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Essential Oils to Alleviate Cold Symptoms

By Jodi Cohen

I caught the seasonal flu – coughing, sneezing and a sore throat so intense that it woke me up in the middle of the night seeking relief which I found in the form of essential oils.

Essential oils possess antimicrobial properties that may help boost the immune function, promote respiratory health and minimize the risk of bacteria, fungi, or viruses on your health.

For example, research found that cinnamon essential oil inhibited the growth of respiratory pathogens.

How Essential Oils Help Alleviate Colds

Essential oils contain expectorant properties that can help de-congest and calm an irritated respiratory tract and support mucous drainage from your sinuses and lungs. Expectorants help expel mucus out of your body and support your respiratory detoxification.

In particular, eucalyptus oil possesses potent antibacterial, antiseptic, expectorant, and decongestant that can help clean and strengthen the lungs. Peppermint essential oil possesses expectorant qualities that may help support upper-respiratory congestion, caused by asthma, bronchitis, allergies, cold, or flu.

The Power of the Inhalation Channel

Your nose and lungs are the most powerful channels into the body.   When you breathe, air enters your body through your nose or mouth and transfers to the air passages, which carry oxygen to your lungs. Your lungs then pass oxygen into your bloodstream where is it transported to tissues and organs.

Therefore, anything you inhale via the lungs quickly travels to every cell of the body.  In fact, the entire process from the initial inhalation of an essential oil to a corresponding response in the body can happen in a matter of seconds.

The effectiveness of this delivery channel explains why cocaine is snorted through the nose and why anesthesia is delivered via inhalation.  When remedies are inhaled, they go straight into the bloodstream via blood vessels in the nasal cavity.  Upon entering the bloodstream, the remedy can travel quickly to the brain, thus eliciting a host of intense effects shortly after snorting.

In addition to being the fastest channel into the body, the inhalation channel allows remedies to bypass the digestive tract and the liver, where it would be subjected to digestive processing.

READ THIS NEXT: Why Inhalation is the Most Effective Method of Essential Oils

Essential Oils I Used to Alleviate Cold Symptoms

My primary symptoms were sore throat, coughing and sneezing – the oils that helped the most were:


Breathe™ opens and soothes the airways and tissues of the respiratory system. It also reduces inflammation to support and relieve congestion, colds, flu, bronchitis, coughs, sore throats, sinus infections, pneumonia and asthma.  This immediately soothed my sore throat.

Breathe™ blend contains three different types of Eucalyptus oil, a potent antiseptic, expectorant and decongestant that can help clean and strengthen the lungs. Breathe™ also contains Peppermint essential oil whose expectorant qualities may help support upper respiratory congestion.

To use, apply 1- 2 drops topically on throat and upper chest (Breathe™ contains a lot of hot oils and can turn the skin red. Therefore, we recommend diluting with castor oil, coconut oil or olive oil before topical application). Breathe™ can also be inhaled using steam inhalation (Place 2 to 3 cups boiling water + 5 drops of Breathe™ in a bowl, cover your head with a towel, close eyes and bring face close to the bowl and gently inhale the steam) or used with a hot wet towel compress to the lungs and throat areas.

READ THIS NEXT: Essential Oils to Help You Breathe

Immune Support™

This blend of “hot”  essential oils can reduce  cold and flu symptoms immediately.  Just rub a few drops on the bottom of the feet or dilute and apply over the throat to support the immune system.  I could feel this one working, especially in the middle of the night when the sore throat seemed to reach its painful peak.

Immune Support™ blend builds on the popular immune fighting essential oil formula known as “Thieves” blend which traces its origins to the bubonic plague when thieves were stealing the gold teeth out of the mouths of the dead. When they were apprehended, they were offered a lesser sentence in exchange for sharing how they avoided the illness.

Their secret was this blend of hot antiviral essential oils  –  including 13 organic and/or wild crafted essential oils of Frankincense, Clove Buds, Cinnamon Bark, Lemon, Eucalyptus citridora, Ajowan, Thyme, Orange, Oregano, Nutmeg, Rosemary, Mandarin, and Ginger Root – that strengthen the immune system against sore throats, infections, viruses, bacteria, fungus, parasites, and microbes.

Heat, including heat from hot essential oils, make antiviral and antibacterial immune responses more efficient. Much of your body’s immune response is designed to respond to a heightened body temperature, including antiviral and antibacterial immune responses. A fever-range temperature also allows your body to better remember germs it’s exposed to, making it stronger at fighting them off in the future.

Essential oils can safely bring the body’s internal temperature to 102°F, mimicking some of the major immunity benefits of a fever. Heat helps to kill the viruses, which is one reason why warm remedies, like chicken soup or hot tea, are given when we are sick.

What’s more, research found that essential oils high in eugenol, like cinnamon and clove, gave the most protection against viruses.  Similarly, oregano contains carvacrol and rosmarinic acid compounds that are natural decongestants and histamine reducers and  have direct, positive benefits on the respiratory tract and nasal passage airflow

To prevent a sore throat or respiratory illness or nip it in the bud once it starts, apply Immune Support™ 2- 3 times daily on the throat (diluted) or the bottom of the feet. To keep the family healthy, rub the oil on the bottom of the feet prior to bed (kids can even be asleep when you apply it).

READ THIS NEXT: How Hot Oils Support Immune Function


I touched this remedy and instantly starting feeling better. Thymus™ blend strengthens your thymus gland which plays an important role in the immune system, maturing infection-fighting white blood cells made in the bone marrow. Stimulating the thymus – , located in front of the heart –  by gently tapping on the gland (thymus thumping) or using Thymus™ essential oils is thought to increase the release of white blood cells.

Essential oils can be used to stimulate your thymus to boost your immune system, in combination with a technique called thymus thumping, gently tapping on the thymus gland.  The 12 organic and/or wild crafted essential oils contained in Thymus™ blend includes Holy Basil, Clove Bud, Frankincense, Black Cumin, Ginger Root, Hyssop, Juniper Berry, Nutmeg, Oregano, Ravensara,   Rosemary and Blue Tansy.

Black Cumin aids the immune system and upper respiratory conditions, helping to kill and expel pathogens. Black cumin  has been touted as a “cure for anything but death!”  Its many therapeutic properties are attributed to the component thymoquinone which has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, bronchodilator, hepatoprotective (liver protective) and immunomodulatory properties.

Ginger Root also helps stimulate your immune system, ease respiratory infections, reduce swollen glands and support drainage of a runny nose or excess mucus. Ginger is especially helpful for treatment of colds, flu, fever, congestion, cough, and sore throat.

Oregano is the most antiseptic of all essential oils. Called “Nature’s Antibody” for its remedial properties, it helps boost all the systems of the body, particularly the respiratory system making it effective in treatments for chronic bronchitis, colds, whooping cough, pulmonary tuberculosis, pneumonia, and asthma.

Finally, Frankincense strengthens the immune system by proliferating white blood cells and reducing inflammation. Frankincense also contains compounds called sesquiterpenes, which have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and deliver powerful anti-inflammatory compounds to your brain. Research supports the benefit of Frankincense in inhibiting inflammation that can cause damage to the lungs.  For example, frankincense has been shown to calm intense inflammatory storms, known as a “cytokine storms”.

Apply 2-3 drops of Thymus™ over the thymus (on breastbone at third rib) in a clockwise motion for 30 seconds and then stimulate the thymus by gently tapping.

Sovereign Tea

I do not normally advise ingesting essential oils, but this blend contains powerful anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-viral properties that help support respiratory health and immune barrier protection.

More specifically, essentials oils derived from evergreen trees or shrubs with scale-like leaves or needles and seed-bearing cones (known as Conifers) like pine, spruce, cedar, and fir have been shown to calm inflammation, stress and depression, pain and respiratory infections.

Native Americans recognized and used pine for its antibacterial, expectorant and decongestant qualities. In fact, The Encyclopedia of American Indian Contributions to the World records how “pine has been used as a cough and cold treatment, as a decongestant, and as an expectorant,” noting that pine serves as an astringent to stop internal bleeding, due in part to its tannin content of 10 percent, which is believed to make it a good “chemical hemostat”, or a surgical tool used in many surgical procedures to control bleeding.

We recommend adding 2 – 4 drops of the Sovereign Tea blend to 1/3 c. hot water, pause to inhale the steam and aroma.  Slowly drink the Sovereign Tea.

READ THIS NEXT: Strengthen Immune Barriers with Essential Oils


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About The Author

Jodi Cohen

Jodi Sternoff Cohen is the founder of Vibrant Blue Oils. An author, speaker, nutritional therapist, and a leading international authority on essential oils, Jodi has helped over 50,000 individuals support their health with essential oils.