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The 9 Very Best Essential Oils For Treating Colds And Flu

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You know the feeling. It may start with a scratchy throat or with a few more aches and pains than normal. Or it could begin with a runny nose and a feeling of exhaustion. Yes, it’s a cold coming on — or maybe worse — the flu. Before you reach for the antihistamine, however, why not try an effective natural remedy instead?

Essential oils have been used for centuries to fight the symptoms of the common cold. You can add them to your bathwater, diffuse them in the air you breathe or even apply them directly to your skin. Essential oils help the body fight off infection and serve to strengthen the immune system. In her book The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, Julia Lawless explains that essential oils can boost the body’s defense system against bacteria, fungi and infections.

Here is our list of essential oils and essential oil blends that will help you stay healthy this cold and flu season. If you are unfamiliar with essential oils, please seek the advice of a qualified aromatherapist before using them. Be sure to use in moderation and to dilute or blend the essential oils correctly. Also, realize that some oils are contraindicated in certain conditions.

1. Tea Tree Essential Oil

Extracted from the tea tree (Melaleuca), which is native to Southeast Queensland and New South Wales, Australia, tea tree oil has antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic and antiviral properties.

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Used in an inhaler or in a bath, tea tree oil helps you fight the congestion and the resulting discomfort caused by the cold or the flu.

2. Pine Essential Oil

Pine essential oil, derived from the pine tree (Pinus Sylvestris), helps to clear the nasal passages. It also can be helpful in relieving sore throat pain.

3. Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender essential oil (Lavandula Angustifolia) has antiseptic and antimicrobial properties, and it is gentle enough for use with children.

4. Peppermint Essential Oil

The 9 Very Best Essential Oils For Treating Colds And Flu

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Peppermint essential oil (Mentha piperita) has antiseptic and anti-viral properties and can be useful as an expectorant. Use peppermint oil in a steam inhaler, but not where babies or young children are present.

5. Thyme Essential Oil

Thyme essential oil (Thymallus) is antiseptic and anti-bacterial. Many aromatherapists recommend you use it in a blend with tea tree, lemon and eucalyptus oils in the bath or in an inhaler to help fight congestion. Do not use this oil if you have high blood pressure, however.

6. Lemon Essential Oil

Lemon essential oil (citrus limon), with its high vitamin content, helps boost the body’s immune system and stimulates the production of white blood cells, thereby increasing your ability to fight off illness.

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Lemon oil also improves circulation throughout the body.

7. Eucalyptus Essential Oil

As an antiviral and a decongestant, eucalyptus essential oil (eucalyptus globulus) helps treat colds and congestion. In her book Aromatherapy A – Z, author Patricia Davis recommends using eucalyptus oil in a steam inhaler to help open blocked nasal passages, to soothe inflammation and to fight bacteria.

8. Rosemary Essential Oil

The 9 Very Best Essential Oils For Treating Colds And Flu

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Rosemary (Rosmarinus) works as an antiseptic and an antimicrobial agent. In The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, Valerie Ann Worwood suggests using a blend of rosemary, lemon and eucalyptus oils to massage the nose, cheekbones and temples in order to relieve congestion and discomfort.

9. Thieves

Thieves is a blend of clove (syzygium aromaticum), lemon, cinnamon bark (cinnamomum), eucalyptus and rosemary that was created by 15th century thieves during the plague. The oil blend is antiviral, antiseptic and antibacterial. It works well in a diffuser to help purify the air in your home or as a throat spray to soothe a sore throat.

A great way to get the benefits of essential oils is by breathing them so that they enter your body through the nose and lungs. You can use them in a diffuser or you can simply add four or five drops of the oil to a pot of boiled water. Cover your head with a towel while carefully leaning over the liquid and breathing in the steam.

Another option is to place a drop or two of the oils on a warm damp washcloth and then place the washcloth on your chest or your forehead to help relieve pain and congestion. Or add five to eight drops of oil to the water as you run your bath for a soothing, relaxing effect.

Essential oils are not a substitute for other proven methods for fighting colds such as getting enough fluids, getting enough rest or seeing your doctor if your symptoms worsen. However, if you are looking for natural ways to boost your body’s defenses during cold and flu season, it is well worth your time to investigate the impact essential oils can have on your health.

Which is your favorite essential oil to fight colds and flu? Share your tips in the section below:

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  1. When I feel a cold coming on, I place a couple of drops of oil of oregano (an old bottle and probably very concentrated YMMV) After about 2 minutes of wanting to flush it out, the intense discomfort goes away, along with (usually) the symptoms.

    • Genevieve Coleman

      Where can you get this

      • Hi Genevieve – Did anyone answer you? I use Young Living oils. I’m a distributor and can help you if you’re interested. I’ve been using Oregano essential oil for some time now for a cold and it works like a charm! I place a couple of drops in a small juice glass with water and drink down a couple times a day at the first signs of a cold.

        • Flu like symptoms?? Very bad headache,.stomach and body ache, weakness, nauseated, diarrhea….? What helps with this?? I feel likeep near death and it hit me just out.of nowhere. Please help all advice is great.

          • Three words: Sambucol Elderberry Extract. I’ve recommended it to two people in the past week, and both felt better very quickly. We take it any time we first feel a sore throat or feel run down, and we very rarely get sick.

      • I use North American Herb and Spice Oreganol Oil. A drop or two under the tongue for colds and sore throats.

    • Never ingest oils unless your under the supervision of an aromatherapist. Don’t take advice from someone that works for A MLM. They only want your hard earned $$$

      • Not true at all! Oils have been ingested safely for hundreds of years. You just need to do your research tomkmow how to do it.

      • Not ALL MLM’s are out to make money – many of the partners including myself truly want to help others and are secure in the knowledge and safety of their oils.

      • Very surprised to read your comment. Yes, very important to get Quality Essential Oils, BUT that’s with any supplement…herbs, vitamins/minerals and so on. As far as Not Trusting people in MLM’s; the people I have known over the years in the Quality Nutrition has been led and trained by very credible Doctors. The reference material is top notch and ALL are continually learning. I have been with Shaklee for over 40 years, and they are the highest Quality Supplements on the market. Dr. Shaklee invented, discovered VitaLea back in the early 1900’s. Shaklee has always been on the leading edge of Nutrition as many of their studies has been published by the AMA and other peer reviews. Love my Essential Oils (DoTerra) as well, as they are another High Quality Oil and the training from the Doctors is phenomenal. I’ve been in the ‘nutrition’ business for over 45 years and I’ve seen companies and people come and go, BUT for the most part my peers and I have a Strong desire to Help others find alternative answers for what ails them. We are very HIGH on preventative solutions.

  2. I meant to say I place the drips under my tongue.

    • This worked for me immediately. Thank you so much!

    • I place the oregano oil directly in a veg capsule about 5 drops take twice daily it gets my cold over faster and or if someone in family gets a cold I take it right away and I defuse theives while we sleep works well.

  3. Essential oils do not contain vitamins but do have several chemical constituents that work with the body’s chemistry to aid itself to heal. One of my favorites is a blend of orange, clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus and rosemary. This cuts my cold time in half of most other people suffering the cold-yuck.

    • Lisa, I am new to the essential oil world. Can you tell me do put the blend you mentioned under your tongue, or apply it to your skin?

      • Yes, you can put it under your tongue, or apply it to the bottoms of your feet. I would use a carrier oil b/c some of the oils within are considered “hot”. You can also add it to a cup of tea. One to 2 drops is all you need of the brand I use b/c it’s concentrated. On Guard is the blend name. Good luck, and feel better soon!

    • How many drops of each, and do you use a carrier oil to apply to skin, or do you take this internally? I need to know RIGHT NOW, as I have an absolutely WICKED cold and am supposed to go to my daughter’s tomorrow (who have 3-mo-old twin boys, and I don’t want to get them sick 🙁 !)

  4. I just sniff tea tree oil every morning before going out in the public. Being mindful to keep from touching my face and using the back of my wrist to rub my face when an itch or something occurs. I haven’t had a cold in years, and I live in Alaska!

    • I too am new to the oil world. So you just sniff the tea tree? Why do you have to be careful not to touch your face ? Thank you for any and all information.

      • I assume Chris mentioned not touching your face when you are out because it is very easy to spread cold and flu germs on our hands. Keep your hands away from your nose, mouth, eyes, etc, when you are out. Be sure to wash hands frequently and also immediately when you return home. Sniffing tea tree oil can be done by putting a drop or two in your palm and rubbing your palms together to release the oil’s properties, then cupping your palms to your nose and breathing in several times.

  5. I also add a few drops of my oil blends to the top inside shoulders of my clothes so I can inhale them when I’m away from where Ican’t diffuse th

  6. I decided enough was enough! I starting learning about essential oils and the benefits on both health and getting well sooner after sicknesses. I now don’t worry about being around my little grandchildren because they “breed” colds. I have been almost cold free for three years, and if I do catch one, it is usually a light case (or regular for most people). I love reading your recipes and things you discover!

  7. The story behind thieves oil is unproven, but interesting. It was used by thieves during the plagues when they went into the houses of the victims. They rubbed their whole bodies with the oils. Because many of the diseases were transferred by fleas, the odors of the oils kept the fleas from jumping on the thieves and biting them. If everyone had used the oils, far fewer would have been lost to that kind of disease. It still works for other diseases, but in a SHTF situation, fleas could once again become a problem. Good article!

  8. Great article. My daughter swears by oregano oil. I like to use monolaurin pills and elderberry (sambucus) syrup if I catch one and it kicks out the symptoms until I get over the cold.

  9. Can anyone recommend reputable sources they use to buy essential oils online. I live in a rural town but we do have a GNC. Does anyone know if they carry quality oils? Thanks. I’d like something to use on my cold.

    • I use Edens Garden Essential Oils. They are reasonably priced as compared to Young Living and DoTerra. As I reply, I am home with my sick daughter. First thing I searched was which oils to get her started on…. Peppermint, Lavender, Eucalyptus ✔️ And I’ll be sniffing some Thieves soon… GNC may have a limited supply. Good luck!

      • I totally agree with Grace F. For over 25 years I was a Young Living distributor. A lot of my friends who were also Young Living distributors … left and went over to a company called Eden’s Garden which is not a MLM. I did not because I wasn’t comfortable with the fact that Eden’s Garden’s prices were so much lower, I was convinced their must be something wrong with the product! As time went on and I could see the results my friends were getting, I couldn’t help but move over there as well. I am so happy now that I did. The company is great with an excellent quality product. The company is run by women, the customer service is fantastic and there is absolutely no way you can go wrong. I highly recommend Eden’s Garden. In any case, if you don’t want to try them … just make sure that you go with a quality oil where ever you go because you DO NOT want to be taking just any thing. A lot of companies just d not produce a quality oil. With that said … happy oiling!!

    • I buy my essential oils from “Number 1 Essential Oils”(, in part because it is my brothers company, but primarily because he has done such a great job answering any and all questions I have had for him. I’m fairly new to essential oils although I have used tea tree oil for about 25 years for all sorts of ailments and minor injuries.

    • I purchase my essential oils from Native American Nutritionals or Rocky Mountain Oils. They are owned by the same people. They are excellent quality oils. Just check out their websites. Read the reviews of the oils. People love them!

    • If anyone is interested in the best essential oils I would be happy to share information with you. God has really blessed me and my family by using these oils supply ed by the hands of our lord.

    • Doterra is the best that I have used and usually less expensive than other therapeutic oils because they are so much more concentrated that you use less thus costs less per usage. They can ship direct to you even if you are not a consultant but just a customer of a consultant.

    • I use Young Living. Yes, expensive, but reputable. They last, even with every day use. I have not been unhappy with any purchase.

    • Seed to seal…

    • Young Living oils! I have tried other brands as well including some from health food store or online from amazon. I found the quality not as good as young livings and some of them smelled diluted or slightly perfumed up. I trust and have found the best quality for me and my family in Young Living as they are the only company with the “seed to seal” process. My Favorite oils for warding away colds is thieves and purification. If we do get sick with a cold or flu i use these to bounce back in record time tea tree, lavender, peppermint, lemon, eucalyptus. All are safe to use topically when diluted with a carrier oil or inhale.

    • Young Living Essential Oils are the best and priced as such. DoTerra dilute their oils quite a bit more and every other brand you come across will have diluted it in some way, lessening the effectiveness of the essential oils. These other essential oils are still good to use but you will not be getting the most out of them because they are so deluded. The reason why Young Living Essential Oils are so expensive is because they are the most potent and the most concentrated. I personally know Professor Young, the founder of Young Living Essential Oils and I know the quality of the product so you get what you pay for.

      • It’s not true that doTerra dilutes their essential oils. Research results from independent testing to find the truths about which essential oils are in fact pure and not diluted.

    • Mountain Rose Herbs has a great selection of high quality essential oils at a reasonable price and almost all of them are certified organic, which is very important because of the large amount of plant material used to make a small amount of oil. They are also ethically and sustainably sourced. I worked for a Naturopathic doctor for years and this is where she got her essential oils as well as the herbs she used to make tinctures with. Don’t trust anyone who tries to tell you it is o.k. consume the oils. Every reputable aromatherapy book on the market, as well as doctors and aromatherapists, say to not ingest essential oils unless you are under the care of a certified aromatherapist. They are very concentrated and many come with warnings to not use if you have certain health conditions (Robert Tisserand has written a great, but pricey, book on essential oil safety). You can get the same therapeutic benefit by applying them to your skin diluted in a carrier oil or diffused.

  10. I used to use oils from health food store and thought they worked great until I tried therapeutic oils. I buy online from Doterra. Their oils are far superior to otc counterparts. They can be considerably more expensive but I use far less with them with better results. Hope all of you feel better.

    • I purchase my essential oils from Native American Nutritionals or Rocky Mountain Oils. They are owned by the same people. They are excellent quality oils. Just check out their websites. Read the reviews of the oils. People love them!

  11. I have gotten into essential oils. I invested in young living therapeutic oils. I do have a good collection over the past couple years. I have a diffuser, also have empty vegetables capsuls. When you buy 100 % pure you can ingest drops in a capsule and swallow.
    Thetes,a starter kit young living offers to get you started.
    My most favorites I use are thieves, peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus, Frankensense, etc

  12. I have used several different oil companies. My favorite is spark naturals. They are pure oils and I can order them on line with out going through a consultant. This allows me to get my oils within a couple days of ordering them and their prices are amazing. They also offer free shipping several times a month. Hope this helps

  13. I have just received my Plant Therapy 7and7 set and I love them! Best $60 I’ve spent in awhile and free shipping. I’m diffusing Germ Fighter which is pretty close to Thieves from Young Living. And Immune Aid for my son who came home from school sick today.

  14. Love this article…and the comments!
    I am a distributor for Young Living essential oils. To order from the company that takes the oil straight from the plant to the bottle (Seed to Seal), visit my website.
    ☆Free gift with every purchase!☆

  15. I’m seeing lots of people have mentioned ingesting oils. I have recently completed an aromatherapy massage class and I have learned that eucalyptus oil is toxic if ingested! Especially in children! I’m sure the dosages used are too low but please be careful. Please exercise caution.

    • This is an older comment, but such a good one. Essential oils should NEVER be ingested except under the care of a trained professional. This does not include someone who sells them. These oils are highly concentrated…for example, 1 drop peppermint oil is like consuming about 26-28 cups peppermint tea. Also, remember our bodies contain beneficial bacteria, and oils could possibly destroy those as well as the bad bacteria. There are many that should never be internally used at all.

      Also…there is no such thing as a Therapeutic oil. There is no one out there grading inspector, no formal entity… essential oil companies adopted the term as a marketing ploy. And it works!! However, the higher quality oils often do have the word therapeutic associated with them. Justbe aware that no one is going around grading these oils.

      Having said that, I love essential oils and the positive benefits we can get from them. I’ve been using them for years now and am still learning.

      • Thank you for posting this. I am new to EO’s as well. However, I have read a lot about how they should be used. I know someone who applies them directly to their skin or ingests them without carrier oils and without the capsules. This person is a distributor for YL and could be giving out incorrect information about how they should be used. I hope everyone does their own research and exercises caution when putting anything in or on their body. I would be especially cautious with children.

  16. I’m new as well to EO’s and am wondering what I can use on my 3 yr old for a runny nose. I have 10ml bottles and carrier oils. I haven’t used anything on him yet and want to be cautious. How do I apply it and where?

    • Young Living essential oils have a line just for children. If you are interested I can send you a link to the children’s supportive products.

  17. Hello,
    I Love doTERRA essential oils. They are the real deal. There are No fillers. These oils are certified and are aiding my family, friends and coworkers Into good health and well Being. Please email Me Or visit my website For More Information You can view 3 short videos On my website as well.
    Thank you and I hope you feel Better soon.
    God Bless you All.

  18. Wanting to know the different ways to use the oils. I am new to all the oils. I have a defuser, can I get a guide to using the oils.

    • I can gladly send you a guide; if you want to go to my website:
      You can order from there and I will send you a guide free of charge.
      There is also a very good book that is not published by any oils company but an outside entity that really explains EO.
      It is called The Essential Life. Amazon has it for about 25.00. It is big and easy to read and extra great for beginners as well as old pros.

  19. I use Rocky Mountain oils, the service is very good, fast delivery, I order online.

  20. I am fairly new to essential oils but have studied and learned allot due to the way the medical field is today. They do nothing to fix issues just put a bandage on it to keep you coming back. Allot of oils and oil mixtures are doing much better than what the doctor is giving. If you are ever wondering about what oils you can use for whatever put this in my search engine and it works like charm every time : ESSENTIAL OIL FOR ( whatever the ailment is) then read the results and cross reference. I have stockpiled allot of knowledge this way. I have been purchasing my oils from bulkapothecary and Doterra. In my opinion Doterra has the best but if my money low bulkapothecary has good therapeutic and organic products as well. Healing solutions comes in as close third distributor to use as well.

  21. I buy a variety of brands. I look at 3rd party testing and my own nose. There are 3rd party test results available online for peppermint, tea tree and myrrh. Hopefully, there will be more 3rd party testing in the future. One very popular brand of peppermint smells like peppermint candy to me. I prefer my peppermint to actually smell the like dried herb I make peppermint tea from. If it smells fake, I’m not buying it. During cold season, I diffuse cinnamon, clove and rosemary.

  22. I have a young living membership…more for the great products than for any business reason. I love that essential oils can help in so many ways but common sense tells me that if they have medicinal properties they should be used with the same caution as medicine. I use them every day but urge caution and research.

  23. I use it to thicken my eye brows. It works. My brows used to be almost nonexist. Now I’m able to wax and shape them.

  24. What is the best and safest oil to us in a childs room for stuffy nose and cough.

  25. I’ve been dealing with pneumonia and an upper respiratory infection since Christmas and still have a nasty cough. I’ve been on 3 antibiotics and prednisone. Because I have psoriasis, which is an auto-immune disease, I have a tough time getting over infections. A friend suggested essential oils but I can’t find out what to use. Any suggestions?

    • As you probably know, antibiotics and steroids can both impact immunity. Using holistic or herbal treatments while using either of these types of drugs may not be too effective because their action is gentler. But in general, there are are some excellent essential oils that are antimicrobials that help fight off upper respiratory infections. My favorites are tea tree, eucalyptus, and lavender. You can put a drop of them in a spoonful of honey or milk and take it 2-3x a day; you can also put a drop or two in some warm water and gargle with it. Both of these help once you are already sick; doing it once per day is a good preventive if you are run down and worried about becoming sick during the cold and flu season. Eating a diet that does not promote inflammation or mucus formation is also important; avoid white flour, sugar and processed foods, and plenty of fresh fruits and veggies. The brand of essential oils I usually buy is Aura Cacia; many health food stores carry it, they’re good quality and fairly inexpensive.

  26. I started buying essential oils from my local health food store but recently found Edens Garden and I have been ordering from them. The oils seem very good not diluted at all. Reasonable prices and free shipping in the US. I just love this site. My daughter also started getting her oils from them because they are good quality and a bit less than other places.

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