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Colds are one of the most common illnesses and can leave you feeling miserable. Essential oils may not only help your body to fight the viral cause of colds, but can also ease congestion, coughing, headache, and other annoying symptoms.
What causes a cold?
Colds are caused by viruses. Most people experience a few colds per year and they are most prevalent in fall and winter. Colds are spread through touching infected surfaces such as doorknobs or light switches and then touching your nose or mouth. You can also catch a cold if an infected person sneezes or coughs near you.
How to prevent a cold?
Prevention for most viruses centers around good hand-washing practices. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap before handling or eating food. Also, avoid touching your nose, mouth or eyes which are portals for the virus to enter your body. If you are infectious with a cold, consider staying home to avoid passing your germs to others.
How to treat a cold?
Like most common viruses, a cold needs to run its course. Your (healthy) body has everything it needs to fight off the virus, eventually. In the meantime, both over the counter medicines (e.g. DayQuil) and supportive treatments like aromatherapy focus on making you feel better while your body does its job. There are many symptoms experienced by a cold sufferer so let’s treat each one separately.
Essential oils for a cold:
Coughs: Several oils have expectorant properties which can help clear mucus from the lungs. Others assist by relaxing or opening up respiratory passages. Oils helpful for coughs include Eucalyptus, Thyme, Sandalwood, Frankincense, Cypress, Cedarwood, Lavender, Myrrh, Peppermint, and Rosemary
Stuffy Nose: Oils with decongestant and expectorant properties can assist with clearing nasal congestion. Oils include Tea Tree, Rosemary, Eucalyptus, Fir and Pine
Headaches: Two of the most helpful oils for headaches are Lavender and Peppermint
Anti-viral: Many essential oils have anti-microbial properties. Those that are particularly noted for being anti-viral are Cinnamon, Clove, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Oregano, Ravensara, Sandalwood, Tea Tree, and Thyme.
Please note that if you are blending for a child, or have children around many of the oils in this post are not advised. In particular, Eucalypus, Peppermint should not be diffused around children under 3, and avoid Rosemary until a child is 10. Plant Therapy offers a KidSafe Sniffle Stopper Blend (affiliate link, Amazon). Their KidSafe line was formulated by noted aromatherapy safety expert Robert Tisserand.
The most commonly cited oils for colds in general are listed in the table below. Find some natural relief by diffusing a blend of any of the following essential oils.
Because colds are respiratory infections, inhalation is the logical choice for using essential oils. An ultrasonic diffuser is a great choice because the humidity from the mist can help with dry respiratory passages.
When diffusing an anti-viral blend, my choice is a nebulizing diffuser as the mist is undiluted. You can also use a nasal inhaler to help clear congestion on the go. Earth Solutions offers a Breath Easy Inhaler(affiliate link, Amazon) which contains Eucalyptus, Pine, Lavender, Cedarwood and Peppermint. You can also purchase blank nasal inhalers and make your own.
Prevention is an important part of combating illnesses. Consider clearing the air by diffusing an antimicrobial blend while you have cold germs in your house. Also, a few drops of lemon essential oil in a mixture of vinegar and water can be helpful in cleaning your house of germs–wipe doorknobs, bathrooms, and light switches with it.
If you have a favorite oil or blend for colds and their related symptoms, I would love to hear about it in the comments below. If you found this article useful, consider sharing it with your favorite social network using the buttons below.
First Published: October 21, 2013, Last Updated: October 15, 2017