After enjoying good health all summer, many find that with the arrival of Fall comes respiratory illness. A few years ago this happened to me. For the first time in 10 years, I got sick. Really sick. Here’s my story of bronchitis and how I helped my body heal with essential oils.
I pride myself on consistent good health. I’m just never sick. I attribute this to working with essential oils every day, washing my hands frequently and generally being a pretty happy soul.
But in the Fall of 2010, I had my first-ever wrestling match with bronchitis. Out of the blue, I began to ache in my joints followed by three days of an elevated temperature of 102 which morphed into a cough the likes of which I’ve never known. James, my husband, insisted I see our family doc or he would bind my hands and feet and take me himself. I broke down and saw our Dr. Sally who took one listen to my lungs and said “Woah girl, you’ve got acute bronchitis.” She was particularly concerned because I’m not prone to lung troubles.
Despite my protests, Dr. Sally prescribed 40mg of Prednisone for five days (never again), Tylenol with Codeine at night and Albuterol to be used with an “AeroChamber” to assist the Albuterol into my lungs. My husband called this my “bronchitis bong”. Very funny.
After a week of this pharmaceutical bombardment, 10 hours of sleep at night, daytime naps and lots of essential oils. I began to return with the living.
As much as I embrace the power of natural therapies, visiting my allopathic doctor and taking the prescribed medications were necessary for me to reduce the inflammation in my lungs quickly. I’ll never say “we don’t need doctors” because we do. However, receiving and taking prescribed meds is where many people stop in treating their own illness. For me, healing is like a wheel with many spokes and it usually takes several methods of treatment to deal with illness. For my bronchitis, pharmaceuticals was just ONE spoke in that wheel, and I’m positive that my diligent use of essential oils was an important part of my continued recovery, especially since illnesses of the lung can linger on forever without them.
Here was my treatment plan:
How I Chose the Essential Oils I Used to treat my Bronchitis
First of all, let’s look at what action I’ wanted from the oils. Bronchitis is, in a few words, congestion and inflammation of the bronchial passages in the lungs. The body creates a ton of thick mucus which can be sticky and difficult to expel, thereby creating a hard cough – your body’s way of getting it out.
Therefore, I chose essential oils that contained a significant percentage of Ketones which are highly effective mucolytics (help dissolve mucous) and act as expectorants. I also used oils high in Oxides which help decongest, decrease coughing and aid mucous expectoration. Other actions I sought from my oils were anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, warming and relaxing.
Methods of Application I used
1. Steam Inhalations: 1 drop of essential oil in a bowl of steamy hot water, 2-3 times/day, 5 min (note: I varied the oils with each inhalation)
- Spike Lavender (Lavendula latifolia), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis ct. camphor), Eucalyptus Dives (all three oils are mucolytic, expectorant)
- Tea Tree (decongestant, anti-infectious, expectorant)
2. Nightly Chest Rub with Jojoba Oil at a 3% dilution (15 drops to 1 oz ounce of Jojoba) (varying the oils I use)
- Spike Lavender (mucolytic, expectorant and I love the smell)
- Balsam Copaiba (anti-inflammatory, calming and I find the aroma comforting)
- Black Pepper, Ginger (warming)
- Balsam Fir (strong antimicrobial, dries mucous, calming for a spastic cough)
- Thyme ct. linalol (immune system support. Note: Thyme ct. thymol is another option for immune support, but I find the thymol too stimulating for nighttime rest.)
- Basil ct linalol (Note: this is a good antispasmodic oil for cough. However, after one evening application, I found it too stimulating to use at night It kept me awake. A better oil for the morning!)
3. Pre-Bedtime Bath (10-20 drops in the tub right before I stepped in then soak for 30 minutes breathing in the steam)
- 2 Cups of Epsom Salts (to detox from the prescription meds)
- I rotated the essential oils mentioned above, although I felt pulled toward Spike Lavender; this may have been because of the high camphor content.
There are many more oils that are good for bronchitis such as Black Spruce, Cedarwood, Marjoram, Cypress, Thyme ct. thymol, but I tried to listen to my body and use what I felt drawn to.
In addition, I drank gallons of water, ate well, avoided all dairy products, took vitamins and supplements and said no to nearly all social engagements. I also diffused essential oils all over the house to keep airborne germs at bay.
Frankly, I don’t know how people who don’t use essential oils get along in life. A condition like bronchitis can drag on for months, even becoming chronic. Diligent use of the correct essential oils, in the proper dosage and application, can make a huge impact on respiratory healing.
I am immensely grateful to have this amazing plant medicine in my life.