Essential Oil for Colds

By Dr. Pallavi Sharma

Table of Contents


A common cold is an illness that causes a runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, and sometimes coughing. The symptoms usually last for about 3 to 5 days. While most people recover on their own, some may require antibiotics to treat the infection.

What causes the common cold?

The common cold virus is spread from person to person by direct contact with the respiratory secretions (nose or throat mucus) of an infected person. People are most likely to get the common cold if they:

  • are exposed to someone infected with the virus
  • have weakened immune systems caused by conditions like cancer or HIV/AIDS
  • are allergic to certain proteins in the virus (rhinovirus) that cause symptoms like sneezing and congestion.
  • are elderly

What are Essential Oils?

Essential oil is a substance derived from plants. In other words, it’s the concentrated essence of a plant.

Essential oils are aromatic compounds that give plants and flowers their smell.

They’re found in many plants, but they’re especially concentrated in certain oils such as peppermint or lavender that have been distilled from the plant.

It’s usually extracted with solvents such as hexane or ethanol and then mixed with additives such as turpentine to make it easier to apply.

Essential oils can be used in aromatherapy, but they’re not always safe for internal use. They can contain toxins like insecticides and pesticides that are harmful to humans if inhaled or applied externally.

Another way to describe essential oils is by their botanical names. For instance, the oil extracted from rosemary is called rosmarinic acid.

The oil extracted from orange peel is called d-limonene, and so on. Depending on the ingredients, some essential oils may have antibacterial or antiviral properties too.

Most of the essential oils available on the market are made up by mixing them with coconut oil, jojoba oil, vitamin E, etc.

The Benefits of Essential Oil

Essential oils are amazing! They can help with a range of conditions, including headaches, fatigue, insomnia, and many more.

They have been used for centuries to treat everything from depression to cancer, so it’s no surprise that they’re making a comeback in the modern world of medicine.

But how do essential oils work? Well, they contain volatile compounds called terpenes that interact with our bodies systems and trigger reactions that help us feel better. Terpenes are responsible for the smell and flavor of things like oregano or mint, and also a lot of other stuff!

Essential oils can be helpful for a number of different health conditions because they contain powerful healing compounds called “antioxidants” that prevent damage caused by oxidation.

The essential oil can reduce the symptoms of the common cold.

  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Inflammation
  • Chest congestion
  • Coughing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sinus Headache

Essential Oil Use and Research

A study taken among volunteers who had suffered from flu-like symptoms such as headaches, sore throats, and the fever has concluded that 73% had improvement in their illness compared to the placebo group.

There is not much research conducted in this field, though most people have commented on its good following.

Types of Essential Oils

Rosemary essential oil (from rosemary leaves) has a distinct aroma similar to lemon; it has anti-inflammatory properties and these are decongestants.

Lavender essential oil: (from lavender flowers), which has a sweet scent reminiscent of marigolds; has stress-reduction properties and reduces depression and headaches.

Sandalwood essential oil (from sandalwood bark), which has a warm woody aroma with hints of citrus;

Geranium essential oil: (from geranium leaves), which has an earthy, slightly bitter scent with hints of grapefruit.

How to Use Essential Oil?

Here are some ways that you can use essential oils:

Lavender Oil

  • Put 1-2 drops of lavender oil on your pillow before bedtime. It helps to relax your mind and body, so it’s perfect for when you’re feeling stressed out!


  • Enjoy a warm bath with 1 drop of eucalyptus oil in the water (and maybe add some Epsom salts if you like). Eucalyptus helps loosen up mucus congestion, so it’s great for clearing out your sinuses. Its scents will bring you sinus relief.

Further, it reduces chest congestion, pain, and sore throat and has anti-inflammatory properties.

Tea Tree Essential Oil

  • Rub two drops of tea tree oil into your temples during the day if they’re feeling sore or tender. Tea tree oil can also be helpful for dealing with chronic conditions like sinusitis and ear infections.
  • You can also apply 2 drops of this oil directly onto the skin around your eyes. This will reduce puffiness and discoloration caused by allergies.
  • Tea tree oil provides congestion relief. It has antiviral properties and relieves sore throats as well.

Peppermint Oil

This oil contains menthol, which helps relieve the symptoms of a cold by increasing mucus production in the airways.

It can also help to open up the sinuses, thereby improving breathing and reducing congestion.

This reduces congestion and relieves sore throats and coughs.


It is an essential oil that is a great way to relieve the symptoms of a cold.

It has antiviral, anti-fungal, and antibacterial properties. Lemon can also help your body fight the common cold and reduce the duration of symptoms.

The lemon essential oil has been shown to be effective against rhinoviruses, which are responsible for most cases of the common cold.

In addition to its antiviral properties, the lemon essential oil has strong antimicrobial effects on bacteria that cause infections such as bronchitis, tonsillitis, and pneumonia.

Clary Sage

As the weather starts to get colder, the air can start to feel a little bit damp and chilly. If you’re looking for a way to warm up your home, try adding some clary sage.

This oil has been known to help bring warmth and comfort to a space, making it perfect for use during the colder months. Plus, its natural anti-inflammatory properties make it a great oil for use.


It has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties, which make it a great choice for treating colds. It reduced congestion and pain.


It has been shown to have powerful anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties that can help fight off the virus.


Geranium oil is believed to be effective against the common cold, and it’s also a great way to help improve your overall health.

This potent oil is used to treat the common cold and other respiratory infections, and it has a strong antiviral effect. If you’re looking for a natural way to ward off the common cold, consider adding some geranium oil to your routine.


Did you know that frankincense is one of the oldest medicinal plants on the planet? It has been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments, including the common cold.

It has antiviral properties and can reduce coughing in bronchitis.

The Ways of Using Essential Oil

Essential oils have been used for ages for various reasons. From aiding in sleep to relieving pain, these oils have a multitude of uses.

Essential oils can be used in a variety of ways, but for this paper, we will be discussing how to use essential oils for colds.

There are several ways to use essential oils for colds, and the best way for each person is different.

Essential oils are widely used in aromatherapy, and can be applied topically, internally, or inhaled.


Topical application is the most common, as it is the easiest to administer. A few drops of essential oil can be placed on the skin and massaged into the area being treated.

Internal use can be done by adding a few drops of oil to a cup of tea or water and drinking it.

Externally, the oil can be applied over the thorax, sinuses, and nose.

Skin irritation, though a rare complication, can occur when the carrier oil is not up to standards.

Carrier oils commonly used in essential oils are,

  • Olive oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Jojoba oil
  • Hemp seed oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Rosehip oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Almond oil
  • Argan oil

Essential Oil and Humidifier

A humidifier or diffuser that uses essential oils can be beneficial to your health during the cold and flu season.

The main benefit is that it can help you breathe better. When your nose and throat are dry, it can be difficult to breathe.

A humidifier or diffuser can help to add moisture to the air, which can help you breathe better.

Using an essential oil diffuser or humidifier is a great way to relieve cold symptoms such as a runny nose, congestion, and cough.

This is because essential oils can help to thin mucus, provide congestion relief, and have antiviral properties that can shorten the duration of a cold.

Some of the best essential oils for cold relief include peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil, oregano oil, and rosemary oil. It is important to note that diffusing essential oils should not be done around infants under the age of six months old.


Some people may turn to inhale essential oils when they have a cold. Although inhaling these oils is generally safe, there are a few things you should know first.

Essential oils are concentrated forms of the natural oils present in some plants.

When you inhale them, the oils stimulate sensors in your nose that send messages through your nervous system to your brain.

Inhaling the essential oils directly from the bottle is not recommended. Instead, you should add a few drops of oil to a diffuser or humidifier.

This will help you to naturally relieve your cold symptoms and make it easier for you to breathe. You can also add a few drops of essential oil to a bowl of steaming water and then inhale the vapors.


If you have a cold or flu and your chest feels congested, a warm bath with eucalyptus oil can help you feel better. Add 10 drops of the oil to a warm bath and soak for 20 minutes.

The steam from the bath will help clear your nasal passages and make it easier to breathe.

Hot Compression

A warm compress is essential for relieving cold symptoms quickly. Many people don’t know this, but a warm compress can be used to treat a wide range of conditions, from the common cold to more serious cases like bronchitis.

By applying pressure to the sinuses and breathing in steam, you can help loosen mucus and reduce inflammation.

Side Effects of Essential Oil


It is Despite the benefits of using essential oils for colds, there are some risks associated with their use. Skin irritation and allergic reactions can occur in some people.

Essential oil should not be used on broken skin, and it should be diluted before being applied to the skin.

Inhalation of essential oils can also be harmful, and it should not be done without the supervision of a qualified practitioner.

Finally, essential oils should be kept away from the eyes and mucous membranes.


There have been no studies on the benefits or risks of essential oils during pregnancy or breastfeeding. As a result, it’s best to avoid it.


Essential oils have a high fragrance and action with a few drops compared to pouring a lot. Thus, these should not be used unnecessarily. It is better to read the manufacturer’s guide before applying it.

Glass Bottles

Essential oils are essentially packed in glass bottles. Refuse to buy products that come with plastic bottles.

Children and Pets

It is better to avoid using essential oils on pets or children as the proper doses cannot be decided. Some essential oils can be toxic to them.

When to See the Doctor

Though essential oils give remarkable symptom relief, they are not a cure for your common cold. If you are having the following symptoms, you must go and see a doctor.

  • If symptoms persist for more than 2 weeks
  • High fever (+ chills and rigors)
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Blood-stained sputum
  • Chest pain
  • Limb weakness
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • increased sensitivity to light and neck stiffness

TeleHealthDoc articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Dr. Pallavi Sharma

Dr. Pallavi Sharma is one of Melbourne’s best, well respected cosmetic doctors and aims to provide longstanding anti-aging benefits for her clients. With over 11 years experience in Performing cosmetic procedures, Dr. Sharma has lectured medical professionals regarding cosmetic treatments and is heavily involved in providing up to date cosmetic treatments to her clients and friends.
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