“When the breath is unsteady, all is unsteady; when the breath is still; all is still. Control the breath carefully. Inhalation gives strength and a controlled body; retention gives steadiness of mind and longevity; exhalation purifies body and spirit.”
The quote by Goraksasathakam might have a spiritual connotation, but the restorative power of each deep breath is undeniable. There are numerous scenes in movies where we can see the coach telling this athlete to take a deep breath. Why is that?
It is because a deep breath lowers elevated blood pressure, lowers hear beat rates, reduces stress and anxiety levels, and helps a person relax.
But, those suffering with any form of respiratory ailments (including common colds and coughs) will find it hard to take even one deep breath. Thankfully, we have several essential oils for breathing better. Essential oils are natural products that clear the respiratory tract and boost the immunity. The oils are efficient in fighting bacterial and viral infections that cause the nasal blockage.
A 2015 study published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Flavour and Fragrance Journal concludes that essential oils are antimicrobial and anti‐inflammatory agents that reduce the symptoms of respiratory tract diseases and respiratory tract infections. 
Top 21 Essential Oils For Breathing Better
There are several essential oils made up of different compounds with different composition. Out of the many essential oils available for purchase here’s a list of essential oils that makes breathing better.
1. Eucalyptus Essential Oil for Better Breathing
The oil extracted from the Eucalyptus radiata tree is used to enhance breathing since ancient times. The oil is applied topically and its aroma is inhaled to promote better breathing. The oil is diffused in homes during winter season to promote the health and vitality of the entire family. Common colds cause mucous accumulation in the respiratory tract.
Diffuser therapy with eucalyptus essential oil is a good way to protect the children and the rest of the family safe. Eucalyptus oil has a cooling effect and supports deep breathing. The oil is rich in cineoles (1, 8 cineole) that causes the mucus to breakdown.
A placebo-controlled double-blind trial done in 2013 and published in the Cough journal showed the efficiency of cineole in treatment of acute bronchitis.  The oil of eucalyptus also has a stimulating effect on the mind and it reduces stress and anxiety which also allows for smooth breathing. It also has eucalyptol which may help clear breathing by fighting bacteria and reducing inflammation. It can also lower muscle tension that can result from coughs.
While using this essential oil for children, make sure to dilute the oil up to 0.25% in a carrier oil; or, take a minimal amount in the diffuser. With the necessary precaution in place, eucalyptus oil is a good oil for treating respiratory ailments because of its strong scent. This essential oil is useful for stuffy nose, stuffy chest and other infections.
2. Rosemary Essential Oil for Easy Breathing
Rosemary essential oil is a versatile oil that decongest the nose and chest, loosens the phlegm and clears the respiratory system. It is known as the oil of protection, but it also rejuvenates the nervous system. Rosemary oil also has cineole that breaks the mucus.
It also has anti-inflammatory properties that soothe inflammation. It is known as the rose of the sea and has been used to open up the sinuses and detox the lungs.
Gya Labs Rosemary oil can be used via direct inhalation through the bottle; but, using an aroma diffuser has a long term effect. Rosemary oil’s aroma also has promotes mental clarity. A 2009 study shows that massage with rosemary oil has a stimulating effect on the mind. 
3. Peppermint Essential Oil For Breathing Smoothly
Peppermint is one of the popular choices when it comes to treating respiratory ailments. It is used in several pharmaceutical products aimed at opening up the respiratory tract. It has a good amount of menthol known for its decongestant properties. It is also an anti-inflammatory agent that calms the inflammation of the membranes in the nose.
The cooling sensation of peppermint oil also loosens the rigid phlegm in the nasal tract. This oil can be diffused in the office or in the homes to promote wellbeing. Peppermint oil has antimicrobial properties and a penetrating scent that can treat blocked nose due to any infections. The oil works as vapor or chest rub.
Peppermint essential oil must not be used on children because the menthol content may slow the breathing. This oil has amazing results when used by adults. However, there are two safety precautions that one must follow while using peppermint oil. Firstly, this oil has an energizing effect, and hence may hamper sleep. So, it must not be diffused at night. Secondly, pregnant women must avoid using this oil.
4. Frankincense Essential Oil For Respiratory Health
Frankincense oil has long been used to treat respiratory conditions including bronchitis, asthma, sinusitis, catarrh and coughs. Besides its anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties, the oil is also known to uplift the mood and spirits. Frankincense has been used for many centuries.
The simplest way using frankincense is to add a few drops of the oil on a hot wet towel and place the towel on the chest and throat. Breathe deeply for a few minutes to get relief. An aroma diffuser is also used to diffuse the aroma of frankincense; not only will it treat respiratory issues, but also calms the ambience.
Those who have been coughing incessantly must inhale the aroma of frankincense as it slows down the respiration. As the breath slow down, the brains waves slow down and our mood changes. The aroma is used in places of worship because of its peaceful nature. Whenever there is shortness of breath, diffuse frankincense.
This oil, up on topical application, also restores the damaged tissues during breath alveoli. The oil of frankincense is also thought to be safe around children. However, avoid frankincense during pregnancy. The properties of frankincense were published in a 2014 study. 
Frankincense essential oil is a useful oil in dealing with Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a chronic inflammatory lung disease. Here’s an essential oil breathe blend recipe for topical application for people with COPD.
Frankincense Oil Recipe for COPD
- 5 drops of Frankincense essential oil
- 2 drops of Sweet basil essential oil
- 1 drop of Niaouli essential oil
- 1 drop of Benzoin essential oil
- 10ml of Grape seed carrier oil
- 2 tablespoons of Tamanu oil
- Mix all the oils together.
- Massage the oil on the chest and upper back till it is absorbed.
- Use it every day in the morning and evening.
Not for pregnant women.
5. Tea Tree Essential Oil for Healthy Respiratory System
Tea tree in native to Australia and it is known that folks around the region used to crush the tea tree leaves and apply on wounds and inhale the scent. Tea tree oil has come a long way; it is still one of the widely used essential oils. It is diffused in homes during winter season to ward of respiratory issues and promote overall wellbeing.
It is also diffused during other times of the year to induce serenity and suppress stress and anxiety. The oil is diluted and applied topically. It is also used in hot and cold compresses. It is a strong oil and is hence diffused as a blend with lavender or peppermint oil. It is an oil that needs to be kept handy during flu season as it help to soothe or numb a scratchy throat.
Must read about : Winter Essential Oil Recipes
Tea Tree Oil Diffuser Recipe
- 1 drop of tea tree essential oil
- 2 drops of eucalyptus essential oil
- 4 drops of lavender essential oil
- This blend is not for topical use
- Do not diffuse the blend continuously. Diffuse for two hours and then switch off the diffuser and open the windows.
- Do not use the blend near children.
6. Juniper Berry Essential Oil for Lung Health
Juniper berry essential oil extracted from the shrub Juniperus communis L has a rich balsamic and resinous aroma that clears nasal congestion, thus allowing smooth breathing.
The juniper essential oil benefits in many ways with respiratory health issues, including promoting clear airways, reducing inflammation, and easing congestion. Its antimicrobial properties also make it a great natural remedy for fighting respiratory infections.
On topical application the oil has a cleansing action that clears the nose and throat. It can be applied on the palms and inhaled to detoxify and cleanse the lungs.
7. Bergamot Essential Oil for Respiratory Congestion
Bergamot oil has citrusy herbaceous aroma that is used in confectionaries and perfumes. It has a bioactive compound called camphene which is similar to camphor. The camphene has a soothing effect on the lungs.
Toxicology in Vitro published a 2009 study that reports the pharmacological potential of camphene (and geraniol) in dealing with lung inflammatory diseases.  It has antioxidant properties that tackle the issues arising from oxidative stress. Respiratory problems can lower the mood; inhaling the aroma of bergamot oil directly from the bottle uplifts the mood.
8. Ginger Essential Oil For Easy Breathing
Ginger roots have several medicinal purposes including stimulating and rejuvenating the body’s functions. Inhaling the aroma of ginger oil promotes the functions of the respiratory system. The aromatic molecules of ginger oil open the airways and reduce any inflammation. The aroma of ginger is too strong and hence it is blended with other oils good for breathing.
Inhalation of ginger oil can also boost energy levels. Add ginger oil in the diffuser and inhale the aroma for 30 minutes to energize the respiratory system.
9. Silver Fir Essential Oil for Breathing
The abundance of monoterpenes in silver fir essential oil is useful in promoting respiratory health. The Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research published a study that investigated the efficacy of naturally occurring monoterpenes in dealing with experimental lung metastasis.  Silver fir oil also lowers body aches.
It has a strong resinous fragrance that calms the mind, promotes mental clarity and promotes proper sleep. Good uninterrupted sleep without the fear of blocked nose ensures faster recovery from respiratory problems. Add a few drops into the aroma diffuser and breathe in the aromatic molecules of the oil to get relief.
10. Rose Geranium Essential Oil for Better Breathing
Rose geranium oil is a popular essential oil that has therapeutic properties that makes breathing easier and promotes vitality for the all the members of the house. The aroma and molecules of rose geranium has a soothing effect on the respiration system. The oil from the Pelargonium roseum plant can be inhaled directly or diffused via an aroma diffuser. The aroma creates a positive space that promotes healing.
11. Cinnamon Essential Oil For Breathing Well
Cinnamon oil promotes the healing process of the body. Inhaling the aroma of cinnamon oil diffused in via a diffuser will open the lungs and get rid of the heaviness of the chest. The aroma of cinnamon is used in aromatherapy to uplift the mood. It can be mixed with any citrus based oils to boost the mood made sullen by the chest congestion.
12. Pine Essential Oil When You Are Short Of Breath
Pine essential oil has a woody aroma that makes us feel closer to the nature. Imagine walking in the woods in the morning and inhaling the fresh woody aroma of the nature. Diffusing the oil at home and inhaling its aroma has kind of the same feeling. The oil extracted from the coniferous trees has a grounding effect on the mind.
The agitation or irritation caused due to chest congestion can be subdued by inhaling the aroma of pine oil. The essential oil from the pine needle has antibacterial properties that support the immune system flush out the pathogens, thus opening the airways and clearing the nose. As a precaution, pine oil must not be used by pregnant women.
The Journal of Food and Science published a 2012 study that investigated the antioxidant and antimicrobial properties of essential oil from pine needles. 
13. Lavender Essential Oil Helps Breathe Easy
Lavender oil is a mild oil known for its versatility. It is has a soothing scent and feel. The antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of the oil are useful in opening clogged nasal passage. Life Sciences published a 2014 study that investigated the allergy suppression and anti-inflammatory properties of lavender oil on patients with bronchial asthma.
The study concluded that lavender essential oil can be an alternative treatment for bronchial asthma. However, more human trials are needed. 
14. Sweet Orange Essential Oil to Breathe Better
Sweet orange essential oil has therapeutic properties including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. A study was published in the European Journal of Medical Research that showed the effect of orange oil in fighting respiratory conditions. Also, the sweet aroma of orange oil boosts the spirits that helps cope with congestion. 
15. Oregano Essential Oil Treats Breathing Issues
The compound carvacrol is present in high levels in oregano essential oil. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that carvacrol has antimicrobial activities useful in treating both human and animal diseases.  This property of oregano oil makes it useful in fighting against colds and coughs caused by microbial infections.
16. Nutmeg Essential Oil and Cypress Essential Oil
The essential oils of nutmeg and cypress have the compound camphene, which has a cooling effect when inhaled. Camphene has good antioxidant properties that guards the cells against damage from oxidative stress and eliminates pathogens.
Other Essential Oils For Breathing
Some of the other essential oils that can be used in treating breathing difficulties are: –
17. Sweet basil essential oil
19. Myrtle essential oil
20. Lemon essential oil
21. Ravensara essential oil
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
So far we have looked at the essential oils that are useful for lung health, which can treat ailments including Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Let’s learn more about COPD. It is an umbrella term, which means that the term COPD encompasses Chronic Obstructive Airways Disease (COAD), chronic and acute bronchitis, and emphysema.
All these health scares are relieved and their symptoms mitigated with the use of essential oils in the aforementioned list. Here are some other issues that affect the lungs and hence cause difficulty in breathing.
Infections – The causes of infection are many and it varies from person to person. For instance, some cases of acute bronchitis are due to bacterial infections. In such cases, essential oils with good antimicrobial properties should be used to eliminate the microbes and strengthen the immune system. Some of these oils would be eucalyptus essential oil and tea tree essential oil. You can also make blends of oils including cinnamon oil, clove oil etc.
However, making blends is not as simple as mixing two drops of every oils and inhaling the aroma. For example, the ingredients euganol and cinnamaldehyde in clove oil and cinnamon oil respectively are good fighters against infections, but too much of these compounds can damage the mucus membrane. Hence, always contact an aromatherapist while using essential oils.
Essential Oils Based of Symptoms of Breathing Problems
Respiratory issues most often than not manifest in the form of shortness of breathing and coughing. These coughs will gradually get painful. The essential oils of sweet basil and myrtle are useful in tackling painful coughs.
If the difficulty in breathing is accompanied with stress and anxiety, then frankincense essential oil is the perfect choice. It opens the airways and calms the jittery nerves. Stress too can cause breathing difficulties; hence, frankincense oil is the best choice in such scenarios.
Frankincense oil is often blended with vetiver essential oil to combat breathing issues with stress. Or, simply inhaling the aroma of frankincense directly from the bottle will also give quick relief.
Can Essential Oils Repair Lung Damage?
Lung conditions including chronic bronchitis can damage the lung tissues and so far it is not known whether essential oils can repair lung damage. However, research has shown that compounds including thymol and geraniol have lung protecting qualities. These compounds are present in the essential oils of thyme, geranium and monarda. These oils can be used to boost lung health; however, more evidence from human trials is needed.
Side effects of Using Essential Oil
Essential oils are natural products extracted from plant parts. However, that does not mean that the oils are entirely safe. Some of the essential oils interact with certain medications and result in side effects.
Some essential oils can interact with the mucus membrane and make the condition worse. Lemongrass essential oil is an example. Sometime beneficial oils including cinnamon and clove oils can cause the same problem if used in excess.
The oils must be diffused in places with good ventilation so that proper air circulation is maintained in cases of nausea and dizziness.
If essential oils are diffused in a closed room then make sure that children, pets and pregnant women are not present in that room. Some essential oils may be toxic to children, pets and pregnant and nursing women.
Always See A Doctor If…
Patients of COPD have a higher risk of getting affected with diseases that target the lungs such as pneumonia and flu. At risk patients should also be wary of the common cold. Essential oils are an excellent complementary treatment for improving breathing. It can be used if the condition is minor. However, essential oils are not medicines, and hence one should always consult a doctor if symptoms of COPD flare up. Some of the symptoms that require immediate medical attention are: –
- Mucus colored brown or green
- Blood in the mucus
- Non-stop wheezing, coughing or difficulty breathing or Dizziness
- Tiredness all day
- Swollen ankles and wrists
- Waking up due to shortness of breath
- Sudden weight loss within a week
- Memory loss
Proper breathing is not just necessary when someone is suffering with conditions including colds, coughs, asthma and bronchitis. Better breathing should be a part of everyday life. Luckily there are the natural essential oils that promote healthy breathing by eliminating phlegm and mucus, and opening the respiratory tract.
Essential oils for better breathing can be diffused via an aroma diffuser, or it can be topically applied on the back, nose, chest and throat. Buy the right essential oils for better breathing.
Frequently Asked Questions
What essential oil is best for breathing?
Eucalyptus essential oil improves breathing. The oil has expectorant properties and has been used to improve the respiratory function for a long time.
Can essential oils help with shortness of breath?
Research has shown that inhaling the aroma of certain essential oils relaxes the bronchial muscles. This helps a person overcome shortness of breath. Essential oils also have anti-inflammatory properties and eliminate inflammation in the respiratory tract thus making breathing easier.
Does peppermint oil help breathing better?
Peppermint oil has menthol content which is a decongestant. It shrinks the swollen membranes in the nose and eliminates phlegm accumulates in the nose and lungs. Thus peppermint makes breathing better.
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