While it may seem as though essential oils are a fairly recent phenomenon, the truth is that they have actually been used for cosmetic and medicinal purposes for thousands of years. In fact, a wide variety of essential oils, including frankincense, myrrh, cassia and hyssop, are known to have been popular with ancient cultures and are even highlighted in biblical text. Frankincense and myrrh were actually gifts from the wise men given to baby Jesus upon his birth in Bethlehem. Meanwhile, hyssop is referenced several times in the Bible as a part of ritual cleansing and ceremonial offerings.
Derived from the bark, flower, fruit, leaf, seed or root of a plant or tree, essential oils are so potent that just a single drop can have powerful health benefits. These oils can be used to support healing from numerous conditions, including leaky gut, depression and even cancer. And, particularly important during this time of year, they are also effective fighters against common cold and flu viruses.
So if you want to know the best way to fight off a cold this season, don’t forget these top essential oils known for their ability to fight infections and improve symptoms fast.
The eucalyptus tree native to Australia not only provides koala bears with food, it also yields medicinal eucalyptus oil. There’s a good reason why you see eucalyptus oil included in conventional vapor rubs and other cold care products — it’s a top choice for fighting off the viruses that cause the common cold as well as relieving symptoms like congestion.
A study published in 2010 reveals that the main component of eucalyptus oil, 1.8-cineole, has antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal effects. As a result, eucalyptus oil helps to stimulate the immune system, reduce inflammation, open up the nasal airways and reduce sinus pressure—which is exactly what you need when you’re struggling with annoying cold symptoms.
One of the most effective methods of employing eucalyptus oil for colds is to put several drops into a diffuser before going to bed so you can breathe it in and take advantage of its healing benefits throughout the night. You can also create a personal steam bath by pouring a cup of boiling water into a bowl, adding 10 drops of eucalyptus essential oil, placing a towel over your head and inhaling deeply for about five minutes.
Many people love the smell of peppermint, but this herb can do a lot more than provide a pleasant, invigorating scent. As a top cold-fighting oil, peppermint is known for its ability to unclog a stuffy nose or improve sinus issues to make breathing easier.
Headaches are another common and unpleasant cold symptom, and peppermint oil has been shown in in scientific studies to be a cost-effective and well-tolerated option for improving a pounding headache. As an added bonus, peppermint oil is an uplifting and energizing scent, so taking a whiff while you’re under the weather can actually help to keep your spirits up.
For respiratory symptom relief, dilute two to four drops in a carrier oil (such as coconut oil) and apply it topically to your chest and the back of your neck. Alternatively, you can add 10 drops to boiling water, put a towel over your head and breathe in the aroma for five minutes. For headache relief, apply the diluted oil mixture to your forehead and temples. You can also use peppermint oil in a diffuser.
Lemon Essential Oil
Lemon essential oil is derived from the cold-pressing of the lemon peel, the most nutrient dense portion of a lemon. Lemon oil is known for its ability to stimulate the lymphatic system, helping to cleanse the body of toxins and mucus, and it’s a great choice for relieving cold symptoms like congestion and swollen glands. When taken internally, lemon essential oil is also naturally high in immune-boosting vitamin C, as well as other key nutrients including folic acid and potassium. Additionally, lemon’s sweet, citrusy aroma, makes it an uplifting and refreshing choice when a cold has you feeling down.
For cold symptoms, inhale lemon oil directly from the bottle, or mix it with a carrier oil and apply it topically to your chest and lymph nodes. You can also apply it to your wrists for its mood boosting effects. For internal use, add one to two drops to warm water or tea.
There are so many cold remedies on the market today that seemingly work, but come with all kinds of unpleasant—and even scary—side effects. Conversely, essential oils are a potent, all-natural remedy that can fight the viruses that cause illness while also helping the body’s inherent healing process. Eucalyptus, peppermint and lemon essential oils are some of my favorite cold-fighting oils because they naturally address the unpleasant symptoms of a cold while also helping to boost the immune system.
When shopping for essential oils, look for ones that are certified USDA organic, 100 percent pure and therapeutic grade.