Using Essential Oils for Cold and Flu Relief

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Using Essential Oils for Cold and Flu Relief | Seattle Central College - Continuing Education

Create Your Own Apothecary

Is it just us, or has cold and flu season been particularly brutal for the past few years?

As you stock up on your favorite relief remedies, you might want to consider adding a few essential oils to your collection. These powerfully concentrated herbal remedies can help relieve the symptoms of colds and flus -- coughing, stuffed up noses, sore throats -- with minimal side effects.

We turned to a couple of our favorite herbal medicinal bibles -- The Complete Book of Herbs by Lesley Bremness and The Complete Medicinal Herbal by Penelope Ody -- for some guidance on which essential oils are most beneficial in relieving the symptoms of colds and flu.

Suggested Essential Oils

  • Properties: Uplifting, energizing, antidepressant
  • Treats: Anxiety, concentration issues, digestion, headaches, respiratory issues
  • Blends: Bergamot, geranaium, hyssop, neroli, marjoram, melissa, lavender
  • Notes: More than 3 drops may irritate some skin
  • Properties: Penetrating, warming
  • Treats: Stimulates circulation, aids respiration, soothes irritated skin, reduces nervous tension
  • Blends: Cinnamon, coriander, cypress, jasmine, lemon, myrrh, rose, sandalwood
  • Properties: Relaxing, refreshing, astringent
  • Treats: Circulation, influenza, laryngitis, muscular cramps, mature skin
  • Blends: Benzoin, bergamot, clary sage, juniper, lavender, lemon, orange, sandalwood
  • Properties: Stimulating, anti-septic, antiviral, insect repellant
  • Treats: Diarrhea, colds and viruses, respiratory problems, aches and pains, cuts and wounds
  • Blends: benzoin, hyssop, lavender, lemon, lemon grass, melissa, pine, rose
  • Properties: Stimulating tonic
  • Treats: Digestion, loss of appetite, rheumatic pains, sore throat
  • Blends: Citrus and spice oils
  • Notes: Valuable bath oil to ward off colds
  • Properties: Sedative, decongestant
  • Treats: Anxiety, hypertension, normalizes circulation, digestion, respiratory problems, fades bruises
  • Blends: Clary sage, lavender, rosemary, sage, citrus oil
  • Notes: Do not give to epileptics
  • Properties: Refreshing, soothing, antiseptic, insect repellent, relives sharp pain
  • Treats: Insomnia, circulation, ingestion, headaches, infections, muscular pains, cell renewal, benefit all skin types
  • Blends: Most oils, especially citrus, chamomile, clary sage, geranium, pine, rosemary
  • Notes: Low toxicity makes it good for children
  • Properties: Antiseptic, disinfectant, soothing
  • Treats: Respiratory problems, sore throats, colds, skin ulcers, rheumatism
  • Blends: Lavender, pine, mint
  • Notes: Often used in pharmaceutical products such as toothpaste and cough drops
  • Properties: Invigorating, antiseptic, pain reliever
  • Treats: Fatigue, shock, digestion, travel sickness, headaches, toothache, skin irritations
  • Blends: In small quantities with benzoin, black pepper, melissa, marjoram, spice oils

Suggested Remedies

Cough & Cold

  • 3 drops Benzoin
  • 2 drops Cypress
  • 3 drops Eucalyptus
  • 2 drops Hyssop

Head Cold

  • 3 drops Basil
  • 3 drops Eucalyptus
  • 3 drops Ginger


  • 4 drops Eucalyptus
  • 4 drops Niaouli
  • 2 drops Hyssop


  • 2 drops Basil
  • 2 drops Eucalyptus
  • 2 drops Lavender
  • 2 drops Peppermint

These blends can be inhaled or used as a massage oil/chest rub.



  • Steam Method: Put the drops into a bowl containing 2 1/2 cups of hot water; drape a towel over your head and inhale the steam for 5 - 10 minutes, your face about 9 inches above the water. Repeat no more than 3 times per day.
  • Hanky Method: Put the drops on a handkerchief and take four deep breaths. When not using, place against breastbone where it will continue to work. This is a great method for when you're at work or traveling, or simply cannot get out of bed.

Massage / Chest Rub

  • Double the quantity of the drops and add to a 2-ounce bottle of a carrier oil such as almond, sunflower, grapeseed, or any other scentless oil that will absorb easily into the skin.
  • Do not add more than 25 drops total to the carrier oil.
  • Rub the oil on your chest as needed.