aromatherapy hacks

Aromatherapy hacks to beat cold and flu season

In Diet, Nutrition and Recipes by Nicole Andersen2 Comments

Nicole shares three of her favourite essential oil recipes to help alleviate and ward off winter maladies.


Since I was a child, I have always struggled with a having a weak immune system. So much so that witnessing someone sneeze ten meters away from me would often result in a day off from school watching reruns of I Love Lucy, surrounded by a field of used tissues. While I relished having the nurturing support of my mother through my sick days as a child, it’s gotten harder to get through these moments of malaise as an adult.

Several years ago, my cousin turned me on to essential oils, and since then, I have become a hardcore oil junkie. Finding new ways to use these natural therapies changed the way I take care of myself in mind, body, and spirit.

What are essential oils?

Essential oils are, in the most basic terms, the plant’s immune system. And as such, they are able to lend us numerous properties to boost our own health and wellbeing.

Think about it this way. We naturally feel great when standing in a forest, or in a field of flowers, amongst nature. The natural symbiotic relationship between mammals and plants is undeniable, down to the very nature of the elements we inhale and exhale. Mammals need oxygen, and exhale carbon dioxide, while plants use carbon dioxide for photosynthesis and excrete oxygen. In a way, plants are the yin to our yang, as we naturally thrive off of each other.

There are many ways we can use this natural energy exchange to benefit ourselves during times of increased stress, depleted energy, and to protect ourselves against the (ever prevalent) toxins swirling around our environments.

Rubbing Four Thieves Blend on the soles of the feet:

Four Thieves Blend has a rich history, and as a result, the story and ingredients have been amended along the way. However, the five main ingredients remain the same. My version of the story goes like this…

In the 15th Century, there were four French spice traders that travelled around Europe and Asia. When the plague hit, international trade shut down, so these men applied their knowledge of aromatherapy and the stockpile of spices they had accumulated to come up with a kind of natural protection from the plague.

While unable to trade internationally, these men needed to support themselves by other means, so they began to rob corpses affected by the deadly disease. By rubbing this blend on their extremities and applying it to a cloth tied around the nose and mouth, they never contracted the plague. They pawned their pirated goods, and eventually were found out and sent to court for their postmortem crimes.

The king agreed to give them a reduced sentence if they shared their secret to immunity with him, and thus Four Thieves Blend was revealed.

There are many ways you can use this blend, i.e. put it in a spray bottle with some vinegar to clean surfaces, rub on the chest to relieve respiratory discomfort, or even diffuse into the air to add a warming, clean fragrance to your surroundings. My favourite way to use Four Thieves is to rub it onto the soles of my feet at bedtime, which gives a tingling, warming sensation and is absorbed into the bloodstream within 20 minutes. I like to slip some cozy socks on, once I have coated the soles of my feet with the stuff. Not only is this tremendously relieving and comforting in winter months, but waking up to softer, fresh smelling feet is an added bonus. Whenever I feel a cold coming on, I use this hack to give my immune system an extra boost and it hasn’t failed me yet.

Four Thieves recipe

Grab a 15ml amber glass (or other dark colour) bottle and drop in the following essential oils…

Lemon: 12 drops
Clove: 12 drops
Eucalyptus: 9 drops
Rosemary: 9 drops
Cinnamon: 3 drops

Fill the remainder of the bottle with a carrier oil. Extra virgin olive oil, grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil, avocado oil, or macadamia oil work well.

Supercharged essential oil ‘tea’:

We have all heard of drinking lemon water to boost our Vitamin C intake, or drinking peppermint tea to boost metabolism or relieve tummy upset. But have you heard of using essential oils to supercharge your hot water?

It takes approximately 75 lemons to fill a 15mL bottle of lemon essential oil. But this is no ordinary lemon elixir. Since it is cold pressed from the rinds of the fruit, and does not contain water or citric acid, lemon essential oil cannot be compared to lemon juice. It has a much higher limonene content. This makes it a powerful antioxidant and cleansing agent. Lemon essential oil aids digestion, supports respiratory function, and supports the immune system far beyond that of lemon juice.

Furthermore, one drop of therapeutic grade peppermint essential oil is equal to having approximately 28 cups of peppermint tea. Peppermint is one of the oldest tricks in the book, when it comes to nausea, respiratory issues, allergies and fever. It is also a nice little ‘pick-me-up’ that curbs sugar cravings.

Here is how I ingest these two curative essential oils during cold and flu season each morning.

Lemon peppermint ‘tea’ recipe

Into a glass or ceramic vessel pour the following…

Hot water: 250ml
Peppermint essential oil: 1 drop
Lemon essential oil: 2 drops

You’ll find the oils will sit on the surface of the water, as water and oil do not mix. While the water is steaming, inhale the invigorating aroma. Allow it to act as a diffuser, purifying the air around you.

Before taking your first sip, stir the oils with the water to disperse them. Both of these flavours might tingle your lips, so be careful not to drop in more than the suggested amount. The lasting benefits of both lemon and peppermint give you a super charged defence against cold and flu season in a completely natural way.

Warnings about ingesting essential oils:
I would not put just any brand of essential oil into my body. Even though a label may say 100% organic or 100% pure, essential oils are unregulated. This means you could be getting the 10th distillation, or a blend of other, cheaper-to-produce oils in the mix. Always ensure you know where your oils are coming from, how they are farmed and that the manufacturers only uphold the highest standards when distilling their essential oils, ESPECIALLY when ingesting. There are many online sources, which go both ways about ingesting vs. not ingesting essential oils. Use your own discretion.

Essential oil multi purpose cleaner:

The best defence against cold and flu season is both internal and external. Thus, my third hack is using the power of essential oils to cleanse your environment. Countertops, surfaces, door handles, phone screens, etc. should be cleansed weekly with a natural disinfectant to avoid sniffles, sneezes, and other unpleasant seasonal illnesses.

Lime, pine and tea tree oils are known for their antibacterial, antiseptic, antiviral, antifungal, deodorising, disinfecting, and antimicrobial effects. Cleaning your space with these natural wonders clear mucus and phlegm, and cure viral respiratory infections. They will also boost your immune system, as well as stimulate the mind and body.

I like the way these three scents compliment each other and add freshness to my space. Let this natural explosion work magic in your home, busting away grime and germs.

Natural multi purpose surface cleaner recipe

Into a 250ml dark glass bottle with atomiser spray top, pour in the following…

White vinegar: 100ml
Lime essential oil: 10 drops
Pine essential oil: 10 drops
Tea tree essential oil: 10 drops
Baking soda: 1 tbsp

Fill the rest up with water and go nuts cleaning all the surfaces in your house!

*While pine and tea tree both have amazing disinfecting properties, neither one should ever be ingested. You wouldn’t eat the trees, so why ingest the essential oil?

Take care of yourself this cold and flu season with these simple hacks to stay fresh and vital throughout the cooler months.

Please note: While I am a certified aromatherapist, I am not a doctor. Therefore, none of these suggestions are meant to take the place of a doctor’s advice and are not recommended to diagnose or treat any illness.


About the author

Nicole Andersen


Nicole Andersen (aka Nico Anders) is an aromatherapist, yoga instructor & tarot reader. She teaches new & full moon yoga workshops & tarot reading around Melbourne. Nico is also the owner of Scentual Alchemy, a vegan, body & soul care company for low maintenance humans. Instagram: @scentualalchemy & @moon_yoga_nico

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