- The top 10 Essential oils for sore throat are Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Lemon, Tea Tree, Oregano, Clove, Hyssop, Thyme, Juniper Berry, Black Pepper.
- Essential oils, with its analgesic, antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties are a great way of treating the symptoms of sore throat.
- The immune enhancing properties of essential oils can help improve one's immune system and prevent sore throat related symptoms in the first place.
- The basic precaution is to use only diluted form of essential oils - either by diffusing it in the air, mixing it with a carrier oil for topical application or mixing it in large batches of food in case of ingestion.
- The best essential oil to treat sore throat is peppermint essential oil
- Diffusing essential oil into the air using a diffuser is the safest way to start an essential oil treatment.
Essential oils are revered for its amazing healing powers and aromatherapy properties. Not surprisingly, essential oils widely used as a sore throat remedy. In this post, we will walk through 10 of the best essential oils that can be used to effectively relieve sore throat symptoms.
What causes sore throat?
Sore throat is usually the first symptom of a cold and it usually recedes after a day or two, giving way to other symptoms like runny nose and congestion. Sore throat can be caused by virus or bacteria. However, the most common cause is due to viruses. Other symptoms closely associated with a viral sore throat are runny nose, red or watery eyes, cough, sneezing, mild headaches, fatigue, body aches and fever. Other causes include inhaling of polluted air, inhaling allergens in the atmosphere, smoking, dry air and allergies.
Strep throat is another throat ailment that is very common and is caused by bacterial infection caused by Streptococcus bacteria. The symptoms include throat pain, inflammation, white spots in the tonsils, swollen lymph nodes and fever. Runny nose and fever are not symptoms of a strep throat and hence are used as key identifiers to differentiate sore throat caused by virus and a strep throat.
How essential oils help cure sore throat?
The essential oil remedies for sore throat are based on the various therapeutic properties of essential oils. Combining the right essential oils multiplies its healing effects.
Anti-Microbial properties – Studies 1 show that many essential oils display anti-microbial properties and helps kill the bacteria, viruses and other microbes that causes sore throat. This is one important factor that decides an essential oil’s effectiveness as a sore throat remedy. Clove essential oil (Eugenol oil), Peppermint essential oil and Tea Tree essential oil are ones with very high anti-microbial activity. 2
Anti-Inflammatory properties – Another factor that decides which essential oil to use for sore throat is the anti-inflammatory properties. Especially in the case of strep throat, there can be severe inflammation due to the bacterial infection and it is important to reduce or heal the inflammation. Peppermint, Eucalyptus and Lavender essential oils show high levels of anti-inflammatory properties.
Analgesic properties – Sore throat is commonly accompanied by pain while swallowing. Essential oils with analgesic properties help reduce the pain. Lavender, Chamomile, Peppermint and Eucalyptus essential oils have therapeutic properties that relieves pain.
“Expectorant” properties – During the onset of a flu, along with sore throat, there are gamut of other symptoms that makes one’s life miserable. One of that is congestion due to excess mucus formation. Some essential oils promote the expulsion of mucus from the respiratory tract. Cedarwood, Sandalwood, Thyme, Frankincense, Hyssop, Eucalyptus have expectorant properties and helps expel the excess mucus from the body.
A man with a cough cannot conceal himself.
– African proverb Yoruba Tribe
The TOP 10 essential oils for sore throat
Peppermint essential oil – Peppermint is a perennial herb with green leaves and white flowers. Peppermint essential oil is steam distilled from the leaves and flowering tops. Peppermint origin can be traced back to many countries including Brazil, China, Italy, Morocco, Tasmania, Germany, England, America and Bulgaria. Peppermint has a minty, fresh and penetrating high notes and grassy, sharp and camphoraceous undertones. It blends well with rosemary, lavender, lemon and eucalyptus. People all over the world use peppermint essential oil to treat a gamut of diseases and conditions including sore throat. Menthol is the active ingredient in peppermint essential oil and plays a key role in alleviating sore throat symptoms. Peppermint oil has analgesic, expectorant, anti-septic, anti-microbial, anti-oxidant and decongestant properties and helps to subside the symptoms related to sore throat. Peppermint and Lavender combination is good for preventing the flu. One easy way of including peppermint oil to your daily regime by oral application is to add it in your morning tea/fresh lemonade. A DIY peppermint vapor rub is also a good option. Steam inhalation and a hot tub bath are other preferred ways to apply peppermint oil to your daily routine.
Peppermint essential oil Contraindications: Use in small quantities, Avoid using peppermint essential oil if you are on homeopathic medications.
Eucalyptus essential oil – About 20 of the 600 identified species of Eucalyptus trees are harvested for their essential oils. The trees are tall, evergreen with long narrow leaves and white flowers. Eucalyptus oil is produced by steam distillation of the twigs and leaves. The eucalyptus tree is indigenous to Australia, America, China, Portugal, Brazil, Spain, Russia and is used extensively for healing purposes. The oil has sharp, fresh and camphoraceous top notes and woody, penetrating undertones. It can be easily blended with other herb and wood oils and also with lemon and lavender. Studies 3 show that it is a proven anti-bacterial and helps in fighting many harmful bacteria including Staphylococcus aureus. A major component in Eucalyptus oil is 1,8 cineone which possesses noted anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, antitussive effects (helps suppress cough), bronchodilator effects (open up the airways), mucolytic (dissolves thick mucus) and mucociliary effects (helps remove mucous). It is also known to possess decongestant, anti-bacterial and expectorant properties. These properties of eucalyptus essential oil aids in curing the symptoms of cold, sore throat, cough and other infections. Typical application of Eucalyptus essential oil is by steam inhalation and is the best way to relieve cold , flu and other respiratory issues. Another popular application method is by topical application on the neck and chest.
Lemon essential oil – Lemon is a short evergreen tree with oval shaped leaves and yellow fruits. The lemon essential oil is derived from the peel of the ripe fruits. Origin of lemon trees is considered to be in Israel, Italy, Cyprus, Sicily and America. Lemon essential oils has a sharp, fresh, clean, light top notes and a sweet, citrus under tones. It can be easily blend with other floral or citrus oils and in fact with almost all other essential oils. Studies show that lemon essential oil may be one of the most powerful anti-microbial agent among the essential oils. The Ayurveda stream of medicine (in India) has been treating ailments using lemon oil for over a thousand years. Alpha-Pinene, Beta-Pinene and Sabinene in lemon oils contributes to the anti-microbial, anti-septic and anti-inflammatory properties 4 5 that plays a major role in treating sore throat ailments. One common way to apply lemon essential oil is to add it in your tea or warm water or fresh lemonade once daily. You can also choose the inhalation route by directly inhaling from the bottle or by using it in a diffuser. A hot tub bath is also an effective option.
Lemon essential oil Contraindications: Use in small quantities, Avoid using lemon essential oil if you have very sensitive skin.
Tea tree essential oil – Tea tree oil is derived from a native plant in Australia called Melaleuca alternifolia. Tea tree is a shrub or small tree that has needle like leaves and is usually found in swampy areas. The essential oil is produced by steam distillation of the leaves and twigs. The oil has a camphoraceous, warm and spicy top notes with medicinal, pungent undertones. It is known to blend well with most herb and spice oils and also with eucalyptus, pine and lavender. It has anti-microbial, immuno-stimulant, anti-septic, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, expectorant and anti-inflammatory properties. 6 Tea Tree is considered to be the most ‘medicinal’ essential oil as it has powerful anti-microbial activity that helps fight bacteria, virus and fungi. Due to all these amazing properties, it is very effective in curing many ailments including sore throat. Gargling, topical applications and steam inhalations are effective application methods.
Tea tree essential oil Contraindications: Use in small quantities (no more than 2% for massage, <4 drops for hot bath), Avoid using tea tree essential oil if you have very sensitive skin.
Oregano essential oil – Oregano is a native of the Mediterranean region and have been in use for more than 2500 years. The oregano essential oil is produced by steam distillation of the leaves and twigs. Oregano essential oil has spicy, warm, herbaceous and camphoraceous odor. It blends well with cypress, rosemary, tea tree, cedarwood, eucalyptus, chamomile and lavender essential oils. Oregano essential oils show anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-allergenic and anti-inflammatory therapeutic properties. Studies 7 show that oregano oil can help destroy staphylococcus aureus which is the primary cause of strep throat. Carvacrol, Terpenes and Thymol in oregano oil fights virus and bacteria naturally 8 9 and Beta-caryophyllin in oregano oil is a great anti-inflammatory and also helps alleviate congestion in the airways. Gargling, vapor rub applications, hot tub bath are effective methods to treat sore throat using oregano essential oil.
Clove essential oil – Clove is an evergreen tree with green leaves and rosy buds that become fragrant red flowers. The clove essential oil is distilled from the flower buds. Clove is a native of Indonesia and Madagascar. Clove essential oil has fruity and fresh top notes with deep, spicy and sweet undertones. It blends well with most floral and citrus oils and also with bay, lemongrass, clary sage and sandalwood. It has been recorded to be used in China for over 2000 years as a fragrance and spice. The major component of clove essential oil, Eugenol, is a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant. The effectiveness of Clove essential oil for sore throat attributes to the analgesic, anti-septic, anti-viral, anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory 10 properties. Clove oil is very strong and should never be used in its undiluted form. Topical application, warm tub bath are effective ways to treat sore throat using Clove essential oil.
Clove essential oil Contraindications: Use in small quantities (no more than 1% for massage, <2 drops for hot bath), Avoid using clove essential oil if you have sensitive skin.
Hyssop essential oil – Hyssop (meaning “Holy Herb”) is a perennial aromatic shrub thought to have originated from France, Holland and Hungary. Hyssop is characterized by an intense, woody, sweet, camphoraceous top notes and warm, herbal, spicy undertones. It blends well with other herb and citrus essential oils and also with lavender, bay, myrtle and geranium. Hyssop essential oil has been used for thousands of years for its antiseptic, anti-oxidant 11 and purifying properties and is even mentioned in the Bible (Psalms 51: Verse 7). Hyssop essential oil’s antiseptic, antibacterial, expectorant properties makes it very effective in the treatment of sore throat, cough and congestion. Hyssop can be used topically in the neck and throat area or used via steam inhalation for sore throat relief. Having Hyssop tea is also a good remedy for sore throat.
Hyssop essential oil Contraindications: Avoid if pregnant, Avoid prolonged use, Do not use on epilepsy patients, Use in small quantities.
Thyme essential oil – Thyme essential oil is derived from the perennial aromatic shrub Thymus vulgaris. It has small green leaves with white/violet flowers. The essential oil is produced by the steam distillation of the flowering tops and leaves. Out of the many varieties of thyme available, linalol thyme is the most gentle and non toxic. It’s natively found in the southern Europe. Thyme essential oil has fresh, green, intense, herbal top notes and spicy, sweet and medicinal undertones. It blends easily with other herb oils and also with lemon, pine, lavender, bergamot, black pepper and cypress. Thyme essential oil is known to strengthen the body’s immunity and is also especially good in treating respiratory infections. Thyme oil has proven antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, 12 expectorant and calming properties that can help in relieving sore throat. The main components of thyme essential oil includes beta-pinene, thymol, alpha-pinene, camphene, beta-caryophyllene, alpha-thujone, borneol, para-cymene, linalool, alpha-terpinene, and carvacrol. Thyme is rich in thymol (20-50%) which give it its powerful anti-bacterial properties along with other antibacterial components, caryophyllene and camphene. A hot bath, gargling, steam inhalation are the ideal ways for treating sore throat using thyme essential oil.
Thyme essential oil Contraindications: Avoid if pregnant, Avoid prolonged use, Use in small quantities.
Juniper Berry essential oil – Juniper is a small tree with yellow flowers, thin leaves and small berries. Juniper berry essential oil is prepared by steam-distilling the crushed and dried berries. The origins of Juniper tree are traced to the European Union mainly concentrated around Austria, Serbia, Czech Republic, Croatia, France, Italy and Hungary. Juniper berry essential oil has a fresh, clean, turpentine top notes and woody, smoky, balsamic, peppery undertones. It blends well with other wood, citrus oils and geranium, clary sage, frankincense and lavender. Juniper berry oil is a powerful cleansing agent and helps the body excrete harmful toxins. Research 13 points to the fact that there are 87 components in Juniper oil that contributes to its anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-oxidant properties. Juniper helps to treat sore throat through its anti-microbial, antiseptic and depurative (cleanses blood) therapeutic properties. The popular application methods includes – inhaling the scent directly from the bottle, massaging the diluted oil to the neck and chest area.
Juniper Berry essential oil Contraindications: Avoid if pregnant or breast feeding, Do not use on kidney or liver patients, Use in small quantities.
Black pepper essential oil – Black pepper is a woody, perennial vine which heart shaped leaves and white colored flowers which turn into peppercorns. Black pepper essential oil is produced by steam distilling dried, crushed berries. Black pepper is a native of India, Madagascar and Indonesia. Black pepper essential oil has a spicy, hot and fiery top tones with sharp, woody and warm under tones. It blends well with floral and other spice oils and also with sandalwood, frankincense, rosemary and marjoram. The earliest use of pepper is recorded in India during 2000 B.C. Black pepper essential oil is known to help relieve sore throat due to its analgesic, antiseptic, anti-microbial 14 and anti-inflammatory properties. Direct inhalation from the bottle, topical applications and gargling are good ways to use black pepper essential oil for treatment of sore throat.
Black pepper essential oil Contraindications: Use in small quantities (no more than 2% for massage, <3 drops for hot bath), Avoid using black pepper essential oil if you have sensitive skin.
Thieves essential oil blend for sore throat remedy
The Thieves blend is a popular essential oil blend that combines clove essential oil, cinnamon essential oil, lemon essential oil, rosemary essential oil and eucalyptus essential oil. It is thought to be first created and used in the 15th Century. All these essential oils have powerful antibacterial properties and helps in relieving sore throat. This blend multiplies the benefits of all these independent oils and helps relieve sore throat with its enhanced analgesic, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-septic, anti-microbial, expectorant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is a immune enhancing essential oil which will help keep sore throat and flu at bay.
Recipe of Thieves essential oil
40 drops organic Clove Bud essential oil
35 drops organic Lemon essential oil
20 drops organic Cinnamon essential oil
15 drops organic Eucalyptus essential oil
10 drops organic Rosemary essential oil
Direction for preparation: Mix them together and dilute it with a carrier oil to bring down its concentration to 2%.
How to use Thieves essential oil: Popular applications involve topical massages, gargling, ingesting with tea and diffusing it at home during the cold and flu season.
The benefits of using essential oils for sore throat?
Attack the root cause – Due to the anti-microbial properties of some essential oils, it helps to kill the bacteria and viruses that are the root cause of sore throat.
Improve immunity – Many essential oils helps build the immune system along with fighting off existing infections. Heard of any pharma medicine capable of doing that? So, just by diffusing an immune boosting essential oil at home, the entire family’s immune system is boosted which helps ward off common ailments.
Less risk of side effects – Provided you buy good organic brands and if used as suggested, there is very little or no side effects by using essential oils.
No prescription required – Essential oils are sold without prescriptions and can be purchased at stores and online.
All natural – Majority of the recognized brands offer pure, therapeutic and organic essential oils. This means there are no harmful chemical and artificial additives.
How to do an essential oil treatment for sore throat?
Imagine fighting infections and simultaneously improving immune system by just breathing! Well, treatment using essential oil via a diffuser is just that!
Diffusing Essential oil – The most common and safest application of essential oil is by diffusing the oil into the air using a diffuser. Diffusion distributes essential oil molecules into the air throughout the room and is relatively safe for most people as it becomes very well diluted. This is a great way to treat sore throat as you are breathing in ‘medicated’ air throughout the day without any additional effort. Inhaling the diffused essential oil can help reduce pain, inflammation and infections. It is especially useful when our little ones suffer from cold symptoms as they are getting healed just by being around the home!
Ultrasonic diffusion is the cutting edge technology in place today for aromatherapy as an ultrasonic diffuser combines the features of a humidifier, air purifier, atomizer and aromatherapy diffuser into one useful product.
Steam Inhalation – Is a very effective method of essential oil treatment. Steam inhalation by itself is a good remedy for cold, sore throat and nasal congestion. By adding an essential oil, it takes this remedy to the next level! A sealed area needs to be created between the pan and your head. This will make sure very little vapor escape and provide you with the entire benefits. When doing a steam inhalation, sit in this posture for 10-15 minutes. It is normal for you to sweat or for your nose to become runny while doing a steam inhalation.
Steam inhalation using essential oils – How to
- Essential oil – 6 drops
- Boiling water – 1 quart
- 1 large pan
- 1 large towel
- Boil water in a kettle or cooking range.
- Transfer the boiling water into a large pan.
- Add the essential oil to the water.
- Using a towel, make a sealed area between the pan and your head. (Refer image)
- Inhale the vapors, breathing deeply for 10 minutes.
Topical application – Topical application provides localized effects in the area of application in addition to providing whole body support. Most of the essential oils need to be well diluted before using it for topical applications. The preferred dilution medium is Organic virgin coconut oil as coconut oil by itself is very beneficial to the skin. Note that dilution does not reduce the efficacy of the treatment.
Topical application using essential oils – How to
- Essential oil – 6 drops
- Coconut oil – 1 fl. oz. (For 1% dilution) For 2% dilution, use 0.5 fl.oz.
- Mix the ingredients.
- Take a small portion in your palm and rub the palm together to gently warm the oil.
- Apply it to the throat and chest area.
- It’s recommended to repeat this twice a day.
Oral application – One preferred way to ingest essential oil is along with your meals. It’s important to note that only a single drop of essential oil (mixed with a teaspoon of carrier oil) need to be used for a large batch of food. This will make sure it is well diluted and safe for oral consumption. Another way of ingestion is to mix it (1 drop essential oil + 1 tsp carrier oil) with a drink. Note that oils do not mix with water, use lemonade or a lightly salted glass of water instead. Gentle oils like Frankincense and lemon can be taken directly (1-2 drops) under the tongue.
Gargle an essential oil concoction – Gargling is a very effective essential oil application method for sore throat as it gets in direct contact with the affected areas. The mucous membranes in the mouth will quickly absorb the essential oils into the bloodstream.
Gargling using essential oils – How to
- Essential oil – 4-5 drops
- Salt – 1 tsp
- Warm water – 1 cup
- Mix the ingredients.
- Swish it around in the mouth for 2 min.
- Spit it out. (Do not swallow!)
- It’s recommended to repeat this 5-7 times a day.
Essential oil bath – A warm bath helps to detoxify, relax and increase blood circulation. With healing and cleansing properties of essential oils, coconut oil, castile soap and epsom salts, our essential oil bath recipe is more like super baths!
Relaxing essential oil tub bath – How to
- Essential oil – 12 drops (Can be a blend)
- Coconut oil – 1 fl.oz.
- Liquid castile soap – 4 fl. oz. (Will help diffuse the essential oil in water)
- Epsom salt – 2 cups
- Fill the tub with warm water (not hot!).
- Mix the essential oil and coconut oil.
- Pour the oil mixture into the tub.
- Add the liquid castile soap and epsom salt.
- Mix it till the oil disperse and the salt dissolves.
- Relax and lie down in the tub for 20 minutes.
Essential oil DIY vapor rub – The commercial vapor rubs available in the markets often contain harmful chemicals and petroleum products. So if you used to rely on these products for relieving your sore throat symptoms, we have good news for you. You can create your own natural vapor rub right at home!
DIY essential oil vapor rub – How to
- 1/4 cup Coconut oil
- 1 tbsp Beeswax Pastilles
- 10 drops Peppermint oil
- 10 drops Eucalyptus oil
- 5 drops Cinnamon oil
- 5 drops Rosemary oil
- Melt the beeswax pastilles along with coconut oil in a double boiler.
- As soon as the beeswax is melted, add the essential oils (For babies and kids, use half the quantity of essential oils mentioned).
- Stir until well mixed and pour into a small glass jar.
Essential oil warm compress – Heat a pint of water and add 4-5 drops of essential oil to it. Dip a towel in the warm water, strain it to remove excess water and apply the towel in the neck and throat area. The heat of the towel opens up the pores of the skin and enables quick absorption of the essential oil.
Precautionary measures before starting an essential oil treatment for sore throat
- Always dilute essential oils.
- Some essential oils are classified as poisonous if taken orally in large quantities.
- For treating babies and kids, make sure to use gentle essential oils in the right amount and frequency.
- Some medicines and essential oils don’t go together. Take advice of your doctor in such instances.
- Consult with your doctor on essential oil use if you are pregnant or breast feeding.
Essential oil Buying and Storage tips
- Use only 100% pure and therapeutic grade essential oils.
- Preferably choose USDA certified Organic/wild-crafted essential oils.
- Buy essential oils that are sold in amber or cobalt blue colored glass bottles. These colored bottles reduce the amount of sunlight that penetrates into the bottle. Exposure to sunlight causes the essential oil to oxidize, deteriorate and lose their beneficial therapeutic properties over time
- Store the essential oil bottle in a cool (refrigerator is preferred) dark place.
Hammer KA. Antimicrobial activity of essential oils and other plant extracts. – PubMed – NCBI. 2017. Accessed November 15, 2017.↩
Thosar, Nilima et al. Antimicrobial Efficacy of Five Essential Oils against Oral Pathogens: An in Vitro Study. European Journal of Dentistry 7.Suppl 1 (2013): S71–S77. PMC. Web. 2017.↩
DW S. Immune-modifying and antimicrobial effects of Eucalyptus oil and simple inhalation devices. – PubMed – NCBI. 2017. Accessed November 15, 2017.↩
Shen C, Jiang J, Zhu W, Ou-Yang Q. Anti-inflammatory Effect of Essential Oil from Citrus aurantium L. var. amara Engl. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2017;65(39):8586-8594. doi:10.1021/acs.jafc.7b02586.↩
Nikolić M, Jovanović K, Marković T et al. Antimicrobial synergism and cytotoxic properties of Citrus limon L., Piper nigrum L. and Melaleuca alternifolia (Maiden and Betche) Cheel essential oils. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. 2017;69(11):1606-1614. doi:10.1111/jphp.12792.↩
Carson C, Hammer K, Riley T. Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties. Clinical Microbiology Reviews. 2006;19(1):50-62. doi:10.1128/cmr.19.1.50-62.2006.↩
Nostro A, Procopio F, Pizzimenti F et al. Effects of oregano, carvacrol and thymol on Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis biofilms. Journal of Medical Microbiology. 2007;56(4):519-523. doi:10.1099/jmm.0.46804-0.↩
Gilling D, Kitajima M, Torrey J, Bright K. Antiviral efficacy and mechanisms of action of oregano essential oil and its primary component carvacrol against murine norovirus. Journal of Applied Microbiology. 2014;116(5):1149-1163. doi:10.1111/jam.12453.↩
Béjaoui A, Chaabane H, Jemli M, Boulila A, Boussaid M. Essential Oil Composition and Antibacterial Activity of Origanum vulgare subsp. glandulosum Desf. at Different Phenological Stages. Journal of Medicinal Food. 2013;16(12):1115-1120. doi:10.1089/jmf.2013.0079.↩
Nile S, Nile A, Keum Y. Total phenolics, antioxidant, antitumor, and enzyme inhibitory activity of Indian medicinal and aromatic plants extracted with different extraction methods. 3 Biotech. 2017;7(1). doi:10.1007/s13205-017-0706-9.↩
Puškárová A, Bučková M, Kraková L, Pangallo D, Kozics K. The antibacterial and antifungal activity of six essential oils and their cyto/genotoxicity to human HEL 12469 cells. Scientific Reports. 2017;7(1). doi:10.1038/s41598-017-08673-9.↩
Orav A, Kailas T, Müürisepp M. Chemical investigation of the essential oil from berries and needles of common juniper (Juniperus communisL.) growing wild in Estonia. Natural Product Research. 2010;24(19):1789-1799. doi:10.1080/14786411003752037.↩
Nikolić M, Stojković D, Glamočlija J et al. Could essential oils of green and black pepper be used as food preservatives? Journal of Food Science and Technology. 2015;52(10):6565-6573. doi:10.1007/s13197-015-1792-5.↩