9 Essential Oils to Relieve a Cough

With the global pandemic an ongoing issue nearly one year after it began, it’s more important than ever to arm yourself with immune-boosting essentials. Aside from maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly, there are other things you can do to further improve your immune system.

As a form of alternative therapy, essential oils can also be used to fight your symptoms and improve your overall health. Essential oils, in their simplest form, are plant extracts. As the name implies, the “essence” of the plant’s fragrance is extracted through the process of steaming or pressing.   

How to Use Essential Oils

There are primarily two ways that you can use essential oils: through inhalation and application to the skin. Generally, these oils are used for aromatherapy purposes, and are diffused into the air when used with an essential oil diffuser. Essential oils can also be mixed with carrier oils, and then applied topically in a localized area.

Another way to incorporate essential oils is to fill capsules with drops of an immunity and respiratory blend, and then take them orally. Their fragrance can help relieve respiratory issues and make patients feel better, resulting in an improved outcome from sickness. 

There are many types of essential oils available to the public, and choosing which one to use largely depends on the fragrance you prefer and the symptoms you’re looking to ease.

For example, coughing can keep you up for most of the night and diminishes your ability to breathe easily. If you’re dealing with a bad cough and looking for a natural way to treat it, here are some of the most common essential oils for cough and congestion


Bergamot contains camphene, a compound similar to camphor that gives off a cooling and refreshing effect. It also helps to relieve respiratory tract fluid and contains antioxidant properties that repair cell damage.

To use, put a few drops into your diffuser or humidifier to experience the oil’s healing effects.


This spice is frequently used in cooking and baking, but it also has healing properties. It has antioxidant-rich polyphenols, and studies show that it can prevent common bacteria from reproducing.

You may add several drops of cinnamon oil to a topical blend and use it to provide relief from your cough.


Eucalyptus is the most popular essential oil that treats respiratory ailments like pharyngitis, bronchitis, and sinusitis. Aside from its refreshing scent, its essence also contains antiviral properties that can reduce nasal congestion and suppress cough. It is also known as an efflux pump inhibitor, which strengthens the body’s response to fight bacteria.

Add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to an ounce of carrier oil, then rub the mixture on your chest and throat to  alleviate your cough. You can also add a couple of drops into boiling water and inhale the steam to ease chest congestion. 


If you have bronchial asthma and your cough is preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep, try a lavender essential oil. Its relaxing and soothing properties help clear the airways, reduce the inflammation that causes the coughing spells, and relieve stress and anxiety. 

Rub lavender oil on your pillowcase shortly before bedtime to promote restful slumber. You can also combine it with your other bath products, such as Epsom salts. Your lavender-scented warm bath will help relieve your coughing symptoms.


This citrus fruit contains d-limonene, which is a known vasorelaxant that helps relax and widen your blood vessels. It has the ability to support lymphatic drainage by reducing the swelling of your lymph nodes and improving the overall blood flow. 

If steaming water is not feasible, you can try the direct inhalation method. Just put a drop or two directly to a tissue or handkerchief and inhale it for a couple of minutes.  

Or, add several drops of high-grade, premium lemon essential oil to warm water, then add a dollop of honey for a refreshing drink to soothe your throat. You can also use this oil to make a natural cleaning product to get rid of bacteria in your home which could be triggering your cough.


The oil of this wonderful spice also has camphene, which produces a relaxing sensation. The spice is a known expectorant that can help loosen up mucus.

Dilute a drop of this essential oil with carrier oil, then use it to massage the chest.



Peppermint contains menthol, a known natural decongestant. This oil creates a cooling sensation that soothes a scratchy throat and provides relief from nasal congestion. It also has antitussive and antispasmodic properties that can prevent bad coughing fits.

To get immediate relief from cough, combine it with a blend of topical oils and enjoy it using your preferred method, such as diffusion. You can also drop peppermint oil into water and swirl it into your mouth for a refreshing mouth rinse.


Aside from being a fragrant herb, rosemary contains cineole. This compound has been known to calm the muscles in the trachea and treat asthma.

Apply a drop or two of rosemary oil to a steam bath, then breathe it in for a couple of minutes to loosen up mucus and bring relief to the sinuses.  

Tea Tree

Tea tree oil has both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve respiratory health issues. Historically, many people used crushed tea leaves to treat cough and other sinus infections, though its health benefits are still being touted today. This essential oil can help eliminate mucus and calm your cough, without the dreaded drowsy side effects of over-the-counter drugs.

Add drops of tea tree essential oil to an unscented lotion, and use it to rub all over your chest for a DIY vapor rub.     

Aside from these benefits, essential oils also provide homeowners a way to sanitize the ambient air in confined spaces and improve the air quality inside their homes, resulting in improved overall health and wellness among family members.

Think of essential oils as complementary therapy to your treatment for common colds and similar respiratory concerns. Of course, if your cough continues to persist, it’s still best to consult with a doctor. 

About the author, Liat Chiprut

Liat Chiprut is a Functional Medicine Practitioner and licensed pharmacist. As an essential oil expert, Liat spent years researching and training on the root cause of disease and how to prevent illness and heal the body naturally. Her mission is creating new blends and helping all those that want to heal naturally have the information and products to do so.