We all know the feeling: you wake up after what should’ve been a good night’s sleep with a busy schedule waiting for you. You’re starting to go about your morning, and somewhere between your first step out of bed and your second cup of coffee, you realize you’re still feeling groggy. And congested. And achy. You’ve got a cold.
It’s the worst part of the seasons changing, and with our lives being as hectic as they are, catching a seasonal cold feels almost inevitable! Whether you’re busy with work or with your family, or just getting ready for a week of relaxation — or even a vacation — feeling a sore throat creeping up on you can get in the way of all of your plans.
While there are many over-the-counter medications and chest rubs if you’re looking to suppress cold or flu symptoms, there isn’t anything to cure it. And if you prefer to treat your respiratory system symptoms a little more naturally, these remedies might be off the table. So what do you do? Well, essential oils are great DIY natural options to help you get through flu season and on with your life.
Colds can cause such a wide variety of symptoms. Depending on what symptoms you’re experiencing, there are many essential oils that can help promote overall wellness and lessen the negative impact of your cold, so you can start feeling yourself again — sooner rather than later.
If You Have A Cough
A cough is one of the most annoying symptoms of a cold. Coughs range from uncomfortable to downright painful, and they disrupt almost anything you’d want to do. They also make it so easy to spread your cold to others. Especially if you need to be out and about while suffering from cold symptoms, if you have a cough, your first port of call needs to be getting it to stop.
Using aromatherapy to get some peppermint essential oil into your system can go a long way to calm your cough down. Peppermint oil contains menthol, which has a cooling sensation that can work to numb your throat and ease minor throat irritation — like the kind that causes a cough and respiratory problems, for instance. It also has antifungal properties. Eucalyptus essential oil is thought to have a similar effect, and it contains anti-inflammatory properties, so consider using some eucalyptus oil the next time you're struggling with cold symptoms.
However, it’s worth noting that it’s not recommended that neither children under the age of eight nor pregnant women inhale peppermint essential oils, even when used safely and correctly.
Similarly, essential oils like bergamot, nutmeg, and cypress all contain the compound camphene, which is similar to camphor. Camphor is known for having a cooling, refreshing effect when inhaled. This can really help ease cold symptoms like a cough.
But other essential oils can be helpful for easing the discomfort of a cough, too. Frankincense and geranium essential oils can promote relaxation and may help in easing any soreness or swelling you might experience as the result of continuous coughing.
If You’re Congested
Although less disruptive than a cough, congestion can be equally as annoying. Having to keep tissues on hand at all times can be inconvenient — not to mention kind of gross. And not just that, but congestion can be painful, creating pressure in your sinuses and leading to headaches and tension.
While there are medications that can help with your congestion, there are essential oils that can help open up your airways and help you to feel better, too.
Essential oil derived from rosemary contains cineole. Cineole is naturally occurring, even though it might have an intimidating name. Cineole has a mucolytic effect — bear with us — which means it’s known to help thin mucus.
If you find yourself struggling to breathe and your nose is getting red from continuous tissue use, getting some exposure to rosemary oil can help to make all the gunk that’s stuffing you up less sticky, and therefore easier to cough up. Less mucus equals less congestion — and if you’re currently suffering from a cold, we’re sure those words are music to your ears.
Eucalyptus is another great essential oil that contains cineole, much like rosemary. Eucalyptus also has that cooling aroma, which will help your airways feel clearer, and help ease the discomfort of congestion in your nasal passages.
If Your Cold Is Keeping You Up At Night
If the symptoms during the day aren’t enough to drive you a little bit crazy, cold symptoms somehow feel even worse at bedtime. Sleep is instrumental in helping you overcome any illness. It strengthens your immune system, improves your mood, and just overall gives your body time to heal and reset. When you’re sick, sleep is your best friend.
…which makes it absolutely infuriating when a cough, congestion, or other uncomfortable symptoms make it impossible for you to fall asleep. Luckily, there are several essential oils that make it easier for you to get the rest you so desperately need.
Essential oils such as vetiver, chamomile, valerian, or lavender essential oil are all thought to have a calming effect on your body and may contain compounds that promote a good night’s sleep. An essential oil blend containing a few of these might help you fall asleep and stay asleep, even when you have a cold.
Bergamot and sandalwood are also great options to help encourage relaxation and help you to stop counting cows so you can get enough sleep for your body to recover.
If your cold symptoms are keeping you up at night, and you’re worried about not getting enough sleep before you’re even under the covers, take a deep breath. There are even essential oils that are thought to provide emotional balance and mental well-being. Essential oils like clary sage and cedarwood can help you calm down, getting you in the right headspace to rest.
If You Feel A Cold Coming On
If you’re not sick yet, but you’re starting to feel groggy and have the occasional sniffle, there’s more you can do than just waiting for the cold to set in! If you feel like you’re starting to fall under the weather, there are many essential oils that are thought to aid your body in fighting off an illness.
Some of these essential oils that can help support your body in staying as healthy as possible include thyme, eucalyptus, tea tree oil, clove, and oregano. Several of these contain antimicrobial properties and antibacterial properties, so you're essentially protecting yourself before you're at risk. Don’t wait until you’re already feeling sick! Some of the best care is preventative.
We don’t know about you, but sometimes, when we start to feel unwell, we can fall into a bit of a rut. While it’s important to take it easy on your body if you’re not feeling your best, sometimes taking it too easy can make you feel sick. You know what they say: ninety percent of the game is mental.
If the threat of a cold makes you feel down, don’t give in to inertia. Use citrus essential oils — like lemongrass, lime, yuzu, or grapefruit — to help you feel energized and focused. Additionally, they smell summery and delicious, which can be a real pick-me-up, especially if you're prone to getting colds in the bleak winter months.
And What Do You Do With These Essential Oils?
There are a variety of ways to benefit from aromatherapy — and most of them are super simple!
You can get an essential oil diffuser, which you fill with a mixture of essential oils and water, and turn on. They’re quiet, easy to use, and aesthetically pleasing. All you have to do is find a combination of essential oils that suits your needs and smells nice to you, and you’re ready to fight your cold.
If you want to feel even more pampered, you could add a few drops of tea tree essential oil into some boiling water and inhale the steam. This method of steam inhalation provides instant luxury and is very soothing for any cold symptoms you may be struggling with.
Lastly, as long as you’re careful about diluting your essential oil with a carrier oil like coconut oil so that it doesn’t cause irritation to your skin, you can apply essential oils as a topical treatment to help give you relief every time you breathe. Just remember to beware of applying undiluted essential oils to your skin, as this can have unpleasant side effects.
Colds are an inevitable and incredibly frustrating part of life. Because they’re so common, however, you might not feel comfortable turning to traditional medication every time you feel a cough coming on. That said, if you notice that your symptoms are particularly bad, it's never a bad idea to seek medical advice.
Essential oils are an easy, natural way to ease your symptoms, thanks to their natural medicinal properties. While there’s no way to cure the common cold, you can certainly take steps to help support your body’s defenses and ease symptoms like coughing and congestion. We usually can’t stop our lives for a cold, and so we can always use an extra weapon in our arsenal when it comes to trying to stop a cold in its tracks.