Essential oils have been used by generations of people across many different cultures for natural treatment of ailments. Historians say that herbal remedies date back as far as the Paleolithic period, 60,000 years ago. Some cultures used essential oils for wound healing, while others used them to fight off infections like the common cold.
Unlike pharmaceuticals, a single plant, herb, fruit, or vegetable exhibits a multitude of health properties. Lavender, for example, exhibits anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anti-anxiety, and antidepressant properties. Like many natural remedies, essential oils have more anecdotal evidence than research-backed scientific evidence. Nevertheless, essential oils are very popular in the world of natural remedies and alternative medicine.
Many people incorporate essential oils into DIY health and beauty products, but inhaling their aroma via a diffuser may be great for relieving cough and cold symptoms. Next time you have a cough or experience congestion, consider experimenting with the following essential oils. There are even studies that support their abilities to relieve symptoms!
Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Exhibiting a forest-like scent, eucalyptus essential oil has antiviral and antimicrobial properties. For anyone who has been in a eucalyptus-scented steam room, breathing the aroma works to relieve chest congestion and aid breathing. The menthol in eucalyptus helps to warm the nasal cavity while causing an immune response, a combination that helps accelerate recovery. One study found that the antimicrobial properties may fight off bacteria that cause cough or cold symptoms.
Lavender Essential Oil
There are many studies surrounding lavender essential oil. It may help to lower stress levels, reduce anxiety, improve sleep, improve mood, and relieve a hacking cough. Due to the antimicrobial properties, lavender essential oil works to fight bacteria and viruses responsible for respiratory infections. It’s best to inhale the aroma through a diffuser, but you can also put some under your pillow at night, which may promote relaxation in the process.
Rosemary Essential Oil
Rosemary essential oil is great for boosting hair growth, but it is also known for its healing properties. Many aromatherapists use rosemary essential oil because it soothes the respiratory system by decreasing congestion and making it easier to breathe. Other studies confirm that rosemary essential oil works to break up mucus and reduce inflammation. Researchers attribute these abilities to the primary compound cineole, which is a natural monoterpene.
Peppermint Essential Oil
According to a 2013 study, peppermint essential oil can be used to help relax the muscles of the windpipe, the bronchial muscles. Researchers believe this is why inhaling the oil’s aroma eases breathing in people with coughs. Peppermint essential oil also contains menthol, which provides a cooling sensation upon inhalation that can numb or soothe a sore throat. Menthol also works to fight off bacteria in the respiratory tract, while simultaneously opening the sinuses and reducing congestion.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is one of the most common essential oils in the world of natural beauty and alternative remedies. Several studies show that the anti-inflammatory properties may work well against cold-related symptoms, including sore throat and chest congestion. Inhaling tea tree oil’s aroma may protect against respiratory infections and seasonal allergies. One study found that tea tree oil exhibits antiviral properties, which may work to fight viruses or bacteria that lead to the common cold.
Oregano Essential Oil
A tried and true remedy for coughs and colds, oregano essential oil acts as an expectorant to clear up chest and sinus congestion. If you have a respiratory tract infection, this is great news, as chest congestion can increase the pain of coughing. Oregano essential oil also has a warm and welcoming scent, which can promote better sleep. Adding a few drops to a diffuser or under your pillow can help you sleep better and breathe through the night.
Thyme Essential Oil
Thyme essential oil contains thymol, which exhibits antibacterial activity that may be effective against respiratory ailments like asthma or bronchitis. The oil also has a high level of carvacrol, which may be helpful in protecting against viruses and bacteria. Next time you have a sore throat, put thyme essential oil in a diffuser to ease your cough and breathing. Similar to oregano essential oil, thyme essential oil exhibits an herbaceous scent that may improve sleep.