Three Easy Essential Oil Recipes to Battle Cold and Flu Season

By Camilla Restrepo, CAHP®-AM, RPN

Let’s face it, summer is over and although that can be a great relief for many of us, the cold long nights aren’t exactly the thing we’re looking forward to. Especially when the change of weather brings about the dreaded cold and flu season!  

Now, you might not be thinking about the next cold you’re going to get, but we know it’s almost inevitable this time of year. Or is it?

How do so many people stay healthy while others endure the harsh effects of the changing weather? Let me share some (not-so-secret) tools you can use to help keep your immune system supported this fall.

I bet you’ve heard once or twice that essential oils are good at helping you fight off your colds, but did you ever wonder, “Why? Can essential oils really help?” And most importantly, “’How do I use essential oils for that?”

Many people are looking for natural alternatives to treat their body, and using medication isn’t always the first choice. But what can be?

I am here today to give you three super easy recipes that you can make at home with essential oils you probably have stashed away and didn’t realize they were the answer to your questions! And did I mention that this is science-based? Research supports these recipes, and we will make sure they are safe and very easy to use to take out the guesswork.

Recipe #1 Steam Remedy

What you’ll need:

  1. Bowl
  2. A towel
  3. Boiled water
  4. 9 drops of essential oil (we will chat about which ones in a minute)

Seems easy enough, right? That’s because it is. This recipe is for when you already have a cold, your nose is stuffy, and your head might be throbbing from all the congestion.

How to use this recipe:  

Pour the boiled water into the bowl, add a total of 9 drops of essential oil, selected from the list below. Drape the towel over your head as a cover and then lean in toward the bowl. The idea here is to inhale the oils as they evaporate into the air and your congested nose is right there to catch as many essential oil molecules as possible.

Why do we do this? I am glad you asked!

Essential oils are studied by their chemical makeup and broken down to its constituents.

Take cedarwood essential oil for instance (Cedrus atlantica). This oil is mainly composed of ketones, sesquiterpenes and alcohols. That tells us that this oil it has specific effects on the body, including decongesting, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory.

Now, we don’t want to go too much into the chemistry details of the oil here, but it is important to know which oils have an effect on the respiratory system so that we are using the relevant essential oils to help us target the symptoms! By inhaling the vapours, you are allowing the essential oil molecules to go in through your nose to help break up congestion and kill the  germs that are causing you trouble.

Here is a list of oils that you can choose from to add your bowl in the recipe:

  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
  • Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica)
  • Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus or radiata)
  • Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)
  • Pine (Pinus sylvestris)
  • Black pepper (Piper nigrum)
  • Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
  • Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)

Recipe #2: Room purifying blend

What you will need:

  1. Diffuser
  2. 100 mL distilled water
  3. 3 drops of tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia), 3 drops of peppermint (Mentha x piperita), and 4 drops of eucalyptus (Eucalyptus radiata) essential oils

This recipe is easy for those of you who have a diffuser in your home. It is a big mix of powerful scents and will definitely leave your house smelling amazing but, more importantly, we are using the antibacterial properties of the oils and their benefits on your respiratory system and to keep the air in your area clean.

Note of caution: do not leave your diffuser on all day. Try to leave it on for an hour or so, then turn it off for a while. You may find that while the oils smell great and clean your air, they can begin to irritate your nose. This is a powerful blend, there is no need to overuse it. Studies have shown that the cleansing effect of the essential oils is mostly in the first 60 minutes, anyway.  

Recipe #3: Chest Rub

What you will need:

  1. 2 tbsp of coconut oil
  2. 2 drops of pine (Pinus sylvestris), 2 drops of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), 1 drop of eucalyptus (Eucalyptus radiata)
  3. Small mixing bowl
  4. Spoon

How to use this recipe:

Add the tablespoons of coconut oil to the mixing bowl then add the essential oil and mix well together. Then massage the blend into your chest and along your spine. The oils will be great to help break up congestion but also to soothe the sore muscles in the chest!

I leave you now with these tools and hope you find yourself feeling empowered to care for your body with natural therapies, but please remember this: while essential oils can be used to minimize the symptoms of a cold and flu, your best approach will always be to prevent! Using essential oils to mindfully manage your stress as well as your other self-care practices will take you much farther in maintaining health and wellness.

So please, my friend, rest, drink water, take deep breaths, and always be kind! 



Yang H, Koo TH, Hong CY, Choi IG, Jeung EB. Analysis of the effects of essential oils on airborne bacteria in a customized bio-clean room. Mol Med Rep. 2012 Sep;6(3):651-6. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2012.972. Epub 2012 Jun 28. PMID: 22751732.

Caddy, Rosemary. 1997. Essential Oils in Colour. Amber wood Publishing ISBN: 1899308148 / 978-1899308149.

Schnaubelt, Kurt. 1998. Medical Aromatherapy: Healing with essential oils. Frog Ltd. Books. 


About the author: Camila Restrepo, CAHP®-AM, RPN, has found a passion for all things aromatherapy and is especially enthusiastic about supporting women on their self-empowerment journey. Camila comes from a nursing background and has had the honour of working very closely with people from all walks of life, including mothers and newborns, forensic psychiatry patients, palliative patients and the geriatric community. Camila is the founder of Essentsia Apothecary, a company proudly focussed on teaching people safe essential oil use and offering natural products to support their self-care journey. Committed to her lifelong learning, Camila is currently studying reflexology and reiki, and is advancing her nursing career into medical aesthetics.  

Photo by Nikodash, Getty Images