It seems like everyone is getting sick this time of year, even me <cough cough>. And even if you’ve had your flu shot and you are eating well, sometimes getting sick is unavoidable. However, there are a few essential oils you can use to not only reduce your chances of getting sick, but also help you heal faster. So let’s get right into the top essential oils for cold and flu season!
- Roman Chamomile: one small study saw an increase in antibacterial activity of the immune system when volunteers drank chamomile tea for 14 days.
Honestly, when I looked at the research for disease prevention, there wasn’t much solid evidence of the actual immune-boosting properties that are claimed for a myriad of oils. In my opinion, you would be better off making sure you’re getting enough nutrients, particularly vitamin C, vitamin A, zinc, and vitamin D (with vitamin K for absorption). There is plenty of research to back up the idea that proper nutrition reduces the risk of getting sick, however don’t just pop a supplement and be done. Overdosing on vitamins, especially vitamin A, which can build up in the liver and cause liver damage and pressure on the brain. I always recommend getting as many nutrients from food as possible, and selectively supplementing if necessary under the guidance of a registered health professional.
At the Onset of Symptoms
- Ginger: ginger is highly anti-inflammatory, and one study has found that it increases the humoral immune response (helps your body make antibodies that mark invading viruses and bacteria for destruction). In addition, ginger has been found to have antiviral properties.
- Clove: in the same study with ginger, clove oil was found to increase white blood cell count (these are essential for gobbling up bacteria) in addition to increasing the humoral immune response, similar to ginger
- Sandalwood: this oil has been attributed with anti-inflammatory properties, as well as antiviral action. The mechanism of the anti-viral action, that it inhibits replication rather than simply killing the viruses, makes it a good candidate for anti-viral activity within the body but not on surfaces that you would be looking to disinfect.
Wondering how to use these oils? I’ve put together a free quick-reference recipe sheet for all the cold and flu remedies discussed in this post. Just click the image below to claim yours!
Sore Throat and Dry Cough
- Eucalyptus: has been found to help treat throat infections, catarrh, coughs, bronchitis, asthma and sinusitis
- Peppermint: peppermint oil is antibacterial and due to the menthol it contains, it is a mild anesthetic and has a cooling effect, helping it work well as a cough suppressant.
- Thyme: another strong antibacterial oil, thyme has been shown to effectively kill a wide variety of bacteria, including staph and e.coli, among others
- Tea Tree: this oil has been widely accepted as antimicrobial against “infections affecting skin and mucosa”
- Peppermint: aside from being a cough suppressant as mentioned above, peppermint oil has a reputation as a decongestant. Again, due to the menthol, which is an expectorant, meaning it thins the mucus and breaks down phlegm.
- Yarrow: while there isn’t any (that I can find) scientific evidence for yarrow as a fever reducer, there are a lot of herbal dictionaries and such that talk about it’s history as a fever reducer, so it just might be worth a try.
Alrighty, well that wraps up everything I could find about essential oils for cold and flu season. As always I’d love to know what you use and how it works for you so I can look closer at the research. And just a reminder, you can pick up your free cold and flu remedy recipe sheet right here.