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How to Use Essential Oils for Colds

Here are some tips for using essential oils for colds. The natural cold remedies in this article are for an adult. If using them for a child, in general, cut the amount of essential oil used in half, or more if your child tends to be sensitive. These blends are not recommended for infants or toddlers.

Woman blowing her nose | Using Essential Oils for Colds

Let's start with a few cold prevention tips, or you can skip to a specific section:

Also see aromatherapy for earaches and aromatherapy for flu.

Cold Prevention

To help prevent colds, use an aromatherapy diffuser for 10 to 15 minutes two to three times a day to diffuse an essential oil that cleans and purifies the air. Some oils that you can use are eucalyptus, ravensara, rosemary, tea tree, or thyme.

Also, wash your hands frequently and keep them away from your eyes, nose, and mouth to avoid spreading any cold virus you picked up from touching objects.  

Other activities that support your immune system are getting enough sleep, moderate exercise, and managing stress.

Immune-Supporting Essential Oils for Colds

At the first sign of a cold, massage one of the following immune-supporting blends into your throat and chest, paying attention to the lymph glands in your neck: 

  • 3 drops geranium essential oil
  • 3 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 3 drops eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus for adults or Eucalyptus radiata for children) essential oil
  • 3 tablespoons carrier oil

Source: Massage & Aromatherapy: Simple Techniques to Use at Home

This stronger blend contains some of the best essential oils for colds:

  • 5 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 4 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 4 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 3 drops cypress essential oil
  • 2 drops lemon essential oil
  • 1 teaspoon carrier oil

Source: Essential Oils Desk Reference

Note: Test blends on a small area before using it on a larger area to make sure your skin is not sensitive to one of the essential oils. If you are sensitive to an oil, leave it out, possibly replacing it with one of the other oils or with tea tree essential oil.

Another option is to to make an essential oils for colds diffuser blend.

Aromatherapy Bath for Colds

To help relieve sore, achy feelings, take a hot bath with the following aromatherapy for colds blend once or twice a day: 

  • 15 drops ravensara essential oil
  • 10 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 8 drops thyme essential oil
  • 8 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 2 teaspoons carrier oil
  1. Blend the oils.
  2. Pour a big package of Epsom salt into a tub of comfortably hot water and stir in the oil blend.
  3. Soak in the bath for at least 20 minutes to breathe in the vapors, adding more hot water as needed for steaminess. 
  4. When you get out of the bath, wrap yourself warmly, and enjoy some hot soup or herbal tea.

Source: Healing With Aromatherapy

Sore Throat Gargles

For a sore throat, use one of the following gargles:

  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 drop tea tree essential oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup warm water


  • 3 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup warm water
  1. Blend all ingredients. 
  2. Gargle a couple of tablespoons of the mixture for one minute. Do not swallow.
  3. Repeat gargling a few times throughout the day.

Congestion Relief Using Essential Oils for Colds

Steam works well to help relieve nasal congestion. Use the following essential oils for congestion relief by adding them to a basin filled with hot, steaming water.

  • 2 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 2 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 2 drops thyme essential oil

Place a towel over your head and inhale the steam for 10 minutes, being careful to keep your face far enough away from the water that you don't get burned.

Alternatives: Use 5 drops of eucalyptus or one of these essential oils: cypress, tea tree, lavender, rosemary, or frankincense. 

Nighttime Congestion Relief

For congestion relief at night, place one drop each of eucalyptus, tea tree, and lavender on your pillowcase.

Another option to help you sleep with a cold is to use a humidifier or vaporizer in the room. The humid air helps keep your air passages moist. Add some essential oil if your vaporizer or humidifier has the proper insert for adding essential oils. If it doesn't, use a small ceramic dish next to (not over) the steam outlet, close enough that the dish warms up from the steam but doesn't block the steam's path.

Also see homemade vapor rub recipes.

Smelling Salts for Congestion

If you must be out and about, get a small vial with a cap. Place 1/4 teaspoon of coarse salt in the vial. Add 5 drops eucalyptus essential oil and shake. Inhale as needed for congestion relief. 

Alternately, make an aromatherapy inhaler with the following essential oils:

  • 3 drops eucalyptus globulus
  • 4 drops ravintsara (Cinnamomum camphora 1,8 cineole)
  • 8 drops sweet orange

Source: Aromahead

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