If you’ve ever smelled a flower or the scent of fresh citrus, you’ve experienced the natural oil-based fragrances that plants produce as part of their life cycles, says Sebastian Guthery. For many years, people have been using oils extracted from plants for a variety of purposes. These aromatic oils, referred to as essential oils, offer a natural alternative to harmful chemicals, medicines, and industrial products. These essential oils can be found in products ranging from soaps and creams to food and drink flavorings, household cleaning products, and many other applications.
In more recent years, essential oils have been shown to provide a range of health benefits, from elevating moods to fighting disease, promoting healthy digestion, and reducing stress. For coughs and colds, essential oils represent a natural means of controlling coughs and congestion. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most popular essential oils that can be used to treat the symptoms of seasonal respiratory illnesses.
Best Essential Oils for Coughs and Colds
There are literally hundreds of essential oils to choose from. While not every essential oil or oil blend is ideal for treating the symptoms of coughs and colds, the best ones have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and soothing properties. The most popular oils for treating coughs and colds include:
Eucalyptus Oil – this essential oil, derived from the leaves of the eucalyptus tree, is great for respiratory problems such as congestion and non-bacterial sinus infections. The oil has a minty, fresh aroma that helps to break up congestion. Adding the oil to a steaming bowl of water and inhaling the steam is a great way to get this oil’s benefits.
Chamomile Oil – mothers know that chamomile tea is a great way to calm a fussy child. The essential oil derived from the chamomile flower has many of the same properties, and in fact can be used to treat a wide variety of symptoms. Chamomile essential oil reduces inflammation and may help control fevers. Just like with eucalyptus, breathing in the steam from a pot of boiling water and oil or adding chamomile oil to a diffuser can help reduce the pain and tenderness of sore throats.
Peppermint Oil – zesty and spicy peppermint oil can cut right through congested sinuses, helping those with colds to breathe more freely. The oil can be breathed by adding it to an aromatherapy diffuser or the oil can be rubbed on the chest to break up congestion while you sleep. Rubbing it on the temples can also help reduce the headaches associated with colds.
Frankincense Oil – few essential oils have the decongestant power of frankincense oil, derived from natural resins produced by certain evergreen trees. By adding the oil to a diffuser or to a pot of hot water, the vapors can break up mucus in the sinuses and lungs while reducing nasal inflammation.
Tea Tree Oil – for centuries, tea tree oil has been used as an antiseptic in cultures around the world. The oil, sometimes referred to as melaleuca oil, comes from a tree related to the camphor tree and is native to Australia. The oil has a similar aroma to camphor and can be used for treating skin conditions as well as respiratory conditions. For extra germ-fighting power around the home, many people mix it with water to make a natural cleaning solution that is great at keeping illness-causing bacteria at bay.