Do you have a cough? A congested chest? Cough and a congested chest are symptomatic of many acute and chronic ailments such as the common cold, pulmonary diseases, respiratory dysfunction, pneumonia, bronchitis, flu, and other respiratory tract infections.
If you’re reading this article, chances are that you’re looking for an easy home remedy that will help you with your cough – right now! Essential oils and natural extracts from plants and have served many different cultures for centuries in attaining better health and well-being.
I’d like to introduce you to the best essential oils for a cough, so that you may again enjoy a fresh and invigorating breath without the painful queezing sensation. I hope that you will enjoy a significant relief from your cough – the natural way.
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Essential oils are often recommended as a home remedy in addition to conventional medicine. Studies have proven moderate results in this respect, with only few minor adverse effects (1).
How to Use Essential Oils for a Cough
To reap the benefits of essential oils to ease your cough, you can:
- Inhale these oils by way of using a diffuser;
- Place a few drops on a cotton round an simply inhale from there; or
- Dilute them into a carrier oil and rub this mixture onto your chest.
Which Essential Oils Should You Use to Help a Cough?
It is recommended to only use high quality essential oils from a trusted essential oil brand to ensure their therapeutic value. Not all essential oils are created equal and many factors affect the end product, such as plant farming practices, methods of extraction, and bottling facility standards. The essential oils industry isn’t very heavily regulated, therefore, consumers should be aware of the components of a quality essential oils brand. Please refer to this well-researched and encompassing list of top 10 best essential oil brands or use the product links below to ensure you buy a good oil.
The top 10 Essential Oils for Cough are:
1. Geranium Essential Oil
Get rid of a cough, bronchitis, and other infections in the upper respiratory tract with geranium essential oil. This oil can exterminate the virus responsible for your condition, as experts have proved through various studies. Besides fighting infections, Geranium also smells extremely pleasant and is said to uplift your spirits and support your mental health.
Apply your geranium oil using a diffuser, and you will be able to inhale it through the air. You could also add it to your bathwater as this will make the oil get to every part of your body that needs therapy, depending on the related ailments attacking you.
2. Tea Tree Essential Oil
Stimulate your immune system and eliminate bacterial and viral infections using your Tea tree essential oil (Melaleuca alternifolia). This oil acts as an expectorant capable of easing the cough, and lowering its duration simultaneously.
Tea tree oil has a therapeutic aroma making it desirable to be inhaled. By merely inhaling the fragrance of this oil, you will feel a decongestion of your nasal and oral cavities. Another way to apply it on your body is through massaging it onto your chest and back parts. However, you should blend this extract with a carrier oil first before rubbing onto your body. Wondering how much carrier oil to use, to how many drops of oil? Find a full guide to dilution rates for all ages, here.
3. Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Eucalyptus essential oil (Eucalyptus globulus) is ideal for boosting the immunity of your body systems. It is an antibacterial compound capable of handling your cough and other related illnesses such as sinusitis, pharyngitis, and even bronchitis. Note that there are many varieties of Eucalyptus. While they will all work, Eucalyptus globulus is thought to be most beneficial on coughs and chest congestion.
Due to the existence of drug-resistant tuberculosis, many persons are suggesting that eucalyptus oil should be administered on tuberculosis patients as an anti-TB medication because of its potency. However, according to a publication by the American Chemical Society and American Society of Pharmacognosy (2), there is currently still research being conducted on the efficacy of eucalyptus citriodora essential oil for the treatment of this debilitating disease.
Nevertheless, right now you can use Eucalyptus essential oil as a natural home remedy for your cough. Administer it by adding 2-4 drops into a cup of hot water to be inhaled about three times daily.
4. Rosemary Essential Oil
Rosemary essential oil (Rosmarinus officinalis) is ideal for soothing the tissues in your lungs and respiratory system, which could be inflamed due to the severity of your cough. This global plant has excellent medicinal values as some researchers have proven that you can administer the oil on asthmatic patients for immediate relief (3).
Nevertheless, you need to dilute it with a carrier oil such as coconut oil or any other one of your choice before rubbing on your chest and upper part of your back. Another way to get rosemary oil into your body is through inhalation using a diffuser or just adding some drops into a bowl of hot water and inhaling the hot steam into your lungs.
5. Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint essential oil (Mentha piperita) has menthol making it suitable for relieving itchy throat, improving your breath, and serving as an expectorant. It also helps in relieving the severity of a cough, and ease up chest congestion. This oil is valuable for treating other ailments such as headaches and depression. Peppermint oil has antibacterial properties making it effective against infections.
You can apply this essential oil by inhaling it using a diffuser. Another way is by adding it into a bowl of hot water and inhaling the refreshing steam. In most cases, you can massage it onto your body as a chest rub but dilute it first with coconut oil to avoid irritations, especially if you have sensitive skin. Or follow the DIY chest rub recipe in this article!
6. Nutmeg Essential Oil
Cough and cold are two significant conditions that can lead to respiratory difficulties in individuals. Nutmeg essential oil can help in alleviating your health challenge. According to experts, this oil is beneficial as an expectorant for loosening secretions, mucus, and cough in the lungs.
You can apply Nutmeg oil by adding some drops into your diffuser and inhaling it for some time. After a while, check the extent of relieving and adjust the quantity you put in your diffuser for a better result.
7. Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender essential oil (Lavandula angustifolia) is useful in treating severe cough conditions, even asthma (4). It has powerful ingredients that can clear your airways of asthmatic inflammation and blockage to give you a refreshing breath. According to a publication of the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, if you have bronchial asthma, lavender essential oil can suppress the attack and give you relief (5).
Directly inhale the oil using your diffuser, or you can add some drops into a bowl of hot water and breathe the therapeutic aroma. Repeat this process for some days until your lungs are healed of every inflammation and airway resistance. Another way to apply lavender oil for a cough is by adding it into a warm bath, and your condition will gradually improve.
8. Oregano Essential Oil
Experts have surmised that you can use this oil as a natural antibiotic for handling respiratory infections due to its antibacterial and antifungal compositions. A publication by the US National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health states that oregano oil has a primary active constituent, which is known as carvacrol (6). Another viable ingredient in this cough therapy is thymol. These active ingredients can reduce the effects of a cough after a few hours of administration by acting as an expectorant in the body.
Inhale this aromatherapy medication by adding a few drops to your diffuser. You can also use it on your body as a chest rub. However, mix some drops of oregano essential oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil before application on the body.
9. Cypress Essential Oil
Cypress oil (Cupressus sempervirens) is one of the best aromatherapy oils that can help you overcome the effects and symptoms of a cough. It has an active ingredient called camphene. Experts from the American Chemical Society (ACS) have proven that cypress oil contains about sixty to eighty percent of camphene (7). It is generally noted that this element can eliminate nasal or mucosal congestions in the respiratory tract of cough sufferers.
Inhale cypress oil using an aromatherapy diffuser, or simply by adding it into a bowl containing hot water and inhaling the steam into your lungs too (steam inhalation).
10. Cinnamon Essential Oil
Cinnamon is a culinary ingredient used by most persons for adding spice and flavor to their baking and cooking. But you can also inhibit the growth of bacteria and other pathogens that can cause coughs by using Cinnamon essential oil (Cinnamomum verum) in your DIY aromatherapy practice. Studies have proven that this therapeutic oil can help in relieving congestion in the respiratory tract.
Diffuse drops of cinnamon oil into the air and inhale it for some hours. Moreover, you can get the best out of this essential oil if you add it into a bowl containing hot water, and allow the medicinal and curative essences to penetrate into your lungs and body through breathing. Then, you will experience significant relief from cough and other related symptoms.
DIY Cough Rub Recipe
The ingredients you need to make this cough rub are:
- 1/4 cup of coconut oil
- 1/4 cup of shea butter or beeswax
- 20 drops Eucalyptus oil (Eucalyptus globulus)
- 5 drops Tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)
- 6 drops Lavender oil (Lavandula angustifolia)
- 4 drops Lemon oil (Citrus x limon)
- 5 drops Peppermint oil (Mentha piperita)
If you want to mix these ingredients properly, first dissolve the shea butter and coconut oil using a double boiler. Next, whip them for half a minute with a wooden spoon. After this, gather the mixture together using a spatula.
Add all the essential oils you have collected into the bowl and whip the entire mixture again for about sixty seconds. Get a container with cover, scoop the mixture into it after beating it for the third time, and then, you should store it in a dark and cool place.
Now, it is ready for use by massaging your chest and back. Apply frequently, about three hours interval until you feel a relief from your cough.
Diffuser Blends for Cough
Diffusing essential oils can eliminate airborne bacteria and germs. If you have a cough, use the following diffuser blend to clean the air in your house or room(s).
- 3 drops Eucalyptus
- 1 drop Peppermint
- 2 drops Cypress
You may also elect to use one of these diffuser blends that strengthen your immune system. The more support as you can give your system during this time of weakness, the better.
Risks of Using Essential Oils
While essential oils are readily available basically anywhere, this doesn’t mean that they’re without possible side effects. They are highly concentrated and if applied improperly, can cause skin irritations, rashes, or allergic reactions.
The essential oils industry is not regulated or controlled. You should always consult with your medical professional, doctor or family physician to ensure natural home remedies will not interfere with your overall health condition. Only a trained professional can give you a well-rounded assessment, taking into consideration you medical history and tendencies.
Please use essential oils carefully. If you are in a special situation such as pregnancy, breastfeeding, elderly or are considering using essential oils for kids, always read up on each essential oil fully before going to use it. Consult my resources on Safe Dilution Rates both for your diffuser and to apply topically.
To your well-being,
- (1) Herbal Medicine for Cough: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis: https://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/442111
- (2) Airborne Antituberculosis Activity of Eucalyptus citriodora Essential Oil: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/np400872m
- (3) Essential oils in the treatment of respiratory tract diseases: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ffj.3252
- (4) 10 Essential Oils for Your Cough: https://www.healthline.com/health/essential-oils-for-cough
- (5) Lavender essential oil inhalation suppresses allergic airway inflammation: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24909715
- (6) Antiviral efficacy and mechanisms of action of oregano essential oil: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24779581
- (7) https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/molecule-of-the-week/archive/c/camphene.html