natural wonders into your self-care routine:
(The following essential oils are generally safe for adult use. Please consult a pediatrician or qualified aromatherapist about which essential oils are safe for children. You can also seek out products specifically formulated for children.)
Eucalyptus Oil – Studies show that eucalyptus oil has antimicrobial effects against many bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It also has immune-stimulatory, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic benefits, making it effective in helping to treat respiratory illness, including colds, bronchitis, asthma, and sinusitis. In addition to its ability to naturally fight infection, eucalyptus oil can help offer effective relief for symptoms such as coughs, sore throats, and sinus congestion. Eucalyptus oil can be used via steam inhalation or applied topically (usually with a carrier oil). In particular, homemade vapor rubs have become a popular all-natural alternative to drugstore vapor rub products (which often contain camphor), using a combination of eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil, a carrier oil, and beeswax.
Oregano Oil – Oregano oil’s antiviral properties make it one of my favorite natural cold and flu remedies. It’s been found to be particularly effective for upper respiratory tract infections (in addition to other viruses). While oregano oil can be diffused aromatically or applied topically (pre-diluted with a carrier oil), I prefer to take oregano oil orally via capsules because I find the scent and taste to be strong (I like Designs for Health Oil of Oregano capsules). It’s especially effective when taking preventatively or at the first sign of a cold. Just be sure to always take it with a full plate of food, as it can cause stomach upset otherwise.
Frankincense Oil – With its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, frankincense has been shown to be more than just a popular ancient remedy. Studies show its effectiveness in treating inflammatory conditions, skin ailments, digestive distress, and more. In addition to its therapeutic benefits promoting relaxation, oral health, and memory function, frankincense is also touted as a potent immune booster, making it a favorite when fighting colds and flu. Plus, the scent is instantly calming to me. Frankincense can be diffused aromatically or applied topically with a carrier oil.
Peppermint Oil – Among its various benefits, peppermint has potent antimicrobial and antiviral properties, making it beneficial for fighting winter viruses. Meanwhile, the menthol in peppermint makes it ideal for relieving congestion, coughs, sore throats, and sinus headaches. Like eucalyptus, peppermint oil can be used via steam inhalation, diffused aromatically, or applied topically (usually with a carrier oil or as part of a homemade vapor rub).
Thieves Oil – Thieves oil is a blend of essential oils with potent antimicrobial properties, typically made of a combination of clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus, rosemary, and lemon oils. Studies show that essential oils, such as cinnamon and clove, contain antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties that can help support immunity and fight against colds and flu. Thieves oil can be applied topically (pre-diluted with a carrier oil) or diffused aromatically. Bonus: the scent is wonderful.
Some things to remember:
- To avoid skin irritation, dilute essential oils with a carrier oil (like jojoba or coconut oil) before applying topically.
- Essential oils can have adverse effects, so be sure to check with your doctor first if you are pregnant or have a medical condition.
- Do not ingest essential oils unless the label deems it is safe to do so. Certain oils are not safe for ingestion.
- Always look for pure essential oils manufactured by trusted brands. Plant Therapy and doTerra are two reputable brands (although there are others).
For related references and studies, visit PubMed.gov.
Follow Lori Garrett’s wellness blog, www.adventuresofasickchick.com.