How We Use Essential Oils for Colds and Flus

natural cold flu remedies

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 oils for medicinal uses, make sure you are using a high-quality oil. I use and love doTERRA oils.

How We Use Natural Remedies to Combat Colds & Flu

For Scratchy Throats

A steaming mug of Honey Lemon Tea is always a welcome option.

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 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 aspect of most colds/flus at our house since hubby has severe asthma. Many sicknesses seem to go straight to his lungs… We love using a respiratory blend called Breathe® (it contains laurel leaf, peppermint, eucalyptus radiata, ravensara, melaleuca alternifolia, and lemon) to support our lungs.

Other oils we love for lung support are rosemary, peppermint, eucalyptus, lemon, frankincense, and 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.

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 about a 1/2 cup of Epsom salts (Here’s another reason to keep them on hand…), 1/8 cup of ground ginger, and several drops of eucalyptus and lavender essential oils.

Homemade Chest Rub

My friend and neighbor (well, she lives 30 minutes away, but that’s still considered a neighbor out here…), Jana, recently shared a post at her blog highlighting all the ways she and her family uses oils to combat bugs that float around in the cooler months. I love her idea for a homemade salve– you can bet I’ll be mixing up a batch soon!

DIY  Chest Rub


  • 1/4 oz beeswax
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or coconut oil
  • 10 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 10 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 10 drops wintergreen OR white fir essential oil

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

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

And don’t forget the diffuser!

I have two essential oil diffusers in my home, and you can bet they were running non-stop during our battle with the flu. We love using protective blends (like my DIY protective blend) especially.

And here are a bunch of essential oil diffuser recipes for you to try, along with my 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:

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. Again, you’ve heard this before, but we must give our bodies the proper fuel. 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.

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 (yogurt, etc) and homemade bone broths (I like to have my home-canned version 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.)

Take fermented cod liver oil- I know, not the most appealing sounding thing, huh? But with it’s high levels of vitamin D and other nutrients, this stuff is like gold for your body. I originally purchased it to help with my teeth issues, but it is wonderful to take for numerous other reasons. We find the Cinnamon Tingle version fairly palatable. (Prairie Girl even asks for seconds, although one spoonful is plenty for my tastebuds…)

Even with our healthy lifestyle habits, there is no guarantee that we will completely miss the flu bugs this season. But you can be sure of one thing– if Mr. FluBug comes knocking at my door, we’ll be ready! ;)

If you’d like more info on the brand of essential oils that I use (doTERRA), check out this page.

Other Essential Oil Posts you Might Like:

What are your favorite natural flu and cold remedies?

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STANDARD FTC DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.


  1. 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.

    • Please do not ingest essential oils. You just never know what could happen, how your body could react, what you could possible be allergic to, and how much is too much for you. Please stick to topical use only. I wrote on my blog about a horrible experience I had taking oregano essential oil internally. I had a severe allergic reaction.

      • 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.

  2. how long would the Vicks rub stay good for?

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

  3. 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.

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

    • Hi Christie,
      It really depends on who you talk too… It seems like that position of doTERRA is that 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. ;)

  5. There is no such thing as Therapeutic Grade essential oils. That is a business trademark made up by doTerra to make people feel safe only if they purchase their oils. Any certified 100% pure essential oil that is steam distilled is safe for use.

    I would recommend getting a book on aromatherapy and doing a bit of research. One thing to understand is that like anything, you never know what you or your child could be allergic to, so making sure there isn’t any form of reaction is prudent before taking essential oils internally as they are very powerful!

    • Certified-Pure-Therapeutic-Grade (CPTG) is the trademark used by doTERRA. I have heard numerous companies (not just doTERRA) and different people use the term “therapeutic grade” to describe oils. When I mentioned that it my post, it was to communicate to folks not to ingest the cheaper oils (such as the ones at my health food store that are labeled “100% pure,” yet have a distinct chemical smell and plainly state on the label, “do not ingest.”)

      I have several aromatherapy books and am in a constant state of research regarding oils. They fascinate me.

  6. 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.

    • 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. :)

    • I just ran across this article and wanted to share it– it’s by a respected member of the aromatherapy community and he debunks the common misconception that lavender and tea tree oil can cause “issues” in boys. Thought you might find it interesting:,%20R.%20Gynecomastia2_2007.pdf

      • 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!!!

  7. My children and husband had the flu over Christmas break, but I never got it. My husband says it must be because I was constantly rubbing their feet with On Guard, thereby getting it on myself as well, and of course the Mom always ends up washing her hands a million more times a day than most. We also used a few drops of On Guard in 1/4 C of honey as a cough suppressant/throat soother, or just a drop or two in a cup of hot tea. I’ve also been giving the kids Wild Orange in water. Tasty and great immune support.

    • I love the honey/On Guard idea! My favorite is grapefruit in my water, although I love wild orange too. ;)

  8. 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!

    • Hi Trina,
      I have the Lotus diffuser that doTERRA sells and it works great– I like that you can put it on 15 second cycles.
      However, I also have a diffuser that I got at Lowes (can order it from their website) and it works just as well, except it runs continuously. It’s made by Peabody and Paisley, and is only $19.99– which I think is very affordable. ;)

      • 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!

        • 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.

  9. 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.

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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:)

  13. 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!!!

    • Hi Nikki,
      I LOVE doTERRA’s breathe blend for anything respiratory. It works wonders! You can diffuse it, or rub it directly on your chest. It’s even more powerful when combined with lime or frankincense. The On Guard blend is also wonderful for boosting the immune system and helping to decrease the severity of illnesses. I have all the info on how to purchase oils for wholesale cost on this page:
      Let me know if you have any questions!

  14. 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…

    • 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!! ;)

  15. 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

  16. I was wondering how long a bottle of the OnGuard usually last for you?

    • 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! ;)

  17. Hey there,
    I too believe in not taking flu shots and have all the oil except breathe. I am gonna get that one. Thanks for the great tips. I think what you shared with us was just amazing and I will be following your post. I am also hoping to use all those things you have mentioned and will keep you posted on my progress. Thanks again for the excellent research

    Cough and congestion – Peppermint and eucalyptus oil combo- Success !

    Much love.

  18. Please tell me about the packaging with on guard when it is new. Is it supposed to come in a plastic seal around the cap? WHen I twisted my cap off, it seemed so effortless, it almost seemed like it had not ever been attached to the round black ring under the cap. I don’t know if I should have ordered directly from DoTerra, instead of from an amazon seller. I wasn’t able to tell before I twisted it off, if it was really attached to the ring initially. I assumed that it would take some effort to unscrew it. I wish it had a clear or colored plastic seal around it in addition to just the apparent attachment to the ring below the cap.

  19. 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

  20. Amber Mock says:

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

    • 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.

  21. 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?

  22. For the runny nose, do you put the drop of lemon eo on the inside or outside of your nose?

  23. 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:)

  24. 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!)

  25. 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.

  26. 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?

  27. Love getting this information! When using the lemon EO for a runny nose, where should I apply it?

  28. Hi!
    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 doTERRA 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

    • 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.

  29. Hi…I LOVE Doterra oils! Recently we took a trip to visit family and I got super sick once we got there…I am fairly certain it was a strain of the Flu…my sis in law began making flu bombs for me and this amazing hot drink that I LOVE and thought I would share….
    Heat water in tea kettle, juice of 1/2 lemon, 3-4 drops each lemon, orange, grapefruit and lime oils, 1 drop peppermint and 1-2 T. raw honey LOVE THIS!!!!

  30. Hi, I too love doTerra oils but I am new to using them. My question is how often can oils and blends be used to treat colds, flu and the weeks of a terrible after cough?