Now that school is in full swing many parents, teachers, and children are facing cold and flu season. Illnesses such as these can be stressful on parents who may miss work, teachers who may need to find subs, and children who just don’t feel good. Luckily, along with healthful eating, plenty of water, and plenty of vitamin C and zinc, essential oils can also help prevent and/or shorten the duration of colds and the flu.
- Lemon–Lemon oil comes from the “expression of the fruit and fruit peel” (Walters 68). It is high in vitamin C and can treat colds and flus; it is especially useful with colds and flus because it helps lower body temperature (Walters 69). Lemon boosts the production of new blood cells, so it boosts the immune system when it may be compromised. Lemon is shown to have “high antiseptic and antibacterial properties” (Cooksley 324). Lemon is photosensitive, like all citrus oils, so take care to only use lemon around 8 hours before sun exposure. If you put on lemon and walk out to the car in the sun, you are probably fine, but do not apply a citrus oil and then go into your garden for hours. Your skin will burn and you may even rash. Add lemon to a diffuser or rub into your child’s feet using a carrier oil (jojoba oil is best).
- Roman chamomile–Chamomile is the steam distilled flower heads that have been dried. The Egyptians worshipped chamomile above all other herbs and even dedicated it to Ra, the god of the sun (Walters 60). Chamomile is very calming. When your little one, or you, are feeling ill, chamomile can calm the emotions and stress associated with illness that can manifest a cold or flu lasting longer. Chamomile also “stimulates the production of white blood cells, which fight infection and strengthen the immune system” (Walters 61). Chamomile is also wonderful if your child has a fever because, like lemon, it helps to lower body temperature. You can get a bowl of tepid water, add 2 drops of chamomile essential oil and use a wash rag along your child’s body to spread the oil and help cool the body (Cooksley 220).
- Melissa/Lemon Balm–This oil comes from the steam distilled leaves and flowering tops; though all parts of the plant yield essential oil (Walters 94). Melissa is known to help with coughs, and is another cooling oil so helps with fever reduction. This oil can either be used in a diffuser or with a carrier oil to apply topically.
- Eucalyptus–This oil is steam distilled from leaves and twigs (Keville 129). It is another antibacterial and antiseptic oil, which is commonly used to treat colds and flus. It is known for its help in clearing respiratory problems. Please note that Eucalyptus Radiata is safe for children, but eucalyptus globulus may be considered too strong for children under 10 years old because of the 1,8 cineole, which is the major constituent in eucalyptus. Therefor heavy dilution is recommended along with limited use because it can cause skin irritation.
- Cypress–Coming from the “steam distillation [of] fresh leaves, needles, twigs, and cones…” cypress can be used “as an aid to the respiratory system” (Walters 76) making it another oil that is helpful in combatting colds and flus. It has “an antispasmodic effect on coughs that accompany flu…” (Walters76). Cypress is also very calming, so it can help you and your child get rest in order to heal. Cypress is a wonderful oil to be used in a diffuser and it blends well with lemon.
There are plenty of oils that help with colds and flus, but these are best and considered safe for use with children (using some precaution with eucalyptus–a little goes a long way). In my office I’ve been diffusing lemon to prevent colds and flu. Lemon is also wonderful for purifying the air, so any germs or odors that may be in the air will be eliminated with lemon. Massage and essential oils are great preventatives because massage pushes toxins out of the body while oils can add to immune health through blood cell production and additions of vitamins. Make sure to drink plenty of water when using essential oils and massage to help prevent or eliminate colds and/or flus in order to flush out all of those toxins. Of course if you are really sick, massage is best left until you are feeling better so as not to spread illness. Rest is best in that case. Our bodies can heal themselves, but with some help from plants and touch it can be even faster.
Cooksley, Valerie Gennari. Aromatherapy: Soothing Remedies to Restore, Rejuvenate, and Heal. Prentice Hall Press. 2002.
Keville, Kathi. The Little Book of Aromatherapy. Crossing Press. 2009.
Walters, Clare. Aromatherapy: An Illustrated Guide. Element Books, Ltd. 1998.