During the winter season, the cold weather and the weakened immune system leaves us prone to colds and flues that are nasty and disrupt our normal activity. Some of us even suffer from the winter blues – a low or mild form of depression triggered by the reduced number of daylight hours and low temperatures specific for the winter season.
The good news is that there are certain essential oils that can naturally help with the cold symptoms and are of great therapeutic value in cold prevention. Some of them, such as lemon oil, not only are a natural boost for the immune system, but also helps energize, making them perfect air fresheners. The essential oils that smell like menthol (eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree) are also great both for relieving the symptoms of colds, purifying the air and overall uplifting the mood.
According to several scientific studies, these essential oils have antimicrobial and antibacterial properties and are amazing natural cold remedies: lemon, eucalyptus, peppermint, pine, lavender, tea tree, frankincense, oregano, hyssop and ginger. Use them alone or in combination, diffused, steamed or applied topically with carrier oil on skin and stay healthy during the winter season and fight the winter blues:
- Lemon oil – has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, it helps boost the immune system, stimulates lymphatic drainage and energizes (1*);
- Eucalyptus – is one of the most tested antimicrobial oils, a natural aid for easy breathing. It protect you from getting a cold, boosts the immune system and improve a lot of respiratory conditions: it relieve cough, clear sinuses and throat (2*);
- – is also known for its antimicrobial properties, helps fight inflammation and provides protection for the respiratory system. Its benefits are similar to the eucalyptus essential oil – the two can be mixed together or with lemon essential oil for great therapeutic value;
- Peppermint – relax the respiratory tract and modulate the immune system, has important antimicrobial and antiviral activities. It can help with colds, flues, sinusitis, bronchitis, asthma etc (3*);
- Patchouli – A member of the mint family, patchouli also displays calming and antimicrobial properties. Topically, it can also help with skin irritation caused by dry winter air;
- Tea tree – has important antimicrobial and antiviral properties, killing bacteria that promotes respiratory conditions (4*);
- Lavender – is soothing and when inhaled, can help calm the respiratory system. Use it in combination with other essential oils for improved results;
- Thyme oil – is another researched oil that is beneficial to the respiratory tract and it has even been tested against some cultures of antibiotic resistant bacteria, with positive results (5*);
- Ginger – is known to help with nausea, but it’s also good as a natural remedy for colds, coughs and bronchitis (6*);
- Frankincense – studies showed a strong immunostimulant activity (90% lymphocyte transformation) killing bacteria, viruses and other germs (7*);
- Oregano – Antiviral and antibacterial, it boosts the immune system and helps fight infections. One study concluded that carvacrol, the main substance in oregano represents „an inexpensive source of natural antibacterial substances that exhibited potential for use in pathogenic systems” (8*).
How to use the essential oils for fighting colds, flues and other respiratory conditions:
- For prevention, simply diffuse 5 drops of your favorite essential oil (alone or in combination) at home or work, on a regular basis.
- As a natural aid with respiratory conditions, you can smell eucalyptus oil directly from a bottle or put 2-3 drops in hot water and inhale the steam.
- Topically, to boost your immune system or help with a cold, you can make a chest rub from eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree or pine oil with half teaspoon coconut oil and rub the mixture around your ears, neck, nose, and temples.
- To make a natural hand sanitizer, mix 10 drops of oregano/tea tree/lemon etc oil with two tablespoons of coconut oil, and rub it into your hands.
- An oil-infused bath can do wonders in the winter season and you’ll be amazed at how much it can do for your mind and body. However, it’s best to avoid direct contact with skin, even in water, because concentrated oils can produce skin irritations. Instead, put 5-20 drops (1-4% dilution) of essential oil into 1 tablespoon of a carrier oil (like coconut, jojoba, apricot, grape seed etc) and put the combination in your warm water. The oil will not dissolve in the water, but rather float on the surface of the water and „attach” to your skin.
- If you want a bubble bath instead, you can dilute your essential oils in foaming products like Castile soap, shampoo or shower gel.
- Also, you can receive massage therapy with the above mentioned essential oils, alone or in combination, and typically mixed with a carrier oil. You can mix 1 ounce of carrier oil of your choice (coconut, almond, apricot, grape seed etc) with 10-12 drops of essential oil. Store the mix in a glass jar in the fridge.
Enjoy all the essential oils benefits! Just remember that since essential oils are very concentrated and can potentially harm your skin if applied directly to skin, you should use them in small quantities (take the above as an example) and always with a carrier oil or other dilution liquid!
Winter Recipes with Essential Oils:
- Winter Holidays Essential Oils blend – This blend will make your house smell like Christmas.
1 drop pine + 1 drop cinnamon + 2 drops orange + 1 drop ginger
- Refreshing & Uplifting essential oils blend – great to have an energy and mood boost, make your house smell clean, also with a winter flavor
2 drops orange + 2 drops eucalyptus + 1 drop peppermint
- Mulled Wine essential oils blend – you can diffuse this blend to create the mulled wine aroma.
3 drops orange + 2 drops cinnamon
Diffuse the above blends that, besides incorporating all the health benefits of the respective essential oils, will leave your house clean, fresh and smelling like Christmas. If you would like to keep the Christmas vibes all winter long, fight the colds and winter blues, create a holidays atmosphere at home with these blends!
Have a healthy winter!
- Evaluation of Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Citrus latifolia Tanaka Essential Oil and Limonene in Experimental Mouse Models
- Immune-modifying and antimicrobial effects of Eucalyptus oil and simple inhalation devices
- A review of the bioactivity and potential health benefits of peppermint tea (Mentha piperita L.)
- Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties
- Antibacterial activity of thyme and lavender essential oils
- The Amazing and Mighty Ginger
- Chemistry and immunomodulatory activity of frankincense oil
- Essential Oil Composition and Antibacterial Activity of Origanum vulgare subsp. glandulosum Desf. at Different Phenological Stages