Essential Oils for Headache and More: Cold & Flu Busters to Keep on Hand This Season

By Nikki Lyn Pugh

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We all have differing opinions on just about everything under the sun. But there is one thing we can likely all agree on: the weather has been downright unpredictable in recent years. So, how in the world can you prepare for the “cold and flu season” this year? One way is to look to plant extracts known as “essential oils” that have been used for centuries to help with everything from a viral infection and sore throat to aches and pains

Many individual essential oils, as well as essential oil blends, have earned their place as safe and effective go-to’s for helping to keep your immune system humming and illness such as the common cold at bay. Conditions such as tension headache can also be helped with essential oils.

Below are 4 “top picks” of essential oils for a headache and other cold & flu symptoms to keep handy this fall and winter. But first, why a trip to the drugstore may not be your best first line of defense…

The Problem With Over-the-Counter Medications for Headache Relief & Cold Symptoms

At this point, you may be asking, “Why can’t I just pop into my local drugstore for an over-the-counter (OTC) fix when I’m feeling under the weather?”

For one thing, all that convenience can come with a heavy price. Those OTCs may help you feel better in the short term, but the long-term effects could be a lower immune system, more inflammation, toxic overload, and liver disease.

It may be true that products such as Tylenol are less habit-forming and somewhat safer than other pain-reducers. However, what most people don’t realize is that (according to Harvard University) acetaminophen (the main ingredient in Tylenol) can also be found in over 30 OTC cold and flu medications, such as Nyquil and Theraflu.

This means that you may be taking more acetaminophen than you realize – especially if you’re taking more than one OTC product at a time. Acetaminophen is broken down in the liver and most of it is expelled through urination. A small amount, however, stays there and is converted into a liver toxin.

Taking too much acetaminophen either at one time or over a long period can result in serious and even fatal liver damage. A 2017 Spanish study also found that too much acetaminophen may affect anti-inflammatory signaling in the liver itself.

Other questionable substances may be lurking in your cold medication as well. These include mercury-containing high fructose corn syrup (made from GMO corn), sorbitol, artificial flavors, colors, fragrances, and parabens, a hormone disruptor banned in the European Union.

Essential Oils for Colds: Key Oils to Keep You Healthy This Season

A healthier option is to consider essential oils for sore throat and other symptoms, especially when you first feel a cold or flu coming on. There are dozens of essential oils as well as oil blends that can be used to help boost immunity and calm symptoms such as a nagging cough.

Here are some of the best individual essential oils for soothing, comforting relief:

#1 – Lemon.

Health experts (and common sense) say that fighting colds and flus begins with the immune system. A strong immune system will ward off the overabundance of pathogens flying into your personal space, making you less prone to “catching” something in the first place and being able to bounce back quicker if you do get sick.
Lemon essential oil, which comes from the cold-pressed rinds of the lemon fruit, is a powerhouse of immune-boosting compounds.

The main source of lemon’s potential healing force comes from the monoterpene limonene, a phytonutrient (plant nutrient) that helps to detoxify many key organs, including the kidneys, liver, and lymphatic system. It has also been found to be an anti-inflammatory, so much so that dozens of studies have been devoted to its role as a disease preventer.

Lemon is also great for the gut, so it can be a good friend if you are unfortunate enough to catch a stomach flu or eat “the wrong thing” at the annual holiday party. It has also been known to ease gastric upset and lower inflammation in the digestive tract.

Finally, if you find yourself having the “winter blues,” studies have found that limonene found in lemon essential oil can be a significant mood booster.

Other essential oils that help support a healthy immune response include cinnamon, grapefruit, and clove.

Try This: Want to be one step ahead of all those nasty cold and flu viruses this season? Simply add one drop of lemon essential oil to about 8 oz. of filtered water and drink first thing in the morning.

#2 – Oregano.

Got some boot-wearing foot fungus coming on? Oil of oregano contains two specific compounds – carvacrol and thymol – that studies have shown are both anti-fungal and anti-bacterial.

The phytonutrient carvacrol, in particular, has been mentioned in over 500 National Institutes of Health-documented studies for its usefulness against not only bacterial and fungal infections but also viruses, parasites, candida, allergies, and general inflammation.

Consider this: it can take up to 1,000 pounds of oregano leaves to produce one pound of oregano oil. That’s quite a punch for your unwelcome bacterial “friends” wanting to hitch a ride on your feet, your throat, your gut, or anywhere else you may find those nasty pathogens multiplying and making your day miserable.

Some studies have even demonstrated oregano’s effectiveness for bacterial infections when compared to traditional antibiotics. Other anti-bacterial and anti-fungal essential oils include melaleuca (tea tree oil), geranium, lemongrass, peppermint, and rosemary oil.

Try This: Put a few drops of oregano oil in a carrier oil such as coconut oil, jojoba, or olive oil and rub on your feet at night. Not only will the foot rub be a nice way to calm down for a healing sleep, but traditional medicine (as well as new scientific inquiry) suggests that “transdermal application” (applying topically to the skin) of some substances may have the same potency as oral ingesting.

Take Note: Oregano oil is a “hot” oil. Because of its potency, some experts recommend taking oil of oregano for no more than up to two weeks at a time. Always consult with a qualified health practitioner first before using oils internally, especially pregnant women or anyone with health concerns.
Essential Oils for Headache and More

#3 – Peppermint.

Tried and true peppermint is perhaps the best-known and most loved essential oil out there. And when it comes to colds and flus, this is for good reason! Like oregano, peppermint also has been found to have anti-bacterial as well as anti-viral properties.

In fact, oil of peppermint can destroy airborne germs, helping to keep the air around you a “flu-safe zone” if used in a diffuser. Peppermint is also a decongestant and an expectorant, making it a great oil to have in your toolbox for head colds and respiratory infections.

Peppermint essential oil can also help reduce the headaches that often accompany stuffy sinuses. Finally, peppermint can make you sweat, which speeds up blood flow and assists in gently moving a fever out of the body.
Eucalyptus oil is another wonderful essential oil to have in your toolbox for sinus-related colds and flus.

Try This: For a simple way to decongest and lift a “cold-induced” fog, simply place one or two drops of essential oil in the middle of one palm (2 drops peppermint or 1 drop peppermint + 1 drop eucalyptus). Rub your palms together then open them and place them close to your nose. Breathe in and feel the instant relief! In addition, a drop or two of peppermint oil in some carrier oil can be gently rubbed on the temples or dabbed on with a clean cotton ball (avoiding the eyes) to reduce headaches. By the way, peppermint is also considered one of the best essential oils for migraines.

Take note: Whenever you’re trying an essential oil for the first time, always test for sensitivity first. Start by smelling an oil to see if the oil seems pleasing to you. If all is well, mix a drop with several drops of carrier oil, apply to your wrist, and watch for any type of reaction (i.e. redness or itching). If no reaction occurs, then you can move on to trying the oil with a carrier oil on other parts of the body.

#4 – Essential Oil Blends.

The sky is the limit as to what kinds of essential oils you may want to blend together to make a cold and flu-busting formula that is just right for your body. Blending oils is a great way to access the synergistic effect of plant phytonutrients that can work together holistically to help you stay vibrant and healthy!

Try This: Even though different people respond to essential oils and essential oil blends in different ways (see the “Take note” above), there are some time-tested essential oils that do especially well together to synergistically help you fight whatever might be “going around.”

One of the best combinations for a soothing yet powerful germ-buster is a mix of oregano (mentioned above), clove, cinnamon, ginger, and thyme to help your body transition into winter and your mind gracefully prepare for the busy time to come.

If you’ve got strep throat or any kind of sore throat, try 1-2 drops in some warm water and gargle. (To help ensure the water has no harmful bacteria, use boiling water that you’ve allowed time to cool.)

The warming and immune-boosting qualities of both ginger and cinnamon are perfect for supporting your digestive, immune, and circulatory systems. And because of the antibacterial properties of oregano, clove oil, and thyme, you can use this blend in DIY toothpaste and mouthwash recipes as well.

Protect Yourself with Essential Oils

Let’s face it: no one wants to get sick, no matter what the season. More than any other time, however, during the holidays is when you are most at risk for cold and flu. It is also the time of year when you want to feel your best!

Winter colds and flus are not inevitable with just a little preparation. Keep sugar consumption and stress as low as possible and use key essential oils (the ones listed above and others like lavender essential oil) to help get you through the tough times.

The powerhouse trio of herbs in Magi-Complexx Essential Oil provides the strongest, most synergistic healing effect, helping sufferers of arthritis pain, constant muscle aches and pains, neuropathy, systemic inflammation, slowed wound healing, circulatory challenges, as well as skin irritations like eczema, psoriasis, and acne.

Magi-complexx Essential Oils
Nikki Lyn Pugh
Nikki Lyn Pugh, MFA, INHC is a natural health researcher and writer. She is also an integrative nutritional health coach specializing in autoimmune conditions, chronic stress, and energy medicine. She loves to inspire people to become empowered with their health through education and gentle guidance. Nikki lives and works in Cottonwood, AZ, with her bunny "Mr. Dot."

Article Summary

  • Many individual essential oils as well as essential oil blends have earned their place as safe and effective go-to’s for helping to keep your immune system humming and illness at bay.

  • OTCs (over-the-counters) may help you feel better in the short term, but the long-term effects could be a lower immune system, more inflammation, toxic overload, and liver disease.

  • Taking too much acetaminophen either at one time or over a long period can result in serious and even fatal liver damage.

  • Key essential oils to keep you healthy this season:

    • Lemon: a powerhouse of immune-boosting compounds
    • Oregano: both anti-fungal and anti-bacterial
    • Peppermint: anti-bacterial as well as anti-viral
    • Essential oil blends: a great way to access the synergistic effect of plant phytonutrients


  1. i am shiatsu therapist, and use aromatherapie as well. Mandarin essential oil is so good for people who are sad/ down, special children. ther are many books about aroma therapie..and one can do lessons. Never just mix and juse it for massage..if you dont know what you are doiing..

    • Hi Cherie,

      Unlike the majority of essential oils on the market, this blend is 100% USDA Certified Organic and completely safe for consumption. Any oil in the Organixx Essential Oils line made from a plant that’s safe to consume in its raw form is, in turn, also safe for internal use. That said, we highly recommend anyone interested in pursuing internal essential oil use to do so through a qualified physician, including if you are taking any form of medication.

    • Silica contended supplements are helpful. Even a horsetail ( herb that has Si). Living Si, Colloidal Si, Horsetail tea or horsetail capsules etc.. You have to have a strong intention first and then Si will help. If you find a food grade DE earth- drink it two times a day. It's silica as well .

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