Feeling a little under the weather? As we enter the colder Autumn months, it feels like everyone is getting ill, whether it’s from the common cold or the dreaded flu. From downing copious amounts of orange juice for the vitamins, to spoonfuls of honey to soothe the throat, everyone has their own tips and tricks to help them feel better when they’re sick. One thing that can also help ease the pain and discomfort of a cold is the use of essential oils.
According to Heathline (opens in new tab), essential oils are concentrated plant extracts that retain the natural smell and flavour from the original source. They’re often used in aromatherapy and the best essential oils (opens in new tab) can help you sleep better, release stress, relax and improve your general wellbeing.
Whether you apply them to your pillow or use them in one of the best oil diffusers (opens in new tab), essential oils can help boost your immune system and some research suggests that they can help reduce inflammation and headaches. While you should still see a doctor if you’re sick and use traditional forms of medicine, essential oils can be a nice and soothing addition if you want some extra comfort.
If you’re struggling with a cold or the flu, here are 6 essential oils to incorporate into your sick day routine, to help you sleep, relax and boost your mood.
One of the most popular essential oils is lavender. Lavender oil is said to have a variety of benefits, from easing menstrual cramps to relieving nausea. Lavender is also believed to have sedative qualities as it can help lower the heart rate, temperature and blood pressure, according to Intrepid Mental Wellness (opens in new tab). This quality is why lavender oil is regularly used to reduce anxiety, aid relaxation and encourage sleep. During a cold or bout of flu, you might find it difficult to sleep due to a blocked nose or sore throat. Putting a couple of drops of lavender oil on your pillow, by your temples or in a diffuser has been reported to help people nod off quicker, so it’s worth giving a go if you’re having restless nights.
Peppermint essential oil works wonders on people who are congested or suffering from a fever. This is mainly because peppermint contains menthol, an effective treatment to relieve cold symptoms and the most common ingredient in most cough drops, nasal sprays and vapo-rubs. Peppermint oil can ease congestion, reduce fevers and open up the airways to help you breathe better and sleep easier. If you’re feeling particularly stuffy, a great way to use peppermint is via steam inhalation. Put a few drops in a large pot of boiling water and lean over it to inhale the vapour.
Eucalyptus essential oil has many benefits due to its relaxing scent and antimicrobial properties. Antimicrobial products help kill or slow the spread of microorganisms and illnesses. Studies have shown that essential oils known for their antimicrobial effects can help fight bacteria infections, although research still needs to be done about the effectiveness of this, so approach with caution. As eucalyptus contains these properties, it can be used to help fight the common cold. Eucalyptus essential oil can also help clear the sinuses, relieve congestion and relax the body – three things you need when you’ve got a bad cold.
Next up, chamomile essential oil is incredibly soothing and said to promote restful sleep. One of the main things people tell you to do when you’re ill is sleep it off, so using any essential oil which helps with sleep is a top idea. Chamomile oil has a subtle aroma that when used in a diffuser is reported to calm and relax the mind, perfect for those who have trouble falling asleep.
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5. Tea Tree
Similar to eucalyptus, tea tree essential oil is believed to be antibacterial (opens in new tab), meaning it can help fight bacteria infections and illnesses. It’s most commonly used to treat acne, dandruff and other skin infections, but tea tree oil has also been said to help boost immunity. During a spell of flu, your immune system is fighting off the main illness and helping your body recover, so using tea tree essential oils can offer a little extra help.
Lemon essential oil has a variety of health benefits alongside its fragrant citrus smell. Lemon is an antiseptic, meaning it prevents the growth of disease-causing bacteria and microorganisms, so it can help fight off infections. Lemon essential oils are often used to aid digestion, ease headaches, boost your mood and reduce anxiety. It can be used in diffusers, massages, sprays and you can even bathe in it, as it’s incredibly nourishing and hydrating to the skin. Using a lemon essential oil will also make your home smell great which is what you need after being ill for a few days.