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14 Best Essential Oils For Bronchitis

young woman coughing from bronchitis

In addition to medications, many prefer to tackle their ailments with natural treatments. The volatile nature of essential oils allows them to reach the lower part of the respiratory tract. Bronchitis primarily affects this area of the body. Here, we explore the best essential oils for bronchitis.   

Essential Oils for Bronchitis

Essential oils have varying properties. When buying them to treat specific medical conditions, it’s necessary to research the benefits. 

Here’s how the following oils can help people with bronchitis:

Antibacterial and Antiviral Properties

The following oils have antibacterial and antiviral properties:


Cinnamon has a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine. Herbalists prescribed it to manage respiratory diseases like chronic bronchitis and the common cold. 

Cinnamon contains antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties. All of these fight respiratory tract infections like bronchitis, coughing, and sinus infection.

Studies also show its potency in antiviral properties, which protect against respiratory infections. Diffusing cinnamon essential oil provides the best results. Its antibacterial properties also make cinnamon effective for stomach flu. 


Thyme may be most famous for its culinary properties, but it also has medicinal benefits. Thyme essential oil is rich in antibacterial and antispasmodic properties, which relieve bronchitis.

A trial to test its efficacy found that a mixture of essential oils of thyme and ivy reduced recurrent infections in people with chronic bronchitis. The mixture was administered three times a day. 

Tea Tree 

Most know of tea tree oil because of its cosmetic benefits but it can also be used for bronchitis. Tea tree essential oil has antibacterial properties that prevent respiratory problems like bronchitis and sinus infections.

Tea tree oil has been used among Australia’s Aboriginal people for hundreds of years. They crush tea tree leaves and inhale the oil extracted to ease coughing.

Congestion Relief

clear essential oil blend for congestion relief

The following oils help with congestion relief:


Cypress essential oil comes from the stems, leaves, and twigs of a cypress tree. Oil extracted from cypress leaves and cones contains camphene, an active ingredient in herbal cough suppressants that ease congestion. 

Camphene also has expectorant properties that help relieve some bronchitis symptoms and phlegm.


Eucalyptus oil is an ingredient in many over-the-counter congestion relief medicines. Chest rubs and OTC vapor, for example, may contain eucalyptus oil or the oil’s essential compound, cineole.

Eucalyptus oil is effective in easing a cough. It can be added to an ounce of carrier oil and rubbed on the throat and chest or diluted in boiling water and inhaled to ease bronchitis symptoms.


While this spice is a staple in a range of culinary dishes, it also has medicinal benefits. Its decongestant and expectorant properties are most significant. As a result, it is an effective treatment for respiratory infections. It loosens phlegm and mucus deposits upon administration, expelling them from the respiratory tract. 


Hyssop essential oil comes from the plant’s leaves and flowers. This oil has been a staple in folk medicine among people living in the Middle East and Southern Europe. Natives used it to treat the common cold, as they believed it reduced chest congestion and sore throat.

Hyssop oil contains tannins, flavonoids, and volatile oils. More research is necessary to determine the efficacy of hyssop oil in treating bronchitis symptoms. Still, many report positive effects. 


Rosemary is a common ingredient in tea because of its sweet smell and taste. However, research shows one of its primary ingredients is camphor, which acts as a cough suppressant and decongestant. 

Camphor also contains anti-inflammatory properties, which ease bronchitis symptoms. 


This essential oil has been a common herbal remedy among many cultures. Chinese herbalists, for example, prescribed it to treat chest pain. Ayurvedic healers also prescribe it for bronchitis specifically.

Today, sandalwood oil is still used to treat upper respiratory infections like pneumonia. Future research is necessary to verify its exact effectiveness in treating bronchitis.

Cough Remedy

The following oils can help ease congestion when coughing: 


Bergamot oil serves to relieve congestion when coughing. It contains a camphene molecule that alleviates respiratory tract fluid during chest congestion. Humidifiers and diffusers are best when using bergamot essential oil for bronchitis symptoms.


Frankincense oil is known for its sweet smell and is often used in perfumes. Traditionally, it was used to ease respiratory infections like coughs and asthma. Studies also show its active ingredients have anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing effects when applied topically.


Geranium oil is associated with preventing infections in the upper respiratory tract. A review of 34 random trials found that this oil reduced coughing duration and severity in adults. Of note, fewer than 3% of participants reported adverse effects, none of which were serious.


Lavender is a common ingredient in aromatherapy, thanks to its calming effects. Studies also show it eases asthmatic symptoms by inhibiting airway resistance. 

A study conducted on young mice showed that lavender oil reduced inflammation caused by bronchial asthma. 


Most natural care products used to treat respiratory conditions contain peppermint oil. Menthol, the active ingredient, helps soothe an itchy throat when inhaled. 

Peppermint oil produces a cooling sensation that relaxes the bronchial muscles, thus easing breathing when coughing. The oil can be added to boiling water and inhaled, added to a diffuser, or blended with other topical oils.

How to Safely Use Essential Oils

person placing drops of essential oils into a diffuser

While essential oils provide natural alternatives for bronchitis, they present some risks. For example, peppermint oil can relieve coughs but can be irritating to the skin and airways.

It’s best to understand the different methods of administering the oils and seek professional advice on the best way to do it. We look at four primary modes of administration.

Direct Inhalation

It’s the most common technique of administering essential oils. Simply open the bottle and breathe in the aroma. Alternatively, you can pour a few drops on a handkerchief or use a special oil inhaler

The main advantage of using an inhaler is that you don’t have to carry a bottle of essential oil everywhere. It also holds the aroma for longer.

Steam Inhalation

The method involves adding a few drops of the essential oil in a bowl of steaming water to vaporize the oil. 

You may cover your head with a towel, then place your head over the bowl and breathe deeply. The method is potent when treating infections in the upper respiratory tract.


Diffusion is a method of dispersing aromatic molecules into the air. Inhalation by diffusion is one of the safest ways of administering essential oils. The diffuser releases tiny oil particles into the room.

Topical Application

This method is best when the essential oil is mixed with a carrier oil like olive oil, jojoba, or grapeseed. The most common areas for topical application are the chest, temple, feet, and pulse points. 

Be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions before application and always consult a medical professional prior to using any essential oils or changing your health routine. Not all oils are safe for topical use. Topical application of essential oils to treat respiratory problems is usually done on the chest. Peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils are generally applied to the chest to ease congestion, bronchitis, and asthma.

Risks and Possible Side Effects

The U.S. Food and Administration doesn’t regulate the production of essential oils. This means their content and quality vary from one manufacturer to another. 

Also, there are no specific dosages for essential oils. As such, it’s critical to consult a doctor when using oils to treat health conditions like bronchitis. Potential side effects of the oils include:

  • Irritation and burning: That’s why it’s essential to dilute the oils with a carrier oil before applying them to the skin. Apply a small amount to a small area of the skin to test its reaction.
  • Headache: Inhaling too much can lead to headaches.
  • Asthma attacks: While the oils are mainly administered through inhalation, people who are sensitive to allergies may develop asthmatic attacks after breathing in the fumes.

Tips for Using Essential Oils

young woman using soothing scents aromatherapy inhaler

Here are some best practices for the safe use of essential oils. Of course, you should always consult your physician prior to using them or making a change to your health routine.

Blend With a Carrier Oil Before Application

A carrier oil is used to dilute essential oils before use. This is because the oils are potent and can cause irritation when applied to the skin. Carrier oils are lightly scented and hardly affect the essential oil’s therapeutic properties.

Consult Your Doctor

If using the oils to treat certain medical conditions, it’s best to consult a doctor. Pregnant and nursing parents should also seek professional advice before using essential oils. Some professionals discourage the use of oils for patients who are pregnant or lactating.  

Do a Patch-Test for New Oils

If using the oils for the first time, it’s best to perform a patch test to check if your skin is allergic. If the area develops a rash or your skin is irritated, avoid using the oil.

Also, ensure you are using high-quality products. Without proper regulation and certification, it’s easy for companies to develop fake products and claim they offer therapeutic benefits. Some ways to identify pure essential oils include:

  • Check the label: High-quality essential oils are 100% pure. 
  • Stored in a dark glass bottle: Pure essential oils are highly concentrated. Dark bottles prevent light deterioration and allow the product to last longer.
  • Label: The label should show the oil’s source.
  • Amount: High-quality essential oils are usually sold in small quantities. Look for bottles that are 4 ounces or fewer.

What is Bronchitis?

Bronchitis is a medical condition that causes bronchial tubes to get inflamed. They deliver air from the trachea to the lungs. When inflamed, they develop thick, discolored mucus.

The inflammation can result from a cold or respiratory infection. The result is often a cough, low fever, and shortness of breath. Bronchitis can be acute or chronic:

  • Acute bronchitis: Also known as a chest cold. Acute bronchitis is the most common type affecting 30-50 people in every 1,000 annually. Acute bronchitis lasts seven to ten days and doesn’t cause lasting effects.
  • Chronic bronchitis: This type is more persistent. It lasts for up to three months every year for at least two consecutive years. Chronic bronchitis obstructs the airflow and results from illness, severe respiratory infection, exposure to tobacco smoke, or toxic gases.

The symptoms are similar to those of flu or the common cold. They include:

  • A runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Sneezing
  • Fever 
  • Shortness of breath
  • Back and muscle aches
  • Mucus production (sputum) that is white, green, clear, or yellowish-green

Studies show essential oils have effectively treated various respiratory conditions. Some examples are coughs, common colds, sinus infections, sore throat, and cold sores.

When buying essential oils to treat bronchitis, look for specific properties such as: 

  • Antibacterial: To prevent further infection
  • Anti-inflammatory: To soothe the inflamed bronchial tubes
  • Antitussive: The oils should be able to relieve the cough by blocking the cough reflex
  • Expectorant: They should also thin the mucus, which helps clear the airway
  • Antiviral: The oils should suppress the virus causing infection
  • Decongestant: They should relieve any nasal congestion and help you breathe easily
  • Pain-relieving: The oils may also reduce muscle aches  

Summing It Up

When it comes to the best essential oils for bronchitis, the list above covers a wide variety of options that are backed by studies. It’s always important to speak with your doctor prior to using oils or making any change to your health routine though.

It’s also important to buy essential oils from a reliable company to enjoy their benefits in a pure form. Soothing Scents is one such company that sells 100% pure essential oils. Check out our shop for our individual oils, inhalers, and more. 

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