A productive cough is usually the sign of bronchitis. But which is it: acute or chronic? Do you know the difference and what you must do to recover? Fortunately, bronchitis treatment is possible with natural remedies too. Check out what some of the best essential oils for bronchitis are, and how to use them.
In this post, you’ll be reading about:
- The way essential oils can help with respiratory infections.
- The best proven aromatic oils that can deal with respiratory irritation and infection.
- How to use these oils for the best possible results.
- Aromatherapy recipes for respiratory infections to try as soon as you can.
- Details, signs and symptoms of acute and chronic bronchitis. Learn what the difference between them is and how to recognize them. A thorough and accurate medical investigation should help you find an appropriate treatment.
Best Essential Oils for Bronchitis (Pros & Cons), How to Use Them & Recipes
Our respiratory system is very complex. The upper respiratory system consists of many airways that branch out like a tree. The respiratory tract is divided in two:
- Upper respiratory system (nose + pharynx + larynx).
- Lower respiratory system (trachea + bronchi + bronchioles +alveolar duct + alveoli).
Bronchitis is an infection and inflammation of the bronchial tubes. These tubes communicate with the windpipe (trachea), through which it gets the air. The bronchial tubes deliver the oxygen into the lungs. When you have bronchitis, it’s your lower respiratory system that’s affected.
The most common cause of bronchitis (up to 95% cases) is a viral infection. This infection is caused by the same virus that causes a cold or the flu. The bronchial tubes become swollen with inflammation and the breathing becomes harder.
The immune system will produce mucus to get rid of the pathogen. These two are already enough to cause significant coughing bouts and difficult breathing.
Normally, a viral bronchitis takes about 2 weeks to run its course. The first 2 – 3 days however, are the hardest to bear. This is also why many people need to take those days off from work and recuperate at home. More about the signs, symptoms and types of bronchitis, in the last part of the post.
How Can Essential Oils Help with Bronchitis
Aromatherapy is a form of CAM (complementary and alternative medicine). Essential oils have proven to have physiological and psychological effects on humans.
Aromatic oils are great for respiratory infections. They are concentrated steam-distilled plant extracts. Each essence has its own set of benefits and properties.
The plant uses its oil molecules for protection, regeneration and nourishment. When we extract this complex of active molecules, we get natural remedies that can:
- Reduce inflammation.
- Soothe and even stop spasms. Relaxing the smooth muscles of the bronchi can also increase the amount of oxygen intake. Doctors often prescribe bronchodilators, just for this effect.
- Clear out the airways (decongestant effect).
- Help kill the viral pathogen (if that’s the cause).
- Calm down irritation on the windpipe and bronchial tubes.
- Strengthen the immune system.
- Strengthen the soft tissue of the bronchial structures.
- Help you sleep and get all the rest your body needs to recover faster.
- Reduce mucus hypersecretion or at least reduce its viscosity. This way, when you cough, you’ll eliminate a lot of obstructing mucus.
- Relieve pain felt during coughing fits.
In conclusion, you can use essential oils for bronchitis. They can help with that much needed relief and improve your symptoms. This improvement may be felt is as fast as 20 minutes.
That is due to the strong anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect of the oils. Fast results are seen when you inhale/diffuse the oils.
The antimicrobial effect of some oils has proven more effective than antibiotics. They can penetrate the protective biofilm of the pathogen and destroy it.
This way, an antibiotic-resistant pathogen is more susceptible to essential oil treatment. In turn, this leads to using less antibiotics, which we know they can do a lot of damage to the gut flora.
Now, for more specific examples of oils for bronchitis you could use, I’ll be sharing a few very good ones.
Some of the best essential oils for bronchitis are Eucalyptus (radiata), Thyme and Juniper. But there are so many others out there. Check out the list following the pros and cons of the 3 main oils, for more suggestions.
1) Eucalyptus radiata Essential Oil
Botanical name: Eucalyptus radiata.
- This type of Eucalyptus oil is great for bronchitis because it’s very high in cineole. Cineole is also known as eucalyptol.
- Eucalyptus radiata can help relax smooth bronchial muscles and dilate the bronchial tubes. This effect is known as bronchodilator.
- As per one study, cineole can soothe coughing fits in about 4 days.
- It can also help eliminate excess mucus.
- Eucalyptus radiata also has strong antibacterial and antiviral effects. This makes it ideal in preventing and treating a cold or the flu, and bronchitis implicitly.
- The oil can also stimulate the immune system. Plus, it can also calm down inflammation in the bronchial tubes.
- The oil should be used cautiously or with medical advice if you also suffer from asthma.
- Large amounts of Eucalyptus can induce seizures!
- For aromatic diffusion, it’s best to dilute the oil with another milder one. Citrus oils are always a great option.
- There are many types of Eucalyptus oils, so make sure you read their Latin names first. That is the only way of telling which species you’re using.
Why I like it:
Eucalyptus radiata oil is especially good at improving the symptoms of acute bronchitis. It can help you breathe and relax. The oil can refresh and disinfect the air too. I believe Eucalyptus is a must-have during the cold season.
2) Thyme Essential Oil
Botanical name: Thymus vulgaris ct. thymol.
- The main component of this Thyme essential oil is thymol (37-55%). Thymol was found to have very good anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant effects. One study suggested it might be useful in treating acute lung injury.
- Thyme oil also contains a fair amount of carvacrol. Carvacrol was found to have bronchodilating effect.
- It is also antiviral and immune system booster. Thus, a stronger immune system can help your body fight off harmful pathogens.
- It has stimulant effects on the body and mind. This is very useful when dealing with bronchitis.
- Just like Eucalyptus, Thyme also comes in many varieties (chemotypes). Look for the thymol variety for bronchitis.
- Special attention must be paid if you have asthma or seizures.
Why I like it:
If you’re still wondering which essential oils are good for bronchitis, so far, you’ve got Thyme and Eucalyptus. Thyme is also great for digestion or as insect repellent. It can also be used in sauces or other meat dishes.
3) Juniper Berry Essential Oil
Botanical name: Juniperus communis.
- Juniper is one of the best essential oils for chest infection. It was found to have strong antibacterial properties and a broad spectrum of antibiotic effects.
- It also has antioxidant properties. This means it can scavenge for free radicals while your immune system is fighting the infection.
- Juniper berry essential oil for bronchitis can also turn mucus more fluid. It also decongests the blood vessels.
- The oil has antispasmodic and antiviral properties too.
- Juniper oil should not be used if you suffer from certain cancer forms. For example, breast, ovaries, prostate & uterus cancer forms.
- It should not be used if your kidneys are inflamed or you suffer from renal failure.
- Juniper oil for bronchitis should not be used on long-term and in large amounts. It can cause kidney toxicity.
- It must be used cautiously or with medical advice by people with asthma or seizures.
Why I like it:
Juniper oil smells very nice, balsamic and sweet. It makes any bronchitis remedy a pleasure to use/inhale. It’s great to prevent viral infections. Thanks to its antioxidant properties, it’s also great in skin care, among others.
Other great essential oils for bronchitis (chest infection):
- Blue Tansy
- Tea tree
- Balsam Fir
- Lemon Eucalyptus
- Eucalyptus Globulus
- Rosemary (cineole and camphor)
- Sweet Orange
- Green Myrtle
- Red Myrtle
- Black Pepper
If you’re wondering what the best essential oils for upper respiratory infection are, you’ve got plenty. All the essential oils I mentioned can be used. They’re great for both the lower and upper respiratory tract infections.
There are also very common essential oils used for bronchitis. They are Frankincense, Tea Tree, Oregano and Eucalyptus. Do you have any of these oils around right now?
- Always test your essences for allergic reactions. The last thing you’ll need is a windpipe contraction to make matters worse. This reaction is one of the many that can occur during an allergic episode. Apply a small amount on the inside of your forearm and wait for a few hours before using it.
- Avoid the use of Aromatherapy during the first 3 months of pregnancy. The same goes for the first 3 months of breastfeeding.
- Children and elderly people should use essential oils for bronchitis only with medical approval.
If you’re a doTERRA or Young Living fan, you can buy the same oils from them. Providing you trust their products and you’re happy with the quality.
How to Use Essential Oils for Bronchitis
Knowing how to use your oils safely is a big part of an effective treatment. There are two major ways to use to enjoy the full benefits of essential oils for respiratory infections.
This is one of the best ways of inhaling large amounts of active oil molecules. This method ensures you get about 50 – 70% of the oil concentration inside your body. This means the oils will have a faster effect on your respiratory system (approximately 20 minutes).
For Aromatherapy diffusion, you can use:
a) An aroma diffuser. Check out which one to choose and how it works.
b) A cotton pad. Place a few drops on the pad and place it close by while you inhale deeply.
c) A nasal inhaler. Soak the cotton wick inside with your bronchitis oils/blends.
d) Bath or shower bombs.
e) Aromatic baths or showers. Mix a few drops of essential oils for bronchitis with salt for the bathwater. Or place the oil drops directly onto the shower mat. The steam will help diffuse the volatile molecules in both cases.
f) Steam baths. Add a drop or two in boiled water and cover your head with a towel. Inhale deeply for 10 minutes to clear out airways and relieve discomfort. Never get out after a steam bath or you risk getting even sicker.
Topical use of aromatic oils for lower or upper respiratory tract infection is very common and safe. You’ll just have to (always!) dilute your oils with carrier before application.
Some of the best carrier oils for bronchitis should also be anti-inflammatory. You could use Olive oil or Tamanu, Black seed (Nigella), Hemp, etc.
Mix up to 20 drops of essential oil per Oz carrier. Apply on areas like the chest, back of the neck, behind the ears and solar plexus.
If you experience nausea, short breath or other uncommon symptoms, stop using the oils. Go to the doctor immediately. Also, if your condition doesn’t get better within a week, you should also go see your doctor.
Essential Oil Recipes for Bronchitis Relief
Now you know which aromatic oils are good for bronchitis and why. But how do you get rid of bronchitis naturally, right? You can do so by using and diffusing Aromatherapy oils regularly. This doesn’t mean you can overreact and use them excessively.
The oil molecules can linger for a very long time and can saturate the air. This can lead to headaches and nausea, among others. It is recommended to keep the room well-ventilated during and after diffusion.
I’ve compiled a small list of therapeutic recipes for you to try next. Choose whichever you like or can make and start feeling better.
Essential Oil Diffuser Recipe for Bronchitis
- Eucalyptus radiata essential oil: 10 drops
- Pine essential oil: 10 drops
- Lime essential oil: 10 drops
Anti-Cough and Congestion Nasal Inhaler Recipe
- Blank nasal inhaler
- Thyme essential oil: 2 drops
- Peppermint essential oil: 2 drops
Essential Oil Recipe for Acute Bronchitis
- Eucalyptus radiata oil: 8 drops
- Juniper berry oil: 8 drops
- Carrier oil: 1 Oz (30ml)
Apply on the chest and solar plexus, 3 times a day for 5 continuous days.
Essential Oil Recipe for Chronic Bronchitis
- Eucalyptus globulus essential oil: 8 drops
- Cypress essential oil: 8 drops
- Carrier oil: 1 Oz (30ml)
Follow the same application guidelines as for the previous recipe. However, this type of bronchitis might need a long-term treatment. If such is the case, you’ll have to consult with your doctor too.
Acute & Chronic Bronchitis Signs & Symptoms, plus Precautions
I was telling you that there are two types of bronchitis. The bronchial and windpipes can become irritated and inflamed. Viruses or constant exposure to irritants are usually the cause.
Acute Bronchitis Signs & Symptoms
- It’s an inflammation of the lower respiratory tract caused by the same virus that causes the flu or colds.
- It often looks like a cold or the flu.
- It’s very common and usually appears in the fall and winter.
- You may experience mild fever and pain (burning sensation) in the thorax.
- Dry cough is also a symptom of acute bronchitis. This cough becomes thick and colored upon elimination.
- In a healthy adult, 14 – 15 days are usually necessary for the infection to run its course. Some coughing and residual mucus may linger for a few more weeks though.
- In older people, newborns and young children, acute bronchitis may cause respiratory failure. People with asthma or chronic bronchitis are also at risk.
Some of the best essential oils for acute bronchitis are antispasmodic and antitussive. They’re also bronchodilators, anti-inflammatory and analgesic.
Chronic Bronchitis Signs & Symptoms
- A bronchitis is called chronic if it causes coughing and mucus elimination for at least 3 months a year, for 2 continuous years.
- It’s usually caused by external irritants like pollution and/or smoking.
- One of the complications of chronic bronchitis is called COPD. The letters stand for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
- The symptoms are like those of an acute bronchitis, with coughing and phlegm.
- Long-term exposure to cigarette smoke and/or pollution can damage the soft tissue that lines the respiratory organs. In time, that lining becomes thicker and the soft muscle tissue degenerates.
- There’s also a hypersecretion of mucus.
- The first step towards healing in this case, is to eliminate the irritant.
Are you wondering whether acute bronchitis can turn into pneumonia? It seems that left untreated, acute bronchitis can indeed lead to pneumonia. It’s the virus that causes both lung problems.
In pneumonia, it’s the alveoli (tiny air sacs) that get inflamed. In acute bronchitis, the bronchial tubes are affected, and they also go through the lungs.
Bronchitis and asthma are not one and the same. However, acute bronchitis patients can sometimes develop asthma. Asthmatic people are also more prone to suffer from acute bronchitis.
People with asthma must usually be very careful when using essential oils. It’s quite difficult to distinguish between asthma and acute bronchitis.
Safety Tips for Safe Bronchitis Relief
Everyone who wants to improve their bronchitis symptoms with essential oils, should take a few safety precautions. They are natural extracts, with a lot of power.
If they’re improperly used, aromatic oils can aggravate bronchitis (acute & chronic). Check out these next safety tips to avoid unnecessary health complications:
- Always start by testing each new bottle of oil for allergic reactions.
- Essential oils for bronchitis can be used as complementary medicine too. Along with prescribed medicines, you can also use Aromatherapy. It’s especially useful for sleep and an immune system boost.
- Go to the doctor for a clear diagnosis before using any natural remedy. If your symptoms don’t go away in a couple of weeks or they get worse, is also reason for a checkup.
- If you notice dark colored or bloody mucus, see your doctor immediately!
- Try not to use more than 3 essential oils for your bronchitis. Otherwise, you risk overwhelming your upper respiratory tract.
- Avoid using the oils in excess.
- Avoid treating young children under the age of 7 with essential oils. Medical approval is necessary with them and aged persons.
- Make sure it’s ok to use oils with your medication. Some essences interact with certain drugs and render them useless, or vice-versa.
Acute and chronic bronchitis are both respiratory problems that need medical attention. Left untreated, they can lead to more serious complications. Luckily though, we have some natural alternatives or complementary remedies to use.
Using essential oils for bronchitis can alleviate and improve your symptoms considerably. The oils can calm down coughing fits and speed up mucus elimination, among others. Have you ever tried getting natural relief with aromatic oils?