Lung health is a topic that many people don’t think about on a regular basis, yet it would probably be the first thing on our minds if something were to go wrong. Ever since I started my research into the topic of respiratory health, it really dawned on me how critically important it is to take care of your lungs. After all, there’s a reason why the lungs are called one of your “vital organs” – if they’re not healthy, it could be a threat to your very life.
As unbelievable as this sounds, the average person takes more than 6 million breaths per year according to the American Lung Association. This means that your respiratory system stays very busy on a daily basis, and your lungs are working 24/7 to keep you alive and healthy. With that kind of astronomical workload, it only makes sense to take care of it as best as you can.
I’m going to share some simple tips to help you take care of your lungs and overall respiratory system, but before I dig into them, I think it’s good to start off with a basic explanation of the respiratory system itself.
The Respiratory System and How It Works
Your respiratory system is made up of three main areas:
- The airways, which include your mouth, throat, windpipe, nose, sinuses, and bronchial tubes. Each one of these components has highly complex features that play a specific role in breathing and respiration. For example, your sinuses are responsible for regulating the humidity and temperature of inhaled air, and the hairs inside your nose act as a cleaning system for inhaled air as well.
- The lungs and blood vessels, which work together to take inhaled oxygen and transmit it into the bloodstream. Your lungs basically push the oxygen from inhaled air into the bloodstream via a network of blood vessels known as capillaries. This carries oxygen to every cell of your body, and in return, the cells exchange this oxygen for carbon dioxide, which is pushed back through the bloodstream and purged from the body via exhaled air.
- There are also important muscles and bones that are a part of the respiratory system. Your diaphragm is a strong muscular wall that separates your chest cavity from your abdominal cavity, and it helps you draw in air and expand your lungs. Your ribs are bones that have a little bit of flexibility, as they can move ever so slightly in order to help your lungs with the job of expanding and contracting.
This intricate, multi-faceted set of components is what makes up your respiratory system.
When you add it all up, the basic job of your respiratory system is to take in fresh air to nourish your body, and then remove waste gases from your system. It does this over and over again, to the tune of roughly 17,000 breaths a day! This staggering fact alone is enough for anyone to see why we should pay attention to our lungs!
My Tips For Optimal Lung Health
Your lung capacity will naturally decline as you get older, but there are several things you can do to take care of your lungs and keep them healthy every day. Below are some simple yet highly effective tips to ensure optimal lung health.
1. Don’t smoke
You’ve probably heard this over and over again through various PSA’s on TV, but the message cannot be overemphasized. According to the American Lung Association, smoking cigarettes is the number-one cause of lung cancer, as well as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Cigarette smoke contains literally hundreds of harmful chemicals – many of which are known carcinogens – which can irritate the lungs and cause chronic inflammation or swelling that blocks the airways. This can trigger chronic bronchitis, producing the persistent cough so aptly named “smoker’s hack”. Not only that, but cigarette smoke literally deteriorates the tissue in your lungs, often setting the stage for cancerous cells to begin to form.
There are also a host of other related ailments that can be brought about by smoking, including premature wrinkling, leukoflakia (a.k.a. “smoker’s patch”), arthritis, peptic ulcers, tooth pain and decay, gastrointestinal difficulties, insomnia, headaches, and heart disease, just to name a few. I realize that quitting smoking is much easier said than done, but do your best to use every natural and medicinal aid at your disposal to help you in your fight – after all, your very life is on the line.
2. Exercise on a regular basis
Your lungs definitely get a regular workout as-is, but engaging in moderate to rigorous exercise will improve their capacity and efficiency of oxygen delivery even more. This is a win-win, because exercise helps so many other areas of your health as well.
3. Avoid exposure to outdoor and indoor air pollution
Yes, this is another task that is easier said than done, but there are some things you can do to mitigate the amount of pollution you expose yourself to. For example, you can make your home and car smoke-free areas, and avoid getting in the way of second-hand smoke that you might be exposed to when you’re out and about.
Pay attention to smog alerts and other official air quality reports from your local government. Have your home tested for radon, which is a colorless and odorless gas that is emitted naturally by rocks and soil. This subtle gas that can infiltrate homes through poorly sealed basement floors, cracks in walls or foundations, and other openings.
Asbestos is another silent killer you need to watch out for. It’s an invisible carcinogen found in many products used in the industrial and commercial industries during the 20th century. The exposure to asbestos puts you at risk of developing mesothelioma – a rare cancer that primarily develops in the lining of the lungs. Asbestos can be found in places built before 1980, so if you live in an older house, make sure to get it inspected! Avoid prolonged exposure to cleaning supplies and other household chemicals. In addition, consider purchasing a couple of indoor air purifiers to help clean the air of various spores, dust and pet dander that naturally floats around the house.
4. Practice breathing exercises
Deep breathing is a great way to “max out” the oxygenation of your blood. Just inhale slowly through your nose until you feel like your lungs are completely full, and then hold it for about 1 to 2 seconds. Now exhale slowly through your mouth, allowing as much air to escape as you can before repeating the cycle again. Perform this exercise for about 2 to 3 minutes at a time, and repeat at various times throughout the day.
5. Use essential oils to promote lung health
While herbal remedies have been used to heal lungs since long, using essential oils is also extremely beneficial for the lungs. For example, eucalyptus oil, which is the most commonly used essential oil for healing lungs, is a potent antiseptic, expectorant and decongestant that can benefit and improve the entire respiratory system. It is possible to make a highly effective herb inhalation to clean and strengthen the lungs.
You can also inhale the steam of bergamot, rosemary or peppermint to open up your bronchial passages and eliminate the presence of bacteria in your lungs. Just bring 2 to 3 cups of water to a boil, transfer to a glass bowl and add 5 to 10 drops of one or more of the above essential oils. Put a towel over your head, bring your face close to the bowl (not too close to burn yourself) and then start gently inhaling the steam. Just remember to keep your eyes closed to avoid burning or watering. You can repeat this up to 3 times a week for optimal and healthy lungs.
Now, lets dive deep into the world of essential oils and explore how they can be used effectively to improve your overall respiratory health.
Which Essential Oils Can Be Used For Healing The Lungs?
Time and time again, I’m always telling my Oliviarites that there’s no better way to make use of essential oils than with aromatherapy. Sure, it might be the most economical method of getting the most out of your precious oils, but did you also know that the lungs allow the healing properties of essential oils to efficiently sneak into your body.
Once inhaled, essential oils spread their therapeutic properties all around the body starting with the lungs themselves. Some of the ways essential oils support lung health include fighting off airborne infections, boosting the immune system, opening up the airways for more oxygen intake, combating allergies, and much more. Keeping that in mind, here are some other essential oils you can use for healing lungs and keeping them healthy:
1. Eucalyptus Essential Oil
This one’s a no brainer; it is the main ingredient in many over-the-counter medication after all. Easily identifiable by its potent, vivid and unmistakable aroma, Eucalyptus EO is hands down the best when it comes to anything respiratory.
That’s because the oil comprises of a unique set of compounds that make it ideal for the lungs. These include antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antispasmodic properties. But it’s got to be the oil’s unrivaled ability to decongest the respiratory system that makes it king.
It breaks up phlegm and mucus along the airways for easier breathing and fights off any respiratory infections along the way. As a bonus, eucalyptus oil stimulates regeneration of lung tissue by boosting blood and nutrient circulation.
2. Rosemary Essential Oil
One of the many reasons why Rosemary EO is becoming a household staple is due to its antioxidant properties. If ever there was a fountain of youth somewhere, you can bet that rosemary is growing somewhere nearby.
These properties combined with its anti-inflammatory nature make it the best at reversing any damage done to the lungs. The oil can also boost the immune system and contains a mild sedative that helps with allergies, sore throats and several other respiratory ailments.
3. Camphor and Thyme Essential Oil
Here’s a combination that can help clear the symptoms of almost any respiratory issue. Researchers have found that when inhaled, Thyme EO has a relaxing effect on the lungs that promotes deep, rich and clear breathing. These effects combine well with camphor to create an antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and calming blend.
4. Black Pepper Essential Oil
We’ve all seen cartoons where one whiff of pepper sends the whole room into uncontrollable sneezing fits. When harnessed, the power of black pepper essential oil is more than enough to clear up a wide range of allergies and lung specific illnesses. This includes asthma, sinusitis, bronchitis and many other issues
5. Peppermint Essential Oil
The expectorant qualities of Peppermint essential oil help in the treatment of upper respiratory congestion caused due to asthma, bronchitis, allergies, colds, flu etc. For the same reason, peppermint essential oil is an essential ingredient in lung healing balms available on the market. In contrast to prescription drugs and OTC therapies, peppermint essential oil is completely safe to use and does not cause any drowsiness or other adverse effects.
6. Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender is one of the best essential oils to eliminate infection in lungs. Studies have proven that lavender, when combined with eucalyptus, can kill 70 percent of the staphylococcus bacteria present in the lungs.
5 Effective Lung-Healing Essential Oil Blends / Recipes
1. Recipe for Mucus in Lungs
Knowing what the functions of your lungs entail, the last thing you want is mucus or fluid to build up in there. Typically, the main causes of excessive mucus in the lungs are usually allergens, pollutants, smoke, and lung diseases such as COPD. If left unchecked, the mucus could make breathing impossible.
In this case, the best essential oil for the job would be Eucalyptus EO. This is because of its unrivaled expectorant ability that allows it to decongest the respiratory system. Eucalyptus will break up phlegm and mucus along the airways so you can breathe easier. If you’ve got mucus in your lungs, try this here recipe:
Homemade EO Vaporub
- 12 drops Eucalyptus EO
- 8 drops Rosemary EO
- 10 drops Peppermint EO
- 2 tbsp shea butter
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
In a hot water bath, melt the shea butter and coconut oil together. Once melted, stir as it cools and add in the essential oils. Let it set for an hour or so in a dark glass container. To make use of the blend, apply a bit on the chest, back, neck and soles of feet to encourage mucosa breakdown.
2. Recipe for Lung Inflammation
Out of all the currently diagnosed lung diseases and respiratory disorders, there’s one unifying factor to be noted. One particular symptom reigns supreme when it comes to health issues affecting the lungs – inflammation.
From simple common colds to more complex ailments like pneumonia and cancer, the inflammation of tissue layers lining the lungs is an all too common occurrence. To bring down lung inflammation, try the following blend.
Respiratory Anti-Inflammatory Blend
What you need
- 6 drops Camphor EO
- 4 drops Thyme EO
- 3 drops Rosemary EO
- Bowl of hot water
Fill a bowl halfway with hot, boiling water and place it in front of you. Add in the essential oils and stir to combine. Sitting in front of the bowl, lean forward and create a tent over your head with the towel. Stay there inhaling deeply for about 10 minutes; the inflammation should come down soon. Repeat 3 times every day for consistent therapy.
3. Recipe for Emphysema
Emphysema can be described as a progressive lung disease that causes shortness of breath due to air sacs overinflating. This leads to destruction of the lung tissue associated with exchange of gases. As a result, exhalation is slowed with little to no movement of gases through the alveoli.
That’s why the best essential oil for emphysema has to be able to boost blood circulation to the lungs. Naturally, Eucalyptus EO boasts of strong stimulating properties that will work well to our cause. Black pepper also shows some promise in promoting nutrient flow back to the lungs.
Oxygenating Blend for Emphysema
- 14 drops Eucalyptus EO
- 6 drops Peppermint EO
- 10 drops Black Pepper EO
- Quarter cup beeswax
- Half a cup of coconut oil
When dealing with emphysema, shortness of breath is to be expected. To boost oxygen levels in the lungs, you’ll need the right combination of essential oils. Start by melting the beeswax in a mason jar over water and add in the coconut oil. Once it cools, add in the EOs and stir thoroughly. Now you have a vaporub that will clear mucus as well as boost oxygen intake in the alveoli.
4. Recipe for Lung Damage
Looking at all the above respiratory issues, it’s clear that the lungs are a huge target for a wide range of diseases. Whether as a result of years of smoking or an unfortunate ailment such as COPD, the lungs can easily get damaged – sometimes beyond repair.
Once your ability to breathe is gone, well… To make sure that any damage to the lungs get reversed early, no other essential oil rivals the rejuvenating abilities of Rosemary EO. Here’s how to make use of it.
Lung Damage Reversal Formula
What you need
- 6 drops Rosemary EO
- 3 drops Lemon EO
- 2 drops Lavender EO
This is what we call aromatherapy at its best. All you need to do is drip the essential oils in your unit and diffuse as you normally would through the night. The oils will become airborne for constant inhalation which will help repair the lungs all night long. Most lung damage cases are progressive, so make sure you diffuse the blend every night for maximum benefits.
5. Recipe for Lung Health / Healing
This blend of oils has enough strength to fight respiratory infections and diseases.
Lung Healing Blend
- 4 drops Eucalyptus EO
- 7 drops Ravintsara EO
- 5 drops Birch EO
- 8 drops Peppermint EO
- 5 drops Lemon EO
Add 6-8 drops of the above blend to your diffuser. Alternatively, you can add 5 drops to a bowl of hot, boiling water and do stream inhalation. This blend can help alleviate signs and symptoms of asthma and pneumonia.
How To Use Essential Oils For Best Possible Relief In Lung Healing?
Dilute the essential oil blend in a carrier oil and apply on the back, chest and the vita flex points of the feet. Application around the inner thighs can improve the circulation of blood in the lungs.
For fastest results, inhalation is the way to go. Here is how to do inhalation for best possible results:
- Add 2-3 cups water into a clear saucepan or a small pot. Bring this water to a boil.
- Add 10 to 15 drops of organic eucalyptus essential oil into the boiling hot water and cover the saucepan with a lid. Turn off the burner.
- Remove the pan from the burner and bend your head over the pan with a towel covering your head: this helps make certain that the vapors are not lost in the air.
- Breathe in the eucalyptus steam that emerges out after every 10-15 seconds. When the vapors are in, hold your breath for few seconds and then exhale. Do this for at least three times a day. If needed, more eucalyptus drops can be added (peppermint is a also a good substitute).
- Try to keep your eyes closed to avoid eye burning or watering.
- Both marjoram and eucalyptus make highly powerful inhalations. Therefore, avoid using both these oils together.
It is generally the case that ingesting essential oils is rarely needed. However, if ingestion is what you are going to do, use only the essential oils that are deemed appropriate for such use, i.e. they have to be edible therapeutic or organic grade essential oils. In addition, before ingesting essential oils, always consult a doctor. While some doctors recommend putting few drops of certain essential oils under the tongue to resolve a cough, in my experience, essential oils can best be used topically with proper dilution levels.
4. Use in a suppository
The easiest way to reach the lungs is through the colon. When using this method, the benefits reach the lungs within minutes. Put two to three drops of a suitable essential oil in a capsule and add carrier oil to fill it up to the brim. Castor is the best carrier oil to use, as it is very lubricating.
The ideal essential oil to carrier oil ratio is 1% to 2%, which means 6 or 12 drops of essential oil to one ounce (30ml) of carrier oil respectively. If you intend to use this on a child, use 1% dilutino or less and try first on yourself to make sure that it is comfortable. If the essential oil is properly diluted, it should not sting.
List of Common Lung and Respiratory System Problems
In case you want specific information on each of the most common respiratory conditions affecting the lungs, I’ve included the relevant information:
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The Final Word
My dad battled with respiratory ailments in the last years of his life. Doctors said that there is nothing they can do for him, until I decided to take matters in my own hand and started using essential oils on him. I can bet that no treatment method or drug prescribed by doctors can ever come close to the healing effects that essential oils offer for the lungs. With the use of essential oils, it is entirely possible to pull someone out of a critical respiratory illness; they are just amazing!
There you have it folks, the secret to maintaining strong, functional, healthy lungs is now yours to enjoy as well as some practical tips to help you improve your lungs and respiratory health. Remember, it’s not about the huge treatments (and costs!) you get later on, but more about the little preventative measures (and savings!) you have earlier. Those are what keep your lungs in peak working condition even as you approach old age.
So, make sure you’re always stocked up on the best essential oils for lung health and put them into practice to keep those vital organs operating at peak performance!
Much appreciated contribution from Dr Ramyead, MBBS