6 Best Essential Oils that Beat Colds, Sinus Congestion, & Flu Symptoms (Updated April 2020)

There are a lot of safe and easy remedies to illnesses like colds or the flu, such as drinking a lot of fluids and spending the day holed up in bed. However, if you’d like a more proactive -- and fragrant -- approach, essential oils for colds are a good choice. 

You may be surprised to discover just how versatile essential oils really are. A single kind of oil may be helpful in so many different cases. A good stash of essential oils, however, could be your go-to solution for a myriad of day-to-day situations.

For your convenience, we have already collected our best essential oils for cold symptoms in one neat pack. These are six of our 100% pure essential oils, all sealed and ready to be delivered to you doorstep.


We did a side-by-side comparison with two of the world's biggest essential oil brands:

The Best Essential Oils for Colds

When the cold virus latches onto us, the most common early symptoms include a sore throat, a foggy and aching head, and a sluggish body. If the symptoms worsen and it turns out we have the flu, that means spending a few days and up to a week in bed, shaking with fever, and aching all over.

Allow us to tell you all about how essential oils can help with your cold symptoms. You read that right—essential oils don't just serve to increase your immunity against common (and some not-so-common) illnesses, they may also prove useful as all-natural remedies.

For colds, coughs, and flu symptoms, in particular, the essential oils discussed in this article possess more than a few qualities that could help speed you along towards recovery. We’ll tell you which six essential oils could be more useful if these viruses have already managed to slip inside the house.

1. Basil Essential Oil

basil essential oilBasil essential oil boasts powerful properties that can help fight illness.

Basil essential oil is a go-to for those who want a brain-refresher when mind fatigue has taken its toll. Getting sick often does a number on you mentally as well, but basil oil can help you stay sharp and alert.

Want that fogginess in your head cleared away? Pop a few drops in your diffuser, or simply open a bottle and inhale its rich, herby aroma straight from the source. Feel the beneficial effects inch their way throughout your body, allowing tense muscles to relax and a stressed mind to find balance.

The Science of Basil Essential Oil

Basil essential oil is largely characterized by its energy-boosting benefits, which is just one among many things that makes it ideal for easing symptoms of cold.

Additionally, basil also powerful anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antispasmodic properties, just to name a few, and these could help alleviate the accompanying symptoms of cold like fever and coughing. It could even go beyond that and also help treat sinus infections, bronchitis, and asthma.

That's not all that basil essential oil can do. It's also effective against harmful microbes like Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans, and more. Thus, basil can also be effective against other illnesses.

Using Basil Essential Oil

Other than simply inhaling its scent, there’s a variety of ways you could use basil essential oil to target specific cold symptoms. If you want to soothe aching limbs, simply rub a few diluted drops over the affected areas. If you want relief from congestion, you can create your very own vapor rub and apply the resulting product as needed over your chest.

Basil essential oil blends well with the following essential oils:

  • Patchouli
  • Cedarwood
  • Tea tree
  • Rosemary
  • Ylang ylang

Learn more about basil essential oil benefits.


2. Rosemary Essential Oil

rosemary essential oilRosemary is effective at making you feel better when you're under the weather.

Rosemary essential oil has been in use for a very long time. This says a lot about how effective it can be not only in preventing many types of conditions, but also in providing an alternative remedy.

The Science of Rosemary Essential Oil

Rosemary has a high camphor content, and this could serve to relieve aches associated with colds—e.g., in the temples and sinus areas—as well as ease an itchy throat and congested respiratory tract, reducing the instances of coughing.

Along with having analgesic, antispasmodic, and expectorant properties, rosemary essential oil is also a natural diuretic. Rosemary can help flush out toxins in the body, facilitating faster recovery by cleansing you from the inside out.

Additionally, rosemary essential oil can also help improve circulation, so whatever soothing effect it gives to a particular spot can also be felt by the entire body. This is ideal in situations where your cold symptoms have progressed to a full-blown flu.

Using Rosemary Essential Oil

When applied topically, rosemary essential oil gives off a warming feeling, both physically and psychologically. By physically, we mean it might effectively induce sweating, and as we all know when it comes to fevers, sweating helps to cool down the body while also serving as a vehicle to rid it of toxins.

These essential oils blend well with rosemary:

  • Lemon
  • Grapefruit
  • Eucalyptus
  • Cedarwood
  • Ylang ylang
  • Bergamot
  • Spearmint
  • Mandarin
  • Patchouli
  • Tea tree
  • Grapefruit

Learn more about rosemary essential oi benefits.


3. Sage Essential Oil

sage essential oilSage is a known expectorant and can assist in relieving congestion and expelling phlegm.

Sage essential oil can be effective in helping you heal with things like a winter cold, which is often characterized by a runny nose and thick mucus in the chest. As an expectorant with a drying effect, sage oil can help siphon the moisture out of stubborn mucus so that you could cough it all out with greater ease.

Boasting other properties that specifically offers benefits to the mind’s health, sage essential oil may also help with clearing that heaviness in our heads caused by oncoming sickness, which can sometimes be debilitating. When sage oil is diffused at such times, it could not only ease your stuffy nasal passages, it could also improve your mood that has been brought low by colds.

The Science of Sage Essential Oil

Sage essential oil’s antiviral and antimicrobial properties can also be especially effective in reducing inflammation in the lymph nodes. Lymph nodes can be found in various parts of the body, but we only tend to notice them when they become swollen. In the case of colds, this tends to happen to the lymph nodes behind the ears as well as in the sides of the neck. You can thank this phenomenon for that uncomfortable feeling you get when you swallow and feel a lump in some parts of your throat.

With colds, lymph node swelling is usually a sign that your own body is going into high gear, trying to drive off a particular infection, but please be aware that there are other, more serious cases related to it. If you’re experiencing such a symptom even though a cold doesn’t seem to be developing, consult your health provider to find out what might be causing it.

Using Sage Essential Oil

Diffusion, aromatherapy, and topical application are the usual ways to enjoy the benefits of sage essential oil. If you plan on applying the oil topically, make sure that you dilute it in a carrier oil first to avoid skin irritations. Additionally, carrier oils make sure that essential oils stay on your skin longer.

You can also blend sage essential oil with these essential oils:

  • Bergamot
  • Lemon
  • Tea tree
  • Rosemary

Learn more about sage essential oil benefits.


4. Patchouli Essential Oil

Patchouli essential oil is also helpful busting colds. This may come as a surprise to some, especially if they’ve never even heard of patchouli essential oil before. If you have, you probably mostly associate it with a particularly vibrant, bygone era more commonly known as the 60s. In the hippie tradition, patchouli’s heavy, deep-earth scent was a favorite, probably because the overall impression that its unique scent gives off can be described as “beautiful.”

Other than its name, another thing that makes patchouli essential oil stand out from the pack is how it’s similar to wine—instead of decaying over time, its quality actually becomes better as it ages. Also, whether you end up loving it or hating it, patchouli’s scent can be intoxicating.

The Science of Patchouli Essential Oil

One thing that patchouli oil can do for you is help get rid of infections in your upper respiratory tract. This can help ease coughs by addressing the problem at its root.

Additionally, patchouli essential oil can also serve to lower your temperature in case of a fever, all while targeting its specific cause. Some say that even just the scent of patchouli could drive up your body’s immunity, so perhaps the best way you could benefit from this lesser-known oil is by employing it regularly in order to protect yourself from catching any more cold and flu viruses.

Using Patchouli Essential Oil

When it comes to helping treat symptoms of cold, patchouli leaves were traditionally made into tea. However, patchouli essential oil is not safe to ingest. Fortunately, just by diffusing the oil or by diluting it with a carrier agent before applying on the skin, you can get the same cold-busting benefits.

Patchouli essential oil blends well with these other oils:

  • Ylang ylang
  • Bergamot
  • Spearmint
  • Lemongrass
  • Grapefruit
  • Rosemary
  • Cedarwood
  • Lime
  • Basil
  • Tea tree

Learn more about patchouli essential oil benefits.


5. Spearmint Essential Oil

spearmint essential oilSpearmint is both refreshing and cooling, which can make you feel better when you're congested.

Spearmint essential oil is typically overlooked in favor of its more famous cousin, peppermint. While peppermint essential oil is undoubtedly reliable in helping ease cold symptoms, it isn’t for everyone, and it is especially inadvisable to use it on children and the elderly due to its high camphor content.

Unfortunately, children and the elderly are usually the ones who are more susceptible to catching colds and the flu. Thus, we recommend spearmint over peppermint since it's more tolerable for many.

The Science of Spearmint Essential Oil

You won’t have to worry about spearmint’s efficacy in comparison to peppermint. While it is called the “gentler mint,” it is still a mint, and it comes with all the properties common to that plant family. Spearmint essential oil’s menthol content comes in more bearable quantities, but the amount it does have is sufficient for easing respiratory problems such as asthma, sinus infection, colds, and flu.

Furthermore, spearmint can act as an expectorant. It can therefore loosen phlegm while also decongesting your air passages, allowing you to breathe easier.

As with many essential oils, spearmint has powerful antimicrobial and antiviral properties. The inhalation of its scent either through steam or through natural air diffusion can help the body fight off infections because the microdroplets you take in are loaded with those same benefits. As they travel through the respiratory system, they'll be able to fight harmful microbes.

Using Spearmint Essential Oil

Spearmint essential oil can be diffused and can give off a cooling, soothing, and refreshing aroma. The minty scent alone can already help you breathe more easily.

Another way to use spearmint oil is to dilute it in a carrier oil, such as coconut oil. You can then apply the mixture topically on your chest, back, and throat, which can help loosen phlegm and free up your air passages.

For more benefits and additional effects, you can also blend spearmint with other essential oils. It's compatible with the following:

  • Rosemary
  • Tea tree
  • Patchouli
  • Lime
  • Eucalyptus
  • Lemongrass

Learn more about spearmint essential oil benefits.


6. Fir Essential Oil

fir essential oilFir essential oil is rich in vitamins.

Fir essential oil is steam-distilled mostly from the tree’s needle-like leaves, and the said leaves have a high vitamin C content. While that could be especially beneficial in boosting your immunity against many types of sickness, it could only serve to shore up your energy reserves once you’ve already contracted a virus. But worry not, because vitamin C is far from being the only nutrient that Siberian Fir essential oil is rich in.

The Science of Fir Essential Oil

Whether they’re called Siberian, Silver, or White, all types of fir share the same chemical compositions. Where they can greatly differ is in the percentages of these chemicals. In particular, a lot of the most helpful compounds against colds and other respiratory diseases can be found in higher concentrations in Siberian fir.

These compounds include bornyl acetate, camphene, alpha-pinene, and delta-3-carene.

Bornyl acetate is both an anti-inflammatory and an analgesic, so it could help ease those aching head and muscles while also lowering your temperature in case of fever. Working in tandem with camphene and vitamin C, it could also help soothe away the stress that your incapacitation may have caused.

Alpha-pinene and delta-3-carene, meanwhile, specifically targets the cold symptoms themselves like chest congestion, runny nose, watery eyes, and sore throat. These, along with Siberian fir’s other properties, can also aid in the management of the symptoms of more serious conditions, like bronchitis.

Using Fir Essential Oil

You can use fir essential oil on its own to great effect, but you can also blend it with other essential oils in this list and receive even more cold-and-flu-busting benefits. Simply add a few drops in your diffuser and run it for thirty minutes to an hour at a time.

Other than diffusion, you can also dilute the pure fir oil or your essential oil blend with a carrier agent and rub it over your chest and throat area. Doing even just this much could help you get yourself back on your feet sooner.

These essential oils can blend well with fir essential oil:

  • Bergamot
  • Lemon
  • Cedarwood
  • Eucalyptus
  • Patchouli
  • Rosemary

Learn more about fir essential oil benefits.

You can see a whole range of pure and and all-natural essential oils from this collection.



Please note that overexposure to any essential oil may lead to lightheadedness, nausea, headaches, and even emotional disturbances. It is always recommended to observe proper dosing and diffuser running time to avoid such instances.

Of particular importance in this regard, fir essential oil is not recommended for extended or regular use. The maximum length of time it can be continuously employed is two weeks. Any longer than that and its relatively high toxicity may cause internal damage.

Consult your health provider on the advisability of using alternative medicines like essential oils for serious ailments. If you need guidance on the proper implementation of essential oils for your specific concerns, you should also talk to a qualified aromatherapy practitioner.

If you’re taking medications, it is generally inadvisable to employ essential oils at the same time as they may have properties that could interfere with the drugs’ effects. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, those trying to conceive, and those with conditions like epilepsy are also strongly urged to refrain from use.

Always check that the essential oil you’re planning to use is safe for your situation. Some essential oils, for instance, has emmenagogue properties that might cause pregnancy complications leading to miscarriage. Make sure to seek your doctor’s advice.

Prior to extensive topical use, please perform a patch test on a non-sensitive part of the skin to check for any adverse reactions. Always observe proper oil dilution before applying to the skin, especially if you’re using a highly concentrated citrus essential oil. One drop of essential oil per one milliliter of carrier agent is generally considered a safe ratio for most, and less than a drop for cold-pressed citruses. 

Keep essential oils away from direct sunlight. If a photosensitive oil is applied on a large area of the skin, please avoid sun exposure for 12 to 24 hours. If accidental spilling occurs, wash away using a carrier agent like coconut or olive oil.

Store the bottles away from the reach of children and pets. Most oils are not recommended for use in children under 7 years of age while others can be dangerous to pets. Avoid getting in the eyes and other mucous membranes.

The chemical makeup of essential oils is highly concentrated. They should be used with care and moderation. Photo Source: Pixabay

How to Use Essential Oils for Colds

Now that we’ve got those necessary precautions out of the way, let’s get to the good part. In this section, we’ll show you several ways you could use these six essential oils to alleviate cold symptoms. 


1. Blend, blend, blend

Get the most out of these essential oils by blending them together according to the cold-fighting benefits you wish to reap. Aroma Foundry has made it easy by packing all six in a single bundle, and you can get them delivered to you in one go. No need to scour and spend extra for each one because this 6-pack for cold symptoms alone could give you way more than what you’re paying for.

Here are some variations you could try with them:

For warding off oncoming symptoms:

For easing stuffy nose and expelling mucus from the chest:

For reducing fever and alleviating body aches:

For an overall preventative measure after you’ve recovered from this bout of cold and/or flu, blend them all!

The number of drops per essential oil would depend on which effects you wish to be the strongest. For soothing a congested chest, for instance, you might try adding more drops of spearmint and less of the others. Just remember that even when the oils have been blended, the same ratio of 1:1 oil per carrier agent applies.

To be on the safe side, start with one to two drops of each essential oil when blending and adjust from there.

If you wish to blend a larger amount of oils for future use, be sure to use a dark, thick, and light-filtering glass bottle to store it in. This would not only protect it from degradation caused by oxygen and sunlight, it could also preserve the blend’s fragrance, potency, and cold-busting properties for much longer.

Now that that’s covered, we’ll discuss the ways you could put these blends to maximum use.

Aroma Foundry Cold Busting Pack

2. Direct steam inhalation

Diffusing essential oils for up to an hour to treat cold symptoms can be well and good—it’s mentally soothing and physically relaxing. You might even enjoy it despite being sick.

However, we don’t always have the time to lie down for even thirty minutes on a busy day in order to get these oil’s benefits, even when we are sick and are therefore supposed to be resting. This is when a quicker alternative like steam inhalation can be especially useful.

To do this, simply boil two cups of water and pour it to a deep bowl. Add one to three drops of your essential oil blends, then, using a towel, cover your head down to your shoulders and lean directly over the steaming bowl. Make sure to also tuck the towel around the bowl.

This can actually double as a facial steam, so if you have any skin issues, this could be good for that too. Close your eyes if you’re experiencing a stinging sensation from the essential oil microdroplets wafting from the steam. Inhale deeply for up to ten minutes, or until you feel the steam’s power has run out.

You can take breaks whenever if the heat gets too much. Repeat thrice a day for as many days as needed.

3. DIY chest vapor rub

For a handy and all-natural vapor rub:

    • Virgin coconut oil – 4 tbsps
    • Beeswax pellets – ½ tbsp
    • Essential oil blend – 30 drops
    • Glass cosmetic jar


    1. Over a double boiler, combine the coconut oil and beeswax and stir gently until everything’s melted.
    2. Once you’ve arrived at a smooth consistency, remove the mixture from heat and allow it to cool for several minutes.
    3. Blend in the essential oil thoroughly and transfer everything to the salve jar. Close the lid tightly when not in use, and use a spoon or q-tips when taking a measure to protect it from germ contamination.
    4. Apply over the chest, throat, or aching limbs as needed. For best results, add or increase spearmint essential oil drops.

4. Other Uses

There’s a variety of other things you can do to get the cold-alleviating benefits of these six essential oils. You can mix them with a massage oil and work it into your skin and body, or you can add a few drops to your bath salts and dissolve the resulting healing blend into your tub water. Soak your aching body in it and feel your aching limbs be soothed and your heavy mind be cleared of fogginess.

When you can breathe more freely, you’ll also be able to enjoy the play of scents from the essential oils you’ve blended, so there’s that to look forward to as well.

Check out our special pack containing top quality essential oils all mentioned here in our shop.


These essential oils are effective at helping you deal with the symptoms and causes of the common cold, as well as other respiratory issues. Furthermore, these oils can also help you maintain your health and stay in tip-top shape.

Get more than your money’s worth with Aroma Foundry’s special bundle of essential oils for colds: after you’ve kicked those pesky viruses to the curb, you can then use these essential oils to guard you against catching more of them. 



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  2. "25 Essential Oils for Colds to Help You Through This Awful Flu Season." MorningChores. January 11, 2017. https://morningchores.com/essential-oils-for-colds/.
  3. "Basil Essential Oil Uses and Benefits | AromaWeb." Uses and Benefits | AromaWeb. https://www.aromaweb.com/essential-oils/basil-oil.asp.
  4. Editorial, CureJoy. "10 Proven Health Benefits And Uses Of Patchouli Essential Oil." CureJoy. September 05, 2017. https://www.curejoy.com/content/uses-of-patchouli-essential-oil/.
  5. Tash. "Essential Oils for Boosting The Immune System and Fighting Cold and Flu." There's an EO For That. April 04, 2018. https://www.theresaneoforthat.com/essential-oils-boosting-immune-system-fighting-cold-flu/.
  6. Joe. "Fir Needle Essential Oil - Fight Cancer, Infections & Even Odor." Dr. Axe. June 27, 2017. https://draxe.com/fir-needle-essential-oil/.
  7. "Herbal Oil: Spearmint Oil Benefits and Uses." Mercola.com. https://articles.mercola.com/herbal-oils/spearmint-oil.aspx.
  8. Rubin, Tina. "AROMATHERAPY FOR COLDS." Amazing Wellness Magazine | The Vitamin Shoppe. January 01, 2013. https://amazingwellnessmag.com/natural-living/aromatherapy-for-colds.
  9. UpNature. "20 Of The Best Essential Oils For Colds And Relieving The Flu." UpNature. https://www.up-nature.com/blogs/news/20-of-the-best-essential-oils-for-colds-and-relieving-the-flu.
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  1. Background
  2. The Best Essential Oils for Colds
    1. Basil Essential Oil
    2. Rosemary Essential Oil
    3. Sage Essential Oil
    4. Patchouli Essential Oil
    5. Spearmint Essential Oil
    6. Fir Essential Oil
  3. Precautions
  4. How to Use Essential Oils for Colds
  5. Summary
  6. References