Thursday, January 6, 2011
Essential Oils for Acute Bronchitis
By Liz Fulcher, RA
I pride myself on having consistent robust health since I haven't had anything more serious than a pesky cold or tummy ache in over 10 years. 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.
Well, in mid-October, I fell hard. Out of the blue I began to ache in my joints and mostly everywhere, making me wonder if I'd been hit by a truck in my sleep. This fun was followed by three days with a fever of 102 which morphed into a cough the likes of which I've never known. My husband, James, insisted I see our family doc or he would bind my hands and feet and take me himself. I broke down and saw Dr. Sally, who took one listen to my lungs and said, "Woah, girl, you've got acute bronchitis." Argh.
Dr. Sally prescribed 40mg of Prednisone for five days (never again never again never again), Tylenol with Codeine at night and Albuterol to be used with an "AeroChamber" to assist the Albuterol into my lungs. James called this my "bronchitis bong". Very funny.
I began to come around, thanks to the meds, 10 hours of sleep every night, daytime naps and lots of essential oils. I am too busy to stay sick and ready to have my old energizer bunny self back. I also realize that illness and pain are important messages that we need to heed and I'm treating my body with much love and care.
As much as I embrace the power of natural therapies, I felt that seeing my doctor and taking those meds 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. I consider my use of the meds only one spoke in the wheel of healing my bronchitis and am positive that my diligent use of essential oils has been an important part of my continued recovery, especially since illnesses of the lung can linger on forever without them.
How I Chose the Essential Oils for My Bronchitis
First of all, let's look at what action I wanted from the oils. In a few words, bronchitis is congestion and inflammation of the bronchial passages in the lungs. The body creates a ton of thick mucous which can be sticky and difficult to expel, thereby creating a hard cough - your body's way of getting it out.
Therefore, I chose oils that contain a significant percentage of ketones which are highly effective mucolytics (help dissolve mucous) and act as expectorants (help expel mucous.) I also used oils that are 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 of the Essential Oils for My Bronchitis
Steam Inhalations: 1 drop of essential oil in a bowl of steamy hot water, 2-3 times/day for 5 minutes.
(I tend to vary the oils I use with each inhalation)
Spike Lavender (Lavandula latifolia), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Eucalyptus Dives (Eucalyptus dives) (mucolytic, expectorant)
Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) (decongestant, anti-infectious, expectorant)
Nightly Chest Rub with Jojoba Oil at a 3% dilution (15 drops to 1 ounce of Jojoba) (varying the oils I use)
Spike Lavender (mucolytic, expectorant and I love the smell)
Balsam Copaiba (Copaifera officinalis) (anti-inflammatory, calming and I find the aroma comforting)
Black Pepper (Piper nigrum), Ginger (Zingiber officinale) (warming)
Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea) (strong antimicrobial, dries mucous, calming for a spastic cough)
Thyme ct. linalool (Thymus vulgaris ct. linalool) (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 linalool (Ocimum basilicum ct. linalool) (Note: this is a good anti-spasmodic oil for cough but after one evening application found it too stimulating to use at night. It kept me awake. Better for morning.)
Pre-Bedtime Bath (I use about 10-20 drops in the tub right before I step in, then soak for 30 minutes breathing in the steam)
2 Cups Epsom Salts (I used these to detox from the prescription meds)
Any of the oils above that I felt drawn to use, although I really felt pulled toward the Spike Lavender (maybe because of the high Camphor content) and I've used that with Tea Tree quite frequently.
There are many more oils that are good for bronchitis such as Black Spruce (Picea mariana), Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica), Marjoram (Origanum majorana), Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), Thyme ct thymol (Thymus vulgaris ct thymol), but I tried to listen to my body and use those 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 oils in the house to keep airborne germs at bay.
Frankly, I don't know how people who don't use essential oils get along. A condition like bronchitis can drag on for months and even become chronic, but I've been diligent with using my oils and can feel in my body that I have overcome this condition.
I am immensely grateful to have this amazing plant medicine in my life.
Liz Fulcher is a Registered Aromatherapist and Certified Massage Therapist. She brings over twenty years of experience, research, training and love of essential oils into her aromatherapy teaching and massage practice. Her fascination with essential oils began in 1991 while she was working with the United Nations in Rome, Italy. When her second child was born in a Roman clinic, they massaged him with essential oils immediately after his birth and from the moment on she was hooked! This led her to the formal study of aromatherapy with many talented teachers and excellent schools: The American Institute of Aromatherapy, Essential Oil Programs at Purdue University and Rutgers University, The Australasian College of Herbal Studies, RJ Buckle Clinical Aromatherapy Program and more.
Liz is on the faculty of The Mt. Nittany Institute of Natural Health at the State College, PA as the Director of Aromatherapy Studies and serves as a Pennsylvania Regional Director for NAHA. In 2010 under the tutelage of Andrea Butje of Aromahead Institute, Liz became a Certified Aromatherapy Instructor and will offer a 235-hour Aromatherapy Certification Program starting in 2011. She also offers training classes in aromatherapy throughout the year and is a frequent speaker at community events, medical and holistic health conferences.
Liz also has her own line of essential oils under the label of 'Liz's Garden Aromatherapy' which is owned and operated by her husband, James Fulcher. Liz owns and operates The Body Wisdom Center for Massage and Well-being and her aromatherapy school: Aromatic Wisdom Institute of Creative Aromatherapy. She shares her lifer with her husband, sons and one spoiled pug.
To learn more about Liz please visit her website at www.lizsgarden.com or email her at email@example.com
Would you like to be a contributing author for a future NAHA E-news article? If so, click here for Writer's Guidelines