Another perk? They take the place of over-the-counter pills when you’re feeling sick.
“Essential oils like peppermint naturally contain menthol, which can help relieve cold symptoms like coughs and muscular aches and pains,” says Kate Ross LeBlanc, co-founder and CEO of the quickly expanding wellness store Saje (think Bath & Body Works, but toxin-free). “Even better: They can help you maintain and support your wellness, so that you’re less stressed, better rested, and more energized.”
The big upside to using essential oils is just how quickly they work. “Because they release their benefits into your skin and also through your olfactory system, the aromas will begin having an effect the minute you breathe them in,” she explains. (You definitely can’t say the same for cherry-flavored cough syrup.)
Plus, they’re as time-tested as that bowl of (vegan) noodle soup. “Varieties like frankincense, tea tree, and eucalyptus have been used for centuries to promote the wellness qualities available in plants,” explains LeBlanc.
Of course, take cues from your body—if symptoms continue, you may still want to see a doctor. But don’t be surprised if these natural cold-fighting techniques lead you to say goodbye to lozenges and nasal sprays.
Keep reading for 3 ways essential oils can help when you’re feeling under the weather.
1. Give yourself a rubdown
Hate swallowing pills? Good news: There are essential oils that can work topically. LeBlanc recommends taking an organic peppermint essential oil (and a carrier oil, like jojoba or coconut) and applying it to the throat and chest in a thick layer up to three times per day. (Think of it as a DIY Vicks VapoRub.)
2. Take a deep breath
Besides putting essential oils on your body, you can breathe them in. LeBlanc recommends an ultrasonic diffuser, which, she notes, creates a cold steam that replicates “a similar soothing effect to when you’re near the ocean or standing beside a waterfall.” Look for calming, warming blends like eucalyptus, cinnamon, and myrrh, which can relieve coughing and other cold symptoms.
3. Do the figure-eight
You can also find relief when you use certain roll-on essential oil blends (like eucalyptus) directly on your sinus area. “Roll on [an essential oil] in a figure-eight over your eyes and under your nose,” explains LeBlanc. You might look crazy, but you’ll feel so much better—and will literally be breathing easy.