What do colds, flus, and cold sores have in common? They’re all caused by viruses. So whether you want a clear complexion or to be clear of congestion, you need hard-hitting antiviral remedies. That’s where these essential oils shine.
Cinnamon essential oil fights multiple virus strains. In a recent study, researchers found that cinnamon essential oil was effective against flu viruses when combined with eucalyptus and rosemary essential oils.
Cinnamon essential oil is extremely potent and can irritate the skin or respiratory system if used incorrectly. Dilute 1 drop in 1 1/2 tsp of a carrier oil, such as coconut or apricot kernel oil, for topical applications. Avoid internal use unless you’re using a product specifically formulated and diluted for this purpose.
Melissa, also known as lemon balm, is a well-documented antiviral herb. In lab studies, melissa essential oil stopped the avian flu virus’s ability to replicate, which is necessary for the disease to spread or survive.
Most people grab an oil of oregano supplement at the first signs of a flu virus—and for good reason: Oregano exhibits potent antiviral activity against a variety of viruses. Note that oregano essential oil is different from the herbal supplement and not to be taken orally.
Beauty boost: Oregano essential oil can be mixed with a carrier oil and used to treat acne.
4. Star anise
Your antiviral arsenal won’t be complete until you’ve added this licorice-like aromatic oil to it. This oil is not suitable for internal use and is best diluted in fractionated coconut oil and applied to the skin or diffused in the air to help kill viruses.
Star anise contains a potent antiviral substance known as shikimic acid, which the pharmaceutical industry synthesized to create flu drugs.
Thyme essential oil, in conjunction with tea tree and eucalyptus, has been shown to reduce viral infectivity by more than 96 percent. On its own, thyme is a powerful anti-infectious agent that has been found in many studies to kill harmful bacteria and fungi in addition to viruses.
Peppermint essential oil is among the most promising natural antiviral remedies, particularly when dealing with the herpes simplex virus, which is at the root of cold sores. Peppermint essential oil has demonstrated high potency in lab tests against the herpes virus, even against strains that did not respond to the drug acyclovir in the study.
Beauty boost: Applying diluted peppermint essential oil to cold sores may help alleviate them.
This long-time favorite demonstrates antiviral activity against colds and flu. An animal study found gingerroot had antiviral action against the avian flu, while other research shows activity against the herpes simplex virus.
Best known for the honey made from its pollen, the powerful mānuka tree also produces an essential oil with formidable antimicrobrial strength. Mānuka essential oil demonstrates effectiveness against herpes simplex viruses.
Using essential oils
- Essential oils can be diluted and applied to the skin or diffused in an aromatherapy diffuser, and some can be used internally.
- Check package directions to determine whether the oil you select has a dosage amount or is suitable for cooking or ingestion. If the label doesn’t indicate dosage, it is not suitable for internal use.
- Work with a qualified aromatherapist, herbalist, or doctor if using essential
- Before using diluted essential oils on your face, do a patch test on your forearm and wait 24 hours to see if you react.
- Dilution depends on the individual oil and level of skin sensitivity. As a general guideline, consider:
- a few drops per 1/2 tsp of carrier oil for Mānuka, melissa, peppermint, or tea tree
- one drop per 1 tsp of carrier oil for ginger, oregano, star anise, or thyme
- Avoid burning essential oils; this can alter their chemical structure and therefore their therapeutic effectiveness.