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Winter brings with it cold, dry air and an increased risk of illness. The common cold, a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract, is one of the most common offenders. Rather than down a bottle of cold medicine, you can use essential oils to help treat your symptoms and ensure you stay healthy this season.



Some essential oils are antimicrobial, meaning they can kill germs and prevent you from getting sick in the first place. Eucalyptus, pine, and dill weed oils all possess this property. Applying diluted oils topically or using a diffuser can help ward off infections and cleanse the air around you.



Essential oils can be used to treat the symptoms of your illness and help you cope while it runs its course. Rosemary oil contains cineole which can reduce inflammation and break up mucus.

The essential oils of cypress, nutmeg, and bergamot contain camphene which is similar to camphor. When camphene is inhaled, it produces a cooling effect that can help sooth painful symptoms.

The geranium essential oil acts as an herbal cough treatment. It has a refreshing scent making it ideal to use in a warm bath or diffuser. Cinnamon essential oil can protect against germs that cause respiratory infections. A few drops of it in a diffuser can also provide relief from a cough.

Frankincense is widely used in perfumes and incense and is valued for its effects on the respiratory system. It is successful in treating bronchitis, coughs, asthma, and catarrh. Research has shown that using a nasal spray containing a blend of rosemary, oregano, eucalyptus, and peppermint extracts can improve a sore throat, hoarseness, and other cough-related symptoms.



A good night’s rest is important for staying healthy, especially in the winter. If you have trouble sleeping or would like to improve your quality of sleep, you can incorporate essential oils into your nighttime routine. Diffusing oils like lavender, sandalwood, and bergamot before going to sleep can help you relax. Using that same method or drinking tea infused with chamomile can also help ease you into a restful state.



Other essential oils feature the ability to reduce fever. In addition to its antimicrobial property, eucalyptus oil can also be used to make a cold compress and reduce fever. Peppermint oil is also a natural fever-reducer. It’s good to remember that fevers are the body’s way of fighting off infections, however, so monitoring your fever carefully is important.


The best way to avoid illness is to keep your immune system healthy. This is done by eating a well-balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting at least eight hours of sleep each night. If you’re currently suffering from a cold, start with the basics which are peppermint, tea tree, and lavender oil. You’ll likely find that aromatherapy is surprisingly effective and a powerful method in boosting your immune system.

Understanding the benefits and properties of essential oils and learning about the effects of combining them can help you determine which ones to use to treat your symptoms and ensure your health this winter.

Gretchen Reuter Footer Holistic