Essential Oil for Cough

15 Best Essential Oils for Cough

Essential oils are versatile plant extracts, so they are used for a variety of purposes. You can use some of these essential oils for cough, cold and congestion relief.

Use of essential oils (aromatherapy) is an alternative therapy. Medical doctors also now recommend for many health conditions including cough.

Let us look at some of the essential oils for treatment of cough. Direct use of these concentrated extracts can damage skin. So use them after diluting with a carrier oil or mix with air/water for use in a diffuser.

Best Essential Oils for Cough

1. Eucalyptus Essential Oil

Eucalyptus oil is useful for cough, congestion and other respiratory conditions. People around the world use it for bronchitis and sinusitis for centuries. A study found that one of its compounds called eucalyptol can fight bacteria.

Add 10 drops of eucalyptus oil in a pot of 500 ml boiling water. Inhale the steam to release the mucus. You can also apply it on your chest and forehead after mixing a few drops with a carrier oil such as coconut oil.

Many people use Vicks VapoRub, a popular ointment containing eucalyptus oil to rub on the chest of children and adults. It provides relief from cough and congestion (1). It is also a good remedy for dry cough.


2. Peppermint Essential Oil for Cough

Peppermint containing menthol creates a cooling and soothing sensation in the throat. It is one of the most soothing home remedies for cough.

A study found that peppermint essential oil can help relex the bronchial muscles providing cough relief. Therefore, many natural care products for respiratory conditions contain peppermint extract.

Like other essential oils you can use it in a diffuser or humidifier. You can also add 5-6 drops of peppermint essential oil in a pot of boiling water to inhale its vapors.

3. Nutmeg Essential Oil

Your symptoms may improve with the help of nutmeg essential oil for cough.

A study indicates that nutmeg oil acts as an expectorant. It reduces production of mucus in the respiratory tract in rabbits. Camphene, an antioxidant in nutmeg, handles the benefit.

Study is not on humans. But, it is an encouraging outcome for its usefulness in dealing with respiratory problems. Add 5 drops of nutmeg oil to your diffuser and test it out.

4. Bergamot Essential Oil

The bergamot essential oil also contains camphene. It reduces congestion to provide cough relief.

Camphene, a compound like camphor, is an antioxidant. It may protect cells in the respiratory tract from the attack of germs. Bergamot oil is also anti-inflammatory.(1)

You can try it out by adding a few drops of bergamot oil to a diffuser or a humidifier. You will get relief from the cough symptoms.

5. Cypress Essential Oil for Cough

Cypress is another essential oil that contains camphene like nutmeg and bergamot oils. It helps you in dealing with cough symptoms.

According to a study camphene reduces congestion in the respiratory tract.(1)

Use of diffuser, humidifier or simple steam inhalation are good options. You can try any of these methods to treat cough.

6. Chamomile Essential Oil

German and Roman are the two different types of chamomile essential oils. They help you to get rid of your cough and cold. Though German oil has higher concentrations of main compound chamazulene, both the essential oils for cough are effective.

A study indicates inhaling chamomile oil infused steam helps to relieve cold symptoms.

Add 5 - 10 drops of chamomile oil to a pot of boiling water and inhale the steam.

7. Rosemary Essential Oil

Cineole in Rosemary essential oil has capabilities to break up mucus. This compound reduce inflammation and relieve cough symptoms according to a study.

Rosemary extract can calm the muscles in your trachea. So, you get relief in the respiratory system. It also provides asthma relief. Dilute it with the vapors from diluted oil to reduce coughing.


8. Cinnamon Essential oil

Cinnamon- a spice widely used in cooking and baking has medicinal properties. A research article published in Scinece Direct shows cinnamon essential oil vapors have antimicrobial capabilities. It can control bacteria in the respiratory tract to help with cough and congestion.

Use cinnamon oil in an air diffuser. It is more effective as compared to water mist to deal with mucus forming coughs. If you don't have an air diffuser use steam inhalation. Add a few drops of cinnamon oil to a pot of boiling water to inhale steam. It is useful but less effective.

9. Oregano Essential Oil for Cough

Oregano essential oil for cough can be a good candidate to reduce the symptoms. It contains high concentration of carvacrol - an antimicrobial compound.

A study indicates that carvacrol can fight off many types of germs.

You can try out oregano oil alone or along with other essential oil in a diffuser or humidifier. It will reduce coughing caused by bacteria.

10. Thyme Essential Oil

Thyme essential oil also contains a carvacrol . It is a compound that may be helpful in fighting the viruses and bacteria. So it should help in reducing cough symptoms and other respiratory infections.

A study confirms its antimicrobial properties. You can add higher concentration of Thyme oil in a diffuser or humidifier to get quick relief from cough.

11. Geranium Essential Oil

Geranium essential oil has an invigorating floral scent. It can reduce cough symptoms.

According to a study, geranium extract contains Pelargonium sidoides. This is an antimicrobial compound. It can treat cough and other related respiratory condition symptoms.

Add 5-10 drops of geranium oil in a pot of boiling water and inhale the steam to get relief from coughing.

12. Frankincense Essential Oil

Frankincense is popular in incense and perfumes industry. According to a study, Frankincense resin has anti-bacterial capabilities. It has shown anti-inflammatory effect on bronchitis. So, it can reduce cough and congestion.

People in the middle east and many other parts of the world use it to treat coughs, bronchitis, and asthma. This practice is hundreds of years old.

13. Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender essential oil with a refreshing scent can treat your cough caused by asthma.

According to a research study lavender oil helps to relax bronchial muscles. This reduces airway resistance caused by asthma. Inhale lavender vapors in any conventional method.

Diffuser, humidifier or inhaling it with steam will all work to deal with cough.

14. Tea Tree Essential Oil

Antimicrobial properties make Tea tree oil (Melaleuca) suitable to fight cough. It also helps in congestion and sinusitis. It can inhibit the growth of bad bacteria in the respiratory tract according to a study.

Aborigin Australians use crushed tea tree leaves for cough and colds. They inhale its vapors

Use a diffuser or humidifier. This will release diluted tea tree essential oil in the room or inhale it with steam.

15. Lemon Essential Oil for Cough

Like most citrus essential oils lemon oil is anti-inflammatory. It may fight with germs to prevent and heal cough symptoms.

It also possesses antioxidant properties that helps to increase immunity. You can use lemon oil in humidifier, diffuser or for steam inhalation. All these methods will help to reduce cough and congestion.


How to Use Essential Oils for Cough

Essential oils are plant extract. Direct application can damage your skin and other internal body parts. Don't consume essential oils.

You can dilute Essential oils in a carrier oil like sweet almond, olive or coconut oil for topical use. They are diluted in water or air to spray as a mist through a diffuser.

You can use essential oils in many different ways. Following are three different basic ways of using essential oils for cough.

1. Topical Application

This is the most popular way. Add a few drops of an essential oil in a spoonful of a carrier oil before use. Apply the blend with slight compression or massage on the body.

Use of Vicks vaporub is a good example of branded diluted essential oil. A cream ointment acts as a carrier. This is useful to get rid of chest and sinus congestion.

You can get the same impact by adding 2-3 drops of Eucalyptus oil in a teaspoon of sweet almond oil. Rub it on your chest and forehead.

2. Inhalation

The most popular way to use essential oils is to inhale them. People inhale it for their amazing scent as well as for their therapeutic value.

You can use a diffuser, vaporiser or a humidifier to dispense essential oils as a mist. Following are some popular diffusers to relieve your symptoms of cough and congestion.

  • Nebulizing Diffusers
  • Ultrasonic or Humidifying Diffusers
  • Evaporative Diffusers
  • Heat Diffusers

3. Internal Consumption

This is not recommended at all. But in some cases doctors may recommend gargling with diluted essential oils.


Essential Oil Recipe for Cough

You can mix two or more essential oils. This may contribute more effectiveness in relieving symptoms of cough and cold than using a single oil. You can use a diffuser to dispense the air or water mist.

Let us look at one such essential oil recipe for cough and congestion.

  • Mix 3 drops each of Eucalyptus, rosemary and peppermint essential oils to make a bend.
  • Add water in your diffuser tank by removing the top part of diffuser.
  • Fill room temperature water in the diffuser. Follow the suggested levels.
  • Add all the 9 drops of the above blended essential oils to the water in the diffuser and mix it.
  • Close the lid of the diffuser.
  • Keep a small towel under the diffuser to collect the water mist sprayed.
  • Put the top lid back on the diffuser tank.
  • Connect the diffuser cable to electrical socket on the wall and switch it on.

You can experiment by decreasing or increasing the number of drops in the diffuser. Figure out the exact amount required for the room.

Risks and Complications

Handle pure essential oils with care. Mix them with a carrier oil to apply on your skin or hair. Direct use can burn and damage your skin

Essential oils are not safe to consume. They can cause significant poisoning even in very small amounts.

Avoid use of essential oil in children under the age of 12.

Keep your pets away from these oils as some of the oils may be harmful to them.

When to See a doctor?

Immediateluy consult a doctor If you

  • get severe cough
  • symptoms like shortness of breath, weight loss or low grade fever lasting for more than a week.
  • take any medications.
  • have high blood pressure, low immunity, or epilepsy.

Take Away

Try home remedies and alternative treatments for cough and congestion. Essential oils are good options to deal with many health problems. Researchers are working on these oils and finding good results in some cases.

You have to be cautious in its use. Dilute them in carrier oil or use them in diffusers. Don't delay consulting a doctor if your cough persists for long.

Immune-modifying and Antimicrobial Effects of Eucalyptus Oil and Simple Inhalation Devices (

Vapor Rub, Petrolatum, and No Treatment for Children With Nocturnal Cough and Cold Symptoms (

Does inhaling menthol affect nasal patency or cough? (

Nutmeg Oil and Camphene as Inhaled Expectorants (

Efficacy of bergamot: From anti‐inflammatory and anti‐oxidative mechanisms to clinical applications as preventive agent for cardiovascular morbidity, skin diseases, and mood alterations (

Chemical composition, antimicrobial and antibiofilm activity of the essential oil and methanol extract of the Mediterranean cypress (Cupressus sempervirens L.) (

Efficacy of cineole in patients suffering from acute bronchitis: a placebo-controlled double-blind trial (

Cinnamon Oil (

Biological and Pharmacological Activities of Carvacrol and Carvacrol Bearing Essential Oils (

Carvacrol and Human Health: A Comprehensive Review (

Geranium Oil Profile (

Frankincense - therapeutic properties (

Lavender Essential Oil Inhalation Suppresses Allergic Airway Inflammation and Mucous Cell Hyperplasia in a Murine Model of Asthma (

Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties (

Biological Activities and Safety of Citrus spp. Essential Oils (