I’m poorly! It feels like the first time in months – years, even – that I’ve actively had to sit back and rest due to illness. However, I’ve struck gold by staying stocked up on eucalyptus oil – this versatile plant-based oil has a number of wonderful uses for easing cold and flu symptoms.
It’s been a combination of things that have led to this – I was definitely on the edge of a burn out at one stage – and I suppose this is my body’s natural way of calling out and telling me it needs a little TLC. As always, it’s playing the listening game, but sometimes that’s just not possible with work and other commitments. So, here I am, taking a day to rest my body, top up my vitamin banks through lots of fresh fruit and veg, and easing my tiny sinuses from their sorry state.
It’s why I’m putting my eucalyptus oil* in the limelight today – I was actually planning on writing about its benefits as a massage oil, but its therapeutic properties when all bunged up definitely apply more right now. Do you ever have flashbacks to when you had sick days as a child, when you’re sick in adult life? I definitely do, and while I think I’ve outgrown the hot blackcurrant squash and children’s videos (oh gosh, does that make me old?), the smell of eucalyptus oil sends me right back to when I would slather Vicks all over myself while laying on the sofa. That’s its key scent, and it makes perfect sense to use it in its pure state nowadays.
Eucalyptus oil is made by steam distilling the leaves from eucalyptus shrubs. It provides natural antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic properties in its neat state, and the oil is a great decongestant, helping to expel excess phlegm and relieve your airways from the pain of a cold.
There are a number of great ways to use the oil for these benefits, and they can fit around your lifestyle, depending on the severity of your symptoms:
If you’ve ever steamed your face, adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil can transform this from a skin treatment to nasal decongestant. You can do this by boiling water and pour into a large bowl on a table, adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil to the water, and then hovering your face over the bowl to enjoy the soothing steam. If you’ve never steamed before, a few key pointers – do not place your face too close to the bowl; you only want to feel the steam on your skin and inhale it. Take a break after a few minutes – you will sweat, and find yourself needing a wipe up, so keep a towel nearby. And if you’re a steaming veteran, try popping a towel over your head so it traps the steam going to your face – this is very intense, so make sure to take a breather every couple of minutes!
If you’re only being slowed down by a runny nose, you can bring eucalyptus oil along for the ride during your usual routine by adding a few drops to a handkerchief or soft cloth off-cut. It may seem an easier idea to add this to a tissue instead, but not only will you forget and blow your nose in it, but the oil will evaporate when left in your pocket.
Following on from the soothing handkerchief, you can also prepare a fresh one for when you go to bed, popping it on your pillow to help you breathe easier at night. You may want to slide this under your pillow case so it doesn’t move about, but I wouldn’t recommend adding oil straight to the pillow case itself.
Eucalyptus oil melt
This is one of my favourite ways to enjoy eucalyptus oil – a few candles and wax melt definitely help me to relax, so adding the scent to your burner will help diffuse it in the room, and make it much more enjoyable to breathe in.
I hope these ideas help if you’re struggling with a cold right now! I’m (fingers-crossed) on the mend, and it’s been nice to use a little aromatherapy to relieve my flu-y symptoms.