10 Essential Oils that You Need to Use for the Common Cold

Updated on April 8th, 2020
essential oils for colds

Ever-changing weather, especially the winter season, poses a significant burden on people of every age with tons of viral infections. The unhealthy modern lifestyle which weakens the immune system is another added drawback to it. Of the many such illnesses, the common cold is one of the most common viral infections that affect the nose and throat in general. Many different types of viruses can cause it.

With effective treatments or home remedies, it can be resolved within one to two weeks. Runny nose, congestion, and sneezing are some of the common symptoms of the common cold. Sometimes, it could get severe where the person may suffer from high fever. In rare cases, the frequent sneezing or runny nose can also damage the lungs.

Though not life-threatening, a cold can readily become lasting trouble that hampers our day to day activities.

Types, Symptoms, and Causes of Cold

Cold is a normal phenomenon that occurs because of a viral infection that perpetuates in one’s throat, nose, or both. People of every age can be affected by it. However, it is more common in children.


There are more than 200 viruses that can cause cold flu(1). A person’s age, the strength of the immune system, and exposure to the specific environment are primary factors that determine which type of cold is there. The most common cold and cough are baby colds, chest colds, and head colds. All of these mainly occur by viruses belonging to the group of rhinovirus and coronavirus.


The primary symptoms associated with a cold include:-

  • Congestion
  • A sore throat
  • A runny nose
  • Low fever
  • Headaches
  • Sneezing
  • Fatigue


The following reasons can cause cold flu:-

  • Sudden weather changes
  • A virus such as the human parainfluenza virus, coronaviruses adenovirus, human respiratory syncytial virus or enteroviruses
  • Contact with a sick person
  • Weak immune system

Why are Essential Oils Suitable for a Cold?

Eating a balanced diet undoubtedly contributes towards building a healthy immune system, which in turn ensures in preventing or quick healing from infections such as a common cold.

Although essential oils are an age-old remedy, they have gained immense prominence in alleviating various health conditions. The prominent essential oils include eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil, thieves’ oil, oregano oil, black seed oil, and peppermint oil, amongst many others.

Below listed are a few such oils and their benefits.

How to Use Essential Oils for Colds?

Given below are some top essential oils(2) for the cold that aid in treating the congested nose, headaches, flu, cough, and other ailments associated with the common cold.

1. Oregano Oil

oregano oil for cold

Oregano oil is one of the widely recommended essential oils for treating cold. It is because of its potent antibiotic properties. Various studies have concluded that oregano oil is antifungal, antiparasitic, antibacterial, and antiviral and is primarily used to treat a sore throat and other symptoms associated with flu.

How to use it?

Oregano oil should be used in a limited amount, or else its strong essence can prove harmful. Add one or two drops of oregano oil in juice, tea, or water to avail its benefits or add these drops to a vaporizer or diffuser. It can decrease the effects of a sore throat and fight various viruses and infections efficiently.

[Read: Oregano Oil For Cold]

2. Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus oil is highly useful to strengthen immunity and also to alleviate the conditions of asthma. It exhibits excellent antibacterial, antiviral, and healing properties. Its effects are immune-stimulatory, antioxidant, spasmolytic, decongestant, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory.

Inhaling the aroma of this oil helps to loosen phlegm as well as alleviate congestion, which is why it is used in various cough remedies. Besides, it also aids in treating fever, cold, cough, bad breath, and joint pains. 

How to use it?

The best way to use this oil is through steam inhalation or a diffuser. For the former, you can add 10-15 drops of eucalyptus oil in a bowl of boiling water, cover your head with a towel and breathe in the vapors for up to 10 minutes.

Whereas, for the latter, you can add several drops of the oil in a diffuser and breathe in the vapors throughout the night. You can also experience the benefits by rubbing it on the shoulders or chest. 

[Read: Eucalyptus Oil For Cold ]

3. Thieves Oil

thieves oil for cold

Thieves essential oil is one of the most significant home remedies to get rid of common cold and flu. It is a blend of cinnamon, rosemary, clove, lemon, and eucalyptus, which makes it a top choice amongst oil enthusiasts. Owing to the robust concoction of various herbs and spices, the thieves essential oil serves as an antibacterial, antiviral, anti-infectious, and antiseptic remedy. It works amazingly to reduce fever, congested noses, sore throats, and chest congestion.

Interestingly, this oil was first prepared by four thieves to prevent the contraction of infection during the great plague.

How to use it?

Thieves oil can be used in a diffuser or consumed orally along with water or any drink. When using a diffuser, you can add several drops. But, make sure not to use it beyond the recommended dosage or as mentioned on the bottle.

[Read: Uses & Benefits of Thieves Oil ]

4. Black Seed Oil

Another name for black seed oil is black cumin seed oil. It is incredibly beneficial to treat common bacterial or viral infections; hence it is used in many home remedies. Besides, it also helps in enhancing the body’s natural killer cells (white blood cells), which allows even to fight cancer. 

How to use it?

  • Black seed oil can be taken through a diffuser or via steam inhalation. 
  • You can also take a glass of lukewarm water and add a few drops of black seed oil and honey to it. 
  • Taking this mix for 3-4 days would be highly useful to treat the common cold.

[Read: Benefits of Black Seed Oil]

5. Tea Tree Oil

tea tree oil for colds

Tea tree oil is the extract of the leaves of the tea tree. It is also known as melaleuca oil and has a yellowish-pale color and a fresh camphoraceous odor. One shouldn’t confuse the tea tree with the tea plant as both are entirely different.

Why use it?

This oil can inhibit bacteria and can fight numerous infections. People seeking home remedies to treat bronchial congestion, cough, and pulmonary inflammation often add tea tree oil in bathwater.

How to use it?

The most effective way to use tea tree oil is adding the same in bathwater, in a diffuser, or inhaling its steam. Apply this oil directly to your skin, and for curing a cold or a cough, you can use it on the chest, shoulders, and back.

[ Read: Tea Tree Oil for Cold ]

6. German Chamomile Oil

German chamomile is known as blue chamomile or true chamomile that majorly grows in the southern and eastern parts of Europe. The German chamomile oil eases muscle aches, joint pains, headaches, and tension in one’s muscles as well as the mind. Its aroma has a unique soothing essence that helps in alleviating common cold and flu. In addition to these, it also acts as an excellent moisturizer. 

How to use it?

The oil of German chamomile can be directly applied as well as rubbed on the chest or any other area of pain and muscle tension. Adding a few drops to a warm bath can also give out some soothing and satisfying effects.

[Read: Benefits of Chamomile oil ]

7. Lemon Oil

lemon balm essential oil for clear cold sores
Image: shutterstock

Lemons(3) are amongst the most abundant sources of Vitamin C that help in fighting with free radicals. It is an excellent decongestant and is known to get rid of various kinds of antivirus.

It is useful for increasing blood circulation and immunity. The ability of lemongrass to cleanse the nasal passage and pave the way for steady breath is another reason why it is considered the best remedy for cold and flu.

How to use it?

The best way to use this oil is to add a few drops to the diffuser. Its strong essence will purify the room and clean the place of any bacteria or virus along with a soothing aroma. You can also inhale its scent via steam inhalation.

8. Lavender Essential Oil

The lavender plant is a relative of the mint family. Its oil is known to be gentle, having a sweet scent. The oil of lavender has antiseptic, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties that make it a fantastic oil for purifying the air. It can be used in homes during the flu season to prevent flu-causing bacteria from accumulating in your home.

How to use it?

Lavender oil can be best utilized by placing a few drops on a cotton ball and placing the same under one’s pillow. Its incredible properties enable muscles to relax, thereby inducing restful sleep. For the treatment of headaches, lavender oil can be applied to the affected area, inhaled, or put in a diffuser as well.

[Read: Lavender Oil Benefits]

9. Peppermint oil

peppermint oil for colds

Peppermint has a unique, pungent smell and is used to treat symptoms of cold and flu. The peppermint oil is excellent for getting rid of severe headaches, reducing fever, nausea, and chest congestion. One would experience relief from the chest or nasal congestion in only a few hours after the application of peppermint oil. It is used in massages and by various spas as well.

How to use it?

Peppermint oil has a considerably strong essence. Therefore, it’s advised that it be diluted and used with a carrier oil. This carrier could be almond, coconut, or any other oil utilized for day-to-day needs. Once mixed, this essential oil can be applied to the skin directly. It’s most useful when applied under the feet, on the chest, shoulders, and temple.

[Read: Peppermint Oil For Cough]

10. Sandalwood oil

sandalwood oil for colds

Sandalwood is often used as an air freshener. It is one of the most commonly used natural remedies for treating many ailments. Sandalwood has rich antimicrobial, antiviral, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties making it ideal for treating flu and common cold symptoms. Moreover, it has antiphlogistic and disinfectant properties that enable it to cure internal infections.

How to use it?

The oil of the sandalwood tree is usable with other carriers. One can apply it to the affected body parts too to relieve the pain or muscle tension. Add a few drops of the oil in boiling water and inhale this scent to clear congestion of the nasal passage.

Risks and Precautions

All the above-mentioned essential oils have enormous benefits. However, one must pay heed to their consumption. Some oils are harmful when inhaled or applied directly. It’s always better that one mixes these oils in another harmless oil carrier (like coconut oil) or liquids before consumption, or else it can lead to rashes, burning sensation, or prevalence of certain skin conditions. Furthermore, do check whether the oil you’ve chosen is safe to ingest or not.

Other Home Remedies for Cold

Below listed are a few other natural remedies that help in relieving colds:-

Milk and turmeric

Turmeric has antioxidants that are used to remove harmful or infected toxins from one’s body. To cure a cold, cough, and other flu-like symptoms, mix turmeric with warm milk and consume it before sleeping.

Gargle with saltwater

The go-to remedy for treating chest congestion and a sore throat is gargling with warm salty water. The salty vapors help to cleanse the virus responsible for cold; therefore, rinsing with salt water gives immediate positive results.

Lemon, honey, and cinnamon mix

Squeezing half a lemon and adding cinnamon and honey is a proven home remedy for curing common cold and flu-like ailments. Lemon is a natural antioxidant, whereas the presence of Cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon enables it to fight numerous kinds of infections, especially those of the respiratory tract.

Bottom Line

Essential oils mentioned above are highly beneficial in treating the common cold and similar conditions. However, it should be noted that these remedies may not exhibit every person in a similar manner. Some may experience the positive benefits within days, while some may take longer than that. Besides, make sure to follow a healthy diet regimen and proper hygiene.


1. What Are the Significant Differences Between the Common Cold and Flu?

Generally speaking, both common cold and flu have similar symptoms that include having nasal congestion, sore throat, fever, fatigue, and headaches. The main difference is that the flu’s symptoms last longer as compared to a cold.

2. What Is the Best Way to Prevent the Cold?

The best way to prevent contracting cold’s symptoms is to wash hands with medicinal soap and clean water properly. One can even utilize a sanitizer for the same. Also, remember not to touch your nose, eyes, or mouth with unwashed hands as this can transmit the virus, thereby leading to a breakout of an infection in your body.

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