Autumn is here in full swing, with the usual orange leaves and pumpkin-spice lattes that help us move out of our summer daze. With kids back in school and the changing weather, many of us have found that autumn and the oncoming winter also signal the season of the common cold.
Home remedies can be especially useful for the common cold, as it doesn’t usually make sense to visit the your local GP or nurse practitioner for the sniffles, and the pharmacist’s recommendation of Tylenol Cold or Lemsip Hot Orange isn’t always the most helpful. At-home use of essential oils can be a simple, pleasant method for preventing and treating colds, one whose effectiveness has been backed up by recent scientific research.
- Bracelet honey myrtle: recent studies of the essential oils of this south Australian plant, also known as Melaleuca armillaris, have highlighted its anti-viral properties. The vapors of bracelet honey myrtle killed up to 99% of viruses in the study. The oils were also shown to boost the properties of vitamin C and E, which are known antioxidants; bracelet honey myrtle could thus also be used as a cold preventive agent, to help kill free radicals and boost your immune system.
- Tea tree oil: tea tree oil has also been shown to actively inhibit the reproduction of viruses, and can be a useful home remedy for mitigating the effects of the common cold; in the study, both forms of herpes virus were more than 90% reduced by tea tree oil. Like bracelet honey myrtle, tea tree oil also prevents the formation of superoxides, those pesky free radicals which weaken cells and also make you age faster.
- Lemongrass oil: even at very low concentrations, lemongrass oil was shown to be one of the most effective essential oils for dispersing viruses.
- Peppermint oil: research has shown that viruses pre-treated with peppermint oil were neutralized at very high percentages. This was even true with viruses that were resistant to other treatments.
- Santolina insularis: This wildflower is only found on the island of Sardinia in the Mediterranean. Its essential oils have very interesting anti-viral properties; even in organisms already infected with a virus, the oil helped prevent cell-to-cell spread of the virus. The oil’s compounds worked directly on the virus and made it impossible for it to infect a host cell. (Find a great overview of the scientific research on essential oils here.)
If you need some direction on the different ways to utilise these essential oils, take a look at this post.