Essential Oils for Colds and Flu: Treatment, Prevention, and Symptomatic Relief

Essential oils for colds and flue were used long before medical remedies, and even if modern medicine is now primary in treating diseases, the power of natural remedies can’t be ignored. Essences of plants, seeds, and flowers are amongst the oldest remedies to treat common cold and flu.

The action of essential oils for colds

Essential oils contain molecules working together to destroy viruses and bacteria, and to maintain the general state of health. Unlike medicine, viruses don’t develop resistance to essential oils, as each one of them is unique. This is why it is recommended to change the oils from time to time. Luckily for us, the options when it comes to essential oils for colds and flu are plenty.

Each one of the essential oils is unique considering the time of harvesting, the method of preparation, and the type of cold or flu you want to treat. For this reason, some oils may be more effective than normal medicine, and they will fight the first signs of common colds.

Aromatherapy for colds

When one suffers from cold or flu, using essential oils is efficient. The fight against cold is eased by using cinnamon and oregano essential oils in the first stages of illness (cough and easy sore throats).

If flu or cold are in an advanced stage, essential oils may shorten the recovery, and those must be used more often to obtain good results.

Some essential oils are only designed for external use, and you should always consult a doctor before taking those, if you think they intervene in your normal treatments

Preventing flu and cold with essential oils

The best way of treating a disease is preventing it, and this mostly applies to colds and flus. We can use special devices or a simple candle in which we can pour 5-8 oil drops of eucalyptus, lemon, rosemary, oregano, lavender. Use a combination of those if you have them all in your house, or individually. It is known that the possibility for bacteria to grow is increased in warm places, and this is why purifying the air all the time is important.

You can use essential oils for colds and flue in different ways:

  • Compresses with warm water and a few drops of essential oil
  • In the bathroom, fill the bathtub with water and pour some essential oils
  • Massage with essential oils, especially combined with reflexotherapy
  • Use the diffusing lamp as often as possible

The following essential oils are best for the prevention of flu and cold symptoms:

  1. Lemmon essential oil

It is excellent for the immune system. For an effective treatment with this essential oil for colds, you can put a few drops of lemon essential oil to each tea or water glass you drink.

  1. Cinnamon essential oil

It acts like a warming agent, just like the oregano oil. It stimulates the immune system, protecting the digestive system and pancreas at the same time. Apply on feet or inhale.

  1. Menthol essential oil

Menthol is rejuvenating and fresh, known for its effect to ease breathing. The menthol essential oil for colds and flu can be applied on chest or back, or inhaled, as it helps unclog the sinuses. Menthol essential oil can be safely applied on skin.

Essential oils for colds

Essential oils used to treat a virus, a cold or flu can be used for prophylactic purposes. In case your workplace is contaminated with flu or half of the kids in your children’s classroom are ill, you can think of using those oils. Of course, this therapy is advised only as a completion to the medical measurements and if the situation does not require quarantine.

Essential oils are used successfully to prevent flu and cold. You can pour 4 to 7 drops of oil in a lamp (a small bowl of water) which burns over a round candle. Heat helps evaporate the molecules of essential oil, and this way, by inhaling it, you will be protected, keeping the bacteria, and viruses at distance. The most suited essential oils for those are eucalyptus, camphor, rosemary, and mandarin.

Essential oils for colds and flu symptoms

If prevention is not enough and you can still catch flu, the doctor will probably give you medical treatments, but there is no harm in combining those with a cure of essential oils to ease the symptoms.

If you already have a cold, you need some essential oils to help you when confronted with this situation.

  1. Eucalyptus essential oil

Eucalyptus essential oil for cold

It is antiviral, decongestant of respiratory apparatus and coughing agent of bronchial secretions. It is an energizing oil, beneficial in states of fatigue and headaches given by colds. Dilute it in a base oil (almonds, coconut, and olive oil) or in a cream and apply on the affected areas: neck, chest, back. You can also inhale it when the sinuses are affected, putting a few drops in a recipient.

  1. The essential oil of tea tree

The essential oil of tea tree


The essential oil of tea tree leaf is excellent to fight infections, viruses, and bacteria. It is calming and decongestant.

  1. Cinnamon essential oil

Cinnamon essential oil

It is good to fight infections, viruses, and bacteria, having a beneficial effect for pains in legs and arms given by a cold. Those are mostly effective applied externally.

  1. Lemmon essential oil
Lemmon essential oil


It reduces fever and it is immune-simulative.

  1. Oregano oil essential oil

Oregano oil essential oil

It is one of the oldest essential oil for colds treatment. It is considered a type of oil that warms the organism. This is why it should be taken with caution. Don’t apply at the level of the face and neck before diluting it with olive oil or another base oil. If you accidentally put it on your face, apply almond oil as soon as possible.

  1. Pine Essential Oil

Pine Essential Oil

It is best when it comes to clearing your nasal passages. If you have a sore throat, this oil will be of great assistance as well.

  1. Peppermint essential oil

Peppermint essential oil

It is a famous antiseptic and anti-viral agent. It can be used as an expectorant. In order to get maximum benefits of the peppermint oil you should diffuse it in your diffuser or use a steam inhaler. However, this oil is not recommended to for young children.

  1. Rosemary oil

Rosemary oil

This oil has great antiseptic and antimicrobial properties. For a greater effect, you can mix it with eucalyptus and lemon essential oils. Apply the mixture to massage the nose to treat cold symptoms. Regular massages will provide you relief from discomfort and congestion.

Even if essential oils for colds and flue treat symptoms and causes at the same time, in case they are not effective for a few days, think about consulting your doctor or pharmacist. Tell them what essential oils you were using, and ask for a supportive light treatment to your aromatherapy efforts.

Here is the list of tips to treat the discomforting symptoms, while awaiting for your doctor’s appointment.

  1. For sore throats

blend For sore throats

A mixture of orange, cinnamon, and rosemary oils is perfect to treat this condition initially. Another solution for a sore throat is to mix two teaspoons of lemon essential oil with honey. Mix it well and enjoy it as a drink that will calm you down.

You can also do a gargle with a solution made at home. You need a half of glass of warm water with two drops of essential oil from any of the next: eucalyptus, tea tree leaf oil, salvia, garlic or ginger.

  1. For catarrh

When a cold is manifested through a catarrh, an efficient solution for not having problems with your nose running is to anoint some essential oils on the laterals of the nose.

  1. For fever

blends for fever

If the flu gives you the chills, the best essential oils to reduce those is the essential oils of black pepper, dandelion, mint, and lemon. You can apply them individually or as combinations of oils with olive oil as a base. You can apply those with a cold compress on the head or add a few drops in a warm bath.

Another interesting technique which comes from the traditional medicine is to moist cotton socks in a solution where you poured a few drops of elixir, and to cover them in two plastic bags. The coldness of the cotton socks will attract the heath from the organism to extremities. It is equivalent to the cold patches that can be sold over the counter at your local pharmacy.

You can use the essential oil of mint or lavender, which you can dilute in almond or olive oil. The mixture can be used to massage the feet and back. Mint will offer those a fresh sensation, while lavender will calm you down.

  1. For coughs

essential oils for coughs

Mix some raw mint with some lime tree oil and rub the chest well. If you want to obtain a bigger quantity of substance, mix it with olive oil.

  1. For pains

essential oils for pains

If you got to the stage where the cold provokes pains in bones and articulations, then the most efficient way to treat yourself with the help of oils is massage. Use maximum six drops of oil and massage the affected areas.

Essential oils for colds and flu are sometimes more effective than medical treatments, especially if we are speaking about those treating the symptoms. While flu may generate complications, the essential oils for colds are more effective, especially to prevent the running nose and the annoying sneezing.

Sources and References

  1. MedlinePlus Flu
  2. CDC Seasonal Influenza: Flu Basics
  3. HealthDirect Colds and flu (influenza)

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