When cold and flu season comes around, most of us will do just about anything to avoid getting sick. We refuse to touch door handles, stock up on hand sanitizer and avoid sick colleagues like the plague. Luckily, essential oils can help us prevent viruses from ever taking hold in our system.
By boosting our immune system and providing antiviral properties, the right essential oils are an excellent way to stave off a multitude of viruses. Even difficult-to-treat viruses like herpes have been shown to be responsive to certain essential oils.
A virus is a microorganism that attaches to living cells and spreads through our body. Viruses are smaller than bacteria but can be just as dangerous. While bacteria is its own living organism capable of growing and spreading on its own, a virus relies on host cells to survive.
Viruses are often more difficult to treat than bacteria. Because a virus lives inside a normal cell, killing the virus often results in damage to its host cell. They also have the ability to mutate, making them invulnerable to treatments that might have previously worked.
The use of many traditional antiviral medications can cause unnecessary damage to otherwise healthy cells. Essential oils are a natural alternative that can help eliminate viruses with minimal or no damage to your existing cells.
A number of ailments can be treated or alleviated with the right essential oils, including:
Turns out peppermint is good for more than just making candy canes. The oil derived from peppermint has been shown to significantly inhibit viruses, including the stubborn herpes virus. Because it is able to penetrate the skin, it can be used topically to treat outbreaks related to the virus (just make sure to dilute it first.)
It’s also great for soothing symptoms related to the common cold, like a sore throat and congestion. Fill a bowl with hot water and add up to 3 drops of the oil to create a steam inhalation treatment. Drape a towel over your head, face the bowl at a comfortable distance, and inhale to feel the steam clear your passages for nearly instant relief.
If you’re suffering from a cold or flu, thyme oil can effectively relieve symptoms while working to kill the virus. It was shown to be one of the most effective essential oils in acting against respiratory infections, along with cinnamon and clove. Additionally, it’s been shown to help inactivate the herpes virus.
When combined with other essential oils like eucalyptus, it works excellently as a steam treatment to provide relief and fight viral cells.
Although it’s often thought of for its use in cooking, rosemary packs a powerful punch against many viruses, including the herpes virus. Many drug-resistant viruses have been shown to be inhibited by rosemary oil, including those responsible for the common cold and flu.
A few drops in a steam treatment or a hot bath are an effective way to relieve cold symptoms. The fresh scent helps to clear sinuses, especially when combined with other oils like eucalyptus.
Known for its calming effects, lavender is often used in aromatherapy. However, many aren’t aware of its antiviral properties. It can be used to soothe a variety of common ailments, including cold/flu, sore throat, and cold sores.
Put some undiluted lavender oil in a diffuser to keep the air in your home clean while giving the room a fresh, calming scent.
When tested against multiple strains of the herpes virus, pine exhibited high levels of antiviral activity. Even drug-resistant viruses were responsive to the introduction of pine oil. It provides nearly instant relief for viral fatigue and aching muscles related to the cold and flu.
Diluted and applied to the chest, it can ease a cough and congestion.
In one Italian study, Eucalyptus was shown to inhibit various respiratory viruses and infections. On top of working against the virus, it is known to provide immediate relief to symptoms with its mucus-thinning and anti-inflammatory properties.
It can also have positive effects when applied topically to herpes blisters. As always when applying an essential oil, make sure it is diluted properly and consult a doctor before applying.
Note: If you suffer from asthma, avoid using eucalyptus oil. Pine oil is a safer substitute, but always consult your doctor if you’re unsure.
Whether you’re already sick or you just want to give your immune system a boost, essential oils can treat and prevent many common viruses without resorting to traditional medication. Many common ailments can be alleviated or even treated completely with the use of the right oils. They’re also great for keeping your home clean, virus-free and smelling great.