I’m sure you know the flu when it starts to creep up on you. It may begin with a scratchy or slightly sore throat, you may feel a bit “off”, and your body begins to feel a little achy. Or, you might start getting chills, a runny or stuffy nose, and perhaps feel physically exhausted doing simple menial tasks. You might think it’s just a cold. Except it isn’t just a cold, it’s the flu!
Essential Oils for The Flu
Having the flu is a lousy experience that can knock you out for days with aches, fever, chills, and a large range of various unpleasant symptoms that may differ from person to person.
The good news is, there are ways to help ease symptoms while boosting the immune system so that you can cut the duration of the flu, get better rest, and feel better sooner.
Essential oils have been used for centuries to help fight the common cold and of course, the flu.
Adding essential oils to some hot bath water, diffusing them in your room, and applying them to achy muscles can offer great relief while fighting off the virus and boosting your body’s defenses against bacteria and infection. They’re the perfect little health infused powerhouses and I never go through the flu without them.
The Best Essential Oils for The Flu
Great for phlegm and a stuffed up respiratory system, cajeput essential oil is a great addition to carrier oil (as a chest rub), a diffuser, or in a steam. It’s antibacterial and has an affinity for cutting through mucus and opening the lungs.
Eucalyptus is an excellent oil to use for sinus and lung congestion especially when used in a salt inhaler, a steam, a bath soak or applied diluted to the chest. Its analgesic properties will also make it a valuable essential oil for muscle aches and pains when used in a massage oil.
Hyssop has a mild analgesic effect on muscles and is also a great lung and sinus decongestant. Use it in your diffuser or in a chest and muscle rub for best results as it’s proven to weaken the flu virus and prevent it from affecting other cells.
If the flu has you up all night, try lavender. It will help calm your mind and ease nerves and anxiety associated with missing work or important tasks. Lavender is stress relieving, sleep-inducing, and relaxing in nature as well as antiseptic and antimicrobial. Add 1-2 drops to a tissue and put it in your pillowcase, make a simple room spray, or add 8-10 drops to your diffuser before bedtime.
Lemon essential oil stimulates and strengthens white blood cells and improves stagnant circulation while you’re resting up in bed for a few days. It’s also a very mood enhancing oil and will help you feel a little more cheerful despite having the flu.
Oregano is one of the most antibacterial oils out there aside from cinnamon bark. It will kill nearly every germ on contact and is a great oil to use during the flu to help keep others from getting sick as well. Diffuse it in your room to help eradicate airborne bacteria. Just keep in mind it will smell like pasta sauce if you do this.
Oregano is also a wonderful addition to chest rubs and sore muscle formulas as it’s warming in nature.
Peppermint is a wonderful oil to use for fever (mix a drop or two in ½ a tsp of aloe gel and apply it to the back of your neck), cough, and sinus congestion. It has anti-viral and antiseptic properties which make it a great oil to diffuse or add to the bath.
Pine is a wonderful oil for clearing the nasal passages and relieving sore throat pain. You can diffuse it or add 1-3 drops to ½ a tsp of aloe vera gel and apply it to the throat and chest. I like to use pine essential oil for treating chills as well since it’s a warming oil.
Roman chamomile essential oil has pain-relieving properties and works well in muscle rubs and bath soaks. It is also soothing for the digestive system and can be mixed in carrier oil and applied over the abdomen for relief from digestive discomfort like gas, upset stomach, and diarrhea.
Rosemary is a great essential oil for congestion, aches and pains, and overall stress relief. Try adding it to steams, chest rubs, and bath soaks. You can even add 1 drop to a bit of carrier oil and massage it over the sinuses to help loosen mucus. Just make sure to avoid the eyes.
Tea tree oil is an essential for every cold and flu kit as it’s antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic, and antiviral in nature. It’s an excellent addition to diffusers, baths, muscle rubs, and steams.
Four Thieves Oil Blend
The mother of all essential oil blends, thieves oil must-have have when easing flu symptoms. It has everything you need for congestion, sore muscles, and sore throat. Thieves is antiviral, antibacterial, and antiseptic making it one of the best essential oils for the flu I can think of.
One of my favorite way to use it is adding a few drops to a spray bottle of water and use it to clean surfaces, adding 1 drop to my toothpaste before brushing my teeth, and diffusing it.
You can learn how to make four thieves oil here.
Thyme is an excellent warming oil that’s perfect for chills, aches and pains, and stubborn lung congestion. Add it to muscle and chest rubs for best results but don’t use it if you have high blood pressure.
Essential Oil Recipes for The Flu
Here are a few quick and simple recipes to throw together when you’ve come down with the flu that are great for getting you well faster.
Warming Bath Blend
Add the above essential oils to 1 TB of carrier oil (I used coconut) and mix well to incorporate. While filling the bath with comfortably hot water, drizzle the infused oil under the faucet. Soak in the tub for at least 15- 20 minutes while rubbing your muscles.
Aches and Pains Massage Oil
Mix the ingredients together and massage into your muscles after getting out of the bath. The moisture in your skin will help pull in the oils for soothing deep relief. Get into some comfy PJs, grab some water, and crawl into bed. It’s important at this point to stay hydrated and well rested to speed up recovery.
Homemade Thieves Blend
Add these essential oils one at a time to your diffuser and diffuse them in your room 2-3 times a day to keep airborne germs at bay and help alleviate congestion and cough.
What have been your favorite essential oils for the flu?
You may also enjoy reading:
Gupta, N. E. E. R. J. A., and Goldy Saxena. “Antimicrobial activity of constituents identified in essential oils from Mentha and Cinnamomum through GC/MS.” Int. J. Pharm. Biol. Sci 1 (2010): 715-720.
Lawless, Julia. The Encyclopedia of essential oils: the complete guide to the use of aromatic oils in aromatherapy, herbalism, health, and well being. Conari Press, 2013.
Protective essential oil attenuates influenza virus infection: An in vitro study in MDCK cells
Treatment of Upper Respiratory Tract Infections in Primary Care: A Randomized Study Using Aromatic Herbs