5 Best Essential Oils for Congestion: Combat Coughs & Colds (2023)

Most people are aware essential oils have the potential to be incredibly beneficial in the relief of headaches, stress, and insomnia. However, inhaling essential oils for congestion can help clear airways by loosening built-up mucus and phlegm. This buildup is common, especially when suffering from cold or chronic allergies. If you are looking for the best essential oil for congestion, check out our top five picks!

Can Essential Oils Help You Get Rid of Congestion?

Many essential oils have antibacterial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties, and as a result, they can offer great support for reducing and even eliminating symptoms of coughs, colds, and congestion. So, in short, essential oils can help with congestion and ease it.

Which Essential Oils Are Good For Congestion?

1. Eucalyptus Essential Oil

Many people consider eucalyptus oil one of the best essential oils for chest congestion. It is famous for treating cold and flu symptoms, with eucalyptol being one of the key ingredients in many over-the-counter medications. Eucalyptus also helps to loosen mucus buildup, allowing it to be expelled from the body. For this reason, eucalyptus oil is number one on our list of the best essential oils for congestion. There are a few ways to use eucalyptus oil as a decongestant, the most popular being inhalation or topical application. Eucalyptus is also a smell that clears the sinuses easily and effectively.

Mix a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil with a carrier oil and massage into the chest and throat. Alternatively, add oil to a diffuser or hot bath and breath in the steam for full effect. For more on eucalyptus, check out another one of our posts on how to get rid of a stuffy nose!

2. Peppermint Essential Oil

When fighting a cold and its accompanying symptoms, peppermint is a close contender to be the best essential oil for cough and congestion. It contains menthol, an ingredient in many over-the-counter cold medications such as lozenges, inhalers, and rubs. Upon inhalation, the cooling properties of menthol numb the nasal passages, reducing the sensation of congestion. Add peppermint essential oil to a diffuser or vaporizer to fill a room with the aroma. You can also add a few drops to a bowl of hot water and inhale the stream for a more direct approach. If proper dilution with a carrier oil is used, peppermint essential oil can also be applied topically. Be careful never to apply concentrated oil directly to the skin, even when using essential oils to help with congestion.

(Video) Essential Oils for Cough and Colds - 3 Best Oils for Cough Relief

3. Rosemary Essential Oil

Rosemary oil is another great pick when looking at essential oils for sinus congestion. In addition to its delightful aroma, rosemary contains camphor, a common ingredient in many decongestants. Camphor can help loosen restrictions in the airways, making breathing easier. It’s one of those amazing smells that clear sinuses.

Studies show rosemary oil may work as an antimicrobial agent, which means it can potentially reduce the presence of bacteria through inhalation. Rosemary essential oil blends well with the other essential oils for congestion, and you can play a game at creating combinations to suit your preferences. Add rosemary oil to your diffuser, or simply inhale the scent straight from the bottle to help reduce cold and flu symptoms.

4. Oregano Essential Oil

Next, we come to oregano. Oregano essential oil contains carvacrol and thymol, which studies show to have antibacterial and antifungal properties. Many people who believe in using natural remedies believe oregano oil is the best essential oil for congestion and the best oil to use if you are feeling rundown. Add a few drops to your diffuser, and see if this spicy-scented oil can help clear up your cold—and your nose!

5. Cinnamon Essential Oil (Bark)

Though most people associate cinnamon with food and drink, studies show this common spice may have anti-inflammatory properties. Because sinusitis and other respiratory ailments often arise due to inflammation, aromatherapy with cinnamon oil may be beneficial.

(Video) How to Cleanse Your Lungs with Eucalyptus Oil | Respiratory Therapy Zone

When considering cinnamon essential oil, it is important to note the difference between cinnamon bark and cinnamon leaf essential oil. Both oils come from the same genus and the same varying species of trees. What makes them different is the part of the tree from which they come. As you may have guessed, one comes from the leaf, and the other from the bark. Generally, essential oil from the bark has a more pungent scent and flavor than the leaf. If you plan to dilute your oil with another carrier oil and apply it topically, use cinnamon leaf oil as it is milder. Cinnamon bark oil is considered one of the best essential oils for nasal congestion if you are suffering from sinus issues.

Also Read: Best Essential Oils For Inflammation

So, You’ve Found the Best Essential Oil for Congestion: What Now?

When it comes to using essential oils for cough and congestion, it is better to treat them sooner rather than later. This will allow the mucus and phlegm in your respiratory tracts to loosen, meaning they can be erased from the body. However, even if you have some of these oils at home, you may not know how to use them properly. Let’s go into more detail on the best methods to use essential oils for congestion purposes.

Steam Therapy

Steam therapy is the best way to use essential oils for congestion. Place a few drops of your chosen essential oil in a bowl of hot water, and inhale the steam. It can help place a towel loosely over your head if you are comfortable with it, creating a mini-steam room. Be careful not to put your face too close to the steam. It can scald.

Direct Inhalation

Direct inhalation is when you directly breathe in the oil essence from the bottle. Alternatively, you can place a few drops on a sterilized handkerchief and inhale the aroma.


Using a diffuser is the simplest method. Simply add the required number of liquid drops into the diffuser to disperse the fragrance around the room. This is an excellent way to get aromatherapy's benefits while sleeping.


First, dilute the oil with carrier oil as recommended. Then, rub the oil gently over the chest and back. This allows the oil to absorb through the skin, as well as through inhalation. Interestingly, there are several acupressure points for sinus congestion over the upper back. Strangely, a back massage can help release sinus congestion and quickly get the oils into the lungs.

(Video) Best Essential Oils for Asthma, Breathing, and Lung Health - Do They Work?

Also Read: Best Essential Oils For Headaches

The Top Advantages of Using Essential Oils for Colds

There are many advantages to using essential oils for colds, including ease of use, relatively inexpensive, and safe to use. With the rising costs of medical care, supporting ourselves and our families with simple and effective home remedies such as essential oils make them attractive to many. Some people may suggest that there is little evidence to support health claims. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that using essential oils during the onset of symptoms may reduce the overall effects of colds and flu. Essential oils should be used to support your health and not as a replacement for medical care.

Also Read: Best Essential Oils for Allergies

Precautions to Consider Before Using the Best Essential Oils for Congestion

    • Essential oil use is not recommended for young children or pregnant women.
    • Those who suffer from allergies or sensitive skin should take special care when using essential oils
    • It is crucial to consult with a physician or medical professional before using holistic therapies

Also Read: Best Essential Oils for Colds

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.

Also Read: Best Essential Oils For Asthma

Other Herbs To Relief Congestion

Herbs are another excellent natural remedy for relieving congestion. Herbal tea is a great option, as not only are you absorbing the vitamins and minerals from the herbs in micro doses, but you are also inhaling the aromas and getting relief in that way too. The best herbal choices are

(Video) 10 Essential Oils To Help Fight Colds and Nasal Congestion | 100% Effective Remedies

    • Peppermint
    • Basil
    • Thyme
    • Rosemary
    • Eucalyptus
    • Ginger

Essential Oils Congestion Blend

A great diffuser recipe blend to help ease congestion is:

    • 3 drops Lavender Essential Oil (Lavandula angustifolia)
    • 3 drops Eucalyptus Essential Oil (Eucalyptus globulus)
    • 1drop Tea Tree Essential Oil (Melaluca alternifolia)
    • 1 drop Peppermint Essential Oil (Mentha piperita)

How to Use:

Add to your ultrasonic diffuser or oil burner in a well-ventilated area for short periods. You should use your diffuser on the intermittent setting or for 30 minutes on, and 60 minutes off.

Safety: This blend is created specifically for diffuser use only.


Essential oils may relieve cough and congestion, and it is important to be mindful of how you use them. Take care and caution, and always consult with a health professional before using essential oils for health purposes. We hope we’ve helped you find the best essential oils for congestion and that you have an idea of how essential oils may benefit you now or in the future.


    1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1097/00005537-200404000-00027
    2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324570#eucalyptus


What essential oil is best for cough and congestion? ›

Twelve best essential oils for coughs
  • Eucalyptus essential oil. Many people use this oil without realizing it. ...
  • Rosemary essential oil. Rosemary is a common garden herb. ...
  • Peppermint essential oil. ...
  • Frankincense essential oil. ...
  • Oregano essential oil. ...
  • Thyme essential oil. ...
  • Geranium essential oil. ...
  • Cinnamon essential oil.

What essential oils are good for upper respiratory infection? ›

Essential oils in the treatment of respiratory tract infections
  • Anise oil. Anise oil (Anisi aetheroleum) is obtained by steam distillation from the dry ripe fruits of Pimpinella anisum L., and star anise oil from Illicium verum Hook. ...
  • Bitter fennel fruit oil. ...
  • Eucalyptus oil. ...
  • Peppermint oil. ...
  • Tea tree oil. ...
  • Thyme oil.

What essential oils are good for congestion and flu? ›

Essential oils may not heal a case of the flu, but inhaling certain ones, like eucalyptus or peppermint, may help to relieve certain symptoms, like congestion and headaches. In most cases, having the flu means increasing self-care as you wait for the infection to run its course.

What is the best essential oil to prevent colds? ›

"Tea tree essential oil has also been proven to have antimicrobial and antifungal properties," says Dr. Lin. "It's one of my favorites for cold season, along with eucalyptus and lavender." Eucalyptus Oil: Beyond its forest-y scent, eucalyptus oil has been shown to have both antiviral and antimicrobial properties.

Can I mix peppermint and eucalyptus oil? ›

These two stimulating essential oils work with powerful synergy to invigorate the senses, found in many pharmaceutical products to alleviate the symptoms of colds, clearing airways and purifying the air around you.

How can I get instant relief from a cough? ›

12 natural cough remedies
  1. Honey. According to research, honey may relieve a cough. ...
  2. Ginger. Ginger may ease a dry or asthmatic cough, as it has anti-inflammatory properties. ...
  3. Hot fluids. ...
  4. Steam. ...
  5. Marshmallow root. ...
  6. Saltwater gargle. ...
  7. Bromelain. ...
  8. Thyme.

What essential oil opens up lungs? ›

Essential Oils for Respiratory Health
  • Eucalyptus essential oil. Many people use this oil without realizing it. ...
  • Rosemary essential oil. Rosemary is a common garden herb. ...
  • Peppermint essential oil. ...
  • Frankincense essential oil. ...
  • Oregano essential oil. ...
  • Thyme essential oil. ...
  • Geranium essential oil. ...
  • Cinnamon essential oil.
Aug 5, 2019

What essential oils cleanse the lungs? ›

Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Cajeput, Tea Tree, Rosemary, and Lavender essential oils are a few oils shown to help keep your lung and respiratory system healthy.

What is the fastest way to get rid of a upper respiratory virus? ›

Things you can do yourself
  1. get plenty of rest.
  2. drink lots of water to loosen any mucus and make it easier to cough up.
  3. drink a hot lemon and honey drink to help soothe a cough (not suitable for babies under 1 year old)
  4. gargle with warm salty water if you have a sore throat (children should not try this)

What essential oils are good for colds and sore throats? ›

Essential oils that may be beneficial for relieving a sore throat include peppermint, lavender, ginger, and more. Essential oils are made from the leaves, flowers, or roots of specific plants. Through a process known as distillation, essential oils are extracted as a highly concentrated form of the plant.

What is thieves oil good for? ›

Thieves essential oil is well known to reduce stress, function as a broad spectrum immune booster, be highly antimicrobial, anti-fungal, antiviral and antibacterial, purify the air, and provide effective protection against airborne pathogens.

What is the fastest way to get rid of a upper respiratory infection naturally? ›

To make yourself as comfortable as possible when you have a cold, Langer suggests trying to:
  1. Drink plenty of fluids. ...
  2. Eat chicken soup. ...
  3. Rest. ...
  4. Adjust your room's temperature and humidity. ...
  5. Soothe your throat. ...
  6. Use saline nasal drops. ...
  7. Take over-the-counter cold and cough medications.
Dec 7, 2016

What is the fastest way to get rid of a upper respiratory infection at home? ›

The best home remedies for an upper respiratory infection include over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, saline nasal sprays, humidifiers, drinking plenty of fluids, and even fasting and using honey.

What can I take naturally for upper respiratory infection? ›

  • Sip herbal tea or warm lemon water mixed with 1 to 2 teaspoons of honey. Honey works well for coughs, too. ...
  • Sometimes it is soothing to sip ice cold drinks.
  • Older children can suck on cough drops or hard candy or gargle with warm salt water (¼ to ½ teaspoon of table salt dissolved in 8 ounces of warm water).

Is diffusing essential oils safe for your lungs? ›

Diffusing essential oils generally doesn't cause lung problems, but caution is advised. Prolonged exposure to concentrated oils, especially in poorly ventilated spaces, may irritate the respiratory system. People with respiratory conditions should be cautious.


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