Essential oils are effective for managing respiratory health issues such as bronchitis, asthma, pneumothorax, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), pneumonia, allergies, sinusitis, cold, and cough.
Many of the folklore medicines used for healing lung diseases usually have essential oils (EOs) as the major ingredients in them.
Bronchitis occurs because of inflammation of the mucous membrane in the bronchial tubes of the lung. Bronchitis becomes acute when inflammation causes heavy swelling in bronchial tubes and blocks the free flow of the air (1,2).
When the lungs get infected and swollen, it leads to a nagging cough and thick mucus discharge.
Some of the prominent symptoms of bronchitis are (3):
- Chest congestion
- Wheezing sound while breathing
- A cough that brings up a lot of mucus
- Shortness of breath
- Cold and flu
- Sore throat
Bronchitis may be caused by any of the following reasons (4):
- Virus that cause cold and flu
- Bacterial infection
- Weaker immune system
- Heavy smoking
- Severe heartburn that makes stomach acids to get into bronchial tubes
- Chemical fumes and dust
Do Essential Oils Help In Managing Bronchitis?
There are several essential oils that contain anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. They could certainly be of immense help in managing both acute and chronic bronchitis.
Some essential oils are effective for loosening the mucus and make a cough productive. Decongestion of the throat and lungs is also possible by using some of the essential oils.
EOs for healing bronchitis and asthma are popularly employed in the folklore medicines since the ancient time. Eucalyptus, Lavender, and Peppermint oils are considered to be the best essential oils for managing inflammation of the lining of your bronchial tubes.
There are also many other essential oils that are effective for bronchitis treatment especially when they are used as ingredients in therapeutic oil blends.
If you are suffering from chronic bronchitis and you keep smoking cigarettes or weeds none of the essential oils will work unless you quit smoking.
These oils are basically effective for bronchitis which is caused by microbial infections and inflammations.
Essential Oils For Bronchitis That Work
Any of the essential oils that have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial or antiviral properties are useful for fighting bronchitis and other inflammatory disease affecting the lungs.
Here are the best essential oils and oil blends that may benefit in getting relief from bronchitis.
1. Tea Tree Oil
According to one of the studies published by The Clinical Microbiology Reviews, Melaleuca alternifoliate (Tea Tree) Oil is a traditionally used folklore medicine which has demonstrated appreciable efficacy against bacterial, fungal, or viral infections (5).
Another study which tested several oils against a variety of viruses, bacteria, and fungi have found Tea Tree oil as one of the most effective oils for fighting pathogens that cause infections (6).
Another study by The European Journal Of Dentistry found that Peppermint, Tea Tree and Thyme oils can act as an efficient natural therapy to fight oral pathogens (7).
Tea tree oil may suppress and expel the flu viruses which may cause bronchitis. The anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant properties in Tea Tree Oil can relieve inflammation and prevent damages to bronchial cells.
2. Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil is a commonly used remedy for lungs or throat congestion, flu or cold.
This oil contains menthol, a prominent ingredient usually used in topical rubs like Vicks to relieve congestion.
A 2003 vitro study demonstrated the viral activity of peppermint oil. Menthol is excellent for quickly relieving congestion in the lungs or throat resulting from bronchitis or flu.
The expectorant properties in peppermint oil can help clear symptoms of upper respiratory congestion that may arise from bronchitis, asthma, allergies, cold, or flu.
3. Thyme Oil
According to one of the studies published by The Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal, the oil extract from thyme and clove possess antimicrobial activity against all bacteria and yeast tested (8).
Another study tested the antibacterial activity of Lavender and Thyme against clinical bacterial strains of Staphylococcus, Enterococcus, Escherichia and Pseudomonas genera. The study found that Thyme oil demonstrated significant efficacy against antibiotics resistant strains of the tested bacteria.
Throughout the centuries, natural therapists have made use of thyme oil and extracts to relieve chest and respiratory disorders, coughs, colds, and bronchitis.
Thyme oil contains powerful antibacterial, spasmolytic and antifungal properties which can effectively quell symptoms of bronchitis.
This oil is also popularly used as an effective expectorant which loosens the mucus to expel them from the body.
You can find that many of the cough syrups and cough drops contain thyme extract as a primary ingredient in them.
For best results, you can prepare a blend of thyme and peppermint oils to get fast relief from bronchitis.
Besides the oil, thyme tea is also very useful for managing bronchitis, cold and flu.
4. Rosemary Oil
Rosemary oil is an effective option for achieving quick relief from bronchitis, asthma, whooping cough, or sinus infections.
Aromatherapy with this oil is found to heal the symptoms of bronchitis like inflammation and lung congestion caused by swelling and mucus formation.
A study published in the Journal Molecules in 2013 noted the effectiveness of Rosemary oil in fighting drug-resistant strains of bacteria.
5. Eucalyptus Oil
Some of the studies have suggested that Eucalyptus oil is effective for managing inflammatory diseases like bronchitis because of the 1,8-cineole (Eucalyptol) ingredient contained in it.
In fact, many of the herbal remedies or rubs used for bronchitis, sinusitis, or rheumatism have Eucalyptus oil as an essential ingredient in them.
Eucalyptus oil is also an analgesic and anti-inflammatory solution which works well for healing bronchial infections.
6. Clove Oil
Aqueous and ethanolic are two chemical compounds in clove which have excellent analgesic effects good for managing pain and inflammation (9).
This oil also contains antibacterial and antiviral properties which work great for acute bronchitis with painful coughing.
7. Lavender Oil
Today, Lavender is the most used essential oil in the world because of the several therapeutic properties present in it.
Some of the past researches have recommended the use of lavender oil for managing painful infections and respiratory problems because of its strong anti-inflammatory and analgesic qualities (11).
It can be applied on your chest, throat, back of the neck, or inhaled via steam inhalation or through a vaporizer.
8. Houttuynia Cordata Oil
Houttuynia cordata is a favorite medicinal herb mostly found in South-East Asian countries.
The oil extract from Houttuynia cordata is a Chinese folklore medicine for getting rid of flu virus that causes bronchitis.
This oil also has strong anti-inflammatory properties which may help in removing inflammation in bronchial tubes.
9. Sage Oil
Sage oil, especially the one got from Greece, has anti-bacterial and antiviral effects which may immensely assist in getting rid of the viral infection that causes bronchitis.
This oil is also traditionally used as a natural remedy for getting rid of a sore throat, flu, and cold.
How To Use Essential Oils For Bronchitis
Aromatherapy is the most common way to make use of essential oils for healing acute bronchitis and asthma.
Most of the essential oils are not fit for consuming internally. Ingesting EOs may cause irritations and physical discomfort.
Similarly, essential oils contain powerful natural chemicals in concentrated form which may cause allergy, itching or burns on the skin. Most of the essential oils should be diluted in carrier oils before directly applying them on the skin.
Here are the best ways you can make use of essential oil remedies in managing respiratory issues like bronchitis, asthma, congestion, sore throat, flu or sinusitis.
1. Chest And Back Rub
Doing a chest and back rub with an essential oil blend is one the fastest way to get relief from pain and congestion caused by acute bronchitis.
Performing a warm chest rub with EOs before going to sleep can ease out wheezing, whooping cough, sore throat, and lungs congestion, and chest pain resulting from bronchitis.
Recipe for chest and back rub:
- Lavender oil: 4 drops
- Eucalyptus Oil: 4 drops
- Thyme Oil: 4 drops
- Carrier Oil: 2 teaspoons (use sweet almond/jojoba/avocado oil)
Take the oils in the required amount and mix them together; warm up the oil mixture and use it for massaging the chest and back. It is best to do 30 minutes before you go to sleep; after 30 minutes you can wipe away the excess oil on the skin with cotton linen.
2. Steam Inhalation
Inhalation is one of the effective ways to use essential oils. Inhalation of EOs is part of aromatherapy.
Inhaling EOs can bring fast relief from chest congestion and pain caused by acute bronchitis.
However, children and some adults could find it irritating and allergic to inhaling essential oils. Allergic reactions in the bronchial tubes can aggravate the infection and inflammation. Be sure that the patient is not allergenic to EOs before proceeding with inhalation treatment.
Here are some of the ways to inhale essential oil:
- Take a pot of boiling water and add 3 drops of eucalyptus oil to the water; inhale the vapor steam directly when the heat of steam is bearable to you.
- Make a blend of 3 drops each thyme and lavender oils and inhale its scent directly for a couple of minutes.
- Wet a cotton ball with few drops of lavender oil and inhale the scent emanating from the oil-soaked cotton ball for a few minutes. You can also do the same with peppermint, eucalyptus or thyme oil.
3. Using Oil Diffuser
Diffusing the oil particles in the bedroom with a diffuser is a standard treatment method practiced in aromatherapy.
- Diffuse lavender oil in your bedroom air before you go to sleep
- Make a blend of Tea Tree, Clove, and Myrrh oil by using a few drops of each of them. Diffuse the oil blend with the help of a diffuser in the bedroom or office.
- Use a blend of lavender and marjoram and diffuse it in your bedroom before you go to sleep.
You can also try any other essential oils with anti-inflammatory or antibacterial properties for diffusing. However, avoid using the oils with strong pungent scents for diffusing in the bedroom and office.
4. Ingesting Food Grade Oils
Food grade essential oils that have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties are effective for managing bronchitis.
Lemongrass oil and Spearmint oil are food grade oils with a palatable taste that may inhibit viruses or bacteria that cause bronchitis.
Add one or two drops of food-grade oil to warm tea or water for drinking; repeat the intake 2 or 3 times a day.
5. Chest Compress
Doing cold or warm compresses on the chest is a useful option to relieve the pain and swelling caused by bronchitis.
Add 3 drops each Tea Tree, Eucalyptus and Lavender oils to the water you are going to use for the compress. You may also try other essential oils which are good for relieving inflammations.
Repeat the chest compress treatment 3 or 4 times a day to get fast relief from acute bronchitis.
The Bottom Line
There is no doubt that essential oils are great natural remedies for getting quick relief from acute bronchitis.
To get the best results from EOs, the patient must ensure the following:
- Quit smoking completely
- Do exercises or workouts for 30 minutes daily
- Practice breathing and yoga exercises
- Protect the body from very cold or hot weather conditions
- Stay away from dust and chemical fumes
- Include in your diet foods that boost a healthy immune system
Choose the therapeutic quality essential oils that contain ketones with mucolytics and expectorants properties.
The essential oils you use for bronchitis must also contain antioxidants, anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties.
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