9 Essential Oils to Beat Back the Winter Bugs

We are knee deep in winter. Sick people abound with their cold cooties and flu bugs.
I am not a proponent of big pharma, but I am an advocate of essential oils, especially around this time of the year. Living in a tiny house could be problematic during cold season as everyone is breathing the same air in 194 square feet. I keep my house clean and fresh with the aid of essential oils.  Essential oils have virtually no side effects and can be more effective than antibiotics!

Essential oils are a natural aromatic compound found in plants. They give plants their distinct fragrance. Usually, they are collected through distillation, evaporation or cold pressing. Often these oils are used in aromatherapy, either inhaled or rubbed into the skin.

Here are my top nine essential oils to beat back this season’s “icks.”

Thieves Oil

Thieves oil is my go-to winter must-have oil. Legend has it that when Europe was under the deadly grip of the bubonic plague, thieves would often loot the dead bodies to profit from the clothes, boots, jewelry and other articles they would find. (Desperate times, call for desperate measures.) Before picking the pockets of the dead, they would ply strips of cloth with a unique blend of oil and tie it over their noses and mouths to ward off the plague. It turns out the blend of oils they were using were anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungi.

thieves oil.jpg

You can buy this blend (sometimes referred to as the King’s Blend) or mix it up yourself.  I use it all over as a moisturizer in the winter and apply it to the bottoms of my feet at night. I love the smell of this blend. It has a warm and cozy fragrance that is reminiscent of the holidays. I have used this oil for years and I rarely ever get sick. If I do come down with a bug, it is very short lived. I attribute it to this oil. In the fall, a friend and I would sit down and make this blend for our families. We would make enough to last for several months. It has turned out to be a lifesaver. My daughter uses this through the fall and winter instead of perfume. It’s woody, spicy fragrance is often complimented.

Thieves Oil Blend

1 tbs. Clove Bud Essential Oil
1 tbs. Lemon Essential Oil
2 ½ tsp. Cinnamon Bark Essential Oil
2 tsp. Eucalyptus Essential Oil
2 tsp. Rosemary Essential Oil
1 c of base oil (grapeseed, jojoba or white almond oil)

(Store in a glass bottle.)

Rosemary Essential Oil

This culinary woody herb has a number of medicinal properties. Surprisingly (to me) rosemary is in the same taxonomic family as mint. Rosemary is especially powerful against bacterial infections in the stomach.  Its superpowers include boosting your immunity, easing muscle soreness, improving mental clarity, and providing anxiety relief. Rosemary.jpg

Add a few drops of rosemary essential oil to a diffuser, and you’ll enjoy instant stress-relieving effects. To help ease a stuffy nose, cough, and congestion, massage one or two drops of the oil on your chest and throat every few hours. Rosemary’s antiseptic properties also make this oil useful for respiratory infections.

Thyme Essential Oil

In the Middle Ages, ladies gave thyme to knights before they went into battle.  It was thought to impart courage to its bearer. Thyme is another powerful antibacterial and antiseptic herb. It works as an antispasmodic. Thyme oil can provide relief from colds and flu symptoms, drain congestion, treat upper respiratory conditions and infections.


I find thyme oil works best if you add a couple of drops into a bowl of steaming water. Put your face over the steam and cover your head with a towel. You can also use this recipe below to make your own hand sanitizer.

2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon plain aloe vera
1/8 teaspoon tea tree oil
12 drops of thyme essential oil
12 drops of other essential oils (lavender, lemon, cinnamon or peppermint. Use two or more oils to balanced the scent)
4 drops grapefruit seed extract

Tea Tree Essential Oil

Tea Tree oil or Melaleuca oil is a terrific antiseptic. My mom uses it on cuts. It is one of the few antiviral, antibacterial, and antimicrobial oils that you can apply directly to the skin, without having to dilute it.  It’s even been known to kill staph infections. I put a few drops on a cloth and wipe down surfaces with this oil if someone with cooties has been over to our house.teatree.jpg

Another method of use is steam inhalation. It can clear congestion in minutes. Add a few drops to a pot of steaming water and breathe in the vapors.

It is a champion in the fight against black mold. Something I have learned since moving to the Pacific Northwest. For this application, I add one teaspoon to one cup of water in a spray bottle and spray my shower curtain.

If you are plagued with fungal infections like athlete’s foot and toenail fungus, apply it directly to the area.

Clove Essential Oil


People have been using clove essential oil to treat toothaches since the 1600s. Besides reducing gum disease, clove oil can also relieve symptoms of colds coughs, asthma, and respiratory problems. Due to its antiseptic properties, clove oil is useful for wound, cuts,  fungal infections and bruises. It’s also an anti-inflammatory. Clove oil is helpful for boosting the immune system. Its antiviral properties can purify the blood, and increase resistance to disease. Clove oil’s antioxidants scavenge the body of dangerous free radicals that can cause certain types of cancer.

Use three or four drops in the diffuser or use it topically when blended with a carrier oil. I love the way clove oil makes my house smell!

Eucalyptus Essential Oil

Everyone knows about eucalyptus oil. But this leaf is more than a koala’s next meal. Usually, we find it’s piney/mint aroma in the steam rooms at our local gyms. Eucalyptus oil is a must during cold and flu season.  It offers a variety of benefits as an antibacterial, antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory. It also works as a decongestant and expectorant. Eucalyptus can be used to bring down a fever associated with the flu.


One of the most effective ways to utilize it for colds or allergy congestion is to add a few drops of the oil into a diffuser before going to bed so that you can enjoy its benefits all night. Try adding several drops to steaming water and inhaling during the day. Gargling eucalyptus oil mixed with warm water is an efficient way to treat a sore throat.

To ease a fever add 1 drop of Eucalyptus Essential Oil to 1 cup of cold water. Moisten a washcloth in the water and apply directly on your forehead. Add 3 drops of lavender oil to add a calming effect.

Cinnamon Essential Oil

Cinnamon is a heavyweight hitter. As a serious antibacterial, cinnamon oil is useful in the fight against staph, E-coli, and pneumonia. Use it by itself or in combination with other antibacterial oils like tea tree, eucalyptus, or clove oil (see my recipe for Thieves Oil).  Within minutes, it can destroy almost 99% of the airborne bacteria.cinnamon.jpg

For a sore throat place 1 drop cinnamon essential oil in hot water and sip it down. For sore and achy joints add a few drops of oil to a carrier oil and apply it to your joints. Cinnamon oil is also great for oral health. I make my own toothpaste and add cinnamon oil to it.

Oregano Essential Oil

Oregano’s powerful therapeutic and antibiotic properties were the least known to me until a friend of mine came home from the hospital and immediately went for a bottle of oregano essential oil. Oregano’s antibacterial properties can control Staph infections.  It is one of those potent oils that is an antioxidant, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic, and an antiseptic. Do NOT apply oregano oil directly to your skin. It burns like heck.Oregano.jpg

Add a few drops of oregano oil to a bowl of boiling water, place a towel over your head and breathe for 5-10 minutes. The steam helps to loosen and drain mucus in the nasal passages and the antibacterial properties of the oil help to fight sinus infections and relieve cold symptoms.

Peppermint Essential Oil

Ancient Romans thought the scent of mint would stop a person from losing their temper. I wonder how well that worked out for them. Today peppermint is everywhere. It is in our gum, toothpaste, mouthwashes, mints, and soaps. The fragrance of fresh peppermint is unmistakable. Its smell is so powerful that one sniff can boost your mental alertness. Peppermint is also known to relieve nausea, headaches, dizziness, sinusitis, and fatigue. I rub a few drops on my chest when I have indigestion. If you have a cold, the menthol in peppermint shrinks the swollen membranes in your nose, making it easier to breathe. As an expectorant, the menthol in peppermint will loosen and bring up mucus from the lungs. peppermint.jpg

Rub one drop on the temples, forehead, over the sinuses (careful to avoid contact with your eyes) to relieve head pressure. Inhale a drop to improve alertness. Drink a cup of peppermint tea to settle your stomach.

Washington, the state in which I live, produces more than a million pounds of peppermint a year!

What is your favorite essential oil? Tell me about your essential oil experiences in the comments below.  I love hearing from you!

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