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With all of the viruses and illnesses circulating, it’s no wonder that people are looking for the best essential oils for a cold. Many essential oils are naturally antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory in nature, which makes them a perfect remedy to support the body when feeling under the weather!

Whether you are completely new to essential oils or are looking for some new oils to try this season, the following list identifies some of the best essential oils to support the body during the cold and the flu.


Eucalyptus. Eucalyptus works as a natural expectorant, which helps your body to cough up the toxins that are making you sick. It reduces inflammation in the nasal passageways and bronchial tubes, making it easier to breathe and get more oxygen in your lungs. One of the top chemical components in eucalyptus oil is cineole, which is a powerful antimicrobial against many types of bacteria and viruses.

A study published in 2004¹ found that eucalyptus was able to exhibit an anti-inflammatory effect on those suffering with chronic bronchitis. It also helped reduce the amount of secretions (mucus) that were produced in the individuals who participated in the study.

There are multiple types of eucalyptus oil. Eucalyptus dives is considered the safest for young kids.

Peppermint. Peppermint contains menthol, which has both antibacterial and antiviral properties. Menthol has a cooling effect on the body that is able to improve congestion by reducing inflammation and unclogging the sinuses. Peppermint is also able to relieve a scratchy throat that can cause a dry cough. It has antitussive (anti-cough) properties that soothe the spasms that lead to coughing.

A study published in 2013² found that peppermint essential oil is able to relax bronchial smooth muscle, increase ventilation, and increase brain oxygen concentration, making it easier to take deep breaths.

It’s best to avoid applying peppermint to the skin of children under the age of 5, especially in high dilutions.

Rosemary. Rosemary oil relaxes muscles in the throat, which helps to soothe an irritated cough. Due to its cineole content, it is able to help open up the airways, making it easier to breathe. Rosemary is also a potent antioxidant, supports a healthy immunity, and helps to combat bacteria in the body and in the air.

A randomized, double-blind, controlled study published in 2011³ investigated the effects of several essential oils with patients diagnosed with an upper respiratory tract infection. All patients in the interventional group applied a spray containing eucalyptus, peppermint, rosemary, and oregano five times a day. 20 minutes after application, participants who used the spray with the essential oils noted a significant reduction in symptoms of sore throat, cough, and hoarseness.

Rosemary shouldn’t be used on children under the age of 5 and should be used only in low dilutions during pregnancy.

Lemon. Lemon is famous for its ability to support the immune system and encourage lymphatic drainage, which can help the body to kick a cough and a cold more quickly. Lemon is also a potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial, which makes it a no-brainer natural remedy to support immunity and battle cold symptoms.

Tea tree. Tea tree oil is a powerful antimicrobial, which gives it the ability to fight off many harmful bacterial and viruses that lead to respiratory conditions. It is also antiseptic, which helps to ease a cough and clear nasal congestion.

Frankincense. Frankincense has long been used in steam inhalations and baths to help open up the airways and relieve a cough. It is a great essential oil to blend with eucalyptus essential oil and a carrier oil to massage into the chest and neck as a vapor rub.

Oregano. Two chemical constituents in oregano oil that are heavy duty antibacterial and antiviral agents are thymol and carvacrol. This makes oregano oil a natural choice to diffuse and apply topically to help the body rid of a cold fast.

Oregano is best avoided with use on young children and during pregnancy. Oregano can cause skin irritation when used undiluted so always dilute heavily prior to use.

Thyme. Thyme has both antibacterial and antiviral properties that pack a punch. Diffuse in the air to help kill germs or dilute and apply to the bottoms of the feet to support the immune system.

Thyme ct. thymol is best avoided with use on young children and during pregnancy. Thyme ct. linalool is considered safe with young kids and for use during pregnancy after it has been diluted.

Clove. Clove essential oil is high in antioxidants, is anti-inflammatory, and is an excellent antibacterial agent. Clove is a great oil to use with oil pulling or to dilute and add to your toothbrush to support oral health and kill germs in the mouth and the throat. Because clove has the ability to numb mucus membranes, it’s a good one to blend in some honey and warm water to do a throat gargle for a sore throat.

Clove is irritating to the skin when used undiluted so always dilute this oil heavily prior to use. It is not considered safe to use with young kids or during pregnancy.

Easy ways to use essential oils for a cold:

  • Diffuse a few drops of oil in a diffuser. You can diffuse right before bed as well to open up airways and soothe a cough. Diffusing both helps to relieve symptoms as well as kill airborne germs.

  • Dilute 1-3 drops of essential oil into 1 tablespoon of coconut oil or some other type of carrier oil and massage into neck and chest to reduce the severity of coughing and congestion.

  • Pour 1-2 drops of essential oil into a bowl of steaming hot water and breathe in deeply of the steam. Place a towel over your head to contain the steam.

  • For an adult, blend 1-2 drops of lemon, clove or peppermint in some honey then add 2-4 tablespoons of warm water. Gargle the blend then spit out to help relieve a cough or scratchy throat.


If you're wanting to start your journey on using essential oils more to help keep you healthy and support your immune system, check out all our offerings here!

Stay safe friends!



  1. Lu XQ, Tang FD, Wang Y, Zhao T, Bian RL. [Effect of Eucalyptus globulus oil on lipopolysaccharide-induced chronic bronchitis and mucin hypersecretion in rats]. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2004 Feb;29(2):168-71. Chinese. PMID: 15719688.

  2. Meamarbashi A, Rajabi A. The effects of peppermint on exercise performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013 Mar 21;10(1):15. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-10-15. PMID: 23517650; PMCID: PMC3607906.

  3. Ben-Arye E, Dudai N, Eini A, Torem M, Schiff E, Rakover Y. Treatment of upper respiratory tract infections in primary care: a randomized study using aromatic herbs. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:690346. doi: 10.1155/2011/690346. Epub 2010 Nov 1. PMID: 21052500; PMCID: PMC2967840.

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