Essential Oils for Flu Season
Flu season is inevitable every year. On average, 5% to 20% of the U.S. population will get the flu each year.
When you have the flu - whether you're experiencing those dreaded symptoms like fevers, chills, body aches, cough, sore throat or runny nose - all you want is relief pronto.
As you wait for the infection to run its course, of course it's only natural for you to practice some self-care to help you feel better. One of these effective self-care methods that can help alleviate flu symptoms is using essential oils.
Reading further through this article, I will cover the best essential oils you can use during flu season, the potential benefits of these specific oils and how to use them.
Eucalyptus: A study found that cineole, a main component in eucalyptus oil, was shown to be an effective treatment in sinusitis. Cineole helps clear the air of bacteria and other microbes - it can also help clear airways of mucus and is a natural cough suppressant.
Peppermint: Peppermint oil contains menthol, a compound that may affect the mucus receptors in the nose, helping to open the airways and clear mucus. A lab study showed that peppermint EO may fight bacteria, one of the triggers of flu congestion.
Tea Tree: This essential oil is perfect for flu season as it may improve sinus congestion by fighting viruses. Tea tree oil contains a compound called alpha-sabine which provides antiviral, antibacterial and anti-fungal effects.
- Add 3-5 drops of EO in your diffuser and slowly breathe in the aroma.
- Spritz an aromatherapy shower spray into a warm shower stream and slowly breathe in the aroma.
Muscle or Body Aches
Lavender: When your muscles are throbbing beyond belief when dealing with flu symptoms, lavender oil can come in handy. The anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties of this oil may be quite effective for treating pain that arises from muscle aches and tension. Research also indicates that the inhalation of lavender may help with the perception of pain as well as promote a relaxed state that might reduce muscle tension.
Sandalwood: You might think of sandalwood for its classic scent, but sandalwood has anti-inflammatory properties that go way beyond smell. A study found that these properties of sandalwood EO contain similar effects to over-the-counter medications.
Ginger: When you are sick with the flu, the body produces inflammatory markers - this is what causes inflammation, redness, and pain. Some initial studies on ginger essential oil have shown that it may alter these markers or even help lower them.
- For an essential oil-infused bath for body aches mix 15-20 drops of EO with 1/2 a cup of carrier oil. Add the desired amount under running warm water.
- To apply topically, mix up to 6 drops of your selected EO with 6 teaspoons of a carrier oil. Apply your diluted mix to the achey part of your body, massaging in lightly for more absorption.
Fever and Chills
Clove: Clove essential oil contains the compound eugenol which makes up 75-80% of clove oil. Eugenol has been found to have fever reduction activity and it works in the same way as some common fever reducer medications.
Peppermint: When your flu symptoms are kicking in and you begin experiencing a fever, peppermint oil can be used to cool the skin and body. The fresh and cooling effect of menthol in peppermint has been shown to cool down the body when applied to the skin. Cold and flu ointments that you purchase in store are often rubbed onto the chest and back for this reason.
- Apply a few drops of EO onto a cool compress and apply to your forehead or chest.
- Inhale essential oils by sniffing the bottle directly or adding a few drops to a cotton ball, pillow, or diffuser before you sleep.
Thyme: A 2011 study found that thyme essential oil has powerful antibacterial abilities, which may help fight the most common bacterias that cause a sore throat.
Garlic: You may have never thought of garlic when it comes to a sore throat but this essential oil is packed with allicin, a compound with antiviral and anti-fungal properties. Garlic may be especially helpful in treating sore throats caused by a virus - like the flu.
Tea Tree: A 2010 study demonstrated that tea tree oil had an inhibitory or protective effect against the influenza virus. This essential oil is a great option for sore throats because of its powerful antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects against germs. It’s often used as an antiseptic for gum infections and other oral problems.
- Cautionary Statement - Do not ingest any essential oils, some essential oils, like tea tree, are highly toxic if ingested.
- For steam inhalation, add up to 7 drops of EO to 2 cups of boiling water; cover your head with a towel, and inhale the steam through your nose. Keep your eyes closed to prevent eye irritation.
What to Know Before Using Essential Oils
Essential oils can be a great way to manage flu symptoms naturally but they are not a medical treatment or cure for the flu.
Essential oils should also never be ingested, and it is also advised that pregnant women should avoid the use of oils.
Essential oils may also cause an allergic reaction. Get immediate medical help if you experience any of the following while using essential oils:
- trouble breathing
- rapid heart rate
Managing those terrible symptoms from the flu can be possible with essential oils. Studies have shown that many essential oils have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties.
As a friendly reminder, not all essential oils work the same for everyone - always remember to listen to your body. If your symptoms are not getting better within ten days, it is always best to contact your doctor right away.
We are a manufacturer of essential-oil based products in Clearwater, FL - all of our products contain pure essential oils, are cruelty-free and Green America Certified. You can learn about our story here. We're also very proud to be mentioned as one of the top 35 aromatherapy blogs to follow in 2022.