While the fall and winter months bring about a certain beauty and holiday cheer, catching a case of the flu can quickly cast a sobering pall and bring down your spirits. Unfortunately, flu viruses are constantly changing and mutating, making it hard for researchers to develop effective medications. In most cases, being down with the flu means increasing self-care as you wait for the infection to run its course. That’s why natural remedies are always a popular topic among those infected as well as their loved ones.
What Exactly Is The Flu?
The flu or influenza is a respiratory illness caused by any of the three types of influenza viruses — types A, B, and C. The type A virus is mostly associated with seasonal flu epidemics and can also infect animals and wild birds. Types B and C viruses can only be found in humans and are not commonly associated with pandemics. Flu is highly contagious and is usually spread through the coughs and sneezes of an infected person, although people can also catch flu through direct contact an infected person, for instance, by shaking hands.
Symptoms of the Flu
It is quite common for people to confuse the symptoms of the common cold with those of the flu. Indeed they share some similarities — runny or blocked nose, sore throat, and cough, but flu symptoms are generally more severe. These include:
- Moderate to high fever
- Severe fatigue
- Cold sweats and shivers
- Aching joints and limbs
- Dry cough
- Nausea and vomiting, which mainly occurs with children
It is worth noting that an infected person will not necessarily all of the symptoms. For instance, it is possible to have influenza without having a fever. It is also possible to spread the virus before you even know you are infected since adults are usually contagious 1–2 days before getting symptoms and up to 7 days after becoming ill.
Combating the Flu with Essential Oils
While the flu is especially prevalent through the cold months, there are certain essential oils that can help ease the symptoms and get you back on your feet in no time. Some oils are believed to even have antiviral benefits to help treat infections and reduce fever. The trick is knowing which ones are backed by scientific facts, and which are simply old wives tales. If you or someone you know is down with the flu, here are the top five essential oils that can help:
- Eucalyptus Essential Oil — With its fresh menthol aroma, eucalyptus oil is an excellent remedy for clearing up stuffy nose and congested airways thanks to its unique properties that help ease the respiratory system during flu. Eucalyptus also has some analgesic properties, which make it an invaluable essential oil for muscle aches when used as a soothing rub. In fact, a 2012 study in the Asian Pacific Journal of Biotropical Medicine discovered that eucalyptus had such strong medicinal qualities that even the plant’s leaves could be exploited as a natural antibiotic for treating several infectious diseases.
- Peppermint Essential Oil — This bright and uplifting essential oil is an indispensable natural remedy for flu because of its high concentration of menthol. This is beneficial for clearing up stubborn congestion, stuffed up airways, and relieving headaches and bodily pains. Peppermint essential oil is also great at alleviating fever when gently massaged onto the bottoms of your feet and the back of your neck. Its cooling, pungent, menthol aroma has been known to revive depleted energy, improve concentration, and enhances positivity.
- Frankincense Essential Oil — As one of the oldest known essential oils in the world, frankincense has incredible rejuvenating, antibacterial, and antiviral properties, making it a potent natural remedy that can drastically shorten your flu and alleviate its symptoms. Frankincense oil is also great for reducing stubborn coughs or respiratory issues thanks to its expectorant properties, while its naturally calming scent can reduce anxiety and help you heal.
- Tea Tree Essential Oil — This powerful oil contains antiseptic, antiviral, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties, which make it a potent remedy for shortening the flu and alleviating most of the symptoms, including coughs, bronchial congestion and sore throats, associated with the infection. In fact, a study found Tea tree oil to be effective against the flu virus within 5 to 10 minutes of exposure. In addition to being an effective antibacterial and antiviral panacea, Tea tree essential oil is a wonderful disinfectant that can rid your home of harmful pathogens and clear the air to prevent anyone else from getting sick.
- Thyme Essential Oil — Packed with powerful antiviral and decongestant properties, thyme essential oil gives your immune system a much needed boost when you are combating the flu. It fights upper respiratory issues like congestion, coughs, and sneezing by opening up the congested areas and bringing moisture to the mucus, and then penetrating the mucus and acting as an antibacterial. It can also help combat fatigue, giving you an energy boost when you’re feeling down. Since thyme is a common herb in most kitchens, using it in your cooking will also help ease the flu symptoms.
How to Use Essential Oils for the Flu
There are a number of beneficial ways to use get the most from your essential oils for the flu. Inhalation is a proven and one of the easiest ways. You can do this by sniffing the bottle directly or adding a few drops of the oil to a bowl of hot or warm water and then covering your head with a towel with your face over the bowl to trap the steam. This approach helps clear your nasal passages so you can breathe better and de-stress.
Another great method is to add a few drops essential oils to a diffuser, to clean the air and enhance immunity. The diffuser will disperse the oil throughout the air so you simply sit beside it to easily breathe in the vapors. There are also some portable essential oil diffusers on the market today that offer a quick and convenient way to get the same benefits when you’re on the go. Other methods include:
- Diluting in a carrier oil and add to steamy bathwater
- Using the essential oils in a hot compress
- Mixing a few drops in a carrier oil, for massaging the head, neck, or feet
Our Top Diffuser Blend for the Flu
Using each of these essential oils is a proven way to help prevent illness and improve your recovery if you’re already down with something. If you want to amp the ante and enjoy their benefits simultaneously, however, then it makes sense to simply craft a powerful blend of these remedies and add a few drops of the mixture to your diffuser:
Air Purification Blend
- 1 drop thyme
- 6 drops lemon
- 3 drops eucalyptus
- 4 drops eucalyptus
- 5 drops frankincense
- 2 drops peppermint