Cold Inhalation Blends with Essential Oils

Having a cold is miserable, so finding simple blends that are easy to create is a blessing. Making your cold inhalation blend is as easy as mixing carrier oil and well-chosen essential oils into a dropper bottle.

Find out what terms like 'antimicrobial' and 'antibacterial' mean and why they are important in designing your cold inhalation blends. Check out our easy-to-read chart of essential oil properties and uncover what essential oils make the best expectorants or decongestants.

Follow our tried and trusted recipes and essential oil blends, or have the confidence to formulate your own, supported by the knowledge provided. Please take a look at some of our other immune-boosting ideas. Dive into the world of aromatherapy and learn how to make cold inhalation blends with essential oils

What Is It About Having a Cold?

It is a funny world. We deal with some of the most complex and challenging circumstances in life without so much of a murmur. Yet, it gives us a cold, and we can turn into a whiny, stuffed-up, hapless mope of a person in less than 6 hours.

Is it because we know there is no cure for what ails us? Is it because we know it will take days to get to the other side? Or is it because we know we must carry on regardless of feeling awful?

Probably all of the above. However, they ARE things that you CAN do to help ease some of those tiresome and annoying symptoms.

Later in the article, I'll share a few of my home remedies to support your immune system in the hope of preventing you from getting a cold in the first place.

Although chances are, if you are reading this, it is too late for that anyway!

Why Use Cold Inhalation Blends With Essential Oils

Essential oils combined to create an effective cold inhalation blend can be one of the most effective natural solutions on the market. Even big brands like Olbas Oil are based on pure natural essential oils.

Using a natural alternative can reduce our reliance on chemical and pharmaceutical solutions. Turning to natural products first and foremost leaves us those options to fall back upon later should symptoms not improve. Where does that leave you to go if you start on them right away? Always try to leave something in the cold and flu arsenal for later.

Addressing The Symptoms 

A cold inhalation blend with essential oils can be an efficient and effective way to address and alleviate some of the symptoms of having a cold, which can include:

    • Sneezing
    • Stuffy nose
    • Runny nose
    • Sore throat
    • Coughing
    • Mucus dripping down your throat (post-nasal drip)
    • Watery eyes
    • Headache

Alleviating congestion is very often at the top of the list of someone with a cold.

Congestion in the sinuses can lead to headaches that feel like pressure around the front of the head and face. Often, it can make it feel like your teeth hurt and like your ears feel partially blocked too. It's not pleasant.

Essential oil blends are very effective in relieving congestion.

'Anti - This And That' Essential Oils

Medical professionals often cite many of the essential oils commonly used in cold and flu preparations as being anti-this or anti-that. Let's look at a few of the famous 'anti' actions of some essential oils.

    1. Antimicrobial
    2. Antiviral
    3. Antibacterial
    4. Antibiotic

But what does all that mean, and why is it important?


When an essential oil is described as antimicrobial, one or more chemical constituents will be an agent that resists or destroys pathogenic microorganisms.

The NPIC states, "Antimicrobial products kill or slow the spread of microorganisms. Microorganisms include bacteria, viruses, protozoans, and fungi such as mold and mildew".

Peppermint and Lemon essential oils contain constituents that are proven to be antimicrobial.


For an essential oil to be cited as an antiviral, it must contain constituents that will inhibit the growth of a virus. This is different from virucidal, which prevents the virus from enveloping and spreading.

Antiviral constituents in essential oils can help the body fight off harmful viruses. In some instances, they can ease symptoms and shorten the length of a virus. Tea Tree and Clove essential oils are well-known examples of these, in particular, 1,8 cineole in tea tree and eugenol in clove. Some essential oils containing antiviral constituents have been the subject of recent research in the fight against Covid 19.


Not all bacteria are harmful to us; in fact, our bodies are teeming with billions of friendly bacteria, helping us with actions like digestion. There are better approaches than waging war on all bacteria, and this is where natural alternatives come to the fore, as they seem more selective and discriminating.

Research by Winska in 2019 demonstrated that lavender essential oil exhibited antibacterial properties. Essential oils such as Oregano and Ginger also contain efficient antibacterial constituents.


We are familiar with an antibiotic being a pill you swallow, but some essential oils also contain constituents that prevent the growth of or destroy bacteria.

Please do not swallow these, though, people, topical use only.

Essential oils like thyme, oregano, tea tree, and black pepper are regularly researched to study the actions of their antibiotic constituents.

Polly Soo Xi Yap (2014) wrote-

"Synergistic activity exerted using essential oils has been found to reduce the minimum effective dose of antibiotics in the treatment of infections. This reduces the adverse effects of the antibiotic. Most importantly, an association of antibiotics with essential oils targeting resistant bacteria may have a different mechanism of action, leading to new choices to overcome the onslaught of microbial resistance. The exploitation of essential oils in preventing bacterial resistance is believed to be more promising because essential oils are multi-component compared to many conventional antimicrobials that only have a single target site". 

As previously stated, essential oil constituents are more discerning in their target bacteria. This may help keep all those friendly bacteria that pharmaceutical antibiotics often kill. This is exciting to those who understand the importance of maintaining good gut health in the balance of well-being.

It is also promising that some of the essential oils researched in this paper may help fight against diseases resistant to pharmaceutical antibiotics like MRSA.

Combine the 'Antis'

Very often, over-the-counter medication targets the symptoms of your cold, but you now have the understanding to appreciate that you also need to target the cause.

Targeting both the cause and the symptoms should have much more effective outcomes.

Target the cause

Now that you know the actions and importance of essential oils' anti' properties, you can see the benefit of combining antiviral, antibacterial, and antibiotic essential oils into a cold inhalation blend to target the initial cause of the infection.

You will be aware that you are creating a 'catch-all' or panacea-type approach and will likely end up with something much more effective and efficient. Your cold inhalation blend should help relieve and ease a cold's symptoms.

This hopefully reduces the time you have to experience its symptoms.

Target the symptoms

Remember that you also want to target the specific symptoms of the cold.

For example:

    • Utilize expectorants to move a chesty cough.
    • Use decongestants to help alleviate the stuffed-up feeling and loosen the mucus in the sinus cavities.

How to Design Your Cold Inhalation Blend

There are many different strains of the common cold. You may have an additional strain on the person standing next to you in the queue at the store.

It helps to identify your main symptoms and define what properties you need in your essential oils to help alleviate them.

All this information will help you design the perfect cold inhalation blend for you and your family. For instance:

All colds are viruses - so choose antiviral constituents such as 1,8 cineole, limonene, or eugenol to support healthy immune function.

Layer this with

Do you have a runny or a stuffy nose? (essential oils such as eucalyptus or frankincense)

Do you have a sore throat? (Hyssop, lavender, or lemon)

Do you have a dry or a chesty cough? (Hyssop for dry, eucalyptus for catarrh)

What Are The Benefits of Making your own Cold Inhalation Blends With Essential Oils?

Tailored to You

Now, you know what properties you need in your essential oils to fit your cold or flu symptoms. It also gives you the control to tailor them to your family. My husband, for example, will always get a chesty cough following a cold. At the same time, I am more likely to suffer from congestion headaches and neuralgia.

My needs will differ from my husband, so it makes sense for us to have a different cold inhalation blend. However, we could easily share a combined cold inhalation blend with essential oils in the diffuser.

Natural Ingredients and The Control It Gives You

There are many excellent and effective natural ingredients; why would you start elsewhere?

As I said above, starting with the natural options first leaves you the chemical and pharmaceuticals to fall back upon should things worsen significantly.

The western world has had the overuse of antibiotics since the 1970s, and now we face more and more superbugs resistant to antibiotics. Colds are viruses, not bacterial based, and abuse of antibiotics has seen people trying to treat colds and flu ineffectively with them.

Since pharmaceutical antibiotics also destroy friendly bacteria, so they decimate gut flora intrinsic to healthy immune systems.

The lemon essential oil contains limonene which exerts antibiotic properties with none of the side effects of pharmaceuticals. Research shows that Lemon essential oil's antimicrobial properties effectively deal with food-borne pathogens.

Best Essential Oils for Cold Inhalations Blends

It can be overwhelming to work out what each essential oil does. I have put together this easy-to-read chart to take all the hard work out of it.

You can see that with just a few essential oils, you can access various active properties to target those annoying cold and flu symptoms.

You will be creating your blends in no time at all. I have made some for you for extra convenience. You will find them a little later in the article.

Properties of Popular Essential Oils Regularly Used in Cold and Flu Remedies

Tea Tree
(Melaleuca alternifolia)
(Origanum compactum Benth)
(Mentha piperita)
(Eucalyptus globulus)
(Citrus limon L (Burm.) F.)
(Hyssopus officinalis L)
(Zingiber officinale)
Black Pepper
(Piper Nigrum)
(Rosmarinus officinalis)
Antiviral - Substance that inhibits the growth of a virus x x x x x
Antimicrobial - An agent that resists or destroys pathogenic microorganisms x x x x
Antibacterial - An agent that resists or destroys bacteria x x x x x
Antifungal - used to prevent fungal growth; active against fungi. x x x
Antiseptic - Destroys and prevents the developments of microbes x x x x x x x x x
Expectorant - Helps to promote the removal of mucus from the respiratory system. x x x x x x
Decongestive - An agent for the relief or reduction of congestion, e.g. mucus x
Sudorific/diaphoretic - An agent that causes sweating x x x x x x x
Tonic - Strengthens and enlivens the whole, or specific parts of the body. x x x x x
Analgesic - Remedy or agent that deadens pain x x x x x x
Cytophylactic - The process of increasing white blood cells to fight infection x x
Febrifuge - Combats fever. x x x x x

We have an array of previous articles for you to draw information from as well. Start with these:

Best Essential Oils for Stuffy Nose: Use these Oils for Congestion Relief

10 Best Essential Oils for Colds: Fight the Coughs and Colds

5 Best Essential Oils for Congestion: Combat Coughs & Colds

Best Carrier Oils for Cold Inhalation Blends

This is where to keep things very simple. It does not need to be over complicated.

Stick to tried and trusted carrier oils like sweet almond carrier oil or grapeseed carrier oil.

How to Make Cold Inhalation Blends with Essential Oils - Professional Recipes


    • Measuring jugs and spoons
    • Stainless steel stirrer or spoon
    • Small Funnel
    • 10 ml / 0.33 fl oz Dropper bottle
    • Label


    • Selection of essential oils
    • Carrier oil of choice.


    1. Measure out 5ml / 0.17 fl oz of carrier oil
    2. Add 5ml/ 0.17 fl oz essential oil blend up to the 10 ml measure—approx 100 drops.
    3. Combine well together.
    4. Decant using a funnel into the dropper bottle.
    5. Label accurately and date.

Professional Cold Inhalation Blends

Try these tried and trusted professional essential oil blends to defend against colds and flu.

All of these cold inhalation blends with essential oils are suitable for the following methods of use:

    • Steam Inhalation - Take 1-2 drops in water vapors for steam inhalation in the morning and at night.
    • Direct Inhalation - Directly breathe in the oil essence from the bottle or place a few drops on a sterilized handkerchief and inhale the aroma.
    • Room Diffuser - Add the required number of liquid drops into the diffuser to disperse the fragrance around the room.

You will notice that there are vast amounts of essential oils in these because they are solely used as inhalants. They are NOT designed for topical use.

First Defense

They are designed for those first signs of a cold, sneezing, sniffles, and shivers. Zap it in the bud if you can.

Safety: Not suitable for use in the first 16 weeks of pregnancy

Blocked Sinus

Created for when there is congestion in the sinuses. Eucalyptus essential oil is our top choice as a decongestant. Open up those airways with this.

Safety: Not suitable for use in the first 16 weeks of pregnancy. Not suitable for children under 6 years of age.

Got a cough too?

Here you want essential oils that are strong in expectorant constituents and properties. Bust some bugs with this one.

Safety: Not suitable for use in the first 16 weeks of pregnancy. Not suitable for children under 6 years of age. Clove bud essential oil may not be a choice for people suffering from blood clotting disorders. Clove bud thins the blood and may interfere with anticoagulation medications. We recommend discontinuing clove bud essential oil use in the 48 hours preceding planned surgeries. Clove bud essential oil can also interfere with monoamine inhibitors. Please check with your physician before using clove bud essential oil topically if you are taking prescribed MOIs.


Can I Apply These To My Body?

No, do not apply these to your body. These cold inhalation blends are not designed for topical use; they are intended to be inhaled directly, through steam vapor, or via a diffuser.

Is it Suitable for Kids?

When it comes to essential oils for baby congestion, extra thought and consideration must be given. Many of the essential oils listed above are not kid-safe as they can slow breathing or are what some people call "hot" oils. This means they can pose a risk to younger, more delicate people such as children.

Try making a decoction with plant leaves and herbs for a kid-friendly option. Place herbs and leaves into a pot with water and place on the stovetop, allowing the water to boil. The aroma and some essential oils in micro amounts will diffuse into the air.

Other Home Remedies For Strong Immune Systems

Preventative Care and Maintenance

It sounds like something you would do in your house or car, right?

Laugh, we might, but preventative care and maintenance of ourselves are so critical. Creating, building, and maintaining a healthy immune system is what will give you the best defense against cold and flu in the first place.

Four Immune-Boosting Ideas

Here are a handful of ideas that I use myself to build up my immune system using natural resources.

Fire Cider

Fire Cider has suddenly become very popular, but forms of it have been around for at least a couple of hundred years in Europe. Combined from a base of Apple Cider Vinegar containing natural products like honey and plants and herbs renowned for their bug busting ability, like Garlic, Horseradish, and Thyme.

Rosemary Gladstar has popularized using it to boost and build your immune system in her book 'Fire Cider.'


Long been used for boosting immunity and, thus, preventing infections like colds and flu. The elderberries are packed with flavonoids, antioxidants, and vitamins that may increase your immune system.

I make something every year called Elderberry Rob, which is spiced syrup made from the elderberries themselves. I use it as a preventative, and on rare occasions, I get a cold or a virus.


One of the most ancient tools in our natural medicine kit. Used since time immemorial for colds, coughs, and flu. Please don't take my word for it; look at the research into its antimicrobial properties. You will quickly see why I include it in most of my soaps and salves and use it widely throughout the kitchen and my natural medicine cabinet.

Make honey and lemon drops by boiling ½ cup of honey up to the hard crack stage on a candy thermometer, adding lemon zest, after removing from the heat and then spooning into drop shapes onto parchment paper. It is as easy and simple as that. 


Widely popularized in recent years as a great way to boost your immune system. When your immune system is in tip-top condition, you are less likely to contract cold and flu. Usually taken as a tincture, look at what the scientists make of its efficacy.

Final Word

We have covered a lot. Learning how to address your cold and flu causes and symptoms and define essential oils' properties. Combining that information to formulate a cold inhalation blend with essential oils designed to suit your symptoms and your family perfectly.

You should now be able to take a small handful of essential oils and create a veritable arsenal against the symptoms of colds and flu this winter season.

It is worth buying 4 or 5 of the recommended essential oils. Use the chart above to help you decide the most suitable for your family. Once you have them in your natural medicine cabinet, they will go a long way, and you will always have them to hand at the first sign of a sneeze or a sniffle.

Use these pure and natural resources to combat all those tiresome symptoms in the comfort of your own home. Why not start using some of the home remedies recommended to build your immune system throughout the year and reduce the chances of getting a cold and flu in the first place?

Have a go for yourself; you will soon find that with a bit of learning, you will discover how to make cold inhalation blends with essential oils that are highly effective and efficient. You will have you and your family back to fighting fit in no time. Stay well.

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