While the fall and winter months bring spectacular beauty and holiday cheer, catching a case of the common cold or flu can quickly bring your spirits down. Luckily, there are many essential oils for colds and flu symptoms that can just as quickly bring your spirits back up by providing soothing, comforting relief and support healing.
Colds versus “the flu” – what’s the difference?
According to the Quick Reference Guide for Using Essential Oils by Connie and Alan Higley ¹ , influenza, also known as “the flu”, is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory system. Symptoms include high fever, dry cough, sore throat, muscle aches and pains, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, and nasal congestion. Some viruses cause vomiting and diarrhea. Yuck!
Web MD ² describes the common cold as a less severe version of “the flu” and typically lasts for a few days to a week versus potentially weeks of symptoms which is common with influenza. It’s important to note that influenza can result in serious health conditions, like pneumonia, particularly for young and elderly people and folks with lung or heart problems. For a user-friend chart and more specific descriptions related to the difference between the flu and the common cold, follow the link in the footnotes of this article.
Essential oils can help alleviate symptoms and support the healing process, but do check in with a doctor if symptoms are persistent, or if you are vulnerable to complications, or are caring for someone who is vulnerable to complications.
Essential Oils for Common Cold and “the flu”
The following is a list of the top essential oils for the common cold and influenza compiled based on personal experience and research and includes a mix of strong popular essential oils to gentle ones and offers suggestions for home remedies to soothe symptoms.
- Thieves Essential Oil
Thieves essential oil blend of lemon, eucalyptus, cinnamon, clove, and rosemary is a popular choice among essential oil enthusiasts. Sources recommend this essential oil for colds and flu symptoms because of its anti-bacterial, anti-infectious, anti-viral and antiseptic properties and is known to aid in eliminating symptoms from colds and flu quickly. It works wonders in combating chest congestion, stuffy noses, sore throats, and reducing fever. Diffuse, or put a few drops in a capsule or in a glass of water and drink for fast acting support in healing.
- Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint essential oil is effective for soothing headaches, chest congestion and reducing fever. Apply a small amount on your temples to combat head pain and to the bottoms of your feet to reduce your fever. Rub on your chest for soothing relief of chest congestion. Peppermint essential oil is a great go to essential oil for cold and flu season. Make sure to dilute it with a carrier oil as this essential oil is strong.
- Lemon Essential Oil
Lemon essential oil is a phenomenal decongestant and is known to be an effective antiviral agent. It’s fresh, uplifting vitamin-c infused scent can bring your spirits up when your down and out with a cold or flu. Add this drop of sunshine to your diffuser to enhance your well being while you’re feeling sick and purify the air to help you breathe better. According to an article titled, Essential Oils for Cough, Cold, and Congestion written by Jon Yaneff, CNP, for doctorshealth.com, a study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy in 2001 ³, the antibacterial action of lemon oil was found to be effective against cold and allergy symptoms.
- German Chamomile Essential Oil
German Chamomile is a gentle and soothing essential oil for colds and flu. This oil will help melt away tension and pain from headaches and muscle aches and pains. Diffuse in the air or add it to your favorite carrier oil and rub on your neck, shoulders, and feet, or put a few drops in a warm bath to soothe aching muscles and calm chest and throat pain. A warm compress on the back of your neck will also do the trick.
- Oil of Oregano
Oil of Oregano is a popular essential oil for colds and flus and a long list of other ailments. This powerful essential oil is known to be as effective as antibiotics. Studies show its properties are antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-parasitic. Add a drop or two to water or juice and drink to decrease the effects of a sore throat and combat virus and infections, or add to a diffuser or vaporizer.
- Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender is a common essential oil and its uses as an essential oil to aid in cold and flu symptoms are abundant. It is a gentle oil extracted from the lavender plant, which is part of the mint family. As an essential oil for colds and flu it has anti-septic and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s wonderful as a neck and shoulder rub to relax tense muscles and ease headaches. Place a few drops on a cotton ball and place under your pillow to help you get some much-needed rest. Add a carrier oil and create a decongestant rub. Lavender oil also has a ton of other benefits, so if you do add it to your medicine cabinet, it will continue to serve you even after cold and flu season is over. Read more here.
- Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil eases the respiratory system during colds and flu. Diffuse it to support breathing through stuffy noses or create a soothing rub with your favorite carrier oil for your chest and shoulders. Eucalyptus oil is often used in cough drops and ointments. Create your own home remedies with your favorite diffuser and carrier oils.