Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) refers to a group of lung conditions that make breathing difficult. It’s estimated that more than 11 million Americans have COPD. There’s no cure for the condition, but treatments can help ease symptoms, prevent complications, and slow disease progression.
COPD can result from long-term exposure to pollutants or toxins, including the toxins found in cigarette smoke. Genetics may also play a role in developing COPD.
Primary treatments for COPD include:
- quitting smoking
- oxygen therapy
- medications that widen your airway, including nebulizers and inhalers
Home remedies and holistic treatments may also work to relieve your symptoms. Some research confirms the belief that essential oils can treat COPD effectively when paired with conventional medical treatment.
Keep reading to find out what we know about treating COPD with essential oils.
By contrast, COPD is a chronic, lifelong condition. However, both conditions involve inflammation of your bronchiole tubes.
It stands to reason that treatment by inhalation of essential oils could help some people to relieve their COPD symptoms.
Eucalyptus oil contains an ingredient called cineole. A
Eucalyptus oil is also an anti-inflammatory and stimulates your immune system. That means that using eucalyptus oil can destroy harmful bacteria that’s aggravating your COPD symptoms. It may also soothe your throat and chest, and speed up healing.
While this isn’t necessarily evidence that you should ingest eucalyptus oil, it speaks to how powerful the active ingredient cineole can be in the treatment of COPD.
Lavender oil is known for its soothing scent and antibacterial properties.
More research is needed on the effects of lavender oil in humans.
Sweet orange oil
Orange oil has
Orange oil also releases a lovely scent that that has been shown to
Bergamot may work well to soothe pain and soreness caused by the coughing symptoms during a COPD flare-up.
Frankincense and myrrh
These two popular, ancient essential oils have a long history as remedies for respiratory conditions.
But what we know about how frankincense and myrrh help specifically with symptoms of COPD is mostly anecdotal. When there are other essential oils that have been proven to work for COPD, these two might rank lower on your list in terms of proven remedies.
Essential oils are a natural home remedy, but that doesn’t mean that they’re safe for everyone.
Some oils can counteract the effectiveness of other medications. Oils like cinnamon, clove, and lemongrass can actually irritate your mucus membrane and might make your symptoms feel worse.
Oils should only be diffused in well-ventilated places, and diffusing treatments shouldn’t exceed more than 60 minutes at a time.
Consider anyone close by who might also be breathing the aromatherapy, including children, pregnant women, and pets. Some essential oils are toxic to pets and not recommended for pregnant women.
To use essential oils for COPD, you can use a diffuser to release the essential oil into the air. You can combine multiple essential oils recommended for COPD treatment, such as citrus oil and eucalyptus oil, to maximize the benefits of the treatment.
Mixing a few oils meant for diffusing can also have a soothing effect on your nerves, as the scent of the oils fill your space, which can boost your mood.
Some people with COPD experience depression as a result of their diagnosis. Diffusing essential oils regularly in your bedroom or living room may be beneficial for your mood.
If you prefer to apply essential oils topically as a form of COPD treatment, dilute the oils mentioned above with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil or jojoba oil. A good rule of thumb is to mix 6 drops of your essential oil per ounce of carrier oil.
Gently massage the diluted oils across the glands in your neck, at the pressure points of your temples, and around your chest area. Topical treatment is helpful to loosen congestion, soothe muscles that may ache from coughing, and make breathing easier.
There are plenty of other herbal treatments and nutritional supplements that you might consider using for COPD. Speak to a doctor first, as some herbal supplements can counteract the effectiveness of traditional COPD medications.
Also remember that herbal supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA, which means their potency and safe dosage recommendations can vary. Only purchase herbal supplements from suppliers you trust.
If you’d like to try herbal treatments and nutritional supplements for COPD, consider:
Changing your diet to include more of the antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamins E and C, may also improve your lung function.
Don’t try to use essential oils to self-treat a COPD flare-up that prevents you from breathing or results in shortness of breath. If you notice the following symptoms, you should seek out a medical professional within 24 hours:
- presence of blood in your mucus
- green or brown mucus
- excessive coughing or wheezing
- new symptoms like extreme fatigue or difficulty breathing
- unexplained, sudden weight gain or weight loss (more than 5 pounds in the span of a week)
- waking up short of breath
- swelling in your ankles or wrists
There’s no cure for COPD, but conventional treatment can be complemented by treatment with essential oils to manage its symptoms.
Research indicates that for many people with COPD, some essential oils can soothe symptoms, promote healing, and strengthen your immune system to help prevent flare-ups. You can shop for essential oils at your local pharmacy or online.
Keep in mind that COPD is a serious condition, and it’s important to follow your prescribed treatment plan. Speak with a doctor about ways that alternative therapies might work alongside your COPD medications.