Asthma, bronchitis, and sinusitis are parts of life for many people. Whether caused by hay fever, secondhand smoke, or organic conditions, the congestion and shortness of breath can be unpleasant and painful. Essential oils may help relieve symptoms and reduce the frequency of infections.
Some research published in Clinical Aromatherapy suggests that inhaled expectorants achieve better results than systematic (ingested) ones for clearing congestion from the lungs. The most effective essential oils contain high levels of camphene, including: Nutmeg, Neroli, Citronella, Bergamot, Cypress, and Ginger (Boyd & Sheppard 1970).
In another study involving 182 institutionalized patients, doctors administered a variety of oils, and found the most effective oils at reducing the frequency of bronchial infections to be: lemon, clove, lavender, marjoram, mint, niaouli, pine, rosemary, and thyme. The efficacy of the oils is attributable both to their abilities to kill airborne viruses and bacteria, as well as to their soothing actions on the respiratory tract (Sheppard-Hanger 1995; Abdel Wahab et al 1987). Other oils that are used to treat common chest infections are Frankincense and Scotch pine, though pinene, Pine’s active component can be irritating to asthma patients.
In a study of 40 patients with sinus infections, two drops of Spike Lavender inhaled from a bowl of hot water eased congestion immediately, yielding 20 minutes to two hours of clarity before symptoms returned (Charron 1997.)
Simple Peppermint, inhaled from a cotton pad for ten minutes at a time improved congestion for 20 chronic sinusitis patients involved in a study by Pitcher (2001). There were no side effects, and patients reported continuing to reach for Peppermint after the study concluded.
In the final study cited here, Machon (2001) performed a controlled study using a mixture of Blue Gum Eucalyptus, Ravensara, Scotch Pine, and Peppermint essential oils on sinus infections. The control group inhaled from a steam bath three times a day for ten minutes, while the experimental group inhaled the blend for the same amount of time. Charts measuring pain, wellness, color of mucus, and amount of mucus showed that the mixture reduced discomfort and cleared the subjects’ mucus, while the control group remained the same.
As the seasons start changing, allow essential oils to ease your symptoms and return you to health!