While there are many factors that can affect lung health, from pollution to genetics, one area that has been gaining attention in recent years is the use of essential oils.
Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts that have been used for thousands of years for their medicinal properties.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the best essential oils for breathing and lung support, including how they can be used to improve respiratory health.
Whether you’re dealing with asthma, allergies, or just looking for ways to enhance your lung function, these essential oils may provide some relief and help you breathe easier.
Best Essential Oils for Breathing
- Black seed oil
- Eucalyptus oil
- Bergamot oil
- Ginger oil
- Mullein extract
- Turmeric oil
- Peppermint oil
- Elderberry extract
- Astragalus extract
- Rosemary oil
- Lavender oil
- Cardamom oil
- Oregano oil
- Thyme oil
- Nettle leaf extract
1. Black Seed Oil
Scientific name: Nigella sativa
Black Seed, also known as black cumin or kalonji, is a plant native to South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. The plant produces small black seeds that have been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine for a variety of health benefits.
Black seed is believed to have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties and may help to support immune function and promote overall health and well-being.
Black seed oil, which is extracted from the seeds, can be used as a natural remedy for conditions such as asthma, allergies, digestive problems, and skin conditions.
This essential oil is cold-pressed with no additives or dilution, so you can take full advantage of the respiratory benefits.
2. Eucalyptus Oil
Scientific name: Eucalyptus globulus
Eucalyptus is a type of evergreen tree that is native to Australia. It is widely cultivated in many parts of the world, and its leaves are commonly used for medicinal purposes.
Eucalyptus oil is extracted from the leaves of the tree and is known for its strong, distinctive aroma.
It has a variety of therapeutic properties, including being a natural decongestant and expectorant, making it beneficial for promoting respiratory health, clearing mucus, and treating allergic rhinitis symptoms.
Eucalyptus oil can be used topically or inhaled through steam inhalation or a diffuser. It is also used in a variety of commercial products, such as cough drops, chest rubs, and even insect repellents.
Eucalyptus oil is a natural essential oil derived from the leaves and branches of the eucalyptus tree, known for its distinct fresh, camphor-like scent and potential medicinal properties.
3. Bergamot Oil
Scientific name: Citrus bergamia
Bergamot is a type of citrus fruit that is native to Southern Italy. The essential oil extracted from the peel of the bergamot fruit is commonly used in aromatherapy and perfumery.
Bergamot oil has a fresh, citrusy scent and is believed to have a variety of health benefits. It is commonly used to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as to improve mood and promote relaxation.
One study found it effective in reducing high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease markers, which can indirectly benefit the respiratory system.
Bergamot essential oil can be used topically, inhaled through a diffuser, or added to bathwater. It’s also available in various supplements, including powders, capsules, and juices.
Bergamot essential oil is extracted from the rind of the bergamot fruit and is known for its fresh, citrusy, and floral aroma. It's commonly used in aromatherapy for its calming and uplifting properties.
4. Ginger Oil
Scientific name: Zingiber officinale
Ginger is a flowering plant that is widely used as a spice and as a natural remedy for various health conditions. It has a spicy and pungent flavor and is often used in cooking and baking, as well as in traditional medicine.
Ginger has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and is commonly used to treat nausea, vomiting, and indigestion.
In addition, a study confirmed the beneficial effects of ginger on smooth muscle tissues in the airways of the lungs.
Try adding a few drops of ginger essential oil to a bowl of hot water and inhale the steam to help relieve congestion and make breathing easier.
Ginger essential oil is a concentrated oil extracted from the root of the ginger plant through steam distillation. It has a warm, spicy, and woody aroma and is known for its ability to aid digestion, reduce inflammation, and relieve nausea.
5. Mullein Extract
Scientific name: Verbascum thapsus
Mullein is a biennial plant that is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa. It has long, fuzzy leaves and produces tall stalks of yellow flowers that bloom in the summer.
Mullein has been used for centuries in traditional herbal medicine for its numerous health benefits.
It’s packed with phytochemicals, such as quercetin, that have anti-inflammatory effects on the body. This is why researchers believe that mullein is beneficial for respiratory pathologies.
You can add a few drops of mullein extract to a vaporizer or humidifier and inhale the steam. This can help to soothe the respiratory system and relieve congestion.
Mullein leaf extract is a natural remedy made from the leaves of the mullein plant, which is native to Europe and Asia but now grows in many parts of the world. It is commonly used to treat respiratory conditions such as coughs, bronchitis, and asthma due to its ability to reduce inflammation and soothe irritated mucous membranes.
6. Turmeric Oil
Scientific name: Curcuma longa
Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory herb that has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including promoting lung health.
Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, has been shown to reduce inflammation in the lungs and improve lung function in people with respiratory conditions.
Turmeric can be consumed in many forms, including as a spice in cooking, as a tea, or as a supplement in capsules or tinctures.
This turmeric product provides better nutrient absorption to help you get more of the benefits.
7. Peppermint Oil
Scientific name: Mentha x piperita
Peppermint is a refreshing herb that contains menthol, a natural decongestant that can help to open up the airways and relieve congestion.
It also has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, which can help to soothe sore throats and reduce inflammation in the respiratory tract.
Drink peppermint tea or use peppermint essential oil to promote healthy breathing and relieve congestion.
Peppermint essential oil is a highly concentrated oil extracted from the leaves of the peppermint plant through steam distillation. It has a refreshing, minty aroma and is known for its cooling, soothing, and invigorating properties.
8. Elderberry Extract
Scientific name: Sambucus nigra
Elderberry refers to the fruit of the Sambucus nigra plant, which is a small shrub or tree native to Europe and North America. Elderberry has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments.
Elderberry is rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. It is commonly used to boost the immune system and to help prevent and treat viral respiratory illnesses.
Elderberry extract is commonly used to boost the immune system and prevent or treat colds and flu due to its high concentration of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.
9. Astragalus Extract
Scientific name: Astragalus membranaceus
Astragalus is a plant native to Asia that has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. The root of the astragalus plant is commonly used for its medicinal properties.
Astragalus is believed to have immune-boosting properties and is often used to prevent and treat colds, flu, and other respiratory infections. It is also used to reduce inflammation and improve the function of the liver, kidneys, and cardiovascular system.
Astragalus can be consumed in various forms, including capsules and liquid extracts.
Additionally, the root can be ground into a powder, which can then be used to brew into teas or added as an ingredient in various foods.
Astragalus extract is a natural remedy made from the roots of the astragalus plant, which is native to China and has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. It is commonly used to boost the immune system and improve overall health and vitality.
10. Rosemary Oil
Scientific name: Salvia rosmarinus
Rosemary is an evergreen herb with needle-like leaves and a woody aroma. It is native to the Mediterranean region, but it is now widely cultivated throughout the world.
Rosemary is commonly used as a culinary herb to flavor various dishes. It is also used as a natural remedy for various health conditions due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
In fact, a study found that rosemary extract may be effective in treating pulmonary fibrosis.
Rosemary can be used fresh or dried in cooking, adding a fragrant and savory flavor to dishes. It can also be brewed into tea, used as an essential oil for aromatherapy, or applied topically.
Rosemary essential oil is a concentrated oil extracted from the leaves of the rosemary plant through steam distillation. It has a strong, fresh, and herbaceous aroma and is known for its stimulating and energizing properties.
11. Lavender Oil
Scientific name: Lavandula
Lavender is a flowering plant prized for its beautiful purple-blue flowers and sweet, floral fragrance. It is a popular ornamental plant in gardens and is often used in landscaping and as a decorative element in floral arrangements.
Lavender has also been used for medicinal purposes, such as promoting relaxation and reducing stress and anxiety.
A study found that the inhalation of lavender essential oil suppresses allergic airway inflammation, which indicates its effectiveness in individuals with bronchial asthma.
Lavender essential oil is a highly concentrated oil extracted from the flowers of the lavender plant through steam distillation. It has a sweet, floral, and calming aroma and is known for its relaxing and soothing properties.
12. Cardamom Oil
Scientific name: Elettaria cardamomum
Cardamom is a spice that is native to India, Nepal, and Bhutan. It is widely used in traditional medicine and cooking.
Cardamom has natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can lower blood pressure, prevent infections, and help with digestion.
A study found that it may also improve breathing by enhancing oxygen uptake and promoting the relaxation of the airways in the lungs.
Cardamom is a versatile spice used for cooking and baking. It’s also available as a supplement, extract, powder, and essential oil.
Cardamom essential oil is a concentrated oil extracted from the seeds of the cardamom plant through steam distillation. It has a warm, spicy, and slightly sweet aroma and is known for its digestive and respiratory benefits.
13. Oregano Oil
Scientific name: Origanum vulgare
Oregano is a perennial herb native to the Mediterranean region and western Asia. It is a member of the mint family, Lamiaceae, and is known for its pungent, spicy flavor and aroma.
Oregano is commonly used as a culinary herb in Mediterranean and Mexican cuisine. In addition to its culinary uses, oregano has been used in traditional medicine for its antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidant properties.
It is often used as a natural remedy for respiratory infections, digestive issues, and skin irritations.
Oregano can be used fresh or dried in cooking, adding a savory and slightly spicy flavor to dishes. It is also used in oil form for aromatherapy and in topical applications.
Oregano essential oil is a highly concentrated oil extracted from the leaves of the oregano plant, which is scientifically known as Origanum vulgare. It is a popular essential oil used in aromatherapy and natural health remedies due to its potent antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties.
14. Thyme Oil
Scientific name: Thymus vulgaris
Thyme is a fragrant herb that is native to the Mediterranean region but is now grown all over the world. It is an evergreen shrub that belongs to the mint family, and it is widely used as a culinary herb and also has medicinal properties.
Thyme leaves are small, oval-shaped, and green-gray in color, with a pungent, herbaceous aroma and a slightly bitter taste. It is commonly used in cooking to flavor meats, soups, stews, and sauces, and it pairs well with other herbs like rosemary, sage, and parsley.
In addition to its culinary uses, thyme is also used in traditional medicine to treat respiratory and digestive issues, as well as sore throat and coughs. Its essential oil is used in aromatherapy and as a natural insect repellent.
Thyme extract is also known for its antimicrobial and antioxidant properties and has been used therapeutically to treat individuals with COPD.
Thyme essential oil is a highly concentrated, aromatic liquid derived from the thyme plant (Thymus vulgaris). The oil is extracted from the fresh or dried leaves and flowering tops of the thyme plant through a process called steam distillation. Thyme essential oil has a strong, herbal scent and is pale yellow to reddish-brown in color.
15. Nettle Leaf Extract
Scientific name: Urtica dioica
Stinging nettle is a perennial plant that grows in moist, fertile soil and is often found in wooded areas or along streams and rivers. It’s most commonly found in North America, Europe, and Asia.
Stinging nettle got its name due to the small, hair-like structures on the leaves and stems that release histamine and other chemicals when touched, causing a stinging or burning sensation on the skin.
However, when properly harvested and processed, stinging nettle can be used for a variety of medicinal purposes.
A study found that this herb may have protective effects against airway inflammation, which is useful in individuals with asthma.
Nettle leaf oil is a natural remedy made from the leaves of the stinging nettle plant. It has been traditionally used for its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, as well as for its ability to support healthy skin and hair.
Nettle leaf extract is rich in various beneficial compounds, including vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, magnesium, and chlorophyll. It is also high in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties, making it useful in natural medicine.
Essential oils have proven to be a natural and effective way to enhance breathing and promote respiratory health. Eucalyptus, peppermint, black seed, bergamot, and mullein are among the best essential oils for breathing.
However, it is important to note that essential oils should not replace medical treatments or medications prescribed by your healthcare provider.
Therefore, it’s always advisable to speak with a medical professional before using essential oils, especially if you have a pre-existing condition.
With the proper guidance and precautions, essential oils can be a valuable addition to your respiratory health routine.
John Landry, BS, RRT
John Landry is a registered respiratory therapist from Memphis, TN, and has a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. He enjoys using evidence-based research to help others breathe easier and live a healthier life.