Strengthening our immune systems has always been a healthcare goal. But now more than ever, there seems to be an increased focus on respiratory health and lung care.
It’s no secret that living smoke-free and breathing clean air will do a world of good in preventing respiratory illnesses. But what else can we do to clear our lungs, and most importantly, how can we strengthen them against disease and infection?
This article looks at the use of essential oils in healthcare to determine which oils can be used to improve lung function and how.
Use of Essential Oils
There are different methods to apply essential oils. This makes them suitable for use by professional aromatherapists but also easy to use it as the best air freshener for home and personal use..
Let’s have a look at some of these ways so you can decide which might work best for you.
One of the most popular ways to administer essential oils is through a diffuser. You may be familiar with these from your trips to the beauty therapist or even your masseuse. But these have seen a rise as household commodities in recent years, as they only take up minimal space and can be used regularly without fuss at home.
These devices infuse the air with your chosen essential oil. This will not only deliver the health benefits that the oil carries but also leave the air smelling fresh and cleansed of any lingering odors. Household diffusers, in particular, tend to have a limit in reach due to their simple and compact design. This means they’re likely to only infuse air within one enclosed room, depending on its size.
However, changing and sourcing replacement oil cartridges is uncomplicated, and diffusers can be moved from room to room, thanks to their simple plug-in features. This makes them perfect for use at home or in a small therapeutic setting.
Inhalation and Steaming
For a more instant and potent effect, essential oils can also be directly inhaled. It may be done through a steaming method or straight from a bottle.
To steam essential oils yourself, fill a large bowl with hot or boiling water. Then, apply three to seven drops of the essential oil directly to the water. Once the water is cool enough to not burn the skin but still hot enough to produce steam, lean over the bowl and cover your head with a clean towel to retain moisture. Breathe in the steam through your nose, and remain underneath the towel for no more than two minutes at a time.
Direct inhalation from the bottle will be able to target headaches, congestion, inflammation, and breathing difficulties more than diffusers. But make sure to only inhale a few times since more than than can cause dizziness. Also, try to avoid contact between the skin and undiluted oils.
Using essential oils properly can have a better and faster impact on lung function and fight the symptoms of respiratory illness more effectively.
Essential oils can also be applied to the skin in different forms. Diluting them in a carrier oil or mixing them with body wash, shampoo, or even moisturizer can have similar effects as direct inhalation.
Some of these applications may be for aesthetic purposes only, like improving hair texture or reducing body odor. However, rubbing essential oils on your temples or chest are known to reduce symptoms of respiratory illness like headaches and congestion. You can take a bottle of your chosen oil with you everywhere you go throughout the day.
On the other hand, using body wash and shampoos that are infused with oils in your shower or bath can mimic the method of steaming. This means you can save time and effort but still enjoy the benefits of inhaling essential oils and their relaxing properties while getting clean.
Best Essential Oils for Lungs
So, now you know the uses of essential oils and how to apply them to your advantage. But which oils do what, and most importantly, which ones are best for improving lung health?
Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint oil is a derivative of the peppermint plant. It’s suitable for direct skin application as it is not too harsh and has properties that are great for targeting headaches, muscle aches, joint pain, and itching.
Because of its soothing properties, peppermint oil is great for improved lung function. It is said to relax the windpipe muscles and bronchial muscles for easier breathing of those suffering from a cough or chest infection. The menthol in peppermint also makes it a great decongestant, reducing inflammation and causing swollen nose membranes to shrink and so improving breathing.
Peppermint oil can also loosen and clear mucus that may have accumulated in the lungs. This makes it a great option for fast relief of respiratory symptoms via steaming or direct inhalation.
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender is a shrub that has been used in medicine, aromatherapy, and perfumery since the beginning of time. Known for its calming properties and for being a highly effective sleeping aid, lavender oil is also commonly used in diffusers due to its pleasant scent.
It has antibacterial properties, too. This means it not only prevents infection but may even ease the symptoms of certain diseases. For the respiratory system, lavender oil is known to suppress mucus and inflammation, acting as a treatment for bronchial asthma and COPD. It is also an antioxidant, so it may strengthen your immune system to make your body better equipped to fight disease.
Inhaling lavender for 10 minutes with breaks, is said to increase blood flow and improve general organ function. Consider a home steam using lavender oil or add just a few drops to a diffuser to reap its benefits.
Thyme Essential Oil
The antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties of thyme, similar to that of lavender, make it common in cosmetics, aromatherapy, and even as a food preservative.
As an essential oil, thyme is known for clearing phlegm deposits from the nasal passage, which can relieve chest congestion and aid in better breathing. The thymol content of thyme essential oil is also said to have antispasmodic properties. This means it can relax and prevent muscle contractions that can help in getting rid of cough or spasms in the diaphragm.
Inhaling thyme oil directly from the bottle is not advised due to its strength. Instead, use the steam method, breathe from a cloth or tissue, or put in a diffuser for the best results.
Tea Tree Essential Oil
Tea tree oil comes from steaming tea tree leaves and it is known for its antibacterial properties like other essential oils. This makes it a popular treatment for acne, fungal infections, and insect bites.
Additionally, tea tree oil inhibits the growth of potentially harmful bacteria, meaning it can prevent respiratory and sinus infections. It is also known to treat pneumonia as a result of its antimicrobial nature, which in turn helps ease coughing and prevent further bronchial damage.
Tea tree is great in a diffuser but it can also be mixed with other cosmetic products. Its soothing properties not only have instantaneous effects on the lungs, but also on other parts of the body, especially the skin.
Nutmeg Essential Oil
The strong-flavored nutmeg is commonly used for culinary purposes. Meanwhile, its oil is extracted through steam distillation to be used in fragrance and medicine.
Nutmeg essential oils have a 90% terpene hydrocarbon content. This means it has antimicrobial, antiparasitic, antibacterial, and anticancer properties. When inhaled, it is said to decrease respiratory tract fluid and ease coughing. As a result, it can play a role in preventing serious respiratory diseases like lung cancer.
Adding a few drops to a diffuser or a steam bowl could do a world of good for your respiratory system.
Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Eucalyptus oil can be applied to the skin to treat arthritis and ulcers, and even as a tick repellent. In addition to that, it is also popular as a treatment for nasal congestion and asthma.
Like other oils, eucalyptus essential oil has natural anti-inflammatory properties and so it can decrease mucus and ease cough symptoms. It is also known to expand bronchioles and strengthen the lungs. When mixed with a carrier oil and applied directly to the neck and chest, the benefits of eucalyptus oil can start taking effect almost immediately.
However, undiluted eucalyptus oil can cause problems and could even be poisonous when inhaled directly. So, always use it according to instruction and with moderation in mind.
Rosemary Essential Oil
Rosemary oil, derived from the common herb, has antiseptic and antispasmodic properties. This means it can be used as a treatment for bronchial asthma.
Inhaling rosemary oil can clear the lungs and help fight respiratory infections. It also works as an expectorant, meaning that it can relieve throat congestion from the flu, colds, and allergies. Its antioxidant qualities can boost the immune system as well, preventing disease and improving blood circulation.
Although, it could irritate the skin when left undiluted. To be used safely, mix rosemary essential oil with a carrier oil or in a diffuser. This way, it can be used regularly.
Sweet Orange and Bergamot Orange Essential Oils
Orange and bergamot essential oils actually come from the cells inside the rind of the sweet orange fruit and its more bitter bergamot counterpart.
With sweet orange oil possessing some of the best anti-inflammatory properties among essential oils, it is effective for pain relief and fighting chronic inflammation. On the other hand, bergamot oil is a cold-pressed essential oil that is widely used as a treatment for anxiety. Their scents are likened to that of the sweet orange peel oil, both giving off floral undertones, which makes them both popular choices for use in diffusers.
They also contain compounds that have a protective effect on the respiratory system. This means they can prevent oxidative damage in lung cells that could lead to issues like COPD. Either of these oils could be a great choice for boosting immune defense and relieving respiratory pain.
Cinnamon Essential Oil
Cinnamon has been used in medicine since the dawn of time. It’s said to stimulate circulation, reduce pain and improve digestion. But does it have any benefits for the lungs?
Cinnamon essential oil is, in fact, believed to possess properties that could protect against germs and thus, prevent chest infections. When used in a diffuser or steamed, it can provide relief from a cough and even burn mucus that resides in the lungs and throat due to its strong and spicy qualities.
The oil is also favored for reducing stress. Taking pressure and tension off your mind and your body is one of the best ways to prevent illness and boost your immune system. Cinnamon essential oil could do wonders for your health in this respect.
Essential Oil Side Effects
Essential oils undoubtedly have great health benefits. But they’re often strong and can irritate skin or cause dizziness if inhaled for too long and too often.
Despite the positive effects that essential oils can have on your lungs and respiratory system, some individuals can also have allergic reactions to them which could worsen bronchial asthma or prompt attacks. So, take it easy.
My advice is always not to overdo it with these substances. Observe how your body responds to small amounts of essential oil use and respond appropriately. A specific oil may do wonders for you, but if you feel yourself coughing or reacting adversely to another, then ease off and try taking some deep breaths of clean air.
Some oils also may not improve your air quality if diffused in a room. Like air fresheners, they may have an attractive fragrance but can actually have a polluting effect on the air. Stick to this list if you’ve got your respiratory health in mind, and always use it according to instruction.
Frequently Asked Questions about Best Essential Oils for Lungs
What are the effects of essential oils on the lungs?
The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory quality of many essential oils mean that they can have a medical effect on your lungs if used correctly. Essential oils can relax bronchial muscles which takes the stress off your windpipe. They are also said to clear and reduce mucus, making it easier to breathe and also help in relieving symptoms of chest infections and the common flu.
Is peppermint oil good for the lungs?
Peppermint oil is one of the best essential oils for improving lung health. It is a decongestant that can ease symptoms of bronchial asthma and other respiratory illnesses. It also relaxes bronchial muscles, making breathing easier and can provide fast relief when used in moderation.
Is it possible to inhale too much peppermint oil?
Despite the positive health benefits, it is possible to inhale too much peppermint oil. Although the menthol content of peppermint oil makes it antibacterial and helps to shrink swollen membranes of the nose and lungs, it can also cause systemic toxicity. This is because menthol can react adversely to calcium cells, and in extreme cases, cause seizures, comas, or even fatalities.
A Final Word From Wellness Nova
Aromatherapy has been used to treat ailments and reduce stress since ancient times. So it’s no surprise that essential oils remain popular in health care and beauty rituals.
Besides enriching a room with a pleasant fragrance to help you relax, essential oils can have great benefits for the lungs and respiratory system. Whichever oil you wish to try out, consult our list to identify the best one for you. Like everything else, always use in moderation for the best and safest outcome.