How do we keep colds and flus at bay?
Reading time: 4 min
Disclaimer: this post refers to only the common cold and flu, not Covid. We know for sure that essential oils have antiviral and antibacterial effects but they are not proven to treat Covid. However, they can be used to treat the symptoms of COVID alongside with your doctor's medical prescription.
I really wanted to write about this topic for so long but what better time than immediately after having a bout of cold myself?
So how do we use essential oils on ourselves, our kids and elders when we feel the first symptoms of cold/flu: sinus congestion, cough, slight high temperature, headache, muscle pain etc?
First let's be clear on one thing: we will never advocate not going to the doctor or treating every symptom at home. I am relying on your good judgment that you know when to go to doctor and when it's perfectly fine to treat yourselves at home. That requires a good understanding of your body, feelings and symptoms. I personally prefer to avoid taking synthetic pills unless really needed but this is up to each of you. I developed this approach after years of reading about holistic health and studying aromatherapy.
So let's start! Best thing to do is act fast from the very first symptoms.
1. Take a hot bath/foot soak together with a nice cup of ginger tea
This has never failed me whether I had the worst sore throat, cough, muscle ache or congested nose.
For bath tub: add 5-6 drops (sometimes 8-10 when a nasty cold is on the way), mix them in couple drops of carrier oil and 1 cup Epsom salt and sit there for at least 30 minutes. For foot soak I would suggest half the quantity of drops. Sometimes I forget to get out since it's so enjoyable but the wrinkled skin on my fingers and toes pulls the alert and notifies me it's enough.
I couldn't help share the tea recipe I use: I cut 1 inch ginger into tiny cubes and boil it in hot water. To this infusion I add the juice from 1/2 lemon and 1 teaspoon honey. It's really good for soothing the throat and making you sweat.
What oils to use?
Depending on the skin sensitivity and age we can go with mild oils like Lavender, Bergamot, Sandalwood, Cedarwood, Pine, Frankincense, Lemon or little stronger ones like Rosemary, Eucalyptus, or Thyme. I usually blend less of the stronger ones and more of the milder ones.
2. Steam inhalation and diffusing
Boil a bowl of water and add 1-2 drops of essential oils. Put a towel over your head and sit there for at least 5 minutes. Repeat this couple of times a day.
This is particularly efficient for the respiratory system: cough, running nose, blocked nose.
What oils to use? All the camphoraceous ones: Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Cardamom, Tea Tree.
Another suggestion is getting a nasal inhaler: add 15-18 drops to the wicket inside. It is good for up to 3 months. Or if you don't have an inhaler, simply pour some drops on a cotton pad and smell frequently.
In parallel, use a room diffuser to purify the room. This is especially good for kids that are too young to do steam inhalation. Make sure you close the door of the room to "trap" the vapours inside.
What oils to use? Lavender, Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Cardamom, Lemon, Bergamot, Tea Tree, Geranium in any combination that you like.
3. Local massage
Especially for sore throat and muscular pain local massage is quite beneficial.
What oils to use?
For sore throat: Lavender, Lemon, Tea Tree, Bergamot, Sandalwood.
For muscular pain: Rosemary, Frankincense and Lavender.
For cough: Black Pepper and Rose or Rose and Sandalwood are the greatest.
For fever: Lemongrass, Peppermint+ Lemon or for kids younger than 3y old: Palmarosa+ Lemon. It can be applied on the foot or whole body.
Start these combinations at 2% dilution (2 drops in 1 tbsp carrier oil) and apply them every one hour if possible. If you feel that is not enough increase dilution to max 5%.
Important: for young kids not all these oils are indicated, so please read this post about Aromatherapy for kids.
Add 1 drop of EO (I would recommend Tea Tree or Sandalwood) into water and gargle for couple of minutes. This will soothe your throat.
5. Rest and introspection
I personally every time I get any painful condition or ailment I take some time to ask myself where did this come from? Was I tired? How was my emotional state? Am I taking enough care of myself? Have I said "yes" when in fact I wanted to say "no"? After troubleshooting the cause, I relax my mind and body and accept the situation. Accepting brings a lot of calm and relaxation and also lets your immune system do its job. It's proven scientifically that stressing out will constrict your fighter white cells.
There is no shame of saying NO to family, friends reunions, people asking for our help when we are feeling sick and low. How can we help if we ourselves are not well? Never deny yourself the right for self-care.
Take care and be well,