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How to relieve cold and flu symptoms naturally with essential oils

As the seasons change and we start moving into the colder months, many of us are looking for ways to prevent or relieve cold & flu symptoms. Even if you go for traditional, over the counter medicine, it’s always nice to learn ways to feel better and heal naturally.

Essential oils are an effective natural remedy for alleviating cold & flu symptoms because each oil has its own unique properties that can help soothe and heal the body. 

Symptoms of the cold and flu range from mild to severe. Some milder symptoms might be a cough and a headache while congestion and a sore throat could indicate something more serious. Whatever you’re dealing with, there are essential oils available in NZ to help you out!

In this blog post, we’ll go over the essential oils for relieving specific cold and flu symptoms, and how to use them. We'll also look at which essential oils are ideal for getting a good night's sleep and recommend some blend sets from D:FUSE Aromatherapy that can help you get through this season feeling your best!

Cough: Eucalyptus, Peppermint and Oregano

Eucalyptus, peppermint and oregano are all great essential oils for helping to relieve a cough. The cooling effect of eucalyptus essential oil can assist in clearing the sinuses and help you breathe easier while peppermint oil is handy to soothe a scratchy throat. 

As the old saying goes, prevention is better than cure which is why we also recommend adding some oregano essential oil to your aromatherapy routine. With proven antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, oregano is often an overlooked essential oil for boosting the immune system and can be used to help safeguard you from catching a cold in the first place!

Back to relieving cough symptoms, here are a few ways you can use these essential oils to relieve a stubborn dry or wet cough:

Diffuse: Add a few drops of one or each of the oils to a diffuser filled with water and let it run for 30-90 minutes to help clear your airways. Perfect for before bed, you can place the diffuser on your bedside table and let it work its magic!

Chest and throat rub: Mix a drop or 2 of eucalyptus, peppermint and oregano with a few tablespoons of a carrier oil like jojoba or fractionated coconut oil and massage it onto your chest and throat. The warmth of your skin will help to release the oils' properties and you'll start to feel relief from your cough in no time!  

Note: Before applying to the skin, always do a patch test to make sure there is no reaction because essential oils are very concentrated and some can cause irritation, especially on sensitive skin. 

Steam bath: Put 2-3 drops of the essential oil(s) of your choice in a bowl of steaming water and inhale the vapours. Placing a towel over your head while breathing can maximise the effect. (Make sure to keep your eyes closed to avoid eye irritation.) 

Inhale (on the go!): For quick relief on the go, place 1-2 drops of the essential oil of your choice on a tissue or a cotton pad and inhale as needed throughout the day. You can also place the essential oil-infused tissue somewhere in the car for rapid relief while driving. 

Headache: Lavender, Peppermint and Rosemary

Lavender and Peppermint essential oil will be friends indeed during this season if you're suffering from a headache. Lavender oil is well-known for its calming and relaxing properties, which can help to ease tension headaches. Peppermint oil, on the other hand, has a cooling effect that can help to relieve discomfort associated with migraines, headache pain and pressure.

Rosemary essential oil is another one to add to your list for relieving headaches as it can help to improve circulation. The smell of Rosemary isn't everyone's favourite though, but it has so much to offer for treating headaches so we've added it with the gentle, calming scent of Lavender in our Headache/Migraine Blend NZ so you can still enjoy its benefits! 

To use these oils for headache relief:

Diffuse: Mix a few drops of each essential oil with water in a diffuser and let it run for 30-90 minutes while you breathe away your headache.

Headache rub: Mix a few drops of the essential oil of your choice (or a combination!) with a carrier oil like jojoba or coconut oil and massage into your temples and the back of your neck. 

For headaches due to poor circulation, a rosemary essential oil massage is recommended.

For tension headaches, lavender and peppermint are ideal.

Migraine compress: Grab a flannel and run it under cold water then add a drop or two of peppermint oil to create a cold compress. Place the compress on the forehead for 5 - 10 minutes at a time and repeat as many times as you like. 

Inhale: For quick relief on the go, place a few drops of the essential oil of your choice on a tissue or cotton pad and take deep breaths in and out to soothe your headache. 

Sleep: Lavender and Mandarin

There are few things more frustrating than being sick and not being able to sleep especially during the winter months. Thankfully, there are some essential oils that can help you get the rest you need. Lavender is known as one of the most calming essential oils for easing you into a restful sleep.

Whether diffused on your bedside table, added to a warm bath or spritzed onto your pillow, lavender essential oil is guaranteed to help you get a good night's sleep.

And here at D:FUSE, we're well aware not everyone is a fan of the smell of lavender which is why we've listed an equally great (and often underestimated!) essential oil for promoting sleep - Mandarin. With its sweet, floral aroma, mandarin can help to ease anxiety and stress - two common culprits of insomnia. Mandarin essential oil is also child-friendly (lavender can be a bit strong for kids) making it a good option for families - because we know when someone's got the flu at home it's often a ticking time bomb before the rest of us do!

If you're looking for an all-in-one essential oil blend for some shuteye, be sure to check out our Sleep Aid Blend NZ featuring Lavender, Mandarin and Bergamot essential oils. 

To use these oils for sleep:

Diffuse: Mix a few drops of the essential oil of your choice with water in a diffuser and let it run for 30-90 minutes while you get ready for bed.

Sleep spray: Mix equal parts water and witch hazel in a glass spray bottle (250mL) and add 15 drops of either lavender or mandarin essential oil (or both!) Shake well and spritz onto your pillow before going to bed so that you can breathe in the vapours while you sleep. 

Sleep rub: Mix a few drops of the essential oil(s) of your choice with a carrier oil like jojoba or fractionated coconut oil and massage it into your temples, neck and chest. You'll start to feel drowsy in no time! 

Congestion: Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Tea Tree

You're probably not a very happy chappy if you’re dealing with congestion and we totally get it - it's irritating not being able to taste or smell and can be quite challenging to even breathe or sleep properly! A natural remedy for easing this common cold and flu symptom is diffusing peppermint, eucalyptus and/or tea tree essential oil in your home, bedroom or office. 

Peppermint is a natural decongestant and will help to break up any mucus build-up so that you can breathe more easily. Eucalyptus is wonderful at clearing the sinuses as it has a cooling and soothing effect with anti-inflammatory properties that also help to reduce swelling in the nasal passages.

And last but not least, Tea Tree essential oil - a household staple when it comes to treating anything under the sun with its antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. Not only will tea tree oil help to clear congestion, it will also help to fight any bacteria or viruses that may be causing your cold or flu in the first place!

Diffusing is a great option for congestion because it allows you to inhale the natural healing effects of essential oils and let them be transported into the body so they can do their work. 

The only catch is that these essential oils aren't always the most pleasant smelling for sensitive types - so if you happen to despise the smell of Eucalyptus, Peppermint or Tea-Tree, try adding an essential oil with an aroma you enjoy.

Or you could also try out our blend set Congestion Blend NZ, which features Lemon essential oil, a great neutraliser for strong scents and helps to soothe a sore-throat too!

To use these oils for congestion:

Diffuse: Mix a few drops of the essential oil(s) of your choice with water in a diffuser and let it run for 30-60 minutes.

Steam bath: Add a few drops of these oils to a bowl of steaming water and inhale the vapours. Cover your head with a towel to trap the steam and breathe deeply for a few minutes. (Make sure to keep your eyes closed to avoid eye irritation.) 

Inhaler: You can also add a couple of drops of these oils to some cotton balls and place them in an empty nasal inhaler tube (you can usually buy these at your local pharmacy). Put the cap on and inhale as needed.

Tissue on the go: For an on-the-go option, place a few drops of the essential oil(s) of your choice on a tissue or cotton pad and inhale as needed throughout the day. 

Caution: These essential oils may not be suitable for children under the age of 12 due to their strong scent. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, please consult with your healthcare provider before using these oils.

Sore throat: Tea Tree, Lemon, Peppermint

Nothing gets you more down during this season than a nagging sore throat. But don't worry, Tea Tree and Peppermint essential oil are at it again with their endless cold and flu relieving benefits while the lovely citrusy scent of Lemon essential oil packs a punch of immune-boosting properties.

Tea Tree is a powerful antibacterial agent that can help to fight off any infection causing bacteria in the throat, while lemon oil is rich in Vitamin C - a nutrient known for boosting immunity. Not only that but lemon essential oil also has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties that can help to soothe a sore throat (which is why it's used in cough drops and stuff like that!).

And of course, Peppermint oil - our go-to essential oil for everything from headaches to indigestion. Peppermint is cooling and numbing, making it ideal for easing the pain of a sore throat. It's also an expectorant, which means inhaling it can help to loosen any mucus that may be stuck in your throat.

To use these oils for a sore throat:

Diffuse: Mix a few drops of the essential oil(s) of your choice with water in a diffuser and let it run for 30-60 minutes.

Throat rub: Mix a few drops of these oils with a carrier oil like fractionated coconut oil or jojoba oil and apply it to your throat and chest morning and night or whenever you feel discomfort throughout the day. 

We hope these tips have been helpful in finding some relief from your cold and flu symptoms! Remember to rest and drink lots of fluids too - and if you're looking for a great way to lay the foundation for a strong immune system this season, don't forget to try out D:FUSE's immunity-boosting essential oil remedy: Cold & Flu Blend NZ!


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