When the common cold, the flu, or a pesky respiratory virus has you down for the count, you may find yourself in the thick of some rather annoying symptoms – namely a cough that refuses to give you respite. A cough may leave you hacking painfully, keep you up at night, or make you feel like you’re drowning in mucus. They can leave your throat burning from dryness and your ribs aching. Whatever the case may be, there are several essential oils for cough that help alleviate even the worst symptoms.
Essential Oils for Cough That Stop The Hacking and Get Rid of Mucus!
Many essential oils exhibit some really powerful properties that are known to be antispasmodic, anti-catarrhal, expectorant, antiviral, and antibacterial in nature. They can help break up stuck mucus, stave the urge to cough uncontrollably, and even help fight off what’s causing your cough in the first place.
Essential oils are worth considering simply for the fact that they often work better than OTC cough suppressants without the side effects.
Believe it or not, many of the medicines prescribed, including Codeine, are actually ineffective for treating cough and are pretty much useless for that application. That’s not something I want to mess around with considering the opioid withdrawal dilemma we’re facing in recent years.
Not convinced? You can check out the study for yourself, here.
So, having said that, what IS an effective treatment for cough and mucus?
You guessed it, essential oils!
The Best Essential Oils for Cough
The following essential oils are known to be effective for treating the symptoms of colds and cough. Not only do they help alleviate the urge to cough incessantly, they also help the body expectorate mucus more productively, kill germs, and support immunity.
Please keep in mind that children are sensitive to essential oils that contain menthol or cineol so I recommend not using any essential oil for respiratory ailments unless you know which ones are safe for your child.
You can read more about essential oils for babies and children here which includes a good list of oils and the ages at which they are considered safe to use.
Effective Essential Oils for Cough
- Balsam fir – helps alleviate spasmodic coughing
- Basil – a good essential oil cough suppressant
- Cedarwood – helps the lungs expectorate mucus and relieve congestion
- Copaiba – good for supporting the lungs if you have bronchitis, pneumonia, tuberculosis, or whooping cough
- Cypress – breaks up mucus, reduces lung spasms, and decongests sinuses
- Eucalyptus globulus – one of the best essential oils for chronic cough – helps clarify the lungs
- Eucalyptus radiata – an excellent essential oil for cough and phlegm (I often add this to my Himalayan salt inhaler)
- Goldenrod – alleviates lung spasms associated with dry cough
- Hyssop – helps suppress spasmodic coughing
- Ledum – reduces coughing and hoarseness
- Marjoram (sweet) – for adults, adding one drop of marjoram to ½ TB of raw honey makes an effective essential oil cough syrup. The honey moistens dry throat and the oil acts as an antispasmodic
- Myrrh – one of the best essential oils for whooping cough
- Myrtle – good for bronchitis and other mucus-y coughs
- Peppermint – anti-catarrhal, antispasmodic, and breaks up mucus
- Ravensara – helps loosen phlegm
- Ravintsara – effectively kills germs while easing congestion and cough
- Spruce – good for moist coughs, spasmodic coughs, and bronchitis
Essential Oils for Cough in Babies, Toddlers, and Children
Children often bring home and share with the whole family germs from school, daycare, or just from places they visit during family outings and errands so it’s safe to say that respiratory illnesses are a common occurrence in families with young children!
For times like these, I’ve listed more essential oils below that can be used for treating a myriad of coughs like bronchitis, whooping cough, dry cough, and more.
I’ve also listed the ages for ease of reference.
Essential Oils for Baby Cough
- Cypress (6 months and older)
- Fir needle (6 months and older)
- Lavender (3 months and older)
- Petitgrain (6 months and older)
- Pine (6 months and older)
- Ravensara (6 months and older)
- Spruce (6 months and older)
- Tea tree (6 months and older)
The best way to use these essential oils for such a young age is to diffuse them. I recommend just 3-5 drops diffused in the same room 1-2 times per day.
Essential Oils for Toddler Cough
- Basil (2 years and older)
- Copaiba (2 years and older)
- Hyssop (2 years and older)
- Jasmine (2 years and older)
- Lemongrass (2 years and older) – dilute well!
- Myrrh (2 years and older) – dilute well!
- Oregano (2 years and older) – dilute well!
- Sweet marjoram (2 years and older)
- Tea tree, Lemon (2 years and older)
- Thyme (2 years and older) – dilute well!
To use these essential oils, you can:
Diffuse them – add 3-5 drops of essential oil to the diffuser and diffuse in the same room 2-3 times daily.
Make a chest rub – add a single drop of essential oil to 1 TB of carrier oil and mix well. Apply a small amount to the chest 1-2 times daily.
Make a roll-on – add one drop of essential oil to a roll-on bottle and fill to the shoulder with a carrier oil. Apply to the bottoms of the feet and over the chest 1-2 times daily.
Essential Oils for Kids Cough
- Cajeput (6 years and older)
- Eucalyptus (all types) 10 years and older
- Niaouli (6 years and older)
- Peppermint (6 years and older)
- Rosemary (10 years and older)
To use these essential oils, you can:
Diffuse them – add 5-7 drops of essential oil to the diffuser and diffuse in the same room 2-3 times daily.
Make a chest rub – add 2 drops of essential oil to 1 TB of carrier oil and mix well (3 drops for children 10 and older). Apply a small amount to the chest 1-2 times daily.
Make a roll-on – add 2 drops of essential oil to a roll-on bottle and fill to the shoulder with a carrier oil. Apply to the bottoms of the feet and over the chest 1-2 times daily.
Other Ways to Use Essential Oils for Treating Symptoms of Cough
Here are some additional methods you can use to help alleviate cough using essential oils that I have personally found to be helpful.
Himalayan Salt Inhaler
For adults, adding essential oils to a Himalayan salt inhaler is a great way to mitigate the symptoms of cough by helping the lung expectorate mucus. The oils and salt will also help kill germs and reduce inflammation in the lungs.
You can read more about the amazing benefits of Himalayan salt inhalers here.
To use the inhaler, simply add 3-5 drops of essential oil to the bottom of the inhaler and use it for 10-15 minutes 1-2 times daily.
I especially like eucalyptus for this.
This is another way to reap the benefits of essential oils to treat cough while on the go. You can simply use a nasal inhaler to breathe in the essential oils to help reduce congestion, break up mucus, and ease breathing. You can even get Himalayan salt nasal inhalers which are even more effective!
Just add 1-3 drops of essential oil to the inhaler and use it as needed.
Another way to use essential oils for coughing is to add them to a bowl of steaming water and carefully breathing in their vapors. This is more effective if you place a towel over your head in order to trap the evaporating essential oils so they are easier to breathe in.
Be sure to take care you don’t burn yourself while doing this!
I recommend adding 5-8 drops of essential oil to the water and steaming for 10-15 minutes 1-2 times daily. Keep your face a good 12 inches away from the surface of the water and carefully breathe in.
Essential Oils for Cough Diffuser Blend
If you have wondered about which essential oils to diffuse for cough, you’re in the right place!
I have the perfect diffuser recipe for you that really helps clear up mucus, calm spasmodic coughing, and helps ease even dry and hoarse coughs.
To make it, simply add the following to your favorite essential oil diffuser:
- 3 drops eucalyptus radiata essential oil
- 3 drops eucalyptus globulus essential oil
- 2 drops cypress essential oil
- 1 drop myrrh essential oil
Diffuse 2-3 times daily in the same room.
What have been your favorite essential oils to use for cough? Please share them in the comments below!
You may also enjoy reading:
Cermelli, Claudio, et al. “Effect of eucalyptus essential oil on respiratory bacteria and viruses.” Current microbiology 56.1 (2008): 89-92.
Fabio, A., et al. “Screening of the antibacterial effects of a variety of essential oils on microorganisms responsible for respiratory infections.” Phytotherapy Research: An International Journal Devoted to Pharmacological and Toxicological Evaluation of Natural Product Derivatives 21.4 (2007): 374-377.
Inouye, Shigeharu, Toshio Takizawa, and Hideyo Yamaguchi. “Antibacterial activity of essential oils and their major constituents against respiratory tract pathogens by gaseous contact.” Journal of antimicrobial chemotherapy 47.5 (2001): 565-573.
Santos, F. A., and V. S. N. Rao. “Antiinflammatory and antinociceptive effects of 1, 8‐cineole a terpenoid oxide present in many plant essential oils.” Phytotherapy Research: An International Journal Devoted to Pharmacological and Toxicological Evaluation of Natural Product Derivatives 14.4 (2000): 240-244.
Ziment, Irwin. “Herbal antitussives.” Pulmonary pharmacology & therapeutics 15.3 (2002): 327-333.