Natural Remedies for Cold and Flu Season

natural remedies and essential oils for cold and flu

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. The information contained in this post is for educational and entertainment purposes only.

I’m sure you’ve all probably heard the recent hysteria over the flu “epidemic” this year….

While I’m not too sure if this year’s outbreak warrants all the panic, I do know one thing:

You won’t catch me or my family getting a flu shot– Not last year, not this year, not ever.

I’m not interested in injecting myself with a bunch of preservatives and mercury, plus there is no guarantee that getting the shot will actually prevent you from getting “the flu” since there are so many strains of it…

I prefer to arm myself and my family with natural defenses against illness– and I am happy to say that I don’t even remember the last time we went to the doctor for a flu or cold.

My hubby came down with a nasty bug over Christmas… I can’t say for sure if it was the “official” 2012 flu, but I do know it was bad stuff… Fever for many days, chills, aches, and a nasty cough. Hubby got it the worst, and Prairie Girl caught a milder version. I immediately started taking preventative measures for myself, and neither Prairie Boy or I ever came down with it. (I’m still amazed he didn’t get it, because he was only 2 months old… However, I’m pretty sure the combination of breastfeeding and a lot of prayer did the trick. ;))

Here is how we dealt with our recent bout of flu– no antibiotics or conventional medications required!

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and these ideas are not to be taken as medical advice– they are simply what works for us. If you are using essential oils for medicinal purposes, make sure you are using a high-quality oil.

Natural Remedies for Cold & Flu

For Scratchy Throats

A steaming mug of Honey Lemon Tea is always a welcome option. Also, sometimes we gargle with a protective essential oil blend that contains cinnamon, clove, wild orange, and several other powerful essential oils, or use these homemade herbal throat drops.

To Maintain Proper Body Temperature

I’m not a fan of using fever-reducing medications. I believe that a fever is your body’s natural defense against illness, and that repeatedly “blocking” the work of a fever can actually make the sickness last longer. However, I do closely monitor fevers and have about a billion thermometers. 😉

I like to use peppermint, lavender, and/or frankincense essential oil to cool and soothe the body. I dilute them in a carrier (sweet almond oil or olive oil will work), then rub them on the bottoms of the feet and on the back.

For Lung Support

Coughs are a big pain at our house since hubby has severe asthma. Many sicknesses seem to go straight to his lungs… Here are some of my other favorite tricks:

  • Essential oils we love for lung support are rosemary, peppermint, eucalyptus, lemon, frankincense, and/or lime.
  • We also diffuse these oils, or make a “hand inhaler” by placing several drops in our palms, rubbing our hands together, and then cupping our hands over our mouth and nose.
  • These homemade herbal cough drops are handy if you can’t stop hacking.
  • Or try one of these powerful homemade herbal steams to clear airways.

Homemade Chest Rub

(thanks to my neighbor Jana for this recipe!)

Gently melt the beeswax and olive oil/coconut oil in a double boiler. Remove from heat, allow it to slighly cool, then stir in essential oils.

Store in a small glass container. Apply it to the bottoms of feet and chest.

Take a Bath…

Hubby was so miserable for several nights during his flu, that I had him sit in a hot “detox” bath. Many people rave about the benefits of a detox bath while fighting the flu. Although hubby didn’t necessarily feel any detox effects from his baths, it did help him to relax and sleep better. There are about a million different ways to mix up a detox bath, but here are a few ideas to get you started:

(Remember to drink LOTS of water before and after a hot bath to avoid dehydration when you are ill!)

We didn’t have all the ingredients on hand at the time, so I used what I had. I brewed him up a bath with 1/2 cup of Epsom salts, 1/8 cup of ground ginger, and several drops of eucalyptus and lavender essential oils.

And don’t forget the essential oil diffuser!

I have two essential oil diffusers in my home, and they run non-stop when anyone in our home is sick. We love using protective blends (like my DIY protective blend) especially.

If you aren’t sure which diffuser option to go with, check out my very comprehensive essential oil diffuser review post.

Prevention is Key…

Of course, it’s always better to simply avoid getting sick if at all possible. These are my tried-and-true natural methods of supporting my immune system during flu season:

  • Wash your hands and use germ-fighting measures like my homemade hand sanitizer.
  • Sleep! I know you’ve heard this before, but it’s true! It’s vital that your body has adequate rest in order to ward off bugs. Good sleep is important all the time, but especially when you’ve been exposed to sickness.
  • Eat nourishing foods We must give our bodies the proper fuel if we expect them to function properly. Sugar is never really good any time of the year, but definitely try to avoid it during flu season. White sugar drastically hampers your immune function– and I know this from personal experience.
  • Cut out the sugar. If I ever feel like I’m coming down with something, I immediately cut out every last scrap of refined sugar from my diet. But if I happen to fall off the wagon, the bug takes hold like clockwork. Probiotic foods (like homemade yogurt) and homemade bone broths (I like to have my home-canned beef broth ready to go at all times) are especially helpful. I’ve also noticed that I tend to crave vitamin C-rich foods when I’m sick (like oranges and grapefruit.)

Other Essential Oil Posts you Might Like:

What are your favorite natural flu and cold remedies?

natural remedies and essential oils for cold and flu

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  1. says

    Love the flu bomb recipe!

    I have had tremendous luck warding off strep throat by putting a drop of oregano oil on my tonsils. It’s hot stuff, but works oh, so well.

    • Tom says

      It really depends on the brand of essential oil that you use. And when I say brand, I mean that all essential oils are not the same. Just as there are many brands, there are many ways that these oils are extracted and some use additives to s-t-r-e-c-h them for greater marketability. Check out the different brands and who says what. You will be glad you did. Internal use is one of the therapies of a quality oil.

    • Jill says

      I think it will stay good for quite a long time Kristin. I know all those ingredients have a very long shelf life.

  2. Jackie says

    Jill, thank you so much for this post—it’s a keeper! I especially appreciate the link to Dr. Mercola’s indepth examination of this subject. It is just what I have been looking for.

  3. Christie says

    Are all of these oils safe to take while breastfeeding? Are children’s remedies the same as adults? Thanks

    • Jill says

      Hi Christie,
      It really depends on who you talk too… Some people say the oils are safe while BFing, but of course, you’ll find other sources that say no oils at all while pregnant or nursing… I personally feel comfortable ingesting the oils while BFing, but I am careful. And I also avoid peppermint since it can cause a decrease in milk production in *some* people. So, I’ll leave the decision up to you. 😉

  4. says

    What have you learned in your research about the hormonal impact of (some) essential oils? I haven’t done much reading on the subject yet, but what I’ve heard makes me a bit hesitant to go full-bore.

    • Jill says

      Hi there,
      I know that many folks use the oils as hormone balancers, but I personally don’t have a lot of experience in that area. I’ve heard mention here and there about people being concerned about certain oils being hormone disrupters (lavender is mentioned a lot), however, the studies I’ve seen seem to have inconclusive results at best… I think everything in moderation is important, and personally I don’t worry about this too much, since I don’t use the oils in huge quantities. However, I would advise you to do some research of your own if you aren’t comfortable with it. :)

      • Janna says

        Hi Jill!
        I am VERY interested in this article debunking the common misconception wit lav and tea tree but the link to article don’t work:( Could you steer me in the right direction? I totally need to read it and share with a few people:) Thanks!!!

  5. Trina Gish says

    Can you recommend a good air diffuser? Where can I buy one? I’ve only found a few and prices are really high!

    • Aimee says

      This is probably a silly question but what is the correct way to use in a diffuser? Do you dilute in water or use the oils full strength? I’m so excited to have found your blog and the wealth of information on using essential oils. Thank you!

      • says

        Hi Aimee,
        Well, there are different kinds of diffusers, but both of mine require you to heavily dilute the oils in water. I usually only use 3-6 drops of oil per use– and that will run anywhere from 2 to 4 hours.

    • Jean Bordern says

      I would love to have one of the diffusers you mentioned, from Lowe’s. I’ve checked our local store, and don’t see any Peabody & Paisley electric diffusers. Of course, I don’t know where you’re located, having just found your website. I love it, though. Thanks.

  6. says

    I’ve never had the seasonal flu in my life, but I usually get one bad cold every year (sometimes two). Since changing my diet to more whole foods and mostly paleo I have not been sick. (I’ve had some allergies, but nothing contagious). I confess I’m actually a little disappointed, because it would be nice to have a few days off to be sick so I’d have an excuse to try these great new resources I’ve been learning about, get some forced rest and be able to blog about it. LOL. I fear my thieves oil might never get used now.

    • Jill says

      Lol Amy– Bummer about your sick leave, ha! 😉 I agree- I think diet plays such a huge role in a healthy immune system.

  7. Lesha says

    Oops! Posted in the wrong article. This was for the DIY deodorant….

    When I happen to get sick, I drink apple cider vinegar and it cuts down on the length of time that I’m sick and it works better on sore throats than gargling with salt water.

  8. Jayme says

    I subscribed last week and still have not received the ebook. Really interested in getting started with essentials and any and all help would be awesome.

  9. Katrina says

    I loved you vix recipe I ve made my own for awhile now but never new what to use as a carrie so i used vasiline which i don’t like. I also like the flu bomb , im still working on getting all my essencial oils but you posts are very informative thank you:)

  10. Nikki says

    My kids and I every tend to get bronchitis most flu/cold seasons and have Reactive Airway Disease due to this which makes it hard to breathe at times. Currently I am on Xopenex to help with that. Even though I am only on it for a little bit, I would prefer something natural. Any suggestions? Thank you so much!!!

  11. says

    Hi Jill, I just bought your e-Book Your Custom Homestead and I love it!! I am going to try and read one chapter per day and not skip ahead like I want to. I just wanted to point out about Peppermint, that sometimes it can cause wheezing in some people with asthma. My mother has severe asthma and she finds it hard to breathe around Peppermint “fumes”…. Just something to keep in mind if you have asthma…

    • says

      Hmmm… very interesting– I’ve never heard that before. Actually, peppermint is one of the things that helps my husband’s asthma– but everyone is different.

      Enjoy the book!! 😉

  12. Michelle Patterson says

    Once I start to feel sick I take the flue bomb and stop it in it’s tracks…really does work! #oils4everyone

  13. says

    It really depends. There are 250 drops in a 15 mL bottle, and I only use a couple drops at a time usually. So, one bottle generally lasts quite a while! 😉

  14. Deb says

    You show an above link to ways you use your diffuser but when I click on it it just brings me back to this page. Thanks for your help

  15. Amber Mock says

    I am allergic to essential oils. What oils do I use in my diffuser for a cold or sore throat? Thanks!

    • says

      Wow– are you allergic to all essential oils, regardless of what they are? I’ve never run across that before–I’m not sure what else you would use in a diffuser.

  16. crystal says

    The link for the misconception about boys and lavendar and tea tree oil won’t open for me. I’ve never heard anything about that before so I wanted to read about it. I spray my boys every morning w/ a melalueca/lavendar/peppermint water mix to ward off lice.

    Also, what is the flu bomb? How do I make that?

  17. says

    Thank you for sharing so much great info. I am just learning about essential oils so I am soaking it all in. I want to link up your blog to mine or at least reference you on my blog if I can figure out how to do it…I’m fair new at blogging too. I love your blog:)

  18. DANA J says

    When you list the recipes, can you given qty too (drops + carrier oil)? As a newbie to EO, I want to learn and become frustrated quickly not understanding how much to use, neat (or not) or if it should be in a carrier oil (and how much!)

  19. Carolyn gafencu says

    I’ve been looking for natural remedies for every problem that comes my way! Eo are something new i would like to try. The eo in better health stores, are they of good quality? And do u recomend any eo in humidifiers during a cold outbreak in my house? Thank you for sharing Godly wisdom with the rest of the world as well! Be blessed!
    Carolyn G.

  20. Michele says

    I tried to download you Essential Oil ebook after subscribing to your newsletter, but haven’t found a download link anywhere. Ho can I download this ebook?

  21. Jerlyn says

    You mentioned in your post that you started using fermented cod liver oil for teeth issues. I am having a lot of oral issues. Cavities. Root canals. Using natural toothpaste and struggling. Would you mind telling me your retiming that has helped, what you use, how often and how you utilize it? Thanks so much! I really appreciate ANY help I can get. Please comment here or email me at

    • says

      Hey Jerlyn– I highly recommend the book, “Cure Tooth Decay” by Rami Nagel. He talks very in-depth about fermented cod liver oil and remineralizing.