Bronchitis is a respiratory infection that causes inflammation of the bronchial tubes in the lungs [1, 2]. Some of the common symptoms of bronchitis is a persistent cough along with sputum, difficulty in breathing, and chest congestion.

Researchers say that about 5 percent of the population report to have bronchitis. [2] Studies also say that antibiotics have minimal effect on the treatment of bronchitis.

Influenza (Flu) Viruses causes acute bronchitis. In some cases, bacteria may also cause bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis is mainly seen in smokers. Also if you expose yourself to pollution, dust, and smoke for a longer duration, you may have chronic bronchitis.

There are mainly two types of Bronchitis: acute and chronic [3]. Acute bronchitis is of shorter duration for 2-3 days. Chronic bronchitis is the condition when a cough persists continuously with only a short period of relief for a few days. You should visit a doctor for proper diagnosis of the condition and treatment.

Besides, many clinical studies have investigated the positive therapeutic effects of some essential oils in relieving the symptoms of an acute bronchitis. You may use these oils as complementary remedies for bronchitis along with traditional treatment. [8]

Read on to learn the efficacy, precautions, and uses of essential oils for bronchitis, plus the symptoms of this respiratory condition.

15 Best Essential Oils for Bronchitis Relief

1. Lavender Oil

When it comes to stress and anxiety, lavender oil is always on top of the list of remedies.

Most people rely on this oil when the going gets tough, as it has been proven powerful in inducing relaxation.

It’s important to know, however, that it’s just one of the many things that this oil can do for you.

For those who are suffering from respiratory infections, lavender oil can also help.

In a Russian study conducted in 1990, patients with chronic bronchitis were asked to inhale lavender oil or other essential oils for four sessions, 30 minutes per session [3].

Results show that inhalation of lavender oil along with other essential oils proved to be effective in treating chronic bronchitis [3].

A 1997 study, meanwhile, reported of lavender oil’s antioxidant defense in patients suffering from this condition [4].

This was the outcome in this study, which involved 150 individual suffering from chronic bronchitis [4].

How to use lavender essential oil for bronchitis:

  • Boil water in a pot.
  • Transfer to a bowl.
  • Add 5 drops of lavender oil to the water.
  • Inhale the steam for 15-20 minutes.
  • Do this three to four times a day for one week.

RELATED: 11 Health Benefits of Lavender Oil That You Should Know

2. Thyme Oil

The use of thyme as a natural remedy dates back to thousands of years ago.

Folk healers used this herb to treat a wide variety of ailments including respiratory infections such as bronchitis and asthma [5].

A study featured in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology stated that thyme inhibited the production of nitric oxide, a substance that triggered the “pathogenesis of inflammatory diseases” [5].

Since bronchitis is an inflammatory disease, thyme helps by inhibiting the production of nitric oxide and other pro-inflammatory enzymes [5].

By toning down the swelling, it can help ease difficulty in breathing and chest congestion.

In a separate study involving guinea pigs as subjects, researchers discovered that thyme has relaxing effects on the respiratory tract [6].

It worked better than the placebo in reducing inflammation in the bronchial tubes [6].

Thus, it can alleviate different kinds of respiratory conditions [6].

How to use thyme oil for bronchitis relief:

  • Pour 5 drops of thyme oil in a clean cloth.
  • Inhale the oil from the cloth.
  • Repeat as needed.

essential oils for bronchitis

3. Black Pepper Oil

A plant native to India, black pepper has been recognized for its pharmacological benefits since the ancient times [7].

It has always been considered an excellent solution for sinusitis, fever, chest congestion, cold, asthma and other respiratory-related problems [7].

Experts have also found that it has strong antimicrobial activities that make it useful for infectious diseases [7].

Its oil extract is said to have inhibitory effects on Staphylococcus aureus, which is one of the bacterial strains that can cause bronchitis [7].

This should be the remedy that you should use if yours is a recurrent case, as this combats even those microbes that have developed resistance to antibiotics [7].

The alkaloid in black pepper called piperine is what’s responsible for this mode of action [7].

It gives quick-acting result since piperine is absorbed quickly in the intestinal barrier [7].

You may use black pepper oil stem therapy for relieving the symptoms of bronchitis.

4. Cinnamon Oil

Studies show that cinnamon has potent antimicrobial effects on respiratory pathogens that cause bronchitis like Streptococcus pneumoniae [8, 9].

Researchers from Tokyo reported that among the essential oils tested for antimicrobial properties, cinnamon was among the few with the strongest inhibitory effects against various bacterial strains [8].

They noted that the oil’s efficacy was at its highest when it is subjected to high vapor exposure for a short duration [8].

It also works on bacterial strains that have grown resistant to medications.

How to use cinnamon essential oil for bronchitis symptoms:

  • Boil water in a pot.
  • Pour 8 drops of cinnamon oil and 3 drops of thyme oil to hot water.
  • Transfer to a bowl.
  • Take in the steam.
  • Repeat twice a day for one to two weeks.

5. Eucalyptus Oil

Originally cultivated in Australia but can now be found in many parts of the world, eucalyptus is highly valued for its therapeutic purposes [10].

When applied on the skin, it leaves a cooling and soothing sensation that relieves pain and discomfort [10].

When inhaled as a steam, it soothes the respiratory tract and eases breathing congestion.

This is why, it’s often used as a remedy for respiratory problems like asthma, bronchitis, colds, and so on.

Research that can be found in the Clinical Microbiology and Infection pointed out that eucalyptus can also destroy various strains of Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae that can cause bronchitis [10].

It has broad spectrum antibacterial effects that make it work for numerous respiratory ailments.

It prevented the growth and formation of infectious microorganisms before it causes serious harm to the respiratory tract [10].

Other studies show similar findings regarding eucalyptus oil’s antimicrobial properties [11, 12].

Take note that it also fights viral infections that can also affect the respiratory system.

Home remedy for bronchitis using eucalyptus oil:

  • Combine 5 drops of eucalyptus oil with 1 teaspoon of jojoba oil
  • Apply a thin layer on chest and neck.
  • Inhale the smell.
  • Do this twice a day for one to two weeks.

RELATED: 9 Best Essential Oils for Asthma Attacks + (How to Use Them)

6. Peppermint Oil

Although different in aroma, peppermint is a lot like eucalyptus oil in that it also causes cooling effects whether applied topically or inhaled as a vapor.

It’s also helpful in alleviating respiratory tract disorders such as bronchitis.

This oil works in two ways in helping bronchitis sufferers.

First, it kills the bacteria causing the infection, as it is a proven antimicrobial against various human pathogens [13].

Turkish scientists reported that peppermint is highly active against S. pyogenes, S. pneumoniae, S. aureus, H. influenzae, K. pneumoniae and even viruses that cause respiratory tract infection [13].

This oil is effective in controlling the activities of these pathogens before they cause serious harm.

Second, it helps alleviate breathing difficulties and other symptoms with its anti-congestive and expectorant actions [14].

RELATED: 12 Uses and Health Benefits of Peppermint Oil

7. Frankincense Oil

Historically, frankincense has been an important part of many cultural and religious ceremonies [15].

Its medicinal value has also been widely recognized since the ancient times [15].

That’s because this oil is rich in active components such as monoterpenes, diterpenes, triterpenes, pentacyclic triterpenic acids and tetracyclic triterpenic acids [15].

Boswellic acid, in particular, works as a strong anti-inflammatory agent that inhibits pro-inflammatory enzymes such as 5-lipoxygenase [15].

It’s no wonder this oil is relied upon as a remedy for a vast array of health problems, including bronchitis, thanks to its anti-inflammatory and immunostimulatory properties [15, 16, 17].

essential oils for bronchitis
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8. Rosemary Oil

Don’t you just love the sweet aroma of rosemary oil, which immediately calms your mind and senses?

Rosemary oil is much loved not only for its wonderful scent but also for its health benefits.

For those who are suffering from bronchitis, rosemary oil can help by smoothening the respiratory tract muscles [18].

Scientists from the University of Amman in Jordan investigated the effects of rosemary oil on the smooth muscle of guinea pigs and rabbits with the use of isolated tracheal strips [18].

Histamine-induced contractions were reduced after exposure to the volatile oil of rosemary [18].

The relaxant effects of this oil extract have been proven in this study published in the Journal of Enthopharmacology [18].

9. Lemongrass Oil

Most people use lemongrass oil to repel insects like mosquitoes.

This is important as mosquitoes can sometimes carry deadly diseases such as malaria and dengue fever.

The chemicals in commercial insect repellents, meanwhile, can put you in harm’s way, which is why many prefer to go for the natural route.

Apart from keeping insects at bay, lemongrass oil can also be used to tone down bronchitis.

In a study that can be found in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine, it was reported that lemongrass oil successfully inhibited the activities of pathogens that cause bronchitis [19].

One of these bacterial strains is Staphylococcus aureus [19].

It works by preventing the bacteria from growing, forming, and spreading to the other parts of the respiratory tract.

It also damages the bacteria’s cellular membranes enough to disrupt its activities.

It therefore makes sense to consider using this oil in the treatment of bronchitis as well as other respiratory problems.

10. Garlic Oil

It has been thousands of years since garlic’s therapeutic value was first discovered.

How many times have you heard of the story that garlic was used as ailment remedy by the laborers who built the pyramids in Egypt?

Today, it remains highly prized for its medicinal purposes, most of which have already been established in scientific literature.

For those who want to get relief from bronchitis, its oil extract can help.

Research has shown that garlic is a potent antimicrobial that works even on drug-resistant pathogens that infect the respiratory tract [20].

11. Ginger Oil

There’s a long list of ailments that are said to be relieved by the use of ginger and its oil extract.

One of these is bronchitis.

A laboratory experiment published in the East African Medical Journal reports that ginger can successfully suppress the activities of microbes that cause infectious diseases [21].

Susceptible to its antimicrobial powers are bacterial strains that infect the respiratory tract [21].

Moreover, it is also confirmed as an anti-inflammatory agent, which means that it can tone down the swelling in the bronchial tubes and make it easier for you to breathe [22].

RELATED: 10 Health Benefits of Ginger Oil That You Should Know About

12. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree is an entirely different plant from Tea; it is easily confused. You can use the tea tree leaves to extract the oil which has a sweet smell. It has extensive uses. Its anti-inflammatory properties help heal conditions like bronchitis.

Other conditions which you can treat with the help of tea tree oil are fungal infections, acne, lice, infection, sore throat, boils, ear infections, etc. (23)

essential oils for bronchitis

RELATED: 12 Incredible Health Benefits of Tea Tree Oil (Backed by Evidence)

13. Oregano Oil

This oil is a very important essential oil. It is equally used by having it and by applying it.

It is mainly used for treating different respiratory conditions like asthma, breathing problem, cough, and cold. It is also used for treating cramps, sinusitis, flu fatigue, etc. (24)

There are no side effects of these essential oils, but a few situations where you should use it with caution, for example in pregnancy, you should not use the oil.

14. Clove Oil

This is an essential oil that has been used for thousands of years. It has soothing effects. It is used primarily for treating headaches, toothaches, bronchitis, a cough, the flu, etc. (25)

You can use clove as a flavoring agent, and it is a very important spice in South East Asian countries.

You can use it in bronchitis because it helps to cough up the sputum thus clearing the airways.

How to use clove oil for bronchitis natural relief:

  • Add a few drops essential oils in a base oil such as olive oil, for example, olive oil
  • Mix well.
  • Heat it slightly.
  • Massage it with the help of your figures.
  • It may provide better relief when massaged over the chest and throat.

RELATED: 20 Essential Oils for Cough, Sore Throat and, Congestion

15. Orange Oil

Formation of orange oil occurs from the orange tree. You can use Orange oil in very minimal amounts for inhalation for the treatment of bronchitis. (27)

You should apply orange oil very carefully with precautions as it can cause skin irritation.

How to use orange oil to relieve bronchitis naturally:

  • Add 4-6 drops of orange essential oil to some warm water.
  • Mix well.
  • Dip a towel into the water.
  • Use it to as a compress on the chest or head.

Warning and Possible Side Effects

  • Certain citrus essential oils are photosensitive. These oils once applied on the skin may  cause severe skin rashes ,burns, and skin discoloration under the sun.
  • If taken orally essential oils can cause serious health problems.
  • Some essential oils may cause allergic reactions such ashes, redness, hives, etc.
  • If you are asthmatic, it is advisable not to use essential oils as it may exaggerate the symptoms and make the condition even more severe.
  • Do not use essential oils if you are pregnant or a breastfeeding mother.
  • Do not allow essential oil to go into the eyes.

Symptoms of Bronchitis

The symptoms of bronchitis are many types and differ from one person to another and also on the severity.

Coughing is the most common symptom. (4)

Other symptoms that can occur during bronchitis are

The production of sputum which is mucous that forms when you are coughing.

If you don’t treat bronchitis in earlier stages, researchers say that it may result to cause pneumonia (5).

RELATED: 11 Quick-Acting Home Remedies for Pneumonia

When to Make a Doctor’s Appointment

If you notice the following symptoms, seek for medical attention:

  • A persistent cough for 10-20 days.
  • severe cough with blood and phlegm or mucus.
  • A high fever.
  • Difficulty in breathing, wheezing and chest pain
  • Sudden weight loss accompanied by other symptoms.

Bottom Line

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the linings of the airway canals in the lungs. The most common symptom of bronchitis is coughing. This condition can either be acute or chronic [2].

This means that it can either be a one-time, or a recurrent medical condition.

Bronchitis can worsen if not treated immediately. It can lead to a more serious respiratory tract infection if not given prompt attention.

Some natural remedies may work safely and effectively in alleviating the symptoms of an acute bronchitis.

Just see to it that you carefully follow the instructions when it comes to preparation and application of the remedies.

RELATED: 10 Home Remedies for Bronchitis to Soothe Your Cough

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