Essential Oils To Help Fight Coughs and Colds

Essential Oils to Help Fight Coughs and Colds


Dear Families,

I hope this winter will a season of joy, love, and well-being. Many of you have asked what tools you can use to help reduce the cough and congestion that comes from a host of viruses including Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Of all the modalities and compounds I have learned about, essential oils have some of the most impressive properties to support against viruses, including RSV. While some of the essential oils listed below may not have direct anti-viral effects against RSV, they may have beneficial properties that protect against the secondary complications of viruses like RSV, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, reducing mucous, and preventing secondary infections. Below are a host of published studies to help you understand my bias. When these oils are inhaled (given the appropriate age), they can exert the beneficial effects at the tissue level.

  • Several published research studies have demonstrated Eucalyptus essential oil to have anti-viral properties against many of the cold viruses that cause us misery.[1],[2],[3],[4] It also has anti-bacterial properties against the bacteria that cause pneumonia, sinus and ear infections ( influenza, H. parainfluenza, S. pneumonia, S. aureus, etc.).[5],[6],[7] Studies have demonstrated that Eucalyptus oil also has potent anti-inflammatory and mucous-breaking effects, which can reduce the prolonged coughing and congestion.[8],[9],[10],[11],[12],[13],[14] Eucalyptus can open up and relax the airways, making breathing easier during coughing fits.[15],[16],[17] For the purposes of inhalation, Eucalyptus radiata (vs Eucalyptus globulus) is more gentle on the airways and less likely to cause airway reactivity.
  • Like Eucalyptus, Thyme also has anti-viral and anti-oxidant properties.[18],[19],[20],[21],[22],[23] It also helps kill many of the bacteria that cause pneumonia and ear infections,[24] and is even able to kill off the flu virus.[25] Like Eucalyptus, it is important to know the subtype of Thyme you are buying and using, as not all forms of Thyme are safe to be inhaled. Thyme serpolet or vulgaris are the most common and least expensive forms that are sold. Unfortunately, these subtypes are NOT safe for inhalation. Thyme linalool and Thyme borneal are safe for inhalation.
  • Tea Tree: Tea Tree essential oil has some beneficial properties to control bacteria and viruses, especially influenza.[26],[27],[28] There is just one problem with Tea Tree – for children especially, it is not advisable for inhalation due to Tea Tree’s potential for causing airway irritation. Fortunately, it turns out that Tea Tree’s cousin, Niaouli has many of the beneficial properties as Tea Tree, and is much safer for direct inhalation.[29],[30]
  • Lavender: We all know that lavender has a wonderful smell and is calming to the nervous system, but did you know that Lavender is one of the best anti-inflammatory essential oils available?[31],[32],[33],[34] If you want to see how well Lavender can work as an anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine, take 5-6 drops of lavender and apply it to an angry insect bite. Watch the pain, itching, redness, and inflammation disappear before your eyes.[35],[36] If that is still not impressive enough, it turns out that Lavender also has some anti-bacterial properties and can even increase the white blood cell’s ability to attack bacteria![37],[38]
  • Peppermint oil was found in some studies to calm cough spasms while fighting viruses including RSV (croup).[39],[40],[41],[42] The only thing is that Peppermint oil must be used in VERY low concentrations (less than 2-3% of the total concentration), otherwise, it can CAUSE significant airway spasm, especially in young children.


Nature has so many gifts for us, and you can spend a lifetime learning about them. If you are new to essential oils, you can start by just testing the waters with Eucalyptus radiata. If you are a seasoned pro, you are welcome to combine the oils we discussed and test out what works best for you and your family. When inhaling powerful, single essential oils, like Eucalyptus and especially Peppermint, please be careful and make certain that the oil type you have purchased is safe for inhalation and used in the right concentration before having your child inhale it.

If you want to skip buying all of these products individually or want to make sure you have oils that are safe for direct inhalation, please consider our Wholistic Kids Cough and Congestion Essential oil, which contains the oils mentioned above and more. I spent years testing and researching different blends of essential oils, until I found the perfect blend of oils that are safe for children to inhale and that our families consistently found helpful! We have only chosen medical-grade essential oils that are organically grown and responsibly sourced. This is the oil blend I use in my private practice and for my own family. Try this oil blend and see how much it can help you and your family. If you are not 100% satisfied, we are more than happy to refund you.

Our cough oil can be found through our online store:

Now, having the right oils is one thing but, as mentioned before, knowing how to use them is even more important. Please find detailed dosing instructions below. It is generally best to only diffuse the oils indirectly into the room for infants 6-12 months (avoid in younger infants). For children 1-2 years, you can directly apply the oil onto their bodies. One little trick to get a boost for children over two years is to apply the essential oils onto their chest, back, AND neck/lymph nodes. By allowing the oils to penetrate into the lymphatic tissue (swollen lymph nodes), you can help the body in its fight against the invading viruses and bacteria. Last but not least, and now hopefully your new secret weapon is direct inhalation. If you have a young child, a child who has asthma, or other medical reasons for a fragile airway, please always use a degree of caution and slowly build up the dosing just to be safe.

I want to thank my mentors, Annette Davis and Kamyar Hedayat. These two master herbalists spent countless hours teaching me about these botanicals and their use. Our cough essential oil would not have been possible without them! I hope you all can come to love the amazing properties of the essential oils. Please share this information with your friends and family. Each day we can take a step together to create a healthier society, and let’s work together to make that happen starting today!

Here is to a beautiful winter season filled with health, laughter, joy, and warm embraces from loved ones!



Pejman Katiraei, DO (Dr. K)





Dosing details:

  • Indirect application
    • Humidifier (can be continuous) – keep the humidifier away from your child.
      • 6-12 months: 8 drops per gallon of water
      • 12-24 months:     12 drops per gallon of water
      • 24+ months:     16-32 drops per gallon of water
    • Diffuser (can be continuous) – keep the diffuser at least 3 feet away from your child.
  • 6-12 months: 1-2 drops
  • 12-24 months: 2-2 drops
  • 24+ months: 3-6 drops
  • Direct application
    • Massage: Mix the essential oils with 1-2 teaspoons of your oil of choice (olive, almond, jojoba, etc.) and massage into the chest and neck areas every 6-8 hours. Do not apply directly to the face.
      • 2-6 years: 3-5 drops
      • 6-12 years: 5-7 drops
      • 12+ years: 8-10 drops
      • **1-2 years – you must be careful to not have the little ones inhale the oil. As such, you put 2 drops in 1 teaspoon of carrier oil and ONLY apply it to the child’s back and base of feet to avoid inhalation.
    • Inhalation (please make sure the essential oil(s) are safe for inhalation)
      • Hand mask method (4+ years) – put the drops of essential oil in the palm of your hand, rub your hands together quickly, put your hands together to make a cup/mask, and bring that mask to your face or that of your child and take deep breaths ideally alternating between mouth and nose for one minute. Repeat every 4-6 hours. For younger children (2-3 years), please always do a trial/test with 2 drops of oil to make sure they tolerate the oils well.
    • 2-4 years: 2-3 drops
    • 4-8 years: 3-4 drops
    • 8+ years: 4-6 drops
      • Essential oil inhalers – for very little money, you can purchase essential oil inhalers which contain a cotton wick that can be charged with essential oils. Once charged, the oils can easily be inhaled through the nose or mouth. Replenish the oils at least once per day.
    • 2-4 years: 2-3 drops
    • 4-8 years: 3-4 drops
    • 8+ years: 4-6 drops
      • Cloth method (2-6 years) – put 1-4 drops onto a cloth/towel moistened by warm water and allow your child to inhale oils while keeping the cloth about 3-4 inches away from their mouth for 1-2 minutes at a time. Repeat every 4-6 hours as needed.
      • Nebulizer (6+ years) – put 2-5 drops of the essential oil into the nebulizer chamber with a vial of saline or albuterol and allow your child to inhale the nebulized mixture. Repeat every 4-6 hours as needed. Please make sure you thoroughly wash out the nebulizer chamber as the oils will otherwise clog the nebulizer chamber.
      • Steam inhalation (6+ years) – put 2-6 drops of the essential oils in a bowl of hot/steaming water and drape a towel over the head. Directly inhale the steam/oil mixture for 2-5 minutes based on tolerance. Leave at least 12” between your face and the water to prevent any irritation. Watch for any irritation of the eyes.