Numerous studies show that certain essential oils may ease respiratory symptoms from allergies, pollution, a cough, or cold by soothing the throat, fighting bacteria, acting as a decongestant, increasing expectoration, and soothing inflamed mucous membranes.
Essential oils like eucalyptus, rosemary, and peppermint are historically known to help to clear and strengthen the respiratory tract, assisting the body in fighting off colds and other airborne diseases.
The respiratory tract has a thin, moist lining called the mucus membrane, which can become inflamed as a result of infection or allergic reactions. Swelling of the affected membrane narrows the nasal passages and makes breathing more difficult. Sometimes, secondary infections, such as sinusitis and bronchitis may also develop. Certain essential oils will help to reduce inflammation and loosen mucus; others have strong antiseptic properties that may help fight infection. Aromatherapy for Common Ailments by Shirley Price
The corona virus pandemic has created space for a deep dive into my herbal studies and inspired new formulations from my apothecary -- and the plants growing in the surrounding wild lands -- with the fundamental motivating question being --- "How can I help?"
The desire to help support the collective wellness in the midst of the Covid-19 global crisis has empowered my creativity, culminating in a whole new line of holistic wellness products called the Immunity Collection.
Creating a new product always starts with a ton of research, but as I began compiling data for a Respiratory Support Essential Oil Blend, I realized that I needed to share this information with you in depth.
I'm not a doctor and statements made in this article haven't been reviewed or approved by the FDA, so this information should not be considered medical advice, nor is it intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any illness or disease.
This is simply my research, and it is my personal opinion that incorporating these essential oils into your wellness routine could be an ally to your health, if done so thoughtfully.
I've written it sort of like a term paper for you with supporting links to medical journals, some of my very favorite reference books on essential oils, and the immune boosting wellness products that we make with these oils.
Essential oils not only smell like the plants they're made from, they're an ultra-pure, highly concentrated extract of phyto-chemicals and aroma compounds. Learn more in our article Essential Oils vs Fragrance Oils.
How Can Essential Oils Enhance Respiratory Health?
There are a group of essential oils which contain therapeutic aroma compounds called monoterpenes, specifically 1,8-cineole, d-limonene, and alpha-pinene. Various studies show that the essential oils that contain these aroma chemicals promote respiratory health. In addition, monoterpenes are effective in treating early and advanced cancers. (Environmental Health Perspectives)
1,8-cineole is a natural monoterpene, also known as eucalyptol. It is a major compound of many plant essential oils, mainly extracted from Eucalyptus globulus oil. As an isolated compound, 1,8-cineole is known for its mucolytic and spasmolytic action on the respiratory tract, with proven clinical efficacy. - US National Library of Medicine.
Some of the essential oils that contain 1,8 cineole are eucalyptus globulous, eucaplytus radiata, tea tree, rosemary, basil, sage, laurel, ravintsara, fragonia, saro, cajeput, niaouli, peppermint, lavender, and more.
1,8 cineole is a remarkable chemical component offering strong therapeutic properties that have been well researched. It has strong healing potential. These properties suggest that using these oils during a cold or flu would help reduce pain, mucus and headaches. They also help kill bacteria and viruses. They can reduce swelling (great for sinus infections), muscle spasms, and spastic coughing. Aromahead Institute
Just like any other substance you might consider to be a health supplement or natural remedy, essential oils do need to be used with caution, properly diluted, and the delivery method be thoughtfully chosen. Because we are talking about the respiratory tract, we need to remember that undiluted essential oils are never to be used on the mucous membranes.
Eucalyptus is one of the oldest native medicines used in Australia. It has an overall cooling effect on the body which is useful in reducing fevers. A study published in the Alternative Medicine Review found that eucalyptol, the main component of Eucalyptus globulus, has antimicrobial properties and may fight off germs that cause illness.
Additionally breathing eucalyptus vapor may help break up mucus, reduce inflammation, relieve pain, easing headaches and muscle tension that can result from a cold or flu. Many over-the-counter vapor or chest rubs marketed to suppress coughs list eucalyptus globulus oil as an active medicinal ingredient. (US National Library of Medicine, Advanced Aromatherapy by Kurt Schnaubelt, Ph.D., Aromatherapy for Common Ailments by Shirley Price)
Studies show that using a 2% dilution of eucalyptus globulous oil and water in a spray bottle will kill 70% of airborne staph bacteria. Aromatherapy - A Complete Guide to the Healing Art by Kathi Keville + Mindy Green
Rosemary promotes healthy respiratory function, especially relating to congestion caused by a cold or the flu. Rosemary is also beneficial for improving sleep quality and reducing anxiety levels. It's helpful in relieving minor pain and inflammation, especially relating to stressed out and tense muscles.
Essential oil of rosemary is noted for its strongly antiseptic and stimulating properties. It is also a gentle analgesic and regulator that helps balance body and mind... and helps to relieve headaches, migraines, and general fatigue. Antiseptic and antispasmodic; relieves coughs, colds, and flu. Used in inhalations, compresses, or massage. Aromatherapy for Common Ailments by Shirley Price
The scent of Peppermint is clean, camphorous, minty, and fresh. It's main phytochemical component is menthol which creates a cooling sensation when inhaled that can soothe or numb a scratchy throat when inhaled. (Essential Aromatherapy by Susan Worwood + Valerie Ann Worwood)
Essential oil of peppermint promotes overall physical and emotional wellbeing... [It is] stimulating and strengthening; uplifts the system... Antiseptic and antispasmodic; effective in reducing mucus, and relieving coughs, sinusitis, throat infections, colds, flu, asthma, and bronchitis. Used in inhalations, baths, or [topical] application. Aromatherapy for Common Ailments by Shirley Price
White Fir is known in European folklore for it's medicinal virtues and fragrant scent. It's traditionally used for respiratory complaints, including colds, fever, and flu, as well as muscular and rheumatic pain. Diffusing white fir essential oil works to eliminate bacteria in the air throughout your home.
The antioxidants and active compounds in white fir essential oil may help to soothe respiratory infections by easing swelling (inflammation) of the main airways in the lungs. White fir is commonly found in cough and cold remedies, and also in treatments for arthritis and muscular aches and pains. (The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils by Julia Lawless)
White fir soothes muscle and rheumatism pain, increases poor circulation, inhibits bronchial infections, and reduces asthma and coughing. It's sometimes used for skin infections.
Fir combines the senses of being both grounded and elevated. It increases intuition, and releases energy and emotional blocks. Aromatherapy - A Complete Guide to the Healing Art by Kathi Keville + Mindy Green
Lemon's bright, fresh, and zesty scent can brighten a space along with it's cleansing and purifying properties. Lemon essential oil is known to reduce bacteria levels and help purify minor infections as well as reduce pain and inflammation. Lemon has a calming effect that can help dispel negative emotions, lift a cloud of depression, or ease emotional tension. (Advanced Aromatherapy by Kurt Schnaubelt, Ph.D.)
Inhale the refreshing scent to maintain health and as a supplement to conventional medical treatment. Visualize its energies strengthening the body. In case of illness, see the fragrance fighting off the infection. For wounds, visualize the aroma encouraging cell growth and the resultant healing. Magical Aromatherapy: the Power of Scent by Scott Cunningham
Frankincense is traditionally valued for its immune strengthening capabilities and beneficial effects on the respiratory system. It has been used to treat coughs, inflammation of the respiratory tract, excess mucus, bronchitis, and asthma. (US National Library of Medicine, Advanced Aromatherapy by Kurt Schnaubelt, Ph.D.)
Frankincense is antiseptic and anti-inflammatory to the lungs... Frankincense fortifies and soothes the spirit as it slows and deepens breathing. It is said to release past links and subconscious stress. Aromatherapy - A Complete Guide to the Healing Art by Kathi Keville + Mindy Green
Tea Tree is your first defense against bacteria and infections. Numerous studies have shown that tea tree essential oil can inhibit the growth of the types of bacteria that cause sinus infections and respiratory issues. Tea Tree helps support a healthy immune system and soothes the nerves. (US National Library of Medicine, Natural Home Health Care Using Essential Oils by Daniel Penoel, MD)
Tea tree oil is an exceptionally powerful antiseptic... It has the advantage of being both hypo-allergenic and non-toxic, and it may also be effective against a range of bacterial, viral, and fungal infections... helps to fight colds and flu; alleviates sore throats, tonsillitis, and gum disease; eases bronchitis, chesty coughs, and congestion. Aromatherapy for Common Ailments by Shirley Price
Cinnamon has a warm, comforting aroma that's both grounding and restorative, and can help protect against germs that cause respiratory problems. It contains an aroma chemical called Cinamic aldehyde which has antimicrobial benefits, helping to reduce the presence of unwanted bacterial, fungi, and viruses. Cinamic aldehyde is considered a dermal irritant, so the best delivery method for using cinnamon would be a diffuser, or highly diluted and with care. Additionally, Cinnamon supports a healthy metabolism and helps the body strengthen and maintain a healthy immune system. (Medical News Today, Advanced Aromatherapy by Kurt Schnaubelt, Ph.D.)
The following essential oils are also reported to be beneficial for respiratory health: ravensara, bay laurel, cardamom, thyme, lavender, pine, spruce, oregano, rose geranium, bergamot, nutmeg, hyssop, German chamomile, cypress, and melissa.
These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. The information provided in this article, and on this website is to be considered research, and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.