Nobody likes to wake up with that dreaded tickle at the back of their throat. Or the sinus pressure and congestion that is indicative of an impending misery. If you have kids, then you know that cold season can feel like a never-ending ordeal of passing sickness back and forth and never feeling fully well.
The easy answer is to load yourself up with medicine and carry on with your life. But there are a lot of reasons why you might not want to immediately hit the drugstore or turn to your pharmacist for help. Some people can’t take medications because of allergies or because they are pregnant or nursing. Others may be resistant to meds because they don’t want to feel drowsy, want their immune systems to develop naturally or they are skeptical of all of the ingredients! Whatever your reason for wanting to combat a cold with a natural method, don’t fear: essential oils can be very effective when cold season inevitably hits.
When it comes to combating colds, essential oils serve two major functions: Prevention and minimizing contagion, and symptom relief.
One of the most effective ways to use essential oils to combat colds is through prevention. Many essential oils have natural antibiotic, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. They are great at killing germs! This means that even if a bug does get into your house, essential oils can stop it from being spread back and forth interminably.
You can use these oils either by diffusing them into your home or in a purifying spritz. The best oils to use are:
Clove is one of the most potent antibacterial and antiviral oils out there. And it smells wonderful! Most commonly used in dental care, clove is a potent air purifier and it will help to boost your immune system as well. This oil actually goes in both categories, as a few drops of clove oil in warm water makes an excellent gargle for a sore throat. The oil not only kills bacteria, it also has a mild anesthetic effect. Lemon oil improves the effects of clove oil when the two are combined.
Lavender oil is a mild disinfectant, and also aids in regular sleep. Studies show that people who sleep at least eight hours a night have a significantly reduced likelihood of contracting a cold than those who sleep less. In fact, people who get less than six hours of sleep a night are four times more likely to get sick than those who sleep more than eight.
Oregano is a powerful oil that kills any germ it touches. It is a great oil to use as a hand sanitizer. Just dilute 10 drops in two tablespoons of coconut oil and keep on hand whenever you’re out or around sick people. Rub a small dab of the mixture on your hands whenever you feel the need and keep yourself protected from any little microbes that might want to enter your body.
Thieves is an old blend of essential oils that was used during the Black Plague to keep people from getting infected. It was effective then and it is still effective now. The blend includes clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus and rosemary. You can buy this blend pre-mixed, or measure out your own. Any of these ingredients can also be used alone for immune boosting and air purifying benefits.
In addition to hopefully preventing the cold, there are many essential oils that can be used to ease symptoms and shorten the duration of a cold. These can be used by diffusing them into your home, using them in a hot bath, inhaling them from a steam bath or, in certain cases, applied topically.
Eucalyptus is wonderful for relieving cold symptoms. It has a lemon-menthol aroma and is great at loosening mucus and improving breathing. It can be inhaled directly, diffused, or dropped onto a cold compress for soothing relief. It can also be blended with other oils and massaged into the neck and chest as a cooling and symptom-relieving rub.
Peppermint is a natural decongestant and fever reducer. This is why it is so commonly included in over-the-counter medications. It can be inhaled or massaged into the chest. It can also be dabbed under your pillow to help ease coughing while you sleep. Peppermint is not suitable for young children though, as they often have a sensitivity to it.
Pine essential oil is amazing at clearing nasal passages and easing sore throat pain. This homey, comforting scent can be inhaled to help relieve congestion and gargled to soothe swollen glands. Pine also combats fatigue and any achiness that might be associated with your sickness.
In addition to these essential oils, there are many others that have similar beneficial effects. Frankincense, tea tree, thyme, and lemon are all antiviral, antibacterial, and antiseptic and are all powerful germ fighters in their own right that can help reduce pain, increase restfulness and improve breathing.
Use these oils before, during and after a cold and you and your family will never even remember it was there! Doesn’t it feel good to be healthy, clean, and chemical-free!