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Essential Oils for Bronchitis

Updated on July 2, 2016
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Trained in dentistry, Sree is currently pursuing lab sciences. She loves researching and sharing information on various health topics.

How to Treat Bronchitis with Essential Oil

Have you just been diagnosed with bronchitis? If you have, it is important for you to take the necessary steps toward its treatment as soon as possible. Naturally, your first priority should always be to follow your doctor's orders (you could, however, seek a second opinion in case you want to be absolutely certain about the medications your doctor has prescribed).

Aside from medical treatment, you should also help your body heal itself by applying safe and natural healing methods. One of these clinically proven natural remedies is the use of essential oils for bronchitis.

But first, let's discuss some more about your medical condition.

What is Bronchitis?
Bronchitis is a respiratory disease in which the membranes that line the bronchial tubes, or the tubes that carry air into the lungs, become inflamed. Its common symptoms are coughing, excess production of phlegm (which may be clear, white, yellowish or greenish), difficulty in breathing, and chest pain. Often, a person suffering from bronchitis would suffer from chills, fever, and fatigue.

There are two forms of bronchitis: acute and chronic. Acute bronchitis is when the person has been suffering from it for one to three weeks. However, if the person has been suffering from bronchitis that lasts for at least three months in the past two consecutive years (if not longer), then the disease is diagnosed as chronic. While both cases should be taken seriously, the latter requires regular medical treatment and some lifestyle changes to help manage the disease.

What Causes Bronchitis?
Several factors that cause bronchitis, but the most prevalent of them all is heavy smoking. This is because the smoke weakens and damages the cilia, small hair-like structures in the lungs that protect them from foreign matter and excess phlegm. If the cilia is damaged, the lungs become more susceptible to viral or bacterial infection, which would then lead to bronchitis.

Industrial air pollution is another cause of bronchitis, which is why many of those who work in grain mills, coal mines, and the metal molding industry suffer from chronic bronchitis.

Besides these two main causes, bronchitis can also be triggered by chronic infection, chronic allergic inflammation, postnasal drip, and gastro esophageal reflux disease or GERD.

If left untreated, bronchitis will lead to even more serious diseases such as pulmonary emphysema, which is marked by the damaged swollen air sacs of the lungs.

Why Essential Oils are used for Bronchitis? How to Use it?
Why Essential Oils are used for Bronchitis? How to Use it? | Source

Why Essential Oils are used for Bronchitis

For many years, medical professionals and laymen alike turn to essential oils for the treatment of cough and other respiratory infections. What makes some of these essential oils highly effective is the fact that they act as expectorants; they have properties that prompt you to cough up the phlegm. Some essential oils also are naturally mucolytic, or that they are able to “loosen up” or dilute the phlegm to make it easier for you to cough it up. The third benefit is that they are anti-inflammatory, which helps ease the pain caused by the inflammation in the mucus membrane. Certain essential oils even have antibacterial properties, meaning they can help fight the bacteria that has been causing the infection.

As you can see, different essential oils offer different effects, which is why they are often used in conjunction to get the best results.

The standard way of using essential oils for bronchitis is by inhaling their vapor, such as in the form of steam inhalation or through the use of a packet, patch, or inhaler.

In more serious cases of bronchitis, a licensed professional may even insert an essential oil suppository into the rectum so that the abdominal veins can directly absorb it and let it affect the lower bronchial capillaries.
Before we move on to the use of essential oils for bronchitis, here's a quick question for you: Which of the following is the best among these essential oils for bronchitis?

  1. Spike lavender.
  2. Peppermint.
  3. Roman Chamomile.
  4. Tea tree.

To find out what the answer is, go ahead and read on.

The Best Essential Oils for Bronchitis

One exploratory study led by an aromatherapy student of R.J. Buckle (published in the 1997 issue of the journal J Alt Complementary Medicine) revealed that spike lavender can cause tremendous relief and help in the treatment of chronic bronchitis in forty participants. In the study, the researcher prepared bowls of hot water and then added two drops of spike lavender into them. The participants were then tasked to inhale the vapor from the bowls. Not long after, all of the participants experienced having clearer airways that lasted between 2o to 120 minutes. What is even more interesting is that many of the participants who had been taking antibiotics each year did not need to anymore because of the effects of this remedy.

Now, going back to the multiple choice question earlier, the answer to that is Spike Lavender. Of course, it does not mean that the other essential oils are not helpful in the treatment of bronchitis. In fact, it is best for you to combine a variety of these essential oils so that you can reap their individual benefits.

Take a look at the following table, which breaks down all of the essential oils that are clinically proven to treat the different symptoms associated with bronchitis:

Symptoms Associated with Bronchitis
The Best Essential Oils
Chronic bronchitis
Spike lavender (Lavandula latifolia)
Asthma - Respiratory disorder caused by allergens and marked by a wheezing cough.
Spike Lavender, Frankincense (Boswellia sacra)
Cystic fibrosis - A congenital disease, commonly in children, in which the lungs are clogged by thick phlegm.
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus)
Sinusitis - Inflammation of a paranasal sinus; symptoms are coughing, earache, jaw pain, a stuffy nose with discharge, and pain and/or swelling in certain areas along the face.
Spike Lavender; Eucalyptus; Peppermint (Mentha Piperita); Ravensara (Ravansara aromatica); Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris); Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis)
Chest Infection - The main symptoms of a chest infection are chest pain, high fever, a persistent cough with green or yellow phlegm, shallow breathing, and nausea.
Rhinitis - Commonly referred to as “hay fever”; the inflammation of the mucous membrane of the nose; accompanied by coughing, sneezing, a runny and itchy nose, a sore throat, and watery eyes.
Eucalyptus; Ravensara; Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
Seasonal Rhinitis - Chronic rhinitis experienced during certain months in the year
Spike Lavender; Frankincense; Peppermint; Eucalyptus
Chest Congestion - Accumulation of phlegm in the lungs characterized by coughing, tenderness and pain in the chest
Tea tree; Eucalyptus
The Best Essential Oils for Bronchitis
The Best Essential Oils for Bronchitis | Source

Now, here is a closer look at each essential oil and their benefits.

  1. Spike Lavender: Spike lavender is a Mediterranean plant that yields pale purple flowers from which the essential oil is extracted. It has a fresh, floral and herbaceous scent with the strong influence of camphor. The oil is best applied through steam inhalation as an expectorant and pain reliever, especially for headaches.
  2. Frankincense : This aromatic gum resin is derived from the milky white sap found in a variety of East African or Arabian trees. Its essential oil is characterized by an earthy, woody, and spicy scent. The oil can be applied through steam inhalation or with a vaporizer to help break up phlegm deposits and relieve congestion most associated with asthma.
  3. Eucalyptus : The oil from the leaves of the tall timber tree called Eucalyptus globulus has clinically proven medicinal properties. The scent is described as fresh and penetrating, and the oil is in fact found in many mouth wash products. Through steam inhalation, eucalyptus can help soothe the symptoms associated with sinusitis.
  4. Peppermint : The peppermint herb produces tiny white or purple flowers and downy leaves from which is extracted a strong and sharp oil. Through steam inhalation or spray solution, it can immediately relieve upper respiratory ailment symptoms. Also, food grade peppermint oil can be consumed in prescribed portions to obtain not just healing but also nourishing properties for it contains phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
  5. Ravensara : Ravenasara is a rainforest tree found in Madagascar and its essential oil has many healing benefits that can help treat bronchitis. Its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, in particular, can significantly inhibit the growth of bacterial infection in the lungs. It also has components such as methyl eugenol and limonene that are known for killing the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, which causes inflammation and fever.
  6. Scots Pine : Pine needles are collected from the Eurasian scots pine tree to extract the essential oil. The scent is described as strong, forest-like, and dry, similar to balsam or even a bit like turpentine. Aside from being used in steam inhalation it can also be added to a warm bath to help relieve pain caused by congestion in the respiratory tract and sinuses.
  7. Roman Chamomile : This essential oil is extracted from the Chamomile plant's flowers and its scent can be described as almost sweet, fruity, and herbaceous. A few drops of this into a basin full of hot water will create the perfect steam for inhalation. It is antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial, to name a few of its benefits, which makes it a perfect choice for sinusitis in particular and bronchitis in general.
  8. Tea Tree : Tea tree oil is extracted from the leaves of the Australian tea tree plant. This popular oil is not only used to help treat bronchitis but also acne and other skin infections. It has a pleasant, minty, and floral scent. Through steam inhalation, you can reap the antibacterial and antiviral properties of this oil. Instant relief may also be felt as it relieves congestion and soothe inflamed bronchial passages. However, males who have not yet reached puberty should avoid using this essential oil as it has hormonal side effects that can cause prepubertal gynecomastia.

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How to Use Essential Oils

There are two best ways of using essential oils for the treatment of bronchitis. These are: steam inhalation and nightly chest and back rub.

Steam Inhalation: Steam inhalation is best done two to three times daily, especially during times when you tend to overproduce phlegm. Here are the steps on how to easily create steam inhalation. You will need: a large towel, freshly boiled water, a heatproof basin, and essential oil.

Step 1: Pour freshly boiled water into the basin, then add one drop of essential oil.

Step 2: Position your head above the hot basin, then cover your head with the blanket so as to "tent in" the steam.

Step 3: Inhale the steam for about 5 minutes.

Nightly Chest and Back Rub: Instant relief and comfort can be felt by rubbing essential oil on your chest and back each night. However, make sure to choose an essential oil that is approved for topical application before you apply it on your skin. It is also best to do a skin patch before you do, so that you check whether you are allergic to the oil or not.

To create your own diluted essential oil rub for the chest and back, follow these steps:

Step 1: Choose a carrier oil. You can use any of the following (make sure to do a skin patch test first):

  • Olive oil
  • Jojoba oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Cocoa butter
  • Shea butter

Step 2: Pour the carrier oil into a sterilized container with an airtight seal. Make sure to note the number of ounces.

Step 3: Stir in the recommended number of drops:

  • For babies, pre-pubescent children and adults with sensitive skin: 0.5 to 1 percent dilution or 3 to 6 drops of essential oil per oz. of carrier oil
  • For adults: 2.5 to 3 percent dilution or 15 to 20 drops of essential oil per oz. of carrier oil

Once your oil is ready, rub it gently against your skin. You can even place a warm, dry towel on top of your chest and back afterward to seal in the effects of the oil.


Pregnant and lactating women, children, and those who are taking any sort of medication should get doctor’s approval first before introducing any substance into the body so as to avoid irreversible outcomes.

If you are to use high quality, FDA-approved essential oils, you should not worry about any adverse side effects. Nevertheless, you should not overlook the prescribed dosage and other important instructions given by the manufacturer.


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