The 15 Best Essential Oils for Flu Relief

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We’ve all been there: we go to bed feeling fine and wake up with a stuffy nose, sinus headache and slight fever, feeling worse and worse throughout the day. Eventually, it’s time to accept the fact that we’ll be couch-bound for five to seven days — we have the flu.

As anyone who’s ever had it will tell you, the flu is no joke —especially this year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predict to see “elevated influenza-like illness” related to COVID-19 this upcoming fall and winter.

After you get your flu vaccination (use the CDC VaccineFinder to locate a vaccine location near you), you may be wondering what else you can do to stave off the chills, body aches and general unpleasantness of catching the flu. We’ve rounded up the 15 best essential oils to best protect yourself against cold and flu season, along with tips on keeping yourself and your loved ones healthy and safe as fall and winter approach.

Read on for our suggestions on ways essential oils can make this season a little easier, or jump down to the infographic below!

Best Essential Oils for Cold and Flu Season

Cold and flu season go with cooler seasons like sweaters and mugs of tea, generally peaking from December to February. The CDC advises that the best ways to protect yourself and your loved ones from the flu is by getting your vaccine early (ideally in September or October); taking preventative measures like washing your hands; and seeking treatment of antiviral medications if you become ill.

In addition to those CDC-recommended steps, there are a number of essential oils that are known to have air-purifying benefits  that can help cleanse your home of any bad germs. We’ve gathered the 15 best ones to keep your home (and yourself) as healthy as possible this year.

Disclaimer: These recommendations are not a substitute for CDC-approved flu prevention techniques such as the vaccine and antiviral medications. Ask your doctor if you have any questions about essential oils for flu or cold prevention, and note that pure essential oils should never be ingested through the mouth. 

1. Bergamot

Benefits: Antiviral, stress relief 

Best for: Germ fighting, staying healthy, stress

The bergamot essential oil is not only a light, refreshing and fruity scent, it also has the ability to fight off infections that cause cold and flu. The antiviral properties of this oil means it puts up an effective fight against viruses in the air.

Try: Using a room spray with bergamot oil to keep your home both healthy and smelling fresh.

2. Chamomile

Benefits: Antibacterial, antioxidant, strengthens immune system

Best for: Germ fighting, staying healthy

Roman chamomile is one of the most beneficial essential oils out there, with effects ranging from soothing symptoms of depression to helping ease sleep issues. It makes sense that this all-in-one oil would also have antibacterial properties that assist in getting rid of germs that cause the common cold and flu. Its antioxidant properties keep free radicals away that stress, illness or other toxins bring into our bodies.

Try: Keeping a diffuser with chamomile oil in common areas, such as the kitchen and living area, to spread health among your living space.

3. Cinnamon

Benefits: Air purifying, cleansing

Best for: Cleaning

If you’re looking for an oil that helps clean the air as well as surfaces, cinnamon oil is the way to go. This spicy essential oil is a welcome addition to homemade surface cleaners and can help eliminate airborne germs that can bring flu or cold germs into your home.

Try: Creating a DIY tabletop air freshener with cinnamon oil to keep surfaces as well as the air around you clean and free of germs.

4. Clove

Benefits: Analgesic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory

Best for: Cleaning

In addition to warming properties that can help ease sore muscles, clove oil has been widely used to fight infection. This is one oil to keep in your collection to clear (and disinfect) the air after a long holiday spent with loved ones — and their germs.

Try: Diffusing clove oil between visits over the holidays to keep the air in your space clean.

5. Eucalyptus

Benefits: Antibacterial, antiseptic

Best for: Sinus issues

Commonly found in over-the-counter medicine including ointments and cough drops, the National Institute of Health found that eucalyptus can both combat inflammation and stimulate the immune system. This makes it a great oil to have on-hand to act as a defense against the germs of cold and flu season.

Try: Diffusing this oil through a steam diffuser or creating your own steam inhalation remedy to keep sinus issues at bay.

6. Frankincense

Benefits: Antibacterial, antimicrobial, respiratory healing

Best for: Coughs, respiratory issues, sore throat

An incredibly popular oil during cold and flu season, many essential oil users keep frankincense on hand to ease respiratory issues. Whether you have a small cough or want to stay cold-free this winter, this is a great oil to stock up on to keep yourself (and your home) free from germs.

Try: Diffusing this oil throughout the house in a diffuser or creating a DIY salve to inhale when you feel a tickle in your throat.

7. Ginger

Benefits: Aids digestion, air purifier

Best for: Cleaning, nausea

One of the worst parts of getting the flu is nausea that can last for days after the rest of your symptoms subside. If you want to purify your air of the remaining sick germs while getting over the last of your symptoms, this is a good oil to keep in your collection. Similar to clove oil, this is a warming oil that can be used topically for sore muscles and aches, when diluted properly.

Try: Using this in a DIY room spray to promote healing in your space, or keep at your desk to inhale when you feel nauseous.

8. Lavender

Benefits: Stress relief

Best for: Headaches, stress

When someone mentions essential oils, odds are they’ll bring up this herbaceous, soothing scent. Not only is lavender fragrant and relaxing, it’s also proven to relieve headaches and stress. This helps during flu season, as the more stressed you are the more likely your immune system is to be weakened and prone to illness.

Try: Adding a few drops of lavender essential oil to your next bath or shower for a soothing, aromatherapeutic experience to melt your worries away.

9. Lemon Balm

Benefits: Antibacterial, antioxidant, disinfectant

Best for: Cleaning, staying healthy

The citrusy, bright scent of this oil is sure to brighten your day whether you’re ill or not. Not only is this scent perfect for adding some zest to your DIY cleanser, it also has antibacterial and antioxidant properties that will help keep you from falling victim to the havoc that cold and flu wreaks on our bodies.

Try: Creating a DIY air freshener with lemon oil for the bathroom to keep it smelling bright while keeping germs away.

10. Lime

Benefits: Antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antiseptic

Best for: Cleaning, staying healthy

Like other citrus oils, lime oil has a host of benefits for flu season. Not only is it antifungal and antiseptic, but it also fights bacteria and viruses that cause illnesses including the flu and the common cold. This is also a great oil to incorporate into your household cleaners, as it both smells clean and can fight bacteria at the same time.

Try: Keeping a diffuser with lime oil in high-traffic and high-bacteria environments like the bathroom, entryway and kitchen.

11. Oregano

Benefits: Antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral

Best for: Germ fighting, staying healthy

One of the heavier hitters on our list, oregano oil is one to keep on hand during cold and flu season due to its highly microbial benefits that help fight infection. Considering its other antibacterial and antiviral properties, this oil will help keep your space as clean and germ-free as possible.

Try: Keeping an oregano diffuser in your bedroom to promote good health while you’re sleeping.

12. Peppermint

Benefits: Aids digestion, respiratory healing

Best for: Nausea, respiratory issues, sore throat, stuffy nose

Fans of this refreshing, universally loved scent will be glad to know it carries healing properties, too. If you’ve ever used a chest rub to clear your sinuses, you won’t be surprised to know that peppermint oil has the same menthol and cooling effects as your favorite store-bought salve. In addition to easing your stuffy nose and sore throat, it can also aid nausea brought on by more serious effects of the flu.

Try: Creating a DIY salve for when your sinuses are stuffy or a DIY room spray to create a healing environment indoors.

13. Rosemary

Benefits: Air purifier, non-toxic cleaner

Best for: Cleaning, staying healthy

Rosemary essential oil is a great option for those that want their cleaning products to be as non-toxic as possible. Whether you create your own cleaning products or want a helpful and good-smelling additive to your store-bought cleaners, rosemary is a great option. In addition to helping clean surfaces, it can also purify the air around you for an altogether healthy environment.

Try: Creating a spray to enjoy the air purifying and cleaning properties of rosemary essential oils on the go.

14. Tea Tree Oil

Benefits: Antibacterial, antiviral

Best for: Cleaning, staying healthy

Found in anything from skincare to surface cleaners, tea tree oil is one of the most popular and widely used oils out there. In addition to its strong herbal scent, this oil can fight infection and kill bacteria, which means this is one oil to keep close at hand this flu season.

Try: Diffusing this oil throughout your home or creating a DIY sanitizer spray to clean your surfaces.

15. Thyme

Benefits: Antibacterial, respiratory healing

Best for: Respiratory issues

Though many people think of thyme as an herb that adds a pop of brightness and flavor to a dish, the oil extracted from it has several benefits of its own. This oil has proven antibacterial properties that keep germs at bay and fight respiratory illnesses — something that is much-needed during cold and flu season.

Try: Implementing thyme oil into your next steam inhalation session to promote good health and a clean respiratory system.

3 Tips to Stay Healthy

As important as it is to purify the air and keep your home healthy, it’s equally important to care for yourself and keep yourself and loved ones in good health. Here are three things to keep in mind during  cold and flu season to keep yourself as healthy as possible.

1. Get a Good Night’s Sleep

One of the most effective ways to keep your body strong is something you are (hopefully) already doing each night: getting a restful night’s sleep. Getting poor quality or not enough sleep has been proven to inhibit your body’s immune system, so aim for eight hours a night to keep your body’s natural defenses strong enough to ward off invasive illnesses.

Try: Limiting screen time before bed and setting up a bedtime routine each night to signal to your body that it’s time to sleep.

2. Stay Hydrated

There are many benefits of drinking water. Not only does drinking water help keep you energized and your skin looking young, but it can also help keep your body ready to fight off illnesses like the cold and flu. Staying hydrated can help relieve flu symptoms like dehydration, while loosening mucus and keeping  your throat from getting dry.

Try: Aiming for the Mayo Clinic recommended nine cups of water for women and 13 cups for men by keeping a water bottle nearby for easy hydration access.

3. Listen to Your Body

Whether you have a busy schedule or lots of free time, it’s important to be sure you’re listening to your body’s needs — especially during high-stress periods like the holidays and the beginning of the new year, when the flu generally peaks. If you do fall ill, don’t panic and try to stock up on medication to beat it as soon as possible. Give your body the rest, nutrients and hydration it needs, and you’ll be on the mend sooner rather than later.

Try: Having a daily “check-in” with your body each morning or evening to see how you’re feeling and what you need more of — rest, water, food, exercise or something else. 

Whether you diffuse them, create a DIY essential oil spray, put a few drops in your bath or simply inhale them from the bottle, try incorporating essential oils into your flu prevention techniques this year. After getting your flu shot, keeping the air in your home as clean as possible is a great way to keep up your defenses this cold and flu season. FragranceX is here to help you keep yourself, your home and your loved ones as safe as possible during these high-stress times.

Sources: Hello Glow (1, 2) | Healthline | Medical News Today | VeryWell Health

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