10 Best Essential Oils for a Cold. Let’s get better

Hey guys, today I come to you from under a man-blankie. Tissue box at the ready in case my nose even thinks about unblocking. Yep, I have a cold… And like the man-flu I wrote about a few months back, this is no ordinary cold. Now, as usual I am trying to undertake some relief in a chemical free manner so once again I delve into essential oils. This time I don’t really care whether they smell manly or not, I just want to find some that work. So here is my 10 best essential oils for a cold.

My 10 Best Essential Oils for a Cold

1. Eucalyptus

I am not sure about the rest of the world, but here in Australia, Eucalyptus is synonymous with cold relief. It is an Eucalyptus branchesingredient found in many chemist (drug store) remedies such as couch drops, chest rubs (think Vicks Vaporub) and decongestants. Eucalyptus oil studies have found it to be a natural antiseptic with anti fungal, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. One of its main ingredients, an oxide called eucalyptol was also found to be very effective in loosening mucus secretions and opening the airways for easier breathing.

How to use for the man-cold:

Steam inhalation: This remedy is all about the steam. Just like Grandma used to do, add 5 -10 drops of Eucalyptus essential oil to a bowl of boiling water, stick your head over it and cover with a towel. This is the best way to get the proven mucus loosening goodness right up the old snozz.

Alternatively, if your cold is heading into flu-like symptoms where muscle pain is also evident (which as we all know man-colds will do), drop 5 -10 drops in the bottom of a nice hot shower to steam and energize the whole body.

Note: I would not recommend bathing in this oil. It is too strong.

Chest rub: Is your cold a chesty one? Add 5 drops to 3 tablespoons of a good carrier oil (to start with, you can add more as you go if you want it stronger) and rub onto the chest. p.s. this one works better if you can convince your significant other to rub it in for you… just saying…

Diffuser: If you want to avoid the heat, simply add 10 drops to the diffuser and breath deeply.

Eucalyptus Alternatives

No Eucalyptus in the house? You can always try R.C. blend (comes with the starter Kit) which is a blend of Black Spruce, Cypress, three types of Eucalyptus oils (E. globulus, E. radiata, and E. citriodora), Myrtle, Marjoram, Pine, Lavender and Peppermint. The Eucalyptus is quite strong in this one and with the added peppermint, it will certainly work in a jam.

Have I used this one?

Yes, although I do not like steaming my head so I have used it in the shower and diffuser. I found it not so effective in the diffuser but the shower was very refreshing and did clear me up a little. I have also been sniffing the R.C. straight from the bottle and the results are not too bad at all.

Read more: The different types of Eucalyptus Essential Oils and Their Benefits

2. Peppermint

Like Eucalyptus, Peppermint essential oil has been proven to contain antiviral and antibacterial properties with its obvious menthol properties which are also commonly used in off-the-shelf cold remedies and cough drops. It is also a natural expectorant which helps clear mucus as well. And if your cold has spread to a bit of a stomach complaint or nausea, peppermint is your go to oil for sure!

How to use for the man-cold:

Chest rub: This oil will work in similar fashion to Eucalyptus essential oil. Drop 5 drops of Peppermint onto a warm face washer and place on the chest.

Diffuser: Add 10 drops to the diffuser and breath deeply.

Inhale: Inhale directly from the bottle to clear the nose.

Stomach rub: If you are feeling nauseous, rub 5 drops of peppermint to 1 tablespoon of Carrier oil onto your stomach.

Have I used this one?

I have used this one as well. As I tend to be a little lazy at times – especially when the old man-cold has kicked in – I tend to just sniff from the bottle. After a few sniffs it does start to give a little nasal relief. Be careful though, too much and it can burn a little. It will probably also make you sneeze after the first couple of sniffs which is probably not a bad thing if you are trying to clear the nose – Just have tissues handy!

Read more: 18 Benefits and Uses of Peppermint Essential Oil

3. Lavender

Lavender farmI mean really… Are you as sick of hearing about Lavender oil as I am writing about it!! I am sure even the other essential oils are sick of it… But alas, it just keeps on coming up with the goods. One of the biggest problems with the common cold is trying to sleep. Lavender is the best oil to assist with that. Like the previous two oils listed, it is also great for loosening phlegm and mucus and, since it is not as strong on the nose, can be a good alternative to Peppermint or Eucalyptus.

How to use for the man-cold:

On the head: Drop 5 drops of Lavender oil onto a warm face washer and place on the forehead for headache relief.

Diffuser: Add 10 drops to the diffuser and breath deeply about 20 minutes before bed.

Inhale: Inhale directly from the bottle to clear the nose.

Consume: Not really an oil but I am told Lavender tea is quite effective for a cold too.

Have I used this one?

This is a staple in our house so, to be honest, there is no real difference between cold and non-cold use. My wife drops a single drop on the top of our heads before bed and swears that I sleep more soundly – meaning more still – and our son has never slept better. I have to admit to not being awake as much with this cold as I normally am so maybe she in onto something.

Read more: 13 Benefits and Uses of Lavender Essential Oil

4. Oregano

I don’t think that I have discussed Oregano essential oil at all on this site. We don’t actually own it so I am going purely on my research here. The reason that I have included it though is that it is heavily feted as a super powerful antiviral and antimicrobial essential oil. It has also been found in studies to dramatically reduce symptoms of upper respiratory ailments such as coughs and sore throats and has been used to treat these ailments since ancient times. It is also another good oil for easing the nausea type symptoms of a cold.

Note: In all the research I have undertaken on this oil, a common thread to assist with colds and nausea is the fact that it is ingested. Even though this is also often discussed in the use of other oils (such as peppermint and lime) I have never offered ingestion as a method of using essential oils as I am still not really convinced of their use in this manner. However, as this was one of the methods of use in the study I have referred to above, I am going to add it to this oil on this occasion but will ask that you consider your options before doing so.

How to use for the man-cold:

In the mouth: Add 2 to 3 in a tablespoon of water; swish it around your mouth and under your tongue for 20 to 30 seconds, then swallow.

On the chest: Add 5 drops per tablespoon of carrier oil and rub onto the chest to aid decongestion.

Oregano Alternative:

Use Lavender or Peppermint oil on the chest instead.

Have I used this one?

This is one I have not used but from all accounts is quite effective in the fight against the pure evil that is a man-cold. If you have it, you could do worse than giving it a shot.

5. Frankincense

Another oil that I regularly discuss in these posts due to its versatility and anti-inflammatory properties. It is a good calming oil and, like Lavender, will loosen the nasal blockages without the strong odors of Peppermint or Eucalyptus.

Read more: Frankincense 101 - The 4 Primary Types of Frankincense and their Differences

How to use for the man-cold:

On the head: Drop 5 drops of Frankincense oil onto a warm face washer and place on the forehead for headache relief.

Diffuser: Add 10 drops to the diffuser and breath deeply about 20 minutes before bed.

Inhale: Inhale directly from the bottle to clear the nose.

Have I used this one?

This is another commonly used oil in our house. If we are all a bit stressed or feeling a little off (such as with a cold) into the diffuser it goes. Like Lavender, it is often dropped onto our heads to calm us and assist us to sleep. I tend to sniff the peppermint if I am a little stuffy but this one does seem to do the trick as well if you want a slightly less mentholly hit to the nasal passages.

YL Eucalyptus Radiata Essential Oil
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YL Peppermint Essential Oils
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YL Lavender Essential Oil
Click here to purchase
YL Oregano Essential Oil
Click here to purchase
YL Frankincense Essential Oil
Click here to purchase

6. Lemongrass

As with Oregano, this is one that I have not really discussed in great detail either and have only included it here due to the fact that it has some scientific proof behind its benefits. Lemongrass is useful when providing relief to some of the other ailments of the dreaded man-cold such as fevers and muscle aches due to its antipyretic properties. It is often used in Ayurvedic medicine to reduce fevers and induce sweating and is a natural analgesic. Other studies have also found it effective in providing relief to the paid caused by headaches.

How to use for the man-cold:

Diffuser: Add 10 drops to the diffuser and breath deeply about 20 minutes when headache symptoms appear or before bed to provide an uplifting feeling and aroma.

Massage: Lemongrass is considered a mild irritant so is not recommended for individual use on the skin (unless tested with minute amounts first) so in this case I have included a recipe for its use in a massage oil:

  • 2 drops lemongrass
  • 4 drops ginger
  • 5 drops lavender
  • 4 tsp carrier oil

Massage into any muscles that are aching prior to bed.

Lemongrass Alternatives

I would recommend using Copaiba instead if muscle cramps are your problem and any of the others listed for nasal congestion.

Have I used this one?

No, we do have it but I have not used it for this purpose ( I use Wintergreen, Panaway or Copaiba for muscle aches). We do use it in our diffuser, usually mixed with other oils for the sake of its aroma.

7. Ginger

Wow, another one I have not really discussed to date but one I have used a little in the past. Ginger is another oil 10 Best Essential Oils for a Cold. Let's get better. Gingerwith good antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and is often used as a stimulant. In its natural state, ginger has been used for centuries in various forms of traditional/alternative medicine to help digestion, reduce nausea and help fight the flu and common cold. This is due to its main compound Gingerol which is responsible for much of its medicinal properties. Gingerol is also a component of Ginger essential oil.

Its unique warming effect also helps fight off viral infections and flush out toxins due to the slight raise in the body’s temperature. As with many of the others listed here, it has expectorant effects which assist in loosening mucus and soothing lung tissue.

Note: As with Oregano, many remedies involving Ginger essential oil centre on consumption. I have taken the same approach here as with Oregano. I am only listing these as they have been undertaken is scientific studies.

How to use for the man-cold:

Drink: Add 1 drop to a nice green tea two times a day

On the Chest: Add 5 drops to a good carrier oil and rub on the chest (do NOT add directly to the skin). This one can also be used to soothe aching muscles

Ginger Alternatives:

Good old Frankincense is your go to here (except for the drinking bit) for the chest or Copaiba for the muscles.

Have I used this one?

No, I have not, but I have read a lot about this oil for many reasons so watch this space for a post specifically aimed at this oil – delivery pending.

8. Lemon

Lemon is another ingredient often used in off-the-shelf cold medicines due to its ability to boost the immune system and prevent illness. And although I cannot find direct evidence of this, Lemon essential oil (and a few others) are commonly described as good for stimulating the production of white blood cells making it a good immunity lifter and germ fighter. If nothing else, diffusion can lift the mood leading to improved mental clarity and wakefulness which is good if you need to battle through your man-cold to keep up your manly duties of keeping the world ticking along.

How to use for the man-cold:

On the head: Mix 5 drops with 1 tablespoon of a good carrier oil and dab onto the temples and behind the ears to help clear any cold induced pressure on your ears – also good to keep in mind if you fly a lot and have trouble clearing your ears when the plane lands.

10 Best Essential Oils for a Cold. Let's get better. lemon in water

Diffuser: Add 10 drops to the diffuser and breath deeply to invigorate. This can be a bit strong – we mix it with Peppermint or Frankincense which is quite pleasant I must say.

Have I used this one?

Yep, we use it a lot mixed with Peppermint or Frankincense as outlined above. I have to admit that I haven’t really used it to fight a cold but I really can account for its uplifting effects when added to the diffuser.

Note 1: Lemon, like most citrus oils, is phototoxic so pretend you are a vampire and avoid the sunlight if you have used it on the skin.

Note 2: A couple of pages I have read discuss its use in hot water or herbal tea with honey which is a well-known cold and sore throat remedy. If I am being honest, forget the oil and just use a real lemon!

9. Clove

Clove essential oil has antimicrobial, anti fungal, antiseptic, antiviral and stimulating properties. It has a strong aroma and well-known numbing effects leading to its traditional uses in relieving tooth and gum ailments. Its use as a cold reliever is again aimed at aching muscles to reduce pain and inflammation.

How to use for the man-cold:

On the chest or on aching muscles: Add 2 drops of clove oil and 4 drops of myrtle or lavender oil to a carrier oil and rub onto the chest.

Clove Alternatives:

Alternative oils include Panaway and Copaiba for muscle aches and Peppermint for the chest.

Have I used this one?

I have used it for attempting to kill weeds – which was a massive failure. I have not used this in any bodily type function purely because I do not like the smell of cloves. Ever since I ate my grandmother’s fruit cake with whole cloves in it as a kid I have not been able to deal with them. I have included it in this list however due to its prescribed benefits in the cold relieving arena.

10. Tea Tree

Tea Tree makes the list much in the same vein as Clove above. It is a proven antiseptic and anti-inflammatory and works in in a similar capacity to Eucalyptus. Its uses are also the same as Eucalyptus so if you prefer the aroma of tea tree, go for this one.

Note: Tea tree essential oil is often sold in Australia as Melaleuca Alternifolia by some manufacturers but as Tea Tree by others and in some other countries.

Read more: 16 Benefits and Uses of Tea Tree Essential Oil

How to use for the man-cold:

Steam inhalation: As with Eucalyptus, add 5 -10 drops of Tea Tree essential oil to a bowl of boiling water, stick your head over it and cover with a towel.

Alternatively, drop 5 – 10 drops in the bottom of a nice hot shower to steam and energize the whole body.

Diffuser: Simply add 10 drops to the diffuser and breath deeply.

Starter Kit Alternative:

R.C. is your alternative again here.

Have I used this one?

Yes, but not as a cold remedy. I diffuse it on its own sometimes for sentimental reasons as it reminds me of childhood holidays on the Mornington Peninsula at my grandmother’s beach house. Tea tree grows like weeds down there. Oh and NEVER EVER drink it… If you have ever tasted water from a tank that has been tainted with tea tree you will know why I say this.

YL Lemongrass Essential Oil
Click here to purchase
YL Ginger Essential Oils
Click here to purchase
YL Lemon Essential Oil
Click here to purchase
YL Clove Essential Oil
Click here to purchase
YL Melaluca Alternifolia Essential Oil
Click here to purchase

Diffuser recipes for a cold

And to finish up today I have come across some fairly good diffuser recipes for a cold. Looking for a deeper form of help, then try these beauties:

Nose clearer:

  • 3 drops oregano
  • 3 drops rosemary
  • 2 drops peppermint
  • 2 drops eucalyptus

Smells like a cough drop on steroids – just like you think a nose clearing recipe would smell!

Sleep and clear:

  • 5 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 5 drops lavender essential oil

Eucalyptus for the nose, lavender for the sleep – make sense

The Stimulator:

  • 1 drop thyme
  • 3 drops eucalyptus
  • 6 drops lemon

This will wake you up and get you going, man cold or not!

Immunity Challenge

  • 3 drops peppermint
  • 3 drops lemon
  • 2 drops eucalyptus
  • 2 drop rosemary
  • 1 drop lime
  • 1 drop clove

All of the immunity boosting oils in one spot. With a man-cold this bad, I am not sure you will have the energy to build this one, better ask someone to do it for you!

What else can help?

In addition to the above, make sure you:10 Best Essential Oils for a Cold. Let's get better. Man drinking water

  • Stay hydrated – drink plenty of water or sugar free juice. Avoid alcohol, coffee and caffeinated soft drinks (sodas), which can make dehydration worse.
  • Rest – its Netflix time!

And, if you have a sore throat, try the following

  • A saltwater gargle — 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt dissolved in a glass of warm water and gargle… Lemon and Honey in hot water is also good for this.


There you have it my cold relieved friends. I know I have listed a few here. Just have a look through, choose one that you think will suit and give it a try. After all, that is all I do. As always, have a play around and let me know what you think and if anything you have found worked, or not worked so I can keep my info fresh.

Thanks for stopping by and as always,

Have fun


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My name is Paul and I live on the east coast of Australia with my wife and six year old son. I also have 19 and 23 year old daughters. I am an ex government and bank worker who took a bit of a sea change and opened my own business by the beach with my amazing wife. If you can do it, try it. You will never look back. You want to know more about me, read my About Me page

21 thoughts on “10 Best Essential Oils for a Cold. Let’s get better”

  1. Very interesting post!  I had no idea about using peppermint for a cold.  I have used it for nausea and I know of people that swear by it for curing a headache.  Good luck with your cold.  The worst part of a cold is being unable to sleep. Is there something natural besides melatonin to aid in sleep? Thanks in advance. 

    • Hi Nate,

      In the essential Oil world Lavender is probably the best to assist with sleep.  German chamomile herbal tea is also good.  My mother always used to take a warm bath with epsom salts if she couldn’t sleep – she swears by it (I always thought it was just to escape us screaming kids but she still does it so it must work for her).

      Also avoid coffee, nicotine or alcohol in the few hours prior to bed.

      Hope this helps

      thanks for your comments


  2. Thank you very much for this great post, I find it really informative and helpful. In this part of the world, we don’t witness as much cold as that. But going from your list I think the Eucalyptus oil is such a great choice because I have read about it and it’s benefits so many times. 

  3. Wow, this is a very big relief to people who suffers alot from cold.. Among the listed items, I have tried out Lemon and Ginger When I first tried out lemon, it worked But it wasn’t perfect. So I was recommended to try ginger.. And when I tried it, it worked like a charm and I’ve been using it for sometime now.. I think next I would love to try out is Tea Tree, thanks for including the purchase link as well.. Once I try it, I will give a feedback..

  4. I have learnt alot from this post my friend, it was absolutely fantastic reading this post although I have tried using few of your method to relieve myself from Cold, like the peppermint and lemongrass. but I do make a good combination, a Mixture of lemon, cinnamon and honey, it works effectively too.

  5. Hi Paul,

    Thanks for sharing these details about essential oil uses for treating colds along with their starter kits. I appreciate the sharing about your usage too and it really goes a long way in confidently trying it out based on your experience with the oil. 

    Well i like your high quality blog site design plus your posting abilities. Keep doing it

  6. let me first of aĺl commend you for outting this lovely post together; this is an eye opener for all men. i am just getting to know this edsential oils for the first time

    I am ready to put peppermint and lavender into practise before i can easily find them nearby.

    Can you please highlight the general pros and cons for these products listed above?


  7. Hi Paul,

    Sorry about the man-cold, hope you feel a lot better soon. I’m amazed that you could still put out something this comprehensive with a cold. Eucalyptus, peppermint, ginger, lemongrass, these are all popular cold remedies.  I wish you did tell us specifically what you use for the cold you feel now but I make you of ginger a lot when I have a cold. Next time I have a cold….(hoping it’s not too), I’ll make use of eucalyptus oil.  

    Once again, get well soon.

    Kind regards

    • Hi Louis, thanks for stopping by.  I used a bit of Eucalytpus in the shower but to be honest, I just sniffed on the Peppermint.   It helps clear the nose and I don’t mind the aroma.


  8. This is a very timely article as it is still cold and flu season here in the United States. My wife and I use Young Living Essential Oils nearly every day (we use it in our homemade deodorant). When the kids have been sick, we have used them topically and run them through the diffuser and it has been such a huge help! 

    Nothing can be much worse than man-cold…I had a big one about a month ago that I just couldn’t get rid of. One of the only things that helped me was dropping some RC in the shower as you said and letting the steam clear me out. 

    Thanks for writing this as there are some on the list I hadn’t thought to use, but should definitely try the next time man-cold rears its ugly head!

  9. Dear Paul,

    Thanks for your informative review on essential oils. It is a timely article for me. I just catch a cold and drink a lot water and green tea. The essential oils may be another good remedy for me right now.

    We have lemon oil at home and I am going to follow your procedure. Apply lemon oil onto my temples and behind ears to help clear pressure on my ears.

    I like green tea and feel that green tea help me. Could I add lemon oil into green tea?



    • Hi Anthony – you can  – Lemon Essential oil is considered safe for consumption  – only one drop though. 

      Let me know how you go


  10. The oils must be working some real magic for you to be able to write such an informative and well constructed post while suffering a good dose of flu. Mind you I think man flu is the equivalent of a little cold in your female counterpart. (Sorry men when they are sick can be such woosy patients needing all the love and care that can be showered upon them )

     The oil recipes you gave sound wonderful and should work a treat for those wanting some healing without the use of  drugs from the pharmacy.  My daughter  uses a lot of essential oils and she finds them to be very effective for many applications. 

    I really like your website and the very professional way it is presented.

    • Are you insinuating that we would exagerate the level of our suffering when we are sick?  I can hardly believe my eyes!!  hahaha. 

      But yes, they do work quite well.

      thanks for your comments in regards to my site – they are much appreciated.


  11. Thank you for sharing ¨10 Essential Oils for a Cold-Man Versus Oils Suffers¨. I have noticed you haven´t included brand names or it doesn´t matter?How do you know which ones are the best oil brands? After all this is an industry that isn´t regulated by the FDA. I guess oil quality can vary based on the distillation process. It also matters if the manufacturer dilutes the pure plant oil with bases or additives. I suppose most popular companies do rigorous testing to prove their oil purity. But who are these companies?My final question is regarding organic oils. Or it doesn´t make a difference? In this case they would have to be USDA-certified. And each one would also be hundred percent certified pure therapeutic grade because they have no additives, carrier oils, or filters. Am I correct in my thinking?


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