The most common respiratory infection is the common cold, followed by sinus, throat and chest infections. The use of essential oils to combat these respiratory problems is effective, practical and relatively inexpensive. Many essential oils are antibacterial and have significant anti-microbial properties so are useful for respiratory infections.
Nature’s role in cold and flu prevention
Historically, vapours from certain plants and trees have been used to ease respiration. It was noted during the World Wars I and II, that soldiers that were camping in cold climates in pine and eucalyptus forests were less susceptible to colds and flu than soldiers in warmer climates. The fortifying action of the vapours from the pine and eucalyptus trees was evident in the immune boosting effect on the soldiers.
How essential oils prevent colds and flu
Essential oils are practical for respiratory infections because they are volatile, meaning they naturally vaporise in the air. When used in conjunction with steam or dry heat they become more volatile and are able to act on the airways directly. The particles that vaporise can be inhaled through the nose or mouth and have an effect on mucous membranes and the bronchi, right into the lungs. Their effect is as an expectorant – increased mucous production (mucolytic), dialating or opening of airways, as well as anti-spasmodic and anti-infectious.
Which essential oils can be used
Certain essential oils are used to benefit respiratory infections, the most popular being eucalyptus. Others such as pine, thyme, peppermint, benzoin, tea tree and lavender are also effective.
Eucalyptus has many properties making it a favourite for coughs, colds and flu symptoms. It has anti infectious properties, dilates the airways, has an expectorant or mcucolytic action, meaning increased mucus to rid the airways of dryness, and to trap infectious particles that are then coughed out. It is also effective to use preventatively as an immune booster.
Tea tree has well known anti-infectious properties against bacteria, microbes and fungi. It is also non-irritant to mucous surfaces which line the respiratory tracts so is perfect in small concentrations to be effective on infections in the nose, throat or chest.
Lavender has many uses with the actions on the respiratory system being anti-infectious, expectorant, as well as soothing to mucous membranes. This is especially beneficial when treating irritated mucosa (lining of the nose, throat and chest) associated with allergies.
Applications of these essential oils:
The oils can be used in a number of different applications to treat coughs, colds and flu this winter:
Sniffle Soother Burner essence: Our Sniffle Soother burner essence comes in a 12ml and 55ml and contains eucalyptus, tea tree, benzoin and marjoram. It is best used for easy breathing and to ease blocked noses and tight chests. Add a few drops of this burner essence onto water or crystals in a traditional aromatherapy burner or on our Scentstation. (Take a look at our Scentstation and Sniffle Soother combo)
Sinus Soother Mini Roll On: Sinus Soother is a unique combination of tea tree, eucalyptus and lavender, blended in jojoba and almond oils. Use the roller ball to apply the oil to the sides of the nose, under cheeks, above eyebrows and behind the ears to relieve congestion. Can be used on the throat and chest to alleviate congestion.
Sneezes and Wheezes Bath & Massage: Containing lavender, eucalyptus and tea tree simply add 5ml to the bath and oil enjoy the vapours that will open up tight chests and relieve sinus congestion. Massage the back, feet and chest with the oil to open up airways before bed.
Sinusniff inhaler: Clearing the nasal passages, whether from colds and flu or sinus congestion is easily achieved using this inhaler that contains a synergistic blend of peppermint, benzoin and eucalyptus essential oils.
Some points to bear in mind:
The whole effect is more than the sum of its parts: these essential oils are effective individually as well as their combined synergistic effect having a beneficial outcome. So a mixture of more than one effective respiratory oil is better than a single oil.
Less is better than more: With aromatherapy and essential oils very little is required to have a therapeutic benefit and because of their localised action, an effect or outcome is instant. Too much essential oil can cause irritation and because the oils are inhaled directly into the nose, mouth and lungs small quantities go a long way.
Only use oils on the skin if they have been properly diluted: Moreover if there is any adverse effect the use should be terminated immediately.
We wish you a healthy winter
Yours in aromatic wellbeing
• We make ready to use preparations
• This article is meant to advise for general day to day colds, coughs and flu – further treatment may be required in more serious instances
• Caution with infants, elderly or medically compromised persons
For more information and research contact the author