It’s easy to take the respiratory system for granted. You forget you’re inhaling and exhaling 12-18 times per minute, but that adds up to an average of 21,500 times a day! And when your nose is stuffy or you have a cough, each and every one of those breathes can be painful.
Essential oils are especially helpful in treating respiratory ailments. Here are a few of the ways oils can help you breathe easier:
- Roman chamomile, fennel, ginger and lavender are antispasmodic, which helps relieve muscle spasms.
- Cypress, eucalyptus and peppermint are antitussive, which helps to relieve coughs.
- Eucalyptus globulus, peppermint and rosemary help reduce and relieve nasal congestion.
- Eucalyptus, peppermint, rosemary and tea tree work as expectorants to help remove phlegm.
- Rosemary, eucalytpus, and helichrysum help dissolve mucus.
Cool, clearing eucalyptus has a long history of use with the respiratory system. It contains a constituent called 1.8 cineole, the same scent you’ll find in over-the-counter Vicks VapoRub. I grew up having Vicks rubbed on my chest, and this salve feels just as good. The essential oils can help relieve coughing and congestion, and you’ll get the same warming feeling on your skin.
This salve has a 3% dilution because it’s meant to be used on a short-term basis. That’s roughly 36 drops of essential oil for 2 ounces of oil and wax.
There are a lot of different opinions about whether it’s safe to use eucalyptus and peppermint with children. The 1,8-cineole in eucalyptus and the menthol in peppermint can slow down children’s breathing so they should either be avoided or well-diluted.
Robert Tisserand, often considered the authority on essential oil safety, gives these guides for using eucalyptus and peppermint with children.
- For children under 3, eucalyptus globula and radiata can be diffused (1-2 drops) and applied topically at a concentration of 0.5% (3 drops of essential oil in 1 ounce of carrier oil). Peppermint is not recommended for diffusing or topical application.
- For children aged 3-6, both oils can be diffused (1-2 drops), and used topically at up to 0.5% (peppermint) and up to 1.0% (eucalyptus). Dilution of 1% is 6 drops in 1 ounce of carrier oil.
Other oils that are useful but safer for children include cypress, pine, spruce and rosalina. Here’s an essential oil blend diluted at 1% (12 drops for 2 ounces of carrier oil) that’s safe for use with children 3 and older.
Kid-Safe Respiratory Balm
- Put a couple of inches of water in a saucepan or the bottom of a double broiler. Combine the carrier oil and beeswax in a glass bowl or the top of a double broiler.
- Heat over medium until the beeswax is melted. Stir to combine the oil and wax. Remove from heat.
- Add the essential oils to a clean, sterilized 2-ounce glass jar.
- Pour in the melted oil and wax mixture.
- Seal the jar immediately with the lid and shake gently to mix everything together.
- Let the salve sit (with the cap on) until cooled and hardened.