Essential oils have found their place in the pages of history—be it for medicinal, aromatic or cosmetic use. Plant parts like leaves, barks, resin, roots, seeds, and flowers are the natural sources from which these oils are extracted. Many essential oils possess strong antimicrobial properties, due to which they have been found effective even against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Bronchitis is a respiratory disease, caused by a bacterial or viral infection in most cases apart from air pollution, dust and smoking. The infection causes inflammation in the airways inside the lungs. People suffering from bronchitis complain of breathlessness, coughing up sputum, and wheezing.
Clearing excess phlegm from the airways can provide relief from chest discomfort. Essential oils have properties of an expectorant that can help with respiratory tract problems associated with bronchitis, for instance, congestion due to excessive phlegm and persistent cough.
Essential Oils For Treating Bronchitis
Here are a few essential oils, which can help treat the symptoms associated with bronchitis with their strong antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
1. Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Eucalyptus oil inhibits the growth of bacteria causing respiratory diseases like bronchitis. This can be attributed to a chemical compound called 1,8-cineole that is shown to produce an inhibitory effect against bacteria and is effective in reducing inflammation in patients with bronchial asthma.
How To Use
- Use a humidifier or a diffuser by adding eucalyptus oil to it. Do not inhale directly. Take a soothing hot water bath by mixing a few drops in your bathtub. Never use the oil directly, even if you are mixing it in a tub full of water. Always dilute it with a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba oil.
- Dilute 10 drops of eucalyptus oil with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil (carrier oil). Use the mixture for a massage to get relief from bronchitis symptoms. Put 10 drops of the oil in a bowl of steaming hot water, and breath in the aroma from the air.
- Eucalyptus oil can be poisonous if ingested.
- People with asthma must use oils high in 1,8-cineole with caution. Eucalyptus oil may cause irritation among patients suffering from acute asthma.
2. Rosemary Essential Oil
Rosemary is known to show positive effects on patients suffering from chronic bronchitis. It is one of the recommended oils to ease the symptoms associated with severe bronchitis. Symptoms like wheezing and painful breathing can be attended to with a soothing rosemary oil massage in combination with other essential oils.
How To Use:
- To overcome wheezing due to bronchitis, a combination of rosemary oil (10 drops), eucalyptus oil (15 drops) and hyssop oil (5 drops), diluted with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil can do wonders.
- Mix the oils in a bowl of hot water and inhale the steam for five minutes. Cover your head with the towel, and keep your eyes closed to avoid irritation or sensitivity.
- You can even massage your chest and neck with the solution.
Caution: Rosemary is not recommended to be used for children under the age of 18 as its effects haven’t been studied well for the age group.
3. Tea Tree Essential Oil
Bronchitis can be an outcome of both a bacterial and a viral infection. Tea tree finds its use as an essential oil with its strong antibacterial properties. The vapor form of the oil has significantly shown antibacterial activity against pathogens, which are responsible for respiratory tract infections. Using the oil in a humidifier or diffuser after mixing with a carrier oil also helps relieve coughing and excess mucus caused due to bronchitis.
How To Use:
Massage therapy can provide relief if bronchitis is caused by a notorious virus.
- You would require 5 drops of tea tree oil. Dilute it with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Apply drop by drop, and not in bulk. Massage with the mixture twice daily.
- You can even make a mixture of tea tree oil (5 drops), red thyme oil (10 drops) and chamomile oil (7 drops). Add only 3 drops of the solution into a diffuser or a hot-water bowl and breathe in the aroma from the air.
Avoid any direct inhalation.
4. Thyme Essential Oil
The use of thyme oil (red, wild and geraniol) in traditional medicine is well known, especially in relieving treating of respiratory tract infections like bronchitis. It is known to have strong efficacy in suppressing the pathogens causing respiratory tract infections including Streptococcus pneumoniae, which is responsible for prolonged bronchitis.
How To Use:
A chest rub of thyme oil (3-6 drops) along with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil is known to provide relief by thinning the mucus and preventing bronchial spasms.
Note: Avoid using thyme oil if you are on blood-thinning medicines like aspirin as it increases the risk of bleeding. The oil can be toxic if ingested.
5. Black Pepper Essential Oil
Apart from being a widely-used spice, black pepper is known for treating congestion, cough, cold, and flu-related symptoms. It is a natural expectorant and known to relieve respiratory tract infections, which can be attributed to its antimicrobial activity.
How To Use:
Mix black pepper oil with refreshing and relaxing oils like lavender or juniper oil, and use a few drops of the combination in a hot tub bath to get relief from cold and cough.
5. Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender oil has been found to have positive effects on patients with chronic bronchitis. It is one of those gentle oils that is considered safe for children. But, it is still advisable to consult your doctor before using it for your kids.
How To Use:
Massage therapy with lavender oil can help relieve symptoms like bronchial congestion. Using a combination of oils may prove beneficial.
Children under the age of five can be massaged with a combination of lavender oil (10 drops), eucalyptus oil (10 drops) and tea tree oil (10 drops) diluted with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
Caution: Do not to ingest lavender oil as its direct consumption can be toxic.
7. Other Essential Oils
Oils like cardamom, fir, myrrh, and pine can relieve you from symptoms like chest congestion and excessive phlegm.
How To Use:
It is necessary to use these oils after diluting them with a carrier oil. Breathe the aroma through the air by adding a few drops to a diffuser or humidifier. A warm bath with the mixture can also help relieve the symptoms.
Note: Never combine your essential oils with antibiotic doses. Some oils can complement the antibiotic, others can actually nullify their effect. It is important that you talk to your doctor in case you are on medication for bronchitis—we still suggest not to mix antibiotics and essential oils.
Usage Of Essential Oils
There are various methods to use these oils effectively. Now that you know which oils to choose, here is how you can use them to treat bronchitis.
Inhalation Through Steaming
Steaming is an effective way to clear your chest and sinus congestion. Prepare a bowl of hot water—add 5-6 drops of the oil or a combination of oils of your choice. Cover your head and shoulders with a towel, and inhale the fumes deeply by leaning over the bowl. Keep breathing for at least 5 minutes—repeat it twice in a day. You can even add 10 or more drops of the oil in your bath tub, and breathe in the vapors while taking bath.
Chest And Back Rubs
Chest and back rub not only guarantees a peaceful sleep but also relieves you from the excessive coughing and phlegm build-up. It is necessary to dilute the essential oils with a carrier oil like avocado, coconut or jojoba oil.
If you don’t prefer rubbing oil on your skin, make your own chest compress. Take a bucket or a container of hot water—add 10 drops of essential oil, and mix a tablespoon of a base oil like coconut oil. Dip a large towel or two small towels in the mixture, and wrap it around your chest and back. Make sure your towels stay warm.
If you have a diffuser machine, mix equal amounts of tea tree, clove, and myrrh oil and let it diffuse through your bedroom during the day. For the night, you can use scented oils like lavender and marjoram, which will give you a good night’s sleep.
Note: Do not use an essential oil by directly putting it in a diffuser. Always dilute it with a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba oil, especially in a baby’s room. Avoid natural looking porous-clay type diffuser in your child’s or baby’s room.
How To Store Your Essential Oils
In order to retain the freshness and efficacy of your essential oil, store it away from sunlight and heat. Keep your oil or combination of oils in dark colored bottles, in a cool and dry place. Do not keep them in damp places like your bathroom. Essential oils are affected by the oxygen in the air and evaporate easily. Never leave your essential oil uncapped. Don’t touch the opening of the bottle of your essential oil, instead, let is drip as per your usage. A properly used and safely stored essential oil can stay for as long as a year.
Over 40% of the smokers develop bronchitis in their lifetime. No treatment will be effective if you are a smoker and suffering from bronchitis.
Essential oils provide a lot of relief from bronchitis-related symptoms and, in many cases, help treat the disease completely. However, if your bronchitis is not showing any signs of improvement and acute symptoms still persist, you must seek proper medical care including diagnosis and medication.