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Essential Oils & Aromatherapy for the Common Cold

Updated on March 8, 2011

If you want a natural, holistic cure for the common cold, look no further than aromatherapy. The use of essential oils to treat congestion, sinus pressure, and pain provides superior benefits without leaving you drowsy or foggy like most over-the-counter medications do. Best of all, it's economical: a few drops are all you need, and you can treat yourself in the comfort of your own home!

What to Use

A few common essential oils to aid in your recovery are:

  • eucalyptus
  • peppermint
  • oregano
  • lemon
  • lavender

Essential oil of eucalyptus is a powerful decongestant that will help to clear a stuffy nose and drain the sinuses, along with its well-known antiseptic properties. Peppermint similarly relieves sinus pressure, but also helps with pain and nausea, having a high natural menthol content (an ingredient essential to many over-the-counter cold medicines and cough drops, and fights bacterial infection.

Essential oils of oregano and lemon boost the immune system and will help energize you on those mornings it's hard to get out of bed. Lavender is a soothing oil that promotes relaxation at the end of a hard day, and helps you sleep despite the discomforts of illness.

How to Use

Though essential oils are often applied to the skin in carrier oils, for colds, and especially congestion, inhalation may be one of the best methods of application. Put 4 to 5 drops of each of the desired oils into a pot of boiling water, throw a towel over your head, and inhale the steam for 10-15 minutes or until the water cools and fragrance begins to fade.

Another effective use is to run a hot bath and add 2 or 3 drops of oil. This method combines transdermal absorption with steam inhalation. The warm water opens pores for aid the oils in penetrating the subcutaneous fat layer and entering the blood. Be careful, however, not to use too much oregano this way, as it can irritate the skin.

If your congestion worsens at night, add lavender and eucalyptus to a steam vaporizer or humidifier in your room while you sleep, or invest in an aromatherapy diffuser, which can be time-set to wake you up with lemon and peppermint in the morning.


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    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 5 years ago from Oakland, CA

      Great suggestions! Rosemary is excellent for clearing out infections, and so are evergreens!

    • nifwlseirff profile image

      Kymberly Fergusson 5 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

      I've also found rosemary and the evergreen oils to be useful during colds. Eucalyptus and lavender are always the staples.

    • starcatchinfo profile image

      starcatchinfo 9 years ago

      great tip on alternative medicine

    • SunSeven profile image

      SunSeven 10 years ago from Singapore / India

      Great Tips Maddie and thank you so much for answering my request. I know that eucaliptus and lavender gives some relief. I tried it myself. Best Regards.