A bottle of an essential oil for colds
6 Essential Oils That'll Clear Up Your Sinuses & Soothe Your Sore Throat When You're Sick
by Caroline Burke

Essential oils may smell intoxicatingly good, but they're not just useful as a substitute for perfume. Using essential oils for colds has been shown to be super effective when it comes to managing symptoms like congestion and a sore throat. But not all essential oils have the same chemical and healing properties.

Essential oils are extracted from various plants and herbs, and since different essential oils come from different sources, it follows that they all have different uses for your everyday life. In other words, you should treat yourself to a whole bunch of different of essential oils: some for colds, some for muscle aches, and maybe a few just because they smell so dang good. Over time, you'll learn which ones you like to use most and in which context.

The best essential oils for your sore throat, stuffy nose, or chronic cough are the ones that have anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, or pain-relieving properties — basically all of the same qualities you'd look for when buying over-the-counter medication.

You can use essential oils in a variety of ways: You can breathe them in all night long via a diffuser; you can boil them in water and breathe in the steam; you can even just rub them onto your chest or temples to allow the oils to seep directly into your bloodstream.

But overall, the best part about using essential oils is the freedom you have in mixing and matching your favorite scents and finding the ones that work best for you. Here are six essential oils to choose from when you have a gnarly cough and a stubborn sore throat.

US Organic

US Organic 100% Pure Eucalyptus Essential Oil, $10, Amazon

Eucalyptus essential oil is effective in treating non-bacterial sinus infections (aka ones that don't require antibiotics), and works primarily in treating respiratory problems.

You can make a homemade eucalyptus throat spray, or just inhale some hot water and eucalyptus steam to clear up your sinuses when they're clogging up your airways.

Aviano Botanicals

Roman Chamomile Essential Oil, $14, Amazon

A 2010 study revealed that chamomile is effective in several ways medicinally, especially in relation to inflammation, fever, and muscle spasms.

Drinking chamomile tea is a great way to make that sore throat a little bit more bearable in the dead of winter, or you can just put a few drops of chamomile essential oil in a diffuser or a pot of boiling water to waft when you need some relief.

Sun Essential oils

100% Pure Peppermint Essential Oil, $10, Amazon

Peppermint essential oil has both antiviral and antibacterial properties, which makes it an amazing natural healer to use when you feel like crap.

Keep in mind, peppermint essential oil can often have a numbing effect, which you might notice when you inhale it, use it as a chest rub, or rub it against your temples.


Vitruvi Frankincense Essential Oil, $15, Amazon

Frankincense is particularly effective if you're dealing with a terrible cough, or any type of respiratory infection, for that matter. Breathing in frankincense essential oil (via a diffuser or hot steam) will help break up the mucus in your lungs, while simultaneously acting as an anti-inflammatory for your nasal passages.

Tea Tree
Essential Oil Labs

Tea Tree Essential Oil, $15, Amazon

Tea tree oil has been used as an antiseptic and antibiotic for centuries. A 2010 study confirmed its medicinal properties, which is why it's a great essential oil to keep around the house, especially if you're prone to getting colds and flu-like symptoms during the winter months.

Plus, you can use it within a variety of DIY home-cleaning products, so you'll have something to do with all that leftover tea tree oil when it's time for spring cleaning.

Beauty Aura

Beauty Aura Thyme Essential Oil, $14, Amazon

Fun fact: Thyme was one of the original ingredients in the mouthwash Listerine, as it was used for its antiseptic properties. For this reason, it makes sense that you could breathe in some thyme when you're not feeling so hot. If you have an inflamed throat or an awful cough, consider putting some thyme essential oil in your diffuser for a good night's sleep.