For me, the worst type of colds are those that affect the respiratory system, especially bronchitis. In case you didn’t know already, I’ve had atopic and nonatopic asthma since I was 10 years old and with it comes bronchitis after every cold. Actually, I could accidentally inhale something and the incessant coughing would cause some type of respiratory infection.
I’ve since learned how to avoid bronchitis over the years by being present during meals and taking care of my immune system, but I haven’t always been successful. When bronchitis hits, it’s a long road to recovery for someone who has asthma like I do, and let’s face it, bronchitis is really unpleasant regardless.
Today’s article is about how I use essential oils to ease symptoms and alleviate that gross boggy feeling in the chest associated with respiratory infections.
But first, let’s have an overview of what bronchitis is so that you have a better understanding on how to treat bronchitis naturally using essential oils.
What is Bronchitis?
Bronchitis is the inflammation of the bronchi due to infection or irritation. It can be acute or chronic in nature and is accompanied by wheezing, dyspnea (trouble breathing), coughing, and lots of phlegm.
Acute bronchitis is usually caused by an infection and is a self-limiting condition that usually clears in 7-10 days. It is rarely serious in adults; however, in infants, small children, the elderly, and those with preexisting respiratory conditions, it can be severe and potentially life threatening. This type of bronchitis is most prevalent in the winter months as part of an acute upper respiratory infection. It will often develop after the common cold or other viral infection.
Chronic bronchitis is characterized by a chronic productive cough that lasts 3 consecutive months within two successive years and involves significant, irreversibly obstructed airways of varying degrees. This type of bronchitis happens mainly in smokers but can also happen to those exposed to chemical irritants or allergens. Changing to a more temperate climate can help ease symptoms.
How to Treat Bronchitis Naturally
Aside from using essential oils for bronchitis, there are a few things you can do along with using essential oils to help speed up recovery.
1. Bed Rest
Bed rest is highly recommended especially if there is a fever present. Once the fever has subsided, alternating periods of rest with moderate activity is recommended to keep mucus from settling in the lungs.
Drinking plenty of fluids like water and herbal teas will help keep mucus thin and easy to expectorate.
Using a humidifier in your bedroom and utilizing steam inhalation will relieve bronchial inflammation and keep mucus from settling in the lungs. This is the humidifier I use in the winter months AND it doubles as a diffuser!
4. Cough Suppressants
Normally I would not recommend using cough suppressants as they keep the body from releasing mucus, however, if the coughing interferes with sleep it is advised to use a cough suppressant so that you can rest. Be careful using cough suppressants in those with chronic lung conditions such as chronic obstructive lung disease.
5. Avoid Smoking and Other Irritants
Obviously smoking is a huge no-no when healing bronchitis. Little improvement can be made unless smoking is stopped. This also goes for exposing oneself to chemicals and other irritants.
Applying a hot water bottle over the chest and back before bedtime can help reduce symptoms and aid in more restful sleep. I often use this heat pad.
7. Anti-inflammatory Foods
Include healthy doses of garlic and onions to your food daily to keep inflammation at bay. Garlic in particular is an excellent natural antibiotic and is great for keeping the lungs clear. I often make a simple broth using onion, garlic, fresh ginger, turmeric, and stock to keep me hydrated, warm, and full of anti-inflammatory foods. Avoid foods that contain dairy, sugar, and white flour during healing.
8. Vitamin C
Taking a good vitamin C supplement will help keep your immune system strong and resilient. This is my favorite Vitamin C supplement.
Horehound is an excellent expectorant herb and is often found in lozenges for mucus-y coughs. If your throat is raw, consider sucking on slippery elm lozenges to keep mucus membranes moist and comfortable. You can also take Echinacea or elderberry syrup to help aid your immune system in fighting the infection. You can read up on the best herbs for wet cough here for more herbal remedies.
The Best Essential Oils for Bronchitis and Other Respiratory Infections
There should be three main things you’re trying to achieve when treating bronchitis with essential oils:
1. Combat infection with antibacterial and immune stimulating essential oils.
2. Soothe the bronchi and reduce inflammation
3. Use expectorant essential oils to facilitate expectoration
4. Use antispasmodic essential oils to reduce bronchial spasms especially at night
Essential oils are able to combat infection, reduce fever, ease coughing, and help facilitate expectoration.
Here are some of the best essential oils for bronchitis:
When the cough is dry and painful during the first stages of bronchitis, using essential oils such as eucalyptus radiata, spike lavender, cedarwood, cypress, myrtle, pine, ravensara, or frankincense in a steam inhalation will provide relief. These essential oils are antispasmodic and expectorant in nature.
In the later stages of bronchitis where there is copious mucus, it is very important to stay warm (preferably in bed) and to try and expectorate as much mucus as possible. Using essential oils like aniseed, basil, cajeput, eucalyptus radiata, hyssop, spike lavender, rosemary, myrrh, or thyme will help loosen phlegm. Diffusing 10 drops of eucalyptus in your bedroom will offer much needed humidity and clarifying qualities to the air.
One popular bronchitis recipe includes:
You can add this recipe to a diffuser or add these essential oils to 2TB of carrier oil for a 3% dilution and apply a few drops over the chest, back, and throat 2-3 times per day. You can read more about dilutions and conversions here for more info.
If the person affected by bronchitis is an infant, a young child, or an elderly person, more professional guidance is required as bronchitis in these age groups can be quite serious.
Essential Oils for Bronchitis in Children
On that note, keep in mind that the essential oils discussed above are for adults. However, some essential oils are safe to use for certain age groups in children.
If your child is 3 months or older, you may try Roman chamomile as an added treatment to help ease coughing at night and reduce inflammation. 1-2 drops total in 1 ounce of carrier oil.
For children 2+ years, you may use basil, clove, frankincense, ginger, hyssop, myrrh, and thyme. 20 drops total in 1 ounce of carrier oil. (I wouldn’t use more than 5 drops of either clove or ginger in 1oz of carrier oil as these are hot oils)
What have been your favorite essential oils for bronchitis? Please let me know in the comments! 🙂
Here’s a few more articles from around the web on essential oils for bronchitis:
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