Can Essential Oils Treat The Symptoms of a Fever?

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Overview

Some essential oils can even help bring down a fever. They may help your immune system fight the illness or infection that is causing the fever.

However, they cannot stop a fever or treat an infection. For proper treatment, you may need fever reducing medications or antibiotics.

Which essential oils can alleviate a fever?

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Many essential oils help protect against bacterial and fungal infections. Some also have antiviral properties.

Cinnamon oil

A 2013 study that tested cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and cumin spices showed that cinnamon works best against bacteria.

A 2019 study found that in the lab, cinnamon essential oil was effective against salmonella and may help your body fight bacterial infections. This may help reduce fever symptoms by helping your body get rid of bacteria faster.

Cinnamon essential oil contains several types of natural antibiotics. It may even work against types of bacteria that can’t be easily treated with antibiotic drugs.

Ginger oil
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Ginger root is considered a spice and is commonly used in foods and drinks as a digestive aid.

It helps to ease digestion and protects the stomach and intestines. A review notes that ginger also helps to lower inflammation in your body. A fever can trigger or worsen inflammation.

Both a fever and inflammation cause more heat in the body. Reducing inflammation with a massage of diluted ginger oil may help lower a fever and reduce other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and headaches.

Peppermint oil

Peppermint essential oil contains menthol. This natural chemical is the main ingredient in cough drops and balms like Vicks VapoRub. Menthol also gives peppermint its flavor and “cold” feeling when you taste and smell it.

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Peppermint essential oil can be used to help cool the skin and body when you have a fever. A 2018 study showed that menthol works to cool the body when it’s put on the skin.

Cold and flu ointments with menthol are often rubbed onto the chest and back for this reason. Peppermint oil has also been shown to reduce nausea and vomiting that may be associated with the illness.

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil has been proven to help your body fight infection. Its active bacteria-fighting chemicals are called terpenes. They may also work against fungi that cause hair and scalp dandruff.

Additionally, tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory properties. In a 2016 study, tea tree oil was able to bring down swelling, redness, irritation, and pain from allergic skin reactions.

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Soothing inflammation on the skin and in the body may help reduce a fever.

Eucalyptus oil

Eucalyptus essential oil has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving properties that may help bring down a fever. It may also help fight viral, bacterial, and fungal infections in your body.

Lab tests found that eucalyptus oil was able to get rid of several germs that cause illness in people. These include bacteria that cause strep throat and E. coli stomach infections, and fungi that cause yeast infections as well as other bacteria and fungi.

Eucalyptus oil may also help relieve fever symptoms by clearing up lung and nasal congestion. It can help clear extra mucus and phlegm in the body. This makes it easier to breathe and relieves coughs and a runny nose.

Lavender oil
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A fever can make it hard to sleep and make you feel less rested. Lavender essential oil is often used to help improve sleep.

A 2014 research study tested lavender oil on people who were being treated in a hospital. It found that lavender oil helped to slightly lower blood pressure during sleep, which aids in more restful sleep.

Another review showed that lavender oil may help calm the nervous system. This might help you sleep better and improve some symptoms of depression and anxiety. According to medical research, lavender oil may help relieve symptoms as much as some prescription medications.

Frankincense oil

Frankincense oil has antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. It may help reduce swelling and pain in inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.

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Frankincense may also help soothe a fever, especially if there is also inflammation in the body, and help treat other illnesses that can cause a fever.

This essential oil also works as an expectorant, meaning it can help reduce mucus buildup in the nose, throat, and lungs. This may help treat symptoms of:

    coldflu
  • asthma
  • sinus congestion
  • bronchitis

Studies show that frankincense contains a chemical called alpha-pinene, which may help your immune system get rid of some types of cancer cells.

How to use essential oils to treat a fever

There are several ways to use essential oils. Pure essential oils should not be used directly on the skin. Always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil like almond oil, sesame oil, or olive oil before applying.

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Never ingest essential oils or use them near your eyes, which can cause irritation. Use essential oils only as directed on the label.

You might try the following:

  • inhale essential oils by sniffing the bottle directly or adding a few drops to a cotton ball, handkerchief, or pillow before you sleep
  • add a few drops to a diffuser
  • dilute in a carrier oil and add to your bath
  • dilute in a carrier oil and use in a massage
  • add to a large bowl of hot water, for steam inhalation

Most blends should be between a 1 to 5 percent dilution in carrier oil.

Essential oils for children

Essential oils contain powerful active chemicals. Talk to your child’s doctor before using and never let your child ingest essential oil.

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Some essential oils may also cause hormone changes in the body. For example, lavender oil and tea tree oil may cause breast tissue growth in young boys if used in excess.

Side effects and precautions

More research is needed to determine whether essential oils help stop illness and fever symptoms in the body. It’s also not known what dose of essential oils is useful and safe, or how long they should be used.

Essential oils are more concentrated and potent than the plants from which they are made and can cause side effects in some people, including allergic skin reactions.

Using them can also make your skin more sensitive to the sun, which can make your skin burn faster when you’re outdoors.

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Essential oils may also interact with other prescription and over-the-counter medications.

Symptoms of a fever

You may have a fever if you have a temperature higher than 98.6°F (37°C). Other symptoms may include:

  • chills
  • shivering
  • skin redness or flushing
  • sweating
  • aches and pains
  • headaches
  • lack of appetite
  • dehydration
  • weakness
  • fatigue

Other home fever remedies

Other remedies to break a fever include:

  • getting more rest
  • staying hydrated with water, broth, soup, and juice
  • over-the- counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen
  • staying cool by removing extra clothing and using a cold compress

When to see a doctor

A fever can be a sign of a serious illness. Babies, young children, older adults, and people with low immune systems may need immediate treatment.

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A fever can lead to serious complications if left untreated. A very high fever can cause a febrile seizure in babies.

See a doctor if:

  • your child is 3 months old or younger and has a temperature above 100.4°F (38°C)
  • your child is between 3 months and 2 years old and has a temperature above 102°F (38.8°C)
  • your child is 17 years old or younger and has a temperature above 102°F (38.8°C) for longer than three days
  • you’re an adult and have a fever higher than 103°F (39.4°C)
  • your fever is accompanied by severe pain anywhere in the body, shortness of breath, or a stiff neck

T­­­­akeaway

Essential oils may help soothe fever symptoms. However, they cannot treat illness alone; you may still need medical attention.

A fever can be a sign of serious illness and infection. It can lead to complications, especially in small children and older adults. See a doctor immediately if you have concerns.

Don’t ignore symptoms of a fever.

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