How Essential Oils Help Relieve Cold & Flu Symptoms


essential oils

Essential Oils for Better Health

The use of essential oils for relief of respiratory infections has been in practice for centuries due to their antibacterial and anti-microbial properties, their effectiveness and the fact that these plant derived essential oils are relatively inexpensive, easy to come by and practical to apply.

Historical fact

Historically, vapours from certain plants and trees have been used to ease respiration from illnesses like the common cold, sinus pain and throat and chest infections. It was noted during World Wars 1 and 2, that soldiers that who were camping in cold climates in pine and eucalyptus forests were less susceptible to colds and flu than soldiers in warmer climates. The fortifying action of the vapours from the pine and eucalyptus trees was evident in the immune boosting effect on the soldiers.

How Essential Oils Relieve Symptoms

Essential oils are practical for respiratory infections because they are volatile, which means they naturally vaporise in the air. When used in conjunction with steam or dry heat they become more volatile and are able to act on the airways directly.

The particles that vaporise can be inhaled through the nose or mouth and have an effect on mucous membranes and the bronchi, right into the lungs. Their effect is as an expectorant – they increase mucous production (mucolytic), dilating or opening airways, and can be anti-spasmodic and anti-infectious.

The Hero Essential Oil for Colds & Flu – Eucalyptus, Tea Tree and Lavender

Certain essential oils are used to relieve respiratory infections, the most popular being eucalyptus. Others such as tea tree, lavender, pine, thyme, peppermint, and benzoin are also effective

Eucalyptus, one of the favourites to get rid of winter bugs, is effective to use preventatively as an immune booster. But most of it, it is mucolytic and helps to rid the airways of dryness, and to trap infectious particles that are then coughed out.

Tea tree has well known anti-infectious properties against bacteria, microbes and fungi. It is also non-irritant to mucous surfaces which line the respiratory tracts so is perfect in small concentrations for infections in the nose, throat or chest.

Lavender has many uses, but on the respiratory system it has anti-infectious properties. As well as being an expectorant, it soothes the mucous membranes, which is especially beneficial when treating irritated mucosa (lining of the nose, throat and chest) associated with allergies.

Applications of Essential Oils

The oils can be used in a number of ways to treat coughs, colds and flu. They can be used in their concentrated form in an aromatherapy burner, placed in a diffuser, vaporiser, sauna, or even a few drops on the shower floor. Sprinkled on a tissue, the aroma’s can be inhaled when desired.

Essential oils can also be used in a diluted form, mixed into a base or carrier oil, such as a cream or almond oil. The creams or oils can then be massaged into the chest, or around the throat or nose, and even around the ears to soothe flu symptoms.

Bath oils or salts with the effective essential oils are wonderfully therapeutic as they provide the steam effect, inhalation and absorption of oils into the body.

Precautions Whilst Using Essential Oils

When essential oils are used there are a few points to bear in mind:

Combine oils for maximum effect

Essential oils are effective individually as well as when they are combined with other oils for a synergistic effect. The whole effect is more than the sum of its parts, therefore a mixture of more than one effective respiratory oil is better than a single oil.

Less is better than more

It must be cautioned that less is better than more. With aromatherapy and essential oils very little is required to have a therapeutic benefit and because of their localised action, an effect or outcome is instant. Too much essential oil can cause irritation and because the oils are inhaled directly into the nose, mouth and lungs small quantities go a long way.

Dilute oils properly

It is advised to only use oils on the skin if they have been properly diluted. Moreover if there is any adverse effect the use should be terminated immediately.



Doryce Sher, co-founder of Aromatic Apothecary is a registered pharmacist, aromatherapist, and reflexologist.

Please visit for more information.

(Photo credits: SaraiRachel, MyTudut and Maia C via photopin cc)


9 Replies to “How Essential Oils Help Relieve Cold & Flu Symptoms”

  1. Hey, that’s the grsetaet! So with ll this brain power AWHFY?

  2. Such a useful hub of information, Mel

    I am a believer of these kinda of herbs and they can definitely help in a natural way instead of ingesting pills after pills 😛

    Happy Friday!
    ruchira recently posted…Wordless Wednesday #41My Profile

    1. Melanie Chisnall says: Reply

      Couldn’t agree with your more Ruchira. I’m not a fan of the doctor and all those antibiotics at all – so anything that’s natural works for me. Especially when they smell like these oils do. Midway to the weekend, hope you’re having a great one! 🙂

  3. Hi, I use and sell essential oils and have done so for years. They are brilliant to treat all sorts of things and I even use them in cooking 🙂
    Tandy | Lavender and Lime recently posted…Recipe For Dried Plum And Almond RusksMy Profile

    1. Melanie Chisnall says: Reply

      I had no idea! I’ve got to find out more about these essential oils you sell, yay! 🙂

  4. I am a huge lavender nut. If it were possible I’d have an acre of it. Love the smell…love, love, love it! Now I just have to learn how to make these oils because buying them is out of the question. I’m just too frugal to be buying them. 🙂 Thanks for the incentive, Mel. I hope your week has been a good one.

    1. Melanie Chisnall says: Reply

      Oh wow, you’ve got to share your recipe for those oils if and when you do decide to make them. Also a huge lavender fan! We stayed at on a lavender farm last year for a weekend and it was heaven. If you do ever make your way to SA, that’s one place you’ve got to visit. Have a great day Bill 🙂

  5. Totally going to pin and keep in mind for the winter time to help relieve and cold or flu symptoms we may get here. Thanks for sharing and hoping you are having a great week so far 🙂
    Janine Huldie recently posted…The Pin It Party – Week 59My Profile

    1. Melanie Chisnall says: Reply

      So far I’ve managed to keep them at bay this cold season, but I really like the idea of boosting your system with essential oils too. Plus they smell so good! Hope you’re having a great week too, Janine 🙂

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