Bronchitis is the inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes (airways).
Acute bronchitis, also known as a chest cold, is usually caused by a viral respiratory infection.
Irritation of your airways can last two weeks or sometimes several weeks.
Chronic bronchitis is constant inflammation and irritation of the airways.
Symptoms of bronchitis include coughing up mucus, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
If a viral infection causes your bronchitis, the course of treatment is usually over-the-counter remedies like flu syrups and cough drops.
You can also try natural remedies like essential oils to alleviate symptoms.
Essential Oils As A Natural Remedy For Respiratory System Issues
Essential oils (EOs) are very concentrated plant essences that contain many healing and medicinal properties.
EOs can be extracted from tree bark and resin, roots, leaves, stems, fruits, nuts, seeds, and flowers.
The use of essential oils is popular in many healing disciplines like traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda.
In the West, the therapeutic use of EOs is called aromatherapy.
Research shows that certain essential oils can help with respiratory problems:
- Boosting the immune system
- Decreasing inflammation
- Treating the common cold and coughs
- Sinus infections
- Sore throats
- Cold sores
If you’re looking to use essential oils for bronchitis you’ll want to use oils that have the following properties:
- Expectorant – To loosen mucus to cough it out.
- Antitussive – Suppresses the cough reflex.
- Decongestant – to reduce congestion/mucus in the upper respiratory tract.
- Anti-inflammatory – To soothe the airways.
- Antibacterial – To prevent bacterial growth or infection (especially respiratory infections)
- Antiviral – To prevent viral growth or infection (especially respiratory infections)
- Pain-relieving – This can relieve sore throat and achiness.
The Best Essential Oils for Bronchitis
Peppermint oil (Mentha piperita)
Menthol, the main active chemical in peppermint essential oil is known to reduce cough. (1)
Menthol gives peppermint oil its cooling sensation, which can help alleviate soreness from chronic coughing.
Peppermint oil can calm bronchial muscle contractions, which can reduce coughing. (2)
Eucalyptus oil (Eucalyptus globulus, radiata)
Eucalyptus essential oil is a well-known cough suppressor thanks to its high content of a chemical called cineole. (1)
Eucalyptus also has a soothing, cooling sensation that relieves soreness and discomfort.
This oil’s vapors open the sinus and nasal passages, which can deepen breathing, especially in those experiencing sinusitis.
Rosemary oil (Rosemarinus officinalis)
Rosemary essential oil also contains cineole, which makes it an excellent expectorant and decongestant.
A 2013 clinical trial found that cineole was a useful option in treating acute bronchitis because it significantly reduced coughing after just four days. (3)
Tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)
Tea tree essential oil has been used medicinally by Australia’s Aboriginal people for hundreds of years.
Aborigines crush tea tree leaves and inhaled them to treat respiratory, colds, and coughs.
Today, tea tree is considered an active antimicrobial agent that can protect against viral, fungal, and bacterial infections. (4)
Like eucalyptus, tea tree oil’s vapors open the sinus and nasal passages, reducing respiratory problems.
Others that may also be beneficial:
- Camphor essential oil
- Cinnamon essential oil
- Frankincense oil
- Geranium oil
- Sandalwood oil
- Cedarwood oil
- Bergamot oil
- Clove oil
Although the safe and mindful use of EOs usually brings little to no side effects, it’s best to proceed with caution, especially for respiratory conditions like bronchitis.
Using an essential oil diffuser can sometimes irritate airways.
Only use the highest-quality, certified organic, therapeutic grade EOs to get the full medicinal benefits.
Unfortunately, most oil products on the market are either diluted or contaminated with toxic chemicals, pesticides, and solvents that can make symptoms worse.
Consult with your health care provider before using any oils for bronchitis.
It’s also wise to know the contraindications for each oil you’ll use as many EOs aren’t suitable for babies, young children, pregnant women, and people with conditions like high blood pressure and epilepsy.
How To Use EOs for Bronchitis
You can use EOs topically by applying them to your chest and neck area.
Always dilute EOs with a carrier oil like coconut oil or jojoba oil.
As a general rule use 2-3 drops of EO per 1 teaspoon of carrier oil.
You can also use EOs for steam inhalation.
Use the guidelines below.
DIY Essential Oil Blends For Respiratory Conditions
- ¼ cup cacao butter (carrier oil)
- ¼ cup coconut oil (carrier oil)
- 15 drops Eucalyptus essential oil
- 15 drops Peppermint essential oil
- 10 drops Tea tree oil
- 10 drops Rosemary oil
- 5 drops Frankincense
- Slightly melt cacao butter and coconut oil in a small pot.
- Add all EOs and stir well.
- Transfer mixture to small jars or any airtight container with a lid.
- Allow to fully cool off before topically applying to the chest and back as needed.
- Note: Do not apply to nostrils or any area with mucous membranes.
- Pro tip: For a less-fuss, on-the-go application you can add the mixture to empty lip balm containers and apply directly.
Another option is to use steam inhalation therapy to get the oils’ vapors deep into your nasal passages, throat, chest, and upper respiratory tract.
- 2 drops Eucalyptus
- 2 drops Tea tree
- 2 drops Peppermint
- 2 drops Rosemary
- Fill a large bowl or pot with boiling water. (Hot water is also fine, just make sure it’s steaming.)
- Add the essential oils listed above.
- Place a towel or blanket over you to contain the steam.
- Take deep, slow inhales.