Essential oils are effective natural home remedies for cold and flu. They can be used in steam inhalations, in baths and essential oil burners to relieve the symptoms of colds and flus and to prevent further infections.
The eucalyptus oil varieties that are most commonly used to relieve the symptoms of colds and flus include Eucalyptus globulus, Eucalyptus radiata and the lemon-scented Eucalyptus citriodora. Eucalyptus is antiviral, antibacterial and a good decongestant. Use eucalyptus essential oil in steam inhalations to relieve a stuffy nose or a sore throat, in a bath to relieve cold symptoms and in aromatherapy burners as a natural disinfectant during the flu season.
Tea tree essential oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) is one of the most effective anti-viral oils, which makes it one of the best cold and flu remedies in aromatherapy. A warm bath with tea tree oil, taken when the first symptoms appear, can sometimes ward off the cold or at least reduce its length. Tea tree is also useful in steam inhalations and can be burned in an essential oil burner during an infection. The closely related niaouli (Melaleuca viridiflora) has a distinctive scent but is an excellent cold remedy in inhalations and in baths.
Pine (Pinus sylvestris) is an excellent decongestant oil for steam inhalations. Just a drop or two in a bowl of steaming water is often enough to clear the nasal passages. You can also add pine to baths, but as it can irritate sensitive skin, use just a couple of drops and blend it with a teaspoon of base oil.
Marjoram essential oil (Origanum majorana) helps to relieve that chilled feeling and the muscle aches and pains in the beginning of a cold. Use a few drops in a bath, maybe blended with lavender essential oil for an evening bath that will also help you to sleep better.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia/officinalis/vera) has more uses than almost any other essential oil. It can be used in baths, in burners and in inhalations during colds and flus, especially in the evening to aid sleep.
Tips for Using Essential Oils
Use approximately six drops of essential oil for a bath, and if your skin is sensitive, blend it with a spoonful of base oil, such as sweet almond. Use 4-6 drops of oil in a steam inhalation. All these essential oils are suitable for most adults (although not for pregnant women) as natural cold remedies. Lavender is the safest oil for children. Always dilute oils for children’s baths and use just a drop or two for baths or for supervised inhalations.
Patricia Davis: Aromatherapy, an A-Z (Random House, UK, 2004)
Photo: Tea tree oil (Wikimedia Commons user Kriplozoik)