Essential Oils For Coughs And Colds
The coldest March since 1942 is now behind us here in the UK, but we seem to be left with an epidemic of flu, sore throats, coughs and colds.
Try as you might, it’s impossible to avoid coming into contact with friends and work colleagues who are coughing and spluttering everywhere. This is a problem since coughs, colds and flu, are caused by viruses which are spread from person to person, and often surface to person.
Fortunately, several essential oils have been shown in clinical research to possess anti-viral and anti-infectious properties, making them perfect for killing the viruses outright as well as preventing them from spreading further.
Considering there are up to 200 types of virus groups circulating at this time of year, you certainly need all the protection you can get.
Essential oils for the immune system
The immune system is the body’s very first line of defence against invasion by viruses, and quite often coughs, colds and influenza break through when your immune system is depleted and your body is more susceptible to attack. If you do become infected it is entirely up to your immune system to fight off the virus, and if your immune system is compromised it can take a long time to completely get over coughs and colds.
Immunostimulant essential oils can help build up your immune system, thereby strengthening your body’s defences against infection, which is extremely useful since antibiotics are unable to defeat viruses. Essential oils of bergamot, clove bud, German chamomile, niaouli, peppermint, patchouli, tea tree, and white thyme help to promote the production of lymphocytes and phagocytes (types of white blood cells) which are a crucial part of your body’s defence system.
Anti-viral essential oils
An extensive list of oils can be used during cold and flu epidemics to prevent germs from spreading whilst at the same time helping to ease coughs and colds. Essential oils of anise star, eucalyptus, origanum, palmarosa, ravensara, tea tree and white thyme in particular are powerful antivirals that can be used in a multitude of ways to offer protection.
If a member of the family is suffering from a cold you can help prevent it spreading by purifying the air with an appropriate oil in an essential oil diffuser at home. An ounce of prevention really is better than a pound of cure! To protect yourself further you can also use these antiviral essential oils to make up personal antiviral hand-wipes which you can carry with you to use after handling surfaces, telephones, computers, and especially door-handles in public places.
Decongestant essential oils
The decongestant and soothing properties of essential oils are highly effective at clearing a stuffy nose and easing tickly coughs. Fill a large bowl with almost boiling water and add 3 or 4 drops of basil, eucalyptus, silver fir, frankincense, peppermint or pine essential oil. A particularly effective decongestant blend is 1 drop each of basil, peppermint and silver fir essential oils.
Lean over the bowl and breathe slowly and deeply for a few minutes until things begin to clear. If required, replenish with fresh hot water and further drops of essential oils and repeat the process. A towel can be placed over the head to help direct the vapours.
An irritating tickly throat or a feeling of tightness in the chest (especially during the night whilst laid in bed) can be helped with a blend of sandalwood and frankincense essential oils. Use them as above, or in a vaporiser placed at the side of your bed for a soothing and comforting effect on the bronchial passages to assist you getting a good night’s sleep.
Essential oils for a sore throat
The first signs of a cold can often be a sore throat, and gargling with hot water and a pinch of salt has traditionally been the remedy. For a powerful bug-busting gargle, add 1 drop of tea tree and 1 drop of ravensara essential oils to your glass of warm salt-water mix. Stir the mixture vigorously to break up the droplets of essential oil, take a small mouthful of the mixture and gargle for about thirty seconds, then spit it out.
Repeat the process several times, stirring the mixture repeatedly, and for maximum effect you should use this treatment every 4 hours. Replace the ravensara with white thyme essential oil for an even more powerful blend, but use no more than 1 drop and mix it well before use.
Essential oils for the bath
A hot bath infused with 6 drops of tea tree oil helps you to ‘sweat it out’, and adding ravensara or white thyme essential oil to the bath will produce a great anti-viral synergy. Thyme is a very powerful and effective essential oil against coughs and colds, but use no more than 2 drops in a bath or it may irritate the skin if it is not dispersed properly. To help with dispersion add a capful of bath base dispersant first to make sure that all the essential oils distribute evenly, and do not use more than 8 drops of your chosen essential oils in total.
All of the essential oils listed in the sidebar can be vaporized, added to a hot bath, gargled or even inhaled directly from a tissue or handkerchief for protection and soothing relief. When you inhale any oils from a tissue you need only 2 or 3 drops at a time, and breathe slowly and deeply for the best results.
Copyright © Quinessence Aromatherapy Ltd 2013. Written by Geoff Lyth