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Top 10 Destinations to Ward off the Cold

Top 10 Destinations to Ward off the Cold

Where to go to escape dropping temperatures

As soon as Labor Day weekend comes and goes, the rest of the year goes by in a flash. First it’s Halloween, then Thanksgiving, and then in no time, you’re trying to remember to write 2012 instead of 2011. That high-speed train isn’t only going in the direction of the holidays, though. It’s barreling in the direction of cold weather, too. And since there’s little respite from those soggy, gray days at home, we thought we’d pinpoint ten destinations where December doesn’t mean dreary weather and puffy coats.

Click here to see the Top 10 Destinations to Ward off the Cold Slideshow.

Los Angeles natives have perfected the art of rubbing in their all-year-sun when temperatures drop on the east coast, but truth-be-told, hopping on an LA-bound flight mid-winter is an ideal antidote for gray-sky-blues. It’s a big-city-break, so there’s plenty to do, see, and eat — and it’s all under the sun. Or for a total sun-worshipper’s getaway, book a flight to Turks & Caicos, where relaxing, beachcombing, and fresh seafood are on offer every day.

Little is as satisfying as taking your coat off on the plane and not putting it back on until you’re freezing at baggage claim. Stuff that coat into the bottom of your suitcase (and the back of your mind) as you hunt down Puerto Rico’s coolest beaches and tastiest street foods. If you’ve done Puerto Rico, but still don’t want venture as far as Australia, hop on the easiest flight you’ll take all year, and head for sunny Bermuda. Just more than two hours from the eastern seaboard, that little island has both quaint charm and high-end luxury down pat.

Insist all you want that you “love the changing of the seasons.” Dining alfresco in December is an undeniable joy. And sunburns are just added bonuses, really. Check out the slideshow for our top ten warm-in-winter picks.


15 Best Essential Oils for Colds and Coughs

The right ones can fight off sneezes, sniffles, and hacking.

This article was medically reviewed by Connie Jennings, M.D., a member of the Prevention Medical Review Board, on September 12, 2019.

Before we dive into essential oils, know this: The best way to ward off a cold is to wash your hands. A lot. Often. Then again. (That's right&mdashthe same thing you're doing to help ward off Covid-19.) Most doctors agree that scrubbing your mitts is the number-one way to stay healthy during cold season while people around you are wheezing and sneezing and dripping mucus. But isn&rsquot it nice to know that there are other natural ways to ward off the ickies&mdashand that they (bonus!) smell great? Essential oils to the rescue!

The Benefits of Essential Oils

Essential oils have been used by generations of people, in a multitude of cultures, as a natural preventative and treatment for a host of ailments, and that includes the common cold. "As far back as the Paleolithic period&mdash60,000 years ago&mdashhumans were using plants as herbal remedies," says Yufang Lin, MD, a board-certified physician who practices at Cleveland Clinic Wellness. "Unlike pharmaceuticals, one plant often has multiple properties. Lavender, for instance, has anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, anti-anxiety and anti-depressant properties." That means that you can get some unexpected bonus protection!

What Does the Research Say About Essential Oils?

Like many natural remedies, there hasn&rsquot been a huge amount of research done on essential oils, since studies are (unfortunately) often driven by the marketplace&mdashbut there have been a certain number of studies on some essential oils. And there's plenty of anecdotal evidence that essential oils can be used to ease various ailments. When it comes to using them to ward off colds and coughs and easing the discomfort they cause, keep reading for more on what's known about specific oils.

How to Use Essential Oils

There are a few easy methods for using essential oils to help with the sniffles.

  • Create a DIY steam sauna: Take a large pot or bowl of boiling water, add 8-10 drops of whatever essential oil you&rsquore using, then lean over the pot/bowl (please keep 10 inches away to protect your lovely face from burns!) with a towel draped over your head like it&rsquos your own personal tent. Breathe through your nose for two minutes, then stop.
  • Get a diffuser. This is a less direct way to get a hit of essential oil, but there are loads of options at different price ranges. A real bonus is the wonderful scent that will waft through your home. And some essential oils will also help you sleep, making them a great choice for your bedroom more on that below.
  • Dab it on your skin&mdashwith care! First rule: NEVER apply undiluted essential oil to your skin&mdashit can cause a seriously unpleasant reaction (for example, a burn if your skin is then exposed to sunlight). Always dilute essential oils with a gentle neutral oil before daubing them on, like olive, coconut, or grapeseed oil.

15 Essential Oils That Can Help With a Cold

Here are oils that are always mentioned, when it comes to easing cold symptoms, and what's known about each one.

Tea Tree Oil: According to one study, this oil has been found to have antiviral properties, meaning it could help squelch the nasties that lead to sinus infections and respiratory issues. "Tea tree essential oil has also been proven to have antimicrobial and antifungal properties," says Dr. Lin. "It's one of my favorites for cold season, along with eucalyptus and lavender."

Eucalyptus Oil: Beyond its forest-y scent, eucalyptus oil has been shown to have both antiviral and antimicrobial properties. "It also reduces inflammation, suppresses cough, reduces fever, loosens up chest congestion, and is an all-around support during cold season," says Dr. Lin. Dilute it in one of the neutral oils above and rub it onto chest and throat to ease a cough, or do a steam sauna (above). If you&rsquore feverish, you can also add it to a cool compress and it may just lessen your temp.

Peppermint Oil: That minty goodness is a natural decongestant and fever reducer, due to its menthol. A small study from 2013 found that it can help the bronchial muscles&mdashand could thus ease breathing if you have a cough. (Don&rsquot use this one while pregnant.)

Chamomile Oil: This daisy-like flower has long been used in various natural remedies. A 2010 study stated that breathing in chamomile essential oil in steam may help relieve cold symptoms.

Rosemary Oil: A fragrant herb, rosemary isn&rsquot just a way to spark up your roast chicken! In its essential oil form, it&rsquos been found to be good at breaking up mucus and reducing inflammation. The potential for less sniffles and fewer aches and pains? Good news all around.

Frankincense Oil: Made from the resin of the Boswellia tree, frankincense's anti-inflammatory power has been shown to be useful in treating coughs and bronchitis. The scent is woodsy and rich.

Oregano Oil: As a spice, you sprinkle oregano on your Italian dishes, of course, but in its essential oil form, it has a compound that, according to one study, is a good antimicrobial germ-fighter.

Thyme Oil: With high levels of the same helpful compound as oregano, thyme oil may help protect against viruses and bacteria. It has a warm, herbaceous scent. It's been reported that during the Middle Ages, thyme was used to promote sleep.

Cinnamon Oil: Research done in 2017 showed that cinnamon oil could ward off germs that cause respiratory problems. (The spice itself is super-healthy: It has antioxidant-rich polyphenols.)

Geranium Oil : A research review showed that geranium oil&mdashwhich has a lovely rosy scent&mdashhad some success in easing coughs.

Nutmeg Oil: You know nutmeg as a wonderful addition to an apple crisp recipe studies have suggested that the oil of this spice has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

A critical component of staying healthy, warding off colds, and recovering? Getting enough sleep! Here are 4 essential oils known to promote relaxation and snoozing! (Chamomile oil, above, is another one that helps on this front.)

Lavender Oil: Lavender is one of the best-studied essential oils. Research has shown that it may help you go to sleep, and may even lower your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Less stress, easier snoozing! "Lavender is well known for its ability to lift mood and reduce anxiety," says Dr. Lin. "Who wouldn&rsquot benefit from a mood lift when sick?"

Bergamot Oil: One study showed that sniffing bergamot aroma for just 15 minutes reduced cortisol levels.

Clary Sage Oil: With a grassy, herbal scent, this oil eases stress and makes you feel sleepy. Put a drop or two on a tissue, cup it in your hands, and breathe in deeply for a couple of minutes.

Sandalwood Oil: Another rich and woodsy scent one study found that the oil has a sedative effect and can increase REM sleep (but for some people, it increases alertness! So maybe try it before a nap first).

What Are the Risks of Using Essential Oils?

"Because it takes a lot of plant materials to make the essential oil&mdashfor example, it takes 250 lbs. of lavender to produce one pound of essential oil&mdashthey are considered strong medicine," says Dr. Lin. "A little goes a long way, and toxicity is possible." Start by using a minimum amount and increase as tolerated. Dr. Lin adds, "Extra caution needs to be exercised around pregnant women, children, the elderly, those with multiple medical conditions, and pets."

Go here to join Prevention Premium (our best value, all-access plan), subscribe to the magazine, or get digital-only access.


15 Best Essential Oils for Colds and Coughs

The right ones can fight off sneezes, sniffles, and hacking.

This article was medically reviewed by Connie Jennings, M.D., a member of the Prevention Medical Review Board, on September 12, 2019.

Before we dive into essential oils, know this: The best way to ward off a cold is to wash your hands. A lot. Often. Then again. (That's right&mdashthe same thing you're doing to help ward off Covid-19.) Most doctors agree that scrubbing your mitts is the number-one way to stay healthy during cold season while people around you are wheezing and sneezing and dripping mucus. But isn&rsquot it nice to know that there are other natural ways to ward off the ickies&mdashand that they (bonus!) smell great? Essential oils to the rescue!

The Benefits of Essential Oils

Essential oils have been used by generations of people, in a multitude of cultures, as a natural preventative and treatment for a host of ailments, and that includes the common cold. "As far back as the Paleolithic period&mdash60,000 years ago&mdashhumans were using plants as herbal remedies," says Yufang Lin, MD, a board-certified physician who practices at Cleveland Clinic Wellness. "Unlike pharmaceuticals, one plant often has multiple properties. Lavender, for instance, has anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, anti-anxiety and anti-depressant properties." That means that you can get some unexpected bonus protection!

What Does the Research Say About Essential Oils?

Like many natural remedies, there hasn&rsquot been a huge amount of research done on essential oils, since studies are (unfortunately) often driven by the marketplace&mdashbut there have been a certain number of studies on some essential oils. And there's plenty of anecdotal evidence that essential oils can be used to ease various ailments. When it comes to using them to ward off colds and coughs and easing the discomfort they cause, keep reading for more on what's known about specific oils.

How to Use Essential Oils

There are a few easy methods for using essential oils to help with the sniffles.

  • Create a DIY steam sauna: Take a large pot or bowl of boiling water, add 8-10 drops of whatever essential oil you&rsquore using, then lean over the pot/bowl (please keep 10 inches away to protect your lovely face from burns!) with a towel draped over your head like it&rsquos your own personal tent. Breathe through your nose for two minutes, then stop.
  • Get a diffuser. This is a less direct way to get a hit of essential oil, but there are loads of options at different price ranges. A real bonus is the wonderful scent that will waft through your home. And some essential oils will also help you sleep, making them a great choice for your bedroom more on that below.
  • Dab it on your skin&mdashwith care! First rule: NEVER apply undiluted essential oil to your skin&mdashit can cause a seriously unpleasant reaction (for example, a burn if your skin is then exposed to sunlight). Always dilute essential oils with a gentle neutral oil before daubing them on, like olive, coconut, or grapeseed oil.

15 Essential Oils That Can Help With a Cold

Here are oils that are always mentioned, when it comes to easing cold symptoms, and what's known about each one.

Tea Tree Oil: According to one study, this oil has been found to have antiviral properties, meaning it could help squelch the nasties that lead to sinus infections and respiratory issues. "Tea tree essential oil has also been proven to have antimicrobial and antifungal properties," says Dr. Lin. "It's one of my favorites for cold season, along with eucalyptus and lavender."

Eucalyptus Oil: Beyond its forest-y scent, eucalyptus oil has been shown to have both antiviral and antimicrobial properties. "It also reduces inflammation, suppresses cough, reduces fever, loosens up chest congestion, and is an all-around support during cold season," says Dr. Lin. Dilute it in one of the neutral oils above and rub it onto chest and throat to ease a cough, or do a steam sauna (above). If you&rsquore feverish, you can also add it to a cool compress and it may just lessen your temp.

Peppermint Oil: That minty goodness is a natural decongestant and fever reducer, due to its menthol. A small study from 2013 found that it can help the bronchial muscles&mdashand could thus ease breathing if you have a cough. (Don&rsquot use this one while pregnant.)

Chamomile Oil: This daisy-like flower has long been used in various natural remedies. A 2010 study stated that breathing in chamomile essential oil in steam may help relieve cold symptoms.

Rosemary Oil: A fragrant herb, rosemary isn&rsquot just a way to spark up your roast chicken! In its essential oil form, it&rsquos been found to be good at breaking up mucus and reducing inflammation. The potential for less sniffles and fewer aches and pains? Good news all around.

Frankincense Oil: Made from the resin of the Boswellia tree, frankincense's anti-inflammatory power has been shown to be useful in treating coughs and bronchitis. The scent is woodsy and rich.

Oregano Oil: As a spice, you sprinkle oregano on your Italian dishes, of course, but in its essential oil form, it has a compound that, according to one study, is a good antimicrobial germ-fighter.

Thyme Oil: With high levels of the same helpful compound as oregano, thyme oil may help protect against viruses and bacteria. It has a warm, herbaceous scent. It's been reported that during the Middle Ages, thyme was used to promote sleep.

Cinnamon Oil: Research done in 2017 showed that cinnamon oil could ward off germs that cause respiratory problems. (The spice itself is super-healthy: It has antioxidant-rich polyphenols.)

Geranium Oil : A research review showed that geranium oil&mdashwhich has a lovely rosy scent&mdashhad some success in easing coughs.

Nutmeg Oil: You know nutmeg as a wonderful addition to an apple crisp recipe studies have suggested that the oil of this spice has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

A critical component of staying healthy, warding off colds, and recovering? Getting enough sleep! Here are 4 essential oils known to promote relaxation and snoozing! (Chamomile oil, above, is another one that helps on this front.)

Lavender Oil: Lavender is one of the best-studied essential oils. Research has shown that it may help you go to sleep, and may even lower your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Less stress, easier snoozing! "Lavender is well known for its ability to lift mood and reduce anxiety," says Dr. Lin. "Who wouldn&rsquot benefit from a mood lift when sick?"

Bergamot Oil: One study showed that sniffing bergamot aroma for just 15 minutes reduced cortisol levels.

Clary Sage Oil: With a grassy, herbal scent, this oil eases stress and makes you feel sleepy. Put a drop or two on a tissue, cup it in your hands, and breathe in deeply for a couple of minutes.

Sandalwood Oil: Another rich and woodsy scent one study found that the oil has a sedative effect and can increase REM sleep (but for some people, it increases alertness! So maybe try it before a nap first).

What Are the Risks of Using Essential Oils?

"Because it takes a lot of plant materials to make the essential oil&mdashfor example, it takes 250 lbs. of lavender to produce one pound of essential oil&mdashthey are considered strong medicine," says Dr. Lin. "A little goes a long way, and toxicity is possible." Start by using a minimum amount and increase as tolerated. Dr. Lin adds, "Extra caution needs to be exercised around pregnant women, children, the elderly, those with multiple medical conditions, and pets."

Go here to join Prevention Premium (our best value, all-access plan), subscribe to the magazine, or get digital-only access.


15 Best Essential Oils for Colds and Coughs

The right ones can fight off sneezes, sniffles, and hacking.

This article was medically reviewed by Connie Jennings, M.D., a member of the Prevention Medical Review Board, on September 12, 2019.

Before we dive into essential oils, know this: The best way to ward off a cold is to wash your hands. A lot. Often. Then again. (That's right&mdashthe same thing you're doing to help ward off Covid-19.) Most doctors agree that scrubbing your mitts is the number-one way to stay healthy during cold season while people around you are wheezing and sneezing and dripping mucus. But isn&rsquot it nice to know that there are other natural ways to ward off the ickies&mdashand that they (bonus!) smell great? Essential oils to the rescue!

The Benefits of Essential Oils

Essential oils have been used by generations of people, in a multitude of cultures, as a natural preventative and treatment for a host of ailments, and that includes the common cold. "As far back as the Paleolithic period&mdash60,000 years ago&mdashhumans were using plants as herbal remedies," says Yufang Lin, MD, a board-certified physician who practices at Cleveland Clinic Wellness. "Unlike pharmaceuticals, one plant often has multiple properties. Lavender, for instance, has anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, anti-anxiety and anti-depressant properties." That means that you can get some unexpected bonus protection!

What Does the Research Say About Essential Oils?

Like many natural remedies, there hasn&rsquot been a huge amount of research done on essential oils, since studies are (unfortunately) often driven by the marketplace&mdashbut there have been a certain number of studies on some essential oils. And there's plenty of anecdotal evidence that essential oils can be used to ease various ailments. When it comes to using them to ward off colds and coughs and easing the discomfort they cause, keep reading for more on what's known about specific oils.

How to Use Essential Oils

There are a few easy methods for using essential oils to help with the sniffles.

  • Create a DIY steam sauna: Take a large pot or bowl of boiling water, add 8-10 drops of whatever essential oil you&rsquore using, then lean over the pot/bowl (please keep 10 inches away to protect your lovely face from burns!) with a towel draped over your head like it&rsquos your own personal tent. Breathe through your nose for two minutes, then stop.
  • Get a diffuser. This is a less direct way to get a hit of essential oil, but there are loads of options at different price ranges. A real bonus is the wonderful scent that will waft through your home. And some essential oils will also help you sleep, making them a great choice for your bedroom more on that below.
  • Dab it on your skin&mdashwith care! First rule: NEVER apply undiluted essential oil to your skin&mdashit can cause a seriously unpleasant reaction (for example, a burn if your skin is then exposed to sunlight). Always dilute essential oils with a gentle neutral oil before daubing them on, like olive, coconut, or grapeseed oil.

15 Essential Oils That Can Help With a Cold

Here are oils that are always mentioned, when it comes to easing cold symptoms, and what's known about each one.

Tea Tree Oil: According to one study, this oil has been found to have antiviral properties, meaning it could help squelch the nasties that lead to sinus infections and respiratory issues. "Tea tree essential oil has also been proven to have antimicrobial and antifungal properties," says Dr. Lin. "It's one of my favorites for cold season, along with eucalyptus and lavender."

Eucalyptus Oil: Beyond its forest-y scent, eucalyptus oil has been shown to have both antiviral and antimicrobial properties. "It also reduces inflammation, suppresses cough, reduces fever, loosens up chest congestion, and is an all-around support during cold season," says Dr. Lin. Dilute it in one of the neutral oils above and rub it onto chest and throat to ease a cough, or do a steam sauna (above). If you&rsquore feverish, you can also add it to a cool compress and it may just lessen your temp.

Peppermint Oil: That minty goodness is a natural decongestant and fever reducer, due to its menthol. A small study from 2013 found that it can help the bronchial muscles&mdashand could thus ease breathing if you have a cough. (Don&rsquot use this one while pregnant.)

Chamomile Oil: This daisy-like flower has long been used in various natural remedies. A 2010 study stated that breathing in chamomile essential oil in steam may help relieve cold symptoms.

Rosemary Oil: A fragrant herb, rosemary isn&rsquot just a way to spark up your roast chicken! In its essential oil form, it&rsquos been found to be good at breaking up mucus and reducing inflammation. The potential for less sniffles and fewer aches and pains? Good news all around.

Frankincense Oil: Made from the resin of the Boswellia tree, frankincense's anti-inflammatory power has been shown to be useful in treating coughs and bronchitis. The scent is woodsy and rich.

Oregano Oil: As a spice, you sprinkle oregano on your Italian dishes, of course, but in its essential oil form, it has a compound that, according to one study, is a good antimicrobial germ-fighter.

Thyme Oil: With high levels of the same helpful compound as oregano, thyme oil may help protect against viruses and bacteria. It has a warm, herbaceous scent. It's been reported that during the Middle Ages, thyme was used to promote sleep.

Cinnamon Oil: Research done in 2017 showed that cinnamon oil could ward off germs that cause respiratory problems. (The spice itself is super-healthy: It has antioxidant-rich polyphenols.)

Geranium Oil : A research review showed that geranium oil&mdashwhich has a lovely rosy scent&mdashhad some success in easing coughs.

Nutmeg Oil: You know nutmeg as a wonderful addition to an apple crisp recipe studies have suggested that the oil of this spice has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

A critical component of staying healthy, warding off colds, and recovering? Getting enough sleep! Here are 4 essential oils known to promote relaxation and snoozing! (Chamomile oil, above, is another one that helps on this front.)

Lavender Oil: Lavender is one of the best-studied essential oils. Research has shown that it may help you go to sleep, and may even lower your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Less stress, easier snoozing! "Lavender is well known for its ability to lift mood and reduce anxiety," says Dr. Lin. "Who wouldn&rsquot benefit from a mood lift when sick?"

Bergamot Oil: One study showed that sniffing bergamot aroma for just 15 minutes reduced cortisol levels.

Clary Sage Oil: With a grassy, herbal scent, this oil eases stress and makes you feel sleepy. Put a drop or two on a tissue, cup it in your hands, and breathe in deeply for a couple of minutes.

Sandalwood Oil: Another rich and woodsy scent one study found that the oil has a sedative effect and can increase REM sleep (but for some people, it increases alertness! So maybe try it before a nap first).

What Are the Risks of Using Essential Oils?

"Because it takes a lot of plant materials to make the essential oil&mdashfor example, it takes 250 lbs. of lavender to produce one pound of essential oil&mdashthey are considered strong medicine," says Dr. Lin. "A little goes a long way, and toxicity is possible." Start by using a minimum amount and increase as tolerated. Dr. Lin adds, "Extra caution needs to be exercised around pregnant women, children, the elderly, those with multiple medical conditions, and pets."

Go here to join Prevention Premium (our best value, all-access plan), subscribe to the magazine, or get digital-only access.


15 Best Essential Oils for Colds and Coughs

The right ones can fight off sneezes, sniffles, and hacking.

This article was medically reviewed by Connie Jennings, M.D., a member of the Prevention Medical Review Board, on September 12, 2019.

Before we dive into essential oils, know this: The best way to ward off a cold is to wash your hands. A lot. Often. Then again. (That's right&mdashthe same thing you're doing to help ward off Covid-19.) Most doctors agree that scrubbing your mitts is the number-one way to stay healthy during cold season while people around you are wheezing and sneezing and dripping mucus. But isn&rsquot it nice to know that there are other natural ways to ward off the ickies&mdashand that they (bonus!) smell great? Essential oils to the rescue!

The Benefits of Essential Oils

Essential oils have been used by generations of people, in a multitude of cultures, as a natural preventative and treatment for a host of ailments, and that includes the common cold. "As far back as the Paleolithic period&mdash60,000 years ago&mdashhumans were using plants as herbal remedies," says Yufang Lin, MD, a board-certified physician who practices at Cleveland Clinic Wellness. "Unlike pharmaceuticals, one plant often has multiple properties. Lavender, for instance, has anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, anti-anxiety and anti-depressant properties." That means that you can get some unexpected bonus protection!

What Does the Research Say About Essential Oils?

Like many natural remedies, there hasn&rsquot been a huge amount of research done on essential oils, since studies are (unfortunately) often driven by the marketplace&mdashbut there have been a certain number of studies on some essential oils. And there's plenty of anecdotal evidence that essential oils can be used to ease various ailments. When it comes to using them to ward off colds and coughs and easing the discomfort they cause, keep reading for more on what's known about specific oils.

How to Use Essential Oils

There are a few easy methods for using essential oils to help with the sniffles.

  • Create a DIY steam sauna: Take a large pot or bowl of boiling water, add 8-10 drops of whatever essential oil you&rsquore using, then lean over the pot/bowl (please keep 10 inches away to protect your lovely face from burns!) with a towel draped over your head like it&rsquos your own personal tent. Breathe through your nose for two minutes, then stop.
  • Get a diffuser. This is a less direct way to get a hit of essential oil, but there are loads of options at different price ranges. A real bonus is the wonderful scent that will waft through your home. And some essential oils will also help you sleep, making them a great choice for your bedroom more on that below.
  • Dab it on your skin&mdashwith care! First rule: NEVER apply undiluted essential oil to your skin&mdashit can cause a seriously unpleasant reaction (for example, a burn if your skin is then exposed to sunlight). Always dilute essential oils with a gentle neutral oil before daubing them on, like olive, coconut, or grapeseed oil.

15 Essential Oils That Can Help With a Cold

Here are oils that are always mentioned, when it comes to easing cold symptoms, and what's known about each one.

Tea Tree Oil: According to one study, this oil has been found to have antiviral properties, meaning it could help squelch the nasties that lead to sinus infections and respiratory issues. "Tea tree essential oil has also been proven to have antimicrobial and antifungal properties," says Dr. Lin. "It's one of my favorites for cold season, along with eucalyptus and lavender."

Eucalyptus Oil: Beyond its forest-y scent, eucalyptus oil has been shown to have both antiviral and antimicrobial properties. "It also reduces inflammation, suppresses cough, reduces fever, loosens up chest congestion, and is an all-around support during cold season," says Dr. Lin. Dilute it in one of the neutral oils above and rub it onto chest and throat to ease a cough, or do a steam sauna (above). If you&rsquore feverish, you can also add it to a cool compress and it may just lessen your temp.

Peppermint Oil: That minty goodness is a natural decongestant and fever reducer, due to its menthol. A small study from 2013 found that it can help the bronchial muscles&mdashand could thus ease breathing if you have a cough. (Don&rsquot use this one while pregnant.)

Chamomile Oil: This daisy-like flower has long been used in various natural remedies. A 2010 study stated that breathing in chamomile essential oil in steam may help relieve cold symptoms.

Rosemary Oil: A fragrant herb, rosemary isn&rsquot just a way to spark up your roast chicken! In its essential oil form, it&rsquos been found to be good at breaking up mucus and reducing inflammation. The potential for less sniffles and fewer aches and pains? Good news all around.

Frankincense Oil: Made from the resin of the Boswellia tree, frankincense's anti-inflammatory power has been shown to be useful in treating coughs and bronchitis. The scent is woodsy and rich.

Oregano Oil: As a spice, you sprinkle oregano on your Italian dishes, of course, but in its essential oil form, it has a compound that, according to one study, is a good antimicrobial germ-fighter.

Thyme Oil: With high levels of the same helpful compound as oregano, thyme oil may help protect against viruses and bacteria. It has a warm, herbaceous scent. It's been reported that during the Middle Ages, thyme was used to promote sleep.

Cinnamon Oil: Research done in 2017 showed that cinnamon oil could ward off germs that cause respiratory problems. (The spice itself is super-healthy: It has antioxidant-rich polyphenols.)

Geranium Oil : A research review showed that geranium oil&mdashwhich has a lovely rosy scent&mdashhad some success in easing coughs.

Nutmeg Oil: You know nutmeg as a wonderful addition to an apple crisp recipe studies have suggested that the oil of this spice has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

A critical component of staying healthy, warding off colds, and recovering? Getting enough sleep! Here are 4 essential oils known to promote relaxation and snoozing! (Chamomile oil, above, is another one that helps on this front.)

Lavender Oil: Lavender is one of the best-studied essential oils. Research has shown that it may help you go to sleep, and may even lower your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Less stress, easier snoozing! "Lavender is well known for its ability to lift mood and reduce anxiety," says Dr. Lin. "Who wouldn&rsquot benefit from a mood lift when sick?"

Bergamot Oil: One study showed that sniffing bergamot aroma for just 15 minutes reduced cortisol levels.

Clary Sage Oil: With a grassy, herbal scent, this oil eases stress and makes you feel sleepy. Put a drop or two on a tissue, cup it in your hands, and breathe in deeply for a couple of minutes.

Sandalwood Oil: Another rich and woodsy scent one study found that the oil has a sedative effect and can increase REM sleep (but for some people, it increases alertness! So maybe try it before a nap first).

What Are the Risks of Using Essential Oils?

"Because it takes a lot of plant materials to make the essential oil&mdashfor example, it takes 250 lbs. of lavender to produce one pound of essential oil&mdashthey are considered strong medicine," says Dr. Lin. "A little goes a long way, and toxicity is possible." Start by using a minimum amount and increase as tolerated. Dr. Lin adds, "Extra caution needs to be exercised around pregnant women, children, the elderly, those with multiple medical conditions, and pets."

Go here to join Prevention Premium (our best value, all-access plan), subscribe to the magazine, or get digital-only access.


15 Best Essential Oils for Colds and Coughs

The right ones can fight off sneezes, sniffles, and hacking.

This article was medically reviewed by Connie Jennings, M.D., a member of the Prevention Medical Review Board, on September 12, 2019.

Before we dive into essential oils, know this: The best way to ward off a cold is to wash your hands. A lot. Often. Then again. (That's right&mdashthe same thing you're doing to help ward off Covid-19.) Most doctors agree that scrubbing your mitts is the number-one way to stay healthy during cold season while people around you are wheezing and sneezing and dripping mucus. But isn&rsquot it nice to know that there are other natural ways to ward off the ickies&mdashand that they (bonus!) smell great? Essential oils to the rescue!

The Benefits of Essential Oils

Essential oils have been used by generations of people, in a multitude of cultures, as a natural preventative and treatment for a host of ailments, and that includes the common cold. "As far back as the Paleolithic period&mdash60,000 years ago&mdashhumans were using plants as herbal remedies," says Yufang Lin, MD, a board-certified physician who practices at Cleveland Clinic Wellness. "Unlike pharmaceuticals, one plant often has multiple properties. Lavender, for instance, has anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, anti-anxiety and anti-depressant properties." That means that you can get some unexpected bonus protection!

What Does the Research Say About Essential Oils?

Like many natural remedies, there hasn&rsquot been a huge amount of research done on essential oils, since studies are (unfortunately) often driven by the marketplace&mdashbut there have been a certain number of studies on some essential oils. And there's plenty of anecdotal evidence that essential oils can be used to ease various ailments. When it comes to using them to ward off colds and coughs and easing the discomfort they cause, keep reading for more on what's known about specific oils.

How to Use Essential Oils

There are a few easy methods for using essential oils to help with the sniffles.

  • Create a DIY steam sauna: Take a large pot or bowl of boiling water, add 8-10 drops of whatever essential oil you&rsquore using, then lean over the pot/bowl (please keep 10 inches away to protect your lovely face from burns!) with a towel draped over your head like it&rsquos your own personal tent. Breathe through your nose for two minutes, then stop.
  • Get a diffuser. This is a less direct way to get a hit of essential oil, but there are loads of options at different price ranges. A real bonus is the wonderful scent that will waft through your home. And some essential oils will also help you sleep, making them a great choice for your bedroom more on that below.
  • Dab it on your skin&mdashwith care! First rule: NEVER apply undiluted essential oil to your skin&mdashit can cause a seriously unpleasant reaction (for example, a burn if your skin is then exposed to sunlight). Always dilute essential oils with a gentle neutral oil before daubing them on, like olive, coconut, or grapeseed oil.

15 Essential Oils That Can Help With a Cold

Here are oils that are always mentioned, when it comes to easing cold symptoms, and what's known about each one.

Tea Tree Oil: According to one study, this oil has been found to have antiviral properties, meaning it could help squelch the nasties that lead to sinus infections and respiratory issues. "Tea tree essential oil has also been proven to have antimicrobial and antifungal properties," says Dr. Lin. "It's one of my favorites for cold season, along with eucalyptus and lavender."

Eucalyptus Oil: Beyond its forest-y scent, eucalyptus oil has been shown to have both antiviral and antimicrobial properties. "It also reduces inflammation, suppresses cough, reduces fever, loosens up chest congestion, and is an all-around support during cold season," says Dr. Lin. Dilute it in one of the neutral oils above and rub it onto chest and throat to ease a cough, or do a steam sauna (above). If you&rsquore feverish, you can also add it to a cool compress and it may just lessen your temp.

Peppermint Oil: That minty goodness is a natural decongestant and fever reducer, due to its menthol. A small study from 2013 found that it can help the bronchial muscles&mdashand could thus ease breathing if you have a cough. (Don&rsquot use this one while pregnant.)

Chamomile Oil: This daisy-like flower has long been used in various natural remedies. A 2010 study stated that breathing in chamomile essential oil in steam may help relieve cold symptoms.

Rosemary Oil: A fragrant herb, rosemary isn&rsquot just a way to spark up your roast chicken! In its essential oil form, it&rsquos been found to be good at breaking up mucus and reducing inflammation. The potential for less sniffles and fewer aches and pains? Good news all around.

Frankincense Oil: Made from the resin of the Boswellia tree, frankincense's anti-inflammatory power has been shown to be useful in treating coughs and bronchitis. The scent is woodsy and rich.

Oregano Oil: As a spice, you sprinkle oregano on your Italian dishes, of course, but in its essential oil form, it has a compound that, according to one study, is a good antimicrobial germ-fighter.

Thyme Oil: With high levels of the same helpful compound as oregano, thyme oil may help protect against viruses and bacteria. It has a warm, herbaceous scent. It's been reported that during the Middle Ages, thyme was used to promote sleep.

Cinnamon Oil: Research done in 2017 showed that cinnamon oil could ward off germs that cause respiratory problems. (The spice itself is super-healthy: It has antioxidant-rich polyphenols.)

Geranium Oil : A research review showed that geranium oil&mdashwhich has a lovely rosy scent&mdashhad some success in easing coughs.

Nutmeg Oil: You know nutmeg as a wonderful addition to an apple crisp recipe studies have suggested that the oil of this spice has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

A critical component of staying healthy, warding off colds, and recovering? Getting enough sleep! Here are 4 essential oils known to promote relaxation and snoozing! (Chamomile oil, above, is another one that helps on this front.)

Lavender Oil: Lavender is one of the best-studied essential oils. Research has shown that it may help you go to sleep, and may even lower your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Less stress, easier snoozing! "Lavender is well known for its ability to lift mood and reduce anxiety," says Dr. Lin. "Who wouldn&rsquot benefit from a mood lift when sick?"

Bergamot Oil: One study showed that sniffing bergamot aroma for just 15 minutes reduced cortisol levels.

Clary Sage Oil: With a grassy, herbal scent, this oil eases stress and makes you feel sleepy. Put a drop or two on a tissue, cup it in your hands, and breathe in deeply for a couple of minutes.

Sandalwood Oil: Another rich and woodsy scent one study found that the oil has a sedative effect and can increase REM sleep (but for some people, it increases alertness! So maybe try it before a nap first).

What Are the Risks of Using Essential Oils?

"Because it takes a lot of plant materials to make the essential oil&mdashfor example, it takes 250 lbs. of lavender to produce one pound of essential oil&mdashthey are considered strong medicine," says Dr. Lin. "A little goes a long way, and toxicity is possible." Start by using a minimum amount and increase as tolerated. Dr. Lin adds, "Extra caution needs to be exercised around pregnant women, children, the elderly, those with multiple medical conditions, and pets."

Go here to join Prevention Premium (our best value, all-access plan), subscribe to the magazine, or get digital-only access.


15 Best Essential Oils for Colds and Coughs

The right ones can fight off sneezes, sniffles, and hacking.

This article was medically reviewed by Connie Jennings, M.D., a member of the Prevention Medical Review Board, on September 12, 2019.

Before we dive into essential oils, know this: The best way to ward off a cold is to wash your hands. A lot. Often. Then again. (That's right&mdashthe same thing you're doing to help ward off Covid-19.) Most doctors agree that scrubbing your mitts is the number-one way to stay healthy during cold season while people around you are wheezing and sneezing and dripping mucus. But isn&rsquot it nice to know that there are other natural ways to ward off the ickies&mdashand that they (bonus!) smell great? Essential oils to the rescue!

The Benefits of Essential Oils

Essential oils have been used by generations of people, in a multitude of cultures, as a natural preventative and treatment for a host of ailments, and that includes the common cold. "As far back as the Paleolithic period&mdash60,000 years ago&mdashhumans were using plants as herbal remedies," says Yufang Lin, MD, a board-certified physician who practices at Cleveland Clinic Wellness. "Unlike pharmaceuticals, one plant often has multiple properties. Lavender, for instance, has anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, anti-anxiety and anti-depressant properties." That means that you can get some unexpected bonus protection!

What Does the Research Say About Essential Oils?

Like many natural remedies, there hasn&rsquot been a huge amount of research done on essential oils, since studies are (unfortunately) often driven by the marketplace&mdashbut there have been a certain number of studies on some essential oils. And there's plenty of anecdotal evidence that essential oils can be used to ease various ailments. When it comes to using them to ward off colds and coughs and easing the discomfort they cause, keep reading for more on what's known about specific oils.

How to Use Essential Oils

There are a few easy methods for using essential oils to help with the sniffles.

  • Create a DIY steam sauna: Take a large pot or bowl of boiling water, add 8-10 drops of whatever essential oil you&rsquore using, then lean over the pot/bowl (please keep 10 inches away to protect your lovely face from burns!) with a towel draped over your head like it&rsquos your own personal tent. Breathe through your nose for two minutes, then stop.
  • Get a diffuser. This is a less direct way to get a hit of essential oil, but there are loads of options at different price ranges. A real bonus is the wonderful scent that will waft through your home. And some essential oils will also help you sleep, making them a great choice for your bedroom more on that below.
  • Dab it on your skin&mdashwith care! First rule: NEVER apply undiluted essential oil to your skin&mdashit can cause a seriously unpleasant reaction (for example, a burn if your skin is then exposed to sunlight). Always dilute essential oils with a gentle neutral oil before daubing them on, like olive, coconut, or grapeseed oil.

15 Essential Oils That Can Help With a Cold

Here are oils that are always mentioned, when it comes to easing cold symptoms, and what's known about each one.

Tea Tree Oil: According to one study, this oil has been found to have antiviral properties, meaning it could help squelch the nasties that lead to sinus infections and respiratory issues. "Tea tree essential oil has also been proven to have antimicrobial and antifungal properties," says Dr. Lin. "It's one of my favorites for cold season, along with eucalyptus and lavender."

Eucalyptus Oil: Beyond its forest-y scent, eucalyptus oil has been shown to have both antiviral and antimicrobial properties. "It also reduces inflammation, suppresses cough, reduces fever, loosens up chest congestion, and is an all-around support during cold season," says Dr. Lin. Dilute it in one of the neutral oils above and rub it onto chest and throat to ease a cough, or do a steam sauna (above). If you&rsquore feverish, you can also add it to a cool compress and it may just lessen your temp.

Peppermint Oil: That minty goodness is a natural decongestant and fever reducer, due to its menthol. A small study from 2013 found that it can help the bronchial muscles&mdashand could thus ease breathing if you have a cough. (Don&rsquot use this one while pregnant.)

Chamomile Oil: This daisy-like flower has long been used in various natural remedies. A 2010 study stated that breathing in chamomile essential oil in steam may help relieve cold symptoms.

Rosemary Oil: A fragrant herb, rosemary isn&rsquot just a way to spark up your roast chicken! In its essential oil form, it&rsquos been found to be good at breaking up mucus and reducing inflammation. The potential for less sniffles and fewer aches and pains? Good news all around.

Frankincense Oil: Made from the resin of the Boswellia tree, frankincense's anti-inflammatory power has been shown to be useful in treating coughs and bronchitis. The scent is woodsy and rich.

Oregano Oil: As a spice, you sprinkle oregano on your Italian dishes, of course, but in its essential oil form, it has a compound that, according to one study, is a good antimicrobial germ-fighter.

Thyme Oil: With high levels of the same helpful compound as oregano, thyme oil may help protect against viruses and bacteria. It has a warm, herbaceous scent. It's been reported that during the Middle Ages, thyme was used to promote sleep.

Cinnamon Oil: Research done in 2017 showed that cinnamon oil could ward off germs that cause respiratory problems. (The spice itself is super-healthy: It has antioxidant-rich polyphenols.)

Geranium Oil : A research review showed that geranium oil&mdashwhich has a lovely rosy scent&mdashhad some success in easing coughs.

Nutmeg Oil: You know nutmeg as a wonderful addition to an apple crisp recipe studies have suggested that the oil of this spice has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

A critical component of staying healthy, warding off colds, and recovering? Getting enough sleep! Here are 4 essential oils known to promote relaxation and snoozing! (Chamomile oil, above, is another one that helps on this front.)

Lavender Oil: Lavender is one of the best-studied essential oils. Research has shown that it may help you go to sleep, and may even lower your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Less stress, easier snoozing! "Lavender is well known for its ability to lift mood and reduce anxiety," says Dr. Lin. "Who wouldn&rsquot benefit from a mood lift when sick?"

Bergamot Oil: One study showed that sniffing bergamot aroma for just 15 minutes reduced cortisol levels.

Clary Sage Oil: With a grassy, herbal scent, this oil eases stress and makes you feel sleepy. Put a drop or two on a tissue, cup it in your hands, and breathe in deeply for a couple of minutes.

Sandalwood Oil: Another rich and woodsy scent one study found that the oil has a sedative effect and can increase REM sleep (but for some people, it increases alertness! So maybe try it before a nap first).

What Are the Risks of Using Essential Oils?

"Because it takes a lot of plant materials to make the essential oil&mdashfor example, it takes 250 lbs. of lavender to produce one pound of essential oil&mdashthey are considered strong medicine," says Dr. Lin. "A little goes a long way, and toxicity is possible." Start by using a minimum amount and increase as tolerated. Dr. Lin adds, "Extra caution needs to be exercised around pregnant women, children, the elderly, those with multiple medical conditions, and pets."

Go here to join Prevention Premium (our best value, all-access plan), subscribe to the magazine, or get digital-only access.


15 Best Essential Oils for Colds and Coughs

The right ones can fight off sneezes, sniffles, and hacking.

This article was medically reviewed by Connie Jennings, M.D., a member of the Prevention Medical Review Board, on September 12, 2019.

Before we dive into essential oils, know this: The best way to ward off a cold is to wash your hands. A lot. Often. Then again. (That's right&mdashthe same thing you're doing to help ward off Covid-19.) Most doctors agree that scrubbing your mitts is the number-one way to stay healthy during cold season while people around you are wheezing and sneezing and dripping mucus. But isn&rsquot it nice to know that there are other natural ways to ward off the ickies&mdashand that they (bonus!) smell great? Essential oils to the rescue!

The Benefits of Essential Oils

Essential oils have been used by generations of people, in a multitude of cultures, as a natural preventative and treatment for a host of ailments, and that includes the common cold. "As far back as the Paleolithic period&mdash60,000 years ago&mdashhumans were using plants as herbal remedies," says Yufang Lin, MD, a board-certified physician who practices at Cleveland Clinic Wellness. "Unlike pharmaceuticals, one plant often has multiple properties. Lavender, for instance, has anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, anti-anxiety and anti-depressant properties." That means that you can get some unexpected bonus protection!

What Does the Research Say About Essential Oils?

Like many natural remedies, there hasn&rsquot been a huge amount of research done on essential oils, since studies are (unfortunately) often driven by the marketplace&mdashbut there have been a certain number of studies on some essential oils. And there's plenty of anecdotal evidence that essential oils can be used to ease various ailments. When it comes to using them to ward off colds and coughs and easing the discomfort they cause, keep reading for more on what's known about specific oils.

How to Use Essential Oils

There are a few easy methods for using essential oils to help with the sniffles.

  • Create a DIY steam sauna: Take a large pot or bowl of boiling water, add 8-10 drops of whatever essential oil you&rsquore using, then lean over the pot/bowl (please keep 10 inches away to protect your lovely face from burns!) with a towel draped over your head like it&rsquos your own personal tent. Breathe through your nose for two minutes, then stop.
  • Get a diffuser. This is a less direct way to get a hit of essential oil, but there are loads of options at different price ranges. A real bonus is the wonderful scent that will waft through your home. And some essential oils will also help you sleep, making them a great choice for your bedroom more on that below.
  • Dab it on your skin&mdashwith care! First rule: NEVER apply undiluted essential oil to your skin&mdashit can cause a seriously unpleasant reaction (for example, a burn if your skin is then exposed to sunlight). Always dilute essential oils with a gentle neutral oil before daubing them on, like olive, coconut, or grapeseed oil.

15 Essential Oils That Can Help With a Cold

Here are oils that are always mentioned, when it comes to easing cold symptoms, and what's known about each one.

Tea Tree Oil: According to one study, this oil has been found to have antiviral properties, meaning it could help squelch the nasties that lead to sinus infections and respiratory issues. "Tea tree essential oil has also been proven to have antimicrobial and antifungal properties," says Dr. Lin. "It's one of my favorites for cold season, along with eucalyptus and lavender."

Eucalyptus Oil: Beyond its forest-y scent, eucalyptus oil has been shown to have both antiviral and antimicrobial properties. "It also reduces inflammation, suppresses cough, reduces fever, loosens up chest congestion, and is an all-around support during cold season," says Dr. Lin. Dilute it in one of the neutral oils above and rub it onto chest and throat to ease a cough, or do a steam sauna (above). If you&rsquore feverish, you can also add it to a cool compress and it may just lessen your temp.

Peppermint Oil: That minty goodness is a natural decongestant and fever reducer, due to its menthol. A small study from 2013 found that it can help the bronchial muscles&mdashand could thus ease breathing if you have a cough. (Don&rsquot use this one while pregnant.)

Chamomile Oil: This daisy-like flower has long been used in various natural remedies. A 2010 study stated that breathing in chamomile essential oil in steam may help relieve cold symptoms.

Rosemary Oil: A fragrant herb, rosemary isn&rsquot just a way to spark up your roast chicken! In its essential oil form, it&rsquos been found to be good at breaking up mucus and reducing inflammation. The potential for less sniffles and fewer aches and pains? Good news all around.

Frankincense Oil: Made from the resin of the Boswellia tree, frankincense's anti-inflammatory power has been shown to be useful in treating coughs and bronchitis. The scent is woodsy and rich.

Oregano Oil: As a spice, you sprinkle oregano on your Italian dishes, of course, but in its essential oil form, it has a compound that, according to one study, is a good antimicrobial germ-fighter.

Thyme Oil: With high levels of the same helpful compound as oregano, thyme oil may help protect against viruses and bacteria. It has a warm, herbaceous scent. It's been reported that during the Middle Ages, thyme was used to promote sleep.

Cinnamon Oil: Research done in 2017 showed that cinnamon oil could ward off germs that cause respiratory problems. (The spice itself is super-healthy: It has antioxidant-rich polyphenols.)

Geranium Oil : A research review showed that geranium oil&mdashwhich has a lovely rosy scent&mdashhad some success in easing coughs.

Nutmeg Oil: You know nutmeg as a wonderful addition to an apple crisp recipe studies have suggested that the oil of this spice has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

A critical component of staying healthy, warding off colds, and recovering? Getting enough sleep! Here are 4 essential oils known to promote relaxation and snoozing! (Chamomile oil, above, is another one that helps on this front.)

Lavender Oil: Lavender is one of the best-studied essential oils. Research has shown that it may help you go to sleep, and may even lower your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Less stress, easier snoozing! "Lavender is well known for its ability to lift mood and reduce anxiety," says Dr. Lin. "Who wouldn&rsquot benefit from a mood lift when sick?"

Bergamot Oil: One study showed that sniffing bergamot aroma for just 15 minutes reduced cortisol levels.

Clary Sage Oil: With a grassy, herbal scent, this oil eases stress and makes you feel sleepy. Put a drop or two on a tissue, cup it in your hands, and breathe in deeply for a couple of minutes.

Sandalwood Oil: Another rich and woodsy scent one study found that the oil has a sedative effect and can increase REM sleep (but for some people, it increases alertness! So maybe try it before a nap first).

What Are the Risks of Using Essential Oils?

"Because it takes a lot of plant materials to make the essential oil&mdashfor example, it takes 250 lbs. of lavender to produce one pound of essential oil&mdashthey are considered strong medicine," says Dr. Lin. "A little goes a long way, and toxicity is possible." Start by using a minimum amount and increase as tolerated. Dr. Lin adds, "Extra caution needs to be exercised around pregnant women, children, the elderly, those with multiple medical conditions, and pets."

Go here to join Prevention Premium (our best value, all-access plan), subscribe to the magazine, or get digital-only access.


15 Best Essential Oils for Colds and Coughs

The right ones can fight off sneezes, sniffles, and hacking.

This article was medically reviewed by Connie Jennings, M.D., a member of the Prevention Medical Review Board, on September 12, 2019.

Before we dive into essential oils, know this: The best way to ward off a cold is to wash your hands. A lot. Often. Then again. (That's right&mdashthe same thing you're doing to help ward off Covid-19.) Most doctors agree that scrubbing your mitts is the number-one way to stay healthy during cold season while people around you are wheezing and sneezing and dripping mucus. But isn&rsquot it nice to know that there are other natural ways to ward off the ickies&mdashand that they (bonus!) smell great? Essential oils to the rescue!

The Benefits of Essential Oils

Essential oils have been used by generations of people, in a multitude of cultures, as a natural preventative and treatment for a host of ailments, and that includes the common cold. "As far back as the Paleolithic period&mdash60,000 years ago&mdashhumans were using plants as herbal remedies," says Yufang Lin, MD, a board-certified physician who practices at Cleveland Clinic Wellness. "Unlike pharmaceuticals, one plant often has multiple properties. Lavender, for instance, has anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, anti-anxiety and anti-depressant properties." That means that you can get some unexpected bonus protection!

What Does the Research Say About Essential Oils?

Like many natural remedies, there hasn&rsquot been a huge amount of research done on essential oils, since studies are (unfortunately) often driven by the marketplace&mdashbut there have been a certain number of studies on some essential oils. And there's plenty of anecdotal evidence that essential oils can be used to ease various ailments. When it comes to using them to ward off colds and coughs and easing the discomfort they cause, keep reading for more on what's known about specific oils.

How to Use Essential Oils

There are a few easy methods for using essential oils to help with the sniffles.

  • Create a DIY steam sauna: Take a large pot or bowl of boiling water, add 8-10 drops of whatever essential oil you&rsquore using, then lean over the pot/bowl (please keep 10 inches away to protect your lovely face from burns!) with a towel draped over your head like it&rsquos your own personal tent. Breathe through your nose for two minutes, then stop.
  • Get a diffuser. This is a less direct way to get a hit of essential oil, but there are loads of options at different price ranges. A real bonus is the wonderful scent that will waft through your home. And some essential oils will also help you sleep, making them a great choice for your bedroom more on that below.
  • Dab it on your skin&mdashwith care! First rule: NEVER apply undiluted essential oil to your skin&mdashit can cause a seriously unpleasant reaction (for example, a burn if your skin is then exposed to sunlight). Always dilute essential oils with a gentle neutral oil before daubing them on, like olive, coconut, or grapeseed oil.

15 Essential Oils That Can Help With a Cold

Here are oils that are always mentioned, when it comes to easing cold symptoms, and what's known about each one.

Tea Tree Oil: According to one study, this oil has been found to have antiviral properties, meaning it could help squelch the nasties that lead to sinus infections and respiratory issues. "Tea tree essential oil has also been proven to have antimicrobial and antifungal properties," says Dr. Lin. "It's one of my favorites for cold season, along with eucalyptus and lavender."

Eucalyptus Oil: Beyond its forest-y scent, eucalyptus oil has been shown to have both antiviral and antimicrobial properties. "It also reduces inflammation, suppresses cough, reduces fever, loosens up chest congestion, and is an all-around support during cold season," says Dr. Lin. Dilute it in one of the neutral oils above and rub it onto chest and throat to ease a cough, or do a steam sauna (above). If you&rsquore feverish, you can also add it to a cool compress and it may just lessen your temp.

Peppermint Oil: That minty goodness is a natural decongestant and fever reducer, due to its menthol. A small study from 2013 found that it can help the bronchial muscles&mdashand could thus ease breathing if you have a cough. (Don&rsquot use this one while pregnant.)

Chamomile Oil: This daisy-like flower has long been used in various natural remedies. A 2010 study stated that breathing in chamomile essential oil in steam may help relieve cold symptoms.

Rosemary Oil: A fragrant herb, rosemary isn&rsquot just a way to spark up your roast chicken! In its essential oil form, it&rsquos been found to be good at breaking up mucus and reducing inflammation. The potential for less sniffles and fewer aches and pains? Good news all around.

Frankincense Oil: Made from the resin of the Boswellia tree, frankincense's anti-inflammatory power has been shown to be useful in treating coughs and bronchitis. The scent is woodsy and rich.

Oregano Oil: As a spice, you sprinkle oregano on your Italian dishes, of course, but in its essential oil form, it has a compound that, according to one study, is a good antimicrobial germ-fighter.

Thyme Oil: With high levels of the same helpful compound as oregano, thyme oil may help protect against viruses and bacteria. It has a warm, herbaceous scent. It's been reported that during the Middle Ages, thyme was used to promote sleep.

Cinnamon Oil: Research done in 2017 showed that cinnamon oil could ward off germs that cause respiratory problems. (The spice itself is super-healthy: It has antioxidant-rich polyphenols.)

Geranium Oil : A research review showed that geranium oil&mdashwhich has a lovely rosy scent&mdashhad some success in easing coughs.

Nutmeg Oil: You know nutmeg as a wonderful addition to an apple crisp recipe studies have suggested that the oil of this spice has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

A critical component of staying healthy, warding off colds, and recovering? Getting enough sleep! Here are 4 essential oils known to promote relaxation and snoozing! (Chamomile oil, above, is another one that helps on this front.)

Lavender Oil: Lavender is one of the best-studied essential oils. Research has shown that it may help you go to sleep, and may even lower your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Less stress, easier snoozing! "Lavender is well known for its ability to lift mood and reduce anxiety," says Dr. Lin. "Who wouldn&rsquot benefit from a mood lift when sick?"

Bergamot Oil: One study showed that sniffing bergamot aroma for just 15 minutes reduced cortisol levels.

Clary Sage Oil: With a grassy, herbal scent, this oil eases stress and makes you feel sleepy. Put a drop or two on a tissue, cup it in your hands, and breathe in deeply for a couple of minutes.

Sandalwood Oil: Another rich and woodsy scent one study found that the oil has a sedative effect and can increase REM sleep (but for some people, it increases alertness! So maybe try it before a nap first).

What Are the Risks of Using Essential Oils?

"Because it takes a lot of plant materials to make the essential oil&mdashfor example, it takes 250 lbs. of lavender to produce one pound of essential oil&mdashthey are considered strong medicine," says Dr. Lin. "A little goes a long way, and toxicity is possible." Start by using a minimum amount and increase as tolerated. Dr. Lin adds, "Extra caution needs to be exercised around pregnant women, children, the elderly, those with multiple medical conditions, and pets."

Go here to join Prevention Premium (our best value, all-access plan), subscribe to the magazine, or get digital-only access.


15 Best Essential Oils for Colds and Coughs

The right ones can fight off sneezes, sniffles, and hacking.

This article was medically reviewed by Connie Jennings, M.D., a member of the Prevention Medical Review Board, on September 12, 2019.

Before we dive into essential oils, know this: The best way to ward off a cold is to wash your hands. A lot. Often. Then again. (That's right&mdashthe same thing you're doing to help ward off Covid-19.) Most doctors agree that scrubbing your mitts is the number-one way to stay healthy during cold season while people around you are wheezing and sneezing and dripping mucus. But isn&rsquot it nice to know that there are other natural ways to ward off the ickies&mdashand that they (bonus!) smell great? Essential oils to the rescue!

The Benefits of Essential Oils

Essential oils have been used by generations of people, in a multitude of cultures, as a natural preventative and treatment for a host of ailments, and that includes the common cold. "As far back as the Paleolithic period&mdash60,000 years ago&mdashhumans were using plants as herbal remedies," says Yufang Lin, MD, a board-certified physician who practices at Cleveland Clinic Wellness. "Unlike pharmaceuticals, one plant often has multiple properties. Lavender, for instance, has anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, anti-anxiety and anti-depressant properties." That means that you can get some unexpected bonus protection!

What Does the Research Say About Essential Oils?

Like many natural remedies, there hasn&rsquot been a huge amount of research done on essential oils, since studies are (unfortunately) often driven by the marketplace&mdashbut there have been a certain number of studies on some essential oils. And there's plenty of anecdotal evidence that essential oils can be used to ease various ailments. When it comes to using them to ward off colds and coughs and easing the discomfort they cause, keep reading for more on what's known about specific oils.

How to Use Essential Oils

There are a few easy methods for using essential oils to help with the sniffles.

  • Create a DIY steam sauna: Take a large pot or bowl of boiling water, add 8-10 drops of whatever essential oil you&rsquore using, then lean over the pot/bowl (please keep 10 inches away to protect your lovely face from burns!) with a towel draped over your head like it&rsquos your own personal tent. Breathe through your nose for two minutes, then stop.
  • Get a diffuser. This is a less direct way to get a hit of essential oil, but there are loads of options at different price ranges. A real bonus is the wonderful scent that will waft through your home. And some essential oils will also help you sleep, making them a great choice for your bedroom more on that below.
  • Dab it on your skin&mdashwith care! First rule: NEVER apply undiluted essential oil to your skin&mdashit can cause a seriously unpleasant reaction (for example, a burn if your skin is then exposed to sunlight). Always dilute essential oils with a gentle neutral oil before daubing them on, like olive, coconut, or grapeseed oil.

15 Essential Oils That Can Help With a Cold

Here are oils that are always mentioned, when it comes to easing cold symptoms, and what's known about each one.

Tea Tree Oil: According to one study, this oil has been found to have antiviral properties, meaning it could help squelch the nasties that lead to sinus infections and respiratory issues. "Tea tree essential oil has also been proven to have antimicrobial and antifungal properties," says Dr. Lin. "It's one of my favorites for cold season, along with eucalyptus and lavender."

Eucalyptus Oil: Beyond its forest-y scent, eucalyptus oil has been shown to have both antiviral and antimicrobial properties. "It also reduces inflammation, suppresses cough, reduces fever, loosens up chest congestion, and is an all-around support during cold season," says Dr. Lin. Dilute it in one of the neutral oils above and rub it onto chest and throat to ease a cough, or do a steam sauna (above). If you&rsquore feverish, you can also add it to a cool compress and it may just lessen your temp.

Peppermint Oil: That minty goodness is a natural decongestant and fever reducer, due to its menthol. A small study from 2013 found that it can help the bronchial muscles&mdashand could thus ease breathing if you have a cough. (Don&rsquot use this one while pregnant.)

Chamomile Oil: This daisy-like flower has long been used in various natural remedies. A 2010 study stated that breathing in chamomile essential oil in steam may help relieve cold symptoms.

Rosemary Oil: A fragrant herb, rosemary isn&rsquot just a way to spark up your roast chicken! In its essential oil form, it&rsquos been found to be good at breaking up mucus and reducing inflammation. The potential for less sniffles and fewer aches and pains? Good news all around.

Frankincense Oil: Made from the resin of the Boswellia tree, frankincense's anti-inflammatory power has been shown to be useful in treating coughs and bronchitis. The scent is woodsy and rich.

Oregano Oil: As a spice, you sprinkle oregano on your Italian dishes, of course, but in its essential oil form, it has a compound that, according to one study, is a good antimicrobial germ-fighter.

Thyme Oil: With high levels of the same helpful compound as oregano, thyme oil may help protect against viruses and bacteria. It has a warm, herbaceous scent. It's been reported that during the Middle Ages, thyme was used to promote sleep.

Cinnamon Oil: Research done in 2017 showed that cinnamon oil could ward off germs that cause respiratory problems. (The spice itself is super-healthy: It has antioxidant-rich polyphenols.)

Geranium Oil : A research review showed that geranium oil&mdashwhich has a lovely rosy scent&mdashhad some success in easing coughs.

Nutmeg Oil: You know nutmeg as a wonderful addition to an apple crisp recipe studies have suggested that the oil of this spice has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

A critical component of staying healthy, warding off colds, and recovering? Getting enough sleep! Here are 4 essential oils known to promote relaxation and snoozing! (Chamomile oil, above, is another one that helps on this front.)

Lavender Oil: Lavender is one of the best-studied essential oils. Research has shown that it may help you go to sleep, and may even lower your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Less stress, easier snoozing! "Lavender is well known for its ability to lift mood and reduce anxiety," says Dr. Lin. "Who wouldn&rsquot benefit from a mood lift when sick?"

Bergamot Oil: One study showed that sniffing bergamot aroma for just 15 minutes reduced cortisol levels.

Clary Sage Oil: With a grassy, herbal scent, this oil eases stress and makes you feel sleepy. Put a drop or two on a tissue, cup it in your hands, and breathe in deeply for a couple of minutes.

Sandalwood Oil: Another rich and woodsy scent one study found that the oil has a sedative effect and can increase REM sleep (but for some people, it increases alertness! So maybe try it before a nap first).

What Are the Risks of Using Essential Oils?

"Because it takes a lot of plant materials to make the essential oil&mdashfor example, it takes 250 lbs. of lavender to produce one pound of essential oil&mdashthey are considered strong medicine," says Dr. Lin. "A little goes a long way, and toxicity is possible." Start by using a minimum amount and increase as tolerated. Dr. Lin adds, "Extra caution needs to be exercised around pregnant women, children, the elderly, those with multiple medical conditions, and pets."

Go here to join Prevention Premium (our best value, all-access plan), subscribe to the magazine, or get digital-only access.


15 Best Essential Oils for Colds and Coughs

The right ones can fight off sneezes, sniffles, and hacking.

This article was medically reviewed by Connie Jennings, M.D., a member of the Prevention Medical Review Board, on September 12, 2019.

Before we dive into essential oils, know this: The best way to ward off a cold is to wash your hands. A lot. Often. Then again. (That's right&mdashthe same thing you're doing to help ward off Covid-19.) Most doctors agree that scrubbing your mitts is the number-one way to stay healthy during cold season while people around you are wheezing and sneezing and dripping mucus. But isn&rsquot it nice to know that there are other natural ways to ward off the ickies&mdashand that they (bonus!) smell great? Essential oils to the rescue!

The Benefits of Essential Oils

Essential oils have been used by generations of people, in a multitude of cultures, as a natural preventative and treatment for a host of ailments, and that includes the common cold. "As far back as the Paleolithic period&mdash60,000 years ago&mdashhumans were using plants as herbal remedies," says Yufang Lin, MD, a board-certified physician who practices at Cleveland Clinic Wellness. "Unlike pharmaceuticals, one plant often has multiple properties. Lavender, for instance, has anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, anti-anxiety and anti-depressant properties." That means that you can get some unexpected bonus protection!

What Does the Research Say About Essential Oils?

Like many natural remedies, there hasn&rsquot been a huge amount of research done on essential oils, since studies are (unfortunately) often driven by the marketplace&mdashbut there have been a certain number of studies on some essential oils. And there's plenty of anecdotal evidence that essential oils can be used to ease various ailments. When it comes to using them to ward off colds and coughs and easing the discomfort they cause, keep reading for more on what's known about specific oils.

How to Use Essential Oils

There are a few easy methods for using essential oils to help with the sniffles.

  • Create a DIY steam sauna: Take a large pot or bowl of boiling water, add 8-10 drops of whatever essential oil you&rsquore using, then lean over the pot/bowl (please keep 10 inches away to protect your lovely face from burns!) with a towel draped over your head like it&rsquos your own personal tent. Breathe through your nose for two minutes, then stop.
  • Get a diffuser. This is a less direct way to get a hit of essential oil, but there are loads of options at different price ranges. A real bonus is the wonderful scent that will waft through your home. And some essential oils will also help you sleep, making them a great choice for your bedroom more on that below.
  • Dab it on your skin&mdashwith care! First rule: NEVER apply undiluted essential oil to your skin&mdashit can cause a seriously unpleasant reaction (for example, a burn if your skin is then exposed to sunlight). Always dilute essential oils with a gentle neutral oil before daubing them on, like olive, coconut, or grapeseed oil.

15 Essential Oils That Can Help With a Cold

Here are oils that are always mentioned, when it comes to easing cold symptoms, and what's known about each one.

Tea Tree Oil: According to one study, this oil has been found to have antiviral properties, meaning it could help squelch the nasties that lead to sinus infections and respiratory issues. "Tea tree essential oil has also been proven to have antimicrobial and antifungal properties," says Dr. Lin. "It's one of my favorites for cold season, along with eucalyptus and lavender."

Eucalyptus Oil: Beyond its forest-y scent, eucalyptus oil has been shown to have both antiviral and antimicrobial properties. "It also reduces inflammation, suppresses cough, reduces fever, loosens up chest congestion, and is an all-around support during cold season," says Dr. Lin. Dilute it in one of the neutral oils above and rub it onto chest and throat to ease a cough, or do a steam sauna (above). If you&rsquore feverish, you can also add it to a cool compress and it may just lessen your temp.

Peppermint Oil: That minty goodness is a natural decongestant and fever reducer, due to its menthol. A small study from 2013 found that it can help the bronchial muscles&mdashand could thus ease breathing if you have a cough. (Don&rsquot use this one while pregnant.)

Chamomile Oil: This daisy-like flower has long been used in various natural remedies. A 2010 study stated that breathing in chamomile essential oil in steam may help relieve cold symptoms.

Rosemary Oil: A fragrant herb, rosemary isn&rsquot just a way to spark up your roast chicken! In its essential oil form, it&rsquos been found to be good at breaking up mucus and reducing inflammation. The potential for less sniffles and fewer aches and pains? Good news all around.

Frankincense Oil: Made from the resin of the Boswellia tree, frankincense's anti-inflammatory power has been shown to be useful in treating coughs and bronchitis. The scent is woodsy and rich.

Oregano Oil: As a spice, you sprinkle oregano on your Italian dishes, of course, but in its essential oil form, it has a compound that, according to one study, is a good antimicrobial germ-fighter.

Thyme Oil: With high levels of the same helpful compound as oregano, thyme oil may help protect against viruses and bacteria. It has a warm, herbaceous scent. It's been reported that during the Middle Ages, thyme was used to promote sleep.

Cinnamon Oil: Research done in 2017 showed that cinnamon oil could ward off germs that cause respiratory problems. (The spice itself is super-healthy: It has antioxidant-rich polyphenols.)

Geranium Oil : A research review showed that geranium oil&mdashwhich has a lovely rosy scent&mdashhad some success in easing coughs.

Nutmeg Oil: You know nutmeg as a wonderful addition to an apple crisp recipe studies have suggested that the oil of this spice has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

A critical component of staying healthy, warding off colds, and recovering? Getting enough sleep! Here are 4 essential oils known to promote relaxation and snoozing! (Chamomile oil, above, is another one that helps on this front.)

Lavender Oil: Lavender is one of the best-studied essential oils. Research has shown that it may help you go to sleep, and may even lower your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Less stress, easier snoozing! "Lavender is well known for its ability to lift mood and reduce anxiety," says Dr. Lin. "Who wouldn&rsquot benefit from a mood lift when sick?"

Bergamot Oil: One study showed that sniffing bergamot aroma for just 15 minutes reduced cortisol levels.

Clary Sage Oil: With a grassy, herbal scent, this oil eases stress and makes you feel sleepy. Put a drop or two on a tissue, cup it in your hands, and breathe in deeply for a couple of minutes.

Sandalwood Oil: Another rich and woodsy scent one study found that the oil has a sedative effect and can increase REM sleep (but for some people, it increases alertness! So maybe try it before a nap first).

What Are the Risks of Using Essential Oils?

"Because it takes a lot of plant materials to make the essential oil&mdashfor example, it takes 250 lbs. of lavender to produce one pound of essential oil&mdashthey are considered strong medicine," says Dr. Lin. "A little goes a long way, and toxicity is possible." Start by using a minimum amount and increase as tolerated. Dr. Lin adds, "Extra caution needs to be exercised around pregnant women, children, the elderly, those with multiple medical conditions, and pets."

Go here to join Prevention Premium (our best value, all-access plan), subscribe to the magazine, or get digital-only access.