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Learning about the most common respiratory conditions and how to protect yourself using essential oils for respiratory support can be the difference between getting sick and staying healthy. You’ll find that inhaling these through an aromatherapy inhaler or ultrasonic diffuser will be your new best friend.

Chronic Diseases That Compromise Your Respiratory System

Chronic respiratory issues appear in many forms and can make you vulnerable to complications from socially spread viruses such as influenza. If you do have a respiratory disease, you can take actions that protect your health and boost your immunity. The key is to get started before you get sick. Here are some of the most common health conditions that can compromise your lung health.


Asthma (1) is a chronic disease that inflames and constricts the air passages in the lungs, causing wheezing, breathlessness, coughing, and chest tightness. It commonly impacts children. In 2017, 8.4% of children (2) in the U.S. under the age of 18 had asthma. Typically, asthma is controlled with medication and avoiding triggers. The CDC (3) reports that people with asthma who are infected with respiratory viruses are at a higher risk of serious health concerns.

Chronic Cough

If you have a cough that lasts 8 weeks or more, you may be diagnosed with a chronic cough (4). Children are diagnosed after 4 weeks. The key to this problem is discovering the root cause, which can involve X-rays or CT scans. Some doctors, however, will move directly to treatment, however, a proper diagnosis of the underlying health condition will be better for guiding treatment.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, “a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs,” according to the Mayo Clinic. Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Cough
  • Wheezing
  • Mucus

Smoking (5) is the leading cause of COPD, causing up to 80% of cases, although other causes include second-hand smoke, genetics, and exposure to certain fumes, gases, or other environmental threats. COPD is treated with medication, oxygen therapy, exercise, nutrition, breathing strategies, and more. Surgery may be required in severe cases.

Pulmonary Fibrosis

This disease (6) occurs when lung tissue is scarred or damaged, making it difficult to breathe. It has many causes including:

  • Exposure to certain toxins and environmental threats
  • Radiation treatment
  • Chemotherapy drugs
  • Certain heart medications, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Certain medical conditions

It is usually treated with medication, oxygen therapy, and pulmonary rehabilitation. More severe cases may require a lung transplant.

Harmful Respiratory Infections and Breathing Issues

For people with chronic breathing issues, respiratory infections from viruses or bacteria can pose a threat to your health and well-being. Special care should be taken with the following diseases:

Acute Bronchitis/Chest Cold

Acute bronchitis(7), commonly known as a chest cold, is caused by inflammation in your lungs. It can either be caused by a virus or bacteria so the CDC recommends you do not take antibiotics for this illness. In fact, this disease usually gets better on its own but you’ll want to see a doctor for any serious symptoms, such as bloody mucus or trouble breathing. Using essential oils with anti-inflammatory properties could help relieve the tightness in your chest and speed healing.

Other symptoms include:

  • Cough
  • Mucus
  • Fever
  • Sore chest
  • Fatigue
  • Mild head or body aches
  • Sore throat


Influenza (8), or the flu, is a virus that attacks your respiratory system. Using essential oils with antiviral properties may help relieve some of these common symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills and sweats
  • Head or body aches
  • Dry, persistent cough
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sore throat

It often heals on its own but certain people are at higher risk of complications during flu season, including:

  • Children under 5 and babies
  • People over 65
  • Pregnant women and those up to two weeks postpartum
  • People with weakened immune systems or chronic illnesses
  • People who are very obese


Pneumonia (9) is a lung infection caused by inflammation of the lower respiratory tract. It is very dangerous, especially for those in high-risk groups. Pneumonia is usually caused by viruses and can be a complication of influenza.

According to a 2015 study (9), most upper respiratory tract infections are caused by viruses, but bacteria can play a role in these diseases as well. Lower respiratory tract infections, including several types of pneumonia, are commonly caused by bacteria.

Building Immunity Against Respiratory Health Concerns

If you have one of these conditions, you may be at risk for complications if you fall ill. In addition to essential oils for respiratory support, you can work with your doctor for complex treatments for any concerning conditions. Adopting a healthier lifestyle will help boost your immune system:

Top 10 Essential Oils For Respiratory Support

Are essential oils helpful for respiratory tract infections? One of the great benefits of these oils is that they have been shown in lab studies to have antimicrobial effects that include inhibiting antiviral and antibacterial properties.

Let’s look at some of the top essential oils for respiratory issues and ways to use them for their medicinal properties. Note that most of these studies are laboratory experiments and not human test trials, however, the results can still be informative!

1. Eucalyptus Essential Oil

With its medicinal aroma, eucalyptus oil has been the subject of much research focusing on respiratory diseases. According to Respiratory Research, the main constituent of eucalyptus oil, cineole, may benefit COPD patients. In 2009, 242 COPD patients, all former smokers, were given a placebo or cineole for 6 months. Those treated with cineole had improved airflow, reduced shortness of breath, and better health.

Other varieties of eucalyptus oil were also found (10) to kill the bacteria that causes 90% of the cases of tuberculosis, which is often resistant to treatment. In addition to its medicinal properties, this oil has lots of practical uses around the home from stain removal to refreshing your home’s air filters!

Application: Diffuse 5-6 drops of our Deep Breathing Blend of equal parts cardamomeucalyptus, lemon, peppermint, rosemary, and tea tree essential oils for respiratory system health in a synergistic blend!

2. Peppermint Essential Oil

Many of us are familiar with peppermint oil as a potent scent that can invigorate our senses, so it’s no surprise to see it on this list! Japanese scientists tested (11) peppermint extract on mice with inflamed nasal mucous membranes caused by allergic reactions. Peppermint oil reduced sneezing and nasal rubbing in the mice making it a useful tool for people suffering from these issues so utilize the anti-inflammatory effect as needed.

It’s also been shown (12) to have moderate antiviral properties and slightly inhibit different strains of influenza and staph viruses. Because it is potent and yet so pleasing, we think peppermint oil is a great choice for congestion and stuffiness.

That said, be sure to follow professional recommendations and healthcare provider advice if you’re in the middle of complex treatment. And of course, remember that peppermint oil is a medicinal-quality substance and should be used with essential oil safety guidelines in mind.

Application: Diffuse 3 drops of peppermint and 3 drops of lavender oil. This can also help relieve inflammation if you are experiencing pain with your respiratory symptoms.

3. Cardamom Essential Oil

Similar to ginger, cardamom is an expensive cooking spice and is known to help the digestive system in a variety of ways. Cardamom essential oil includes 1,8-cineole shared with the respiratory poster-oil eucalyptus, a chemical (13) that has been used to treat multiple inflammatory disorders such as bronchitis, sinusitis, chronic rhinitis, and asthma.

Application: Beneficial for digestive health, try adding 1 drop of cardamom, and 1 drop of ginger in a gel capsule, fill it with an edible carrier like olive oil, and consume once daily for up to 3-4 weeks. Try the blend in a diffuser for a fast-acting anti-inflammatory effect.

4. Caraway Essential Oil

Another respiratory oil to consider caraway because of its rich antioxidant activity and anti-inflammatory effects (14), as well as antispasmodic and antihistamine activity (15). Though not an essential oil study, the antispasmodic effect of an alcoholic extract of caraway has shown inhibitory effects on smooth muscle contractions induced by the spasmogens, acetylcholine and histamine.

Application: Also, beneficial for digestive health, try adding 1 drop of caraway, 1 drop of cardamom, and 1 drop of peppermint and fill with an edible carrier like olive oil in a gel capsule and consume once daily for up to 3-4 weeks.

5. Tea Tree Essential Oil

Tea Tree essential oil is already known to have proven benefits for a multitude of health issues, from wound care to fighting acne. Research (16) has shown it has strong antimicrobial properties, combating both bacteria and fungi. And a study (17) from China showed that inhaling tea tree oil is a better antifungal than the medicine fluconazole, and acted similarly to penicillin, both instances on a rat model of pneumonia.

This is very important as we live in an age where antibiotic overuse has led to drug resistance, when a bacteria, a fungus, or a virus can become completely resistant to drugs – creating a superbug that can withstand all treatments. In fact, in 2015, the White House created an action plan (18) supporting the development of “non-traditional approaches.” Tea tree oil can be an important tool in your kit!

Application: Add a drop to your favorite diffuser blends. Add 1 drop of tea tree and 1 drop of oregano essential oils to a gel capsule filled with carrier oil and consume. For people battling a serious illness, consider taking up to two capsules a day.

6. Lavender Essential Oil

Best known for relieving stress, headaches, and anxiety, lavender essential oil may also be beneficial for people suffering from asthma. In 2017, scientists in Japan tested (19) lavender essential oil and its main constituents, linalyl acetate and linalool, on a mouse model of asthma. They concluded that it had an anti-inflammatory effect for asthma and respiratory patients.

Lavender is a flexible oil that blends well with many other oils and enjoys a long history in both traditional medicine and modern research.

Application: Use as part of our Good-Bye Allergy Blend, adding equal parts of lavender, lemon, and peppermint oils to your diffuser for a synergistic approach to clearing your sinuses.

7. Thyme Essential Oil

A 2001 study (12) from Japan tested the effects of essential oils against numerous bacteria, including Streptococcus pneumoniae, a common cause of pneumonia. Among 14 tested oils, thyme essential oil was one of three that had the highest activity against the respiratory tract pathogens that were studied.

Thyme oil has also been shown (19) to have antimicrobial effects, so we think this is a great choice for diffusion to support healthy immune function.

Application: Add 1-2 drops each of thyme, peppermint, and lemon essential oils to your diffuser for an energizing and disinfecting effect. You can also add a few drops of thyme to a spritz bottle of 190-proof grain alcohol for topical disinfecting, particularly on your kitchen counters.

8. Cinnamon Bark Essential Oil

Cinnamon bark essential oil was another one of the 14 tested (12) for respiratory tract pathogens, including bacteria linked to certain flu and pneumonia diseases. Cinnamaldehyde, its major constituent, showed some of the highest antibacterial properties in inhibiting the growth of these strains. It also has many other medicinal properties, and is the subject of over 80 studies (21) researching its ability to inhibit cancer and tumors!

Be sure to buy cinnamon bark oil and not cinnamon leaf oil, as they contain very different constituents. This warm, spicy oil has been known as a sensitizer so be careful to dilute it properly to avoid allergic reactions.

Application: Diffuse 5-6 drops of our Immune Boosting Blend of equal parts cinnamon bark, clove, eucalyptus, lemon, orange, and rosemary essential oils for a synergistic health blend!

9. Lemongrass Essential Oil

The third essential oil that performed with top scores in the study (12) on respiratory pathogens is lemongrass. This should be no surprise since lemongrass oil has a long history in traditional medicine in many cultures. Modern research, however, has studied lemongrass oil for its antimicrobial effects in food safety, (27) and its ability to combat antibiotic-resistant airborne pathogens, such as MRSA.

Lemongrass has many other benefits, but be careful. If you have sensitive skin, you may react with a rash or discomfort. Always dilute essential oils properly before using them on your skin.

Application: Diffuse equal parts lemongrass and geranium essential oils to clear your air.

10. Clove Essential Oil

Clove essential oil has antifungal, antiseptic, and antibacterial properties and is often used for dental health. The aromatic extract derived from the clove flower bud of Syzygium aromaticum has proven (22) helpful in preventing asthma in laboratory rats.

Note that clove oil does not mix well with certain medications, such as blood thinners, so check with your physician before using it if this impacts you. It is a very potent oil so be sure to properly dilute it.

Application: Experts estimate that 80% of disease symptoms are caused by problems in the mouth, so starting an oil-pulling routine can help keep you healthy. Add 1 drop each of clove, and peppermint oils to 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and swish it around your mouth for 15 minutes. You can do this 3-4 times per week. Be careful not to get any undiluted clove on your skin or mouth, as it can burn.

11. Mandarin Essential Oil

Chinese researchers (23) investigated the effects of different doses of mandarin essential oil on a rat model of pulmonary fibrosis once per day for four weeks. Rats treated with mandarin oil had less lung inflammation and better fibrosis scores than those who were not.

But that’s not all that’s great about this oil! Mandarin essential oil was also tested (24), in conjunction with geranium and lavender oils, on 39 dementia patients and found to provide the following impact:

  • Increased alertness and contentment
  • Increased sleep at night
  • Reduced levels of agitation, withdrawal, and wandering

While this is a small study, mandarin oil may be a good choice for seniors experiencing neurological issues.

Application: Make a safely diluted 2% body oil by adding 4 drops each of lavender, geranium, and mandarin essential oils with 2 ounces of carrier oil like almond oil and apply as a body salve. The anti-inflammatory effect will have you breathing easier, and feeling better, in no time!

12. Orange Essential Oil

Orange essential oil is another excellent choice for lung health thanks to its superior antioxidant properties (25). And it’s very versatile, easy to use, and affordable. If I had to choose, I’d select this affordable oil over many of the high-priced oils, especially if you are just getting started! It has a proven (26) anti-inflammatory effect on the respiratory tract when blended with aloe, coconut, and peppermint oils, and vitamin E.

In fact, many citrus oils have potent healing abilities because of the medicinal properties of limonene, which research (27) has shown to prevent bronchial obstruction and asthma in rats. Use this anti-inflammatory effect to your benefit by utilizing orange oil around the home.

Application: Add 40 drops of orange essential oil to 8 ounces of grain alcohol as a safe disinfectant to clean moldy showers and germy countertops.

Breathe Easy Essential Oil Blend

Try our “Deep Breathing” blend of essential oils to help support respiratory health if you’re having a bad day. You can see more of our favorite everyday diffuser blends here.

Simply mix 1 drop each of Cardamom, eucalyptus, lemon, peppermint, rosemary, and tea tree essential oil into your diffuser for a gentle but powerful anti-inflammatory effect. Alternatively, you can mix equal parts into an emptied and washed extra oil bottle for on-the-go support for respiratory issues while you’re away from home.




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Scripture is filled with natural remedies & sacred plants. Study 12 Healing Oils of the Bible for a greater appreciation of God's provision!
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