Aromatherapy for Colds & Influenza (Part 2)
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Aromatherapy for Colds & Influenza (Part 2)

In part 1,  I discussed how to use the various species of eucalyptus essential oils for respiratory complaints. Here is a short list of other aromatic herbals for respiratory complaints:

Culinary Herbs. Fennel, marjoram, rosemary & garlic are aromatic culinary herbs, that in a pinch, might be found in the kitchen cabinet or in the garden. Fennel is antispasmodic, and a mild expectorant for coughs. It has a warm, dry, pungent thermal nature, and sweet flavor for exterior cold pathogens. Marjoram alleviates coughs, soothes sore throats, and expels exterior damp-heat pathogens. Peter Holems LAc says rosemary can be used for wind-heat or wind-cold, and scores highest of most culinary herbs on the ORAC antioxidant scale. Garlic is indispensable. See forthcoming post.

Cypress essential oil clears lymphatic and jin ye (body fluid) stagnation; problems seen with respiratory colds & flu that may go under treated. Cypress EO transforms damp & clears lung heat. It is anti infectious and anti-spasmodic, effective for feelings of heat & constriction in the chest.  I find it beneficial when nothing else works to relieve a feeling heaviness in the chest. This is probably because it regulates venous circulation & strengthens capillaries; reduces fluid stagnation & venous blood stasis.  All conifers have an anthropomorphic affinity for the respiratory system, with cypress also having an affinity for clearing the lymphatic system. 

Frankincense tonifies the lungs, and expectorates copious sputum for tight chest and wheezing due to damp-cold. While it dries loose & moist coughs in general, the B. frereana and B. rivea species are less drying, and may be preferred in very dry winter climes.

Lavenders in general are immuno-stimulant, release wind-heat pathogens, and diffuse LU qi (chest tightness). Spike lavender (Lavendula  latifolia) is anti-infectious and expectorant due to 38% oxide (cineole) content. Lavender Highland is broncho-dilitant, and anti asthmatic due to its high coumarin content. Lavender with a high ester (linalyl acetate) content is anti inflammatory and anti-spasmodic for coughs. Lavender Linalol and Lavendin (Lavender hybrida, Lavender longifolia) are respiratory antiseptics, immunostimulants, antivirals, and stimulating due to their monoterpene alcohol (linalol) content. Lavendin is also beneficial for sinusitis  due to its ketone content. 

Mullein is a wonderful botanical that can be wildcrafted abundantly in New Mexico.  The plant produces a volatile oil, but very little is documented about the extraction and use of the essential oil. However, the oil-infusion is a classical remedy for earaches. A decoction, tincture, gargle or syrup made from the flowers (or leaves) is used to expectorate dry, hard coughs (whooping cough); asthma, bronchitis, and throat inflammations. The leaves are smoked as tobacco for asthma. The root is used to gently tonify the kidney/ adrenals.  

I anecdotally mention it here because I find it very effective for reducing nicotine cravings in lung-type smokers- in a decoction of the stalk & leaves.  Per the Signatures the leaves have a fuzziness that resemble, thus benefit the cilia of the lungs. Mullein has a cool, moist thermal nature, and sweet flavor. It is available in raw herb, tincture, and homeopathic/ flower essence forms.

Myrtle hydrosol is mucolytic and expectorant for congested sinuses, allergic asthma, and seasonal bronchitis. Take it internally 2-3 times a week prophylactically before the allergy season ensues; increasing to daily if symptoms appear. Myrtle hydrosol is anti inflammatory and mucolytic to the GI tract where allergies may have there root. Myrtle hydrosol also one of the only hydrosols that can be used as an eye rinse for eye allergy symptoms. (Catty, 2001).

Peppermint (bo he), Ginger (gan/sheng jiang) & Cinnamon (gui zhi) are classical Chinese herbs used for exterior wind invasions (colds & flus). See entire article posts on Peppermint- Bo He, which is antiviral against wind-heat pathogens. Ginger peel releases wind-cold invasions. Cinnamon is in a classic formula called Gui Zhi Tang, for wind-cold deficiency patterns.

Pine (Pinus sylvestrus) is a beautifully gentle adrenal tonic for lingering cough & malaise. It is also appropriate for children.

INTEGRATIVE  MEDICINE  TIP: In Chinese Medicine, fall and winter (in locales where the weather is cold and dry) is the time to warm, moisten & descend lung qi. Peter Holmes LAc, of Snow Lotus Aromatherapy, suggests these EO for the treatment of exterior invasions (e.g. colds & flus), and other syndromes that afflict the lungs and the metal element:    

  • Tonify the LU: hyssop, black spruce, rosemary 
  • Warm the LU: basil, hyssop
  • Descend LU qi: basil, blue tansy, fennel, hyssop, frankincense 
  • Cold phlegm: rosemary, silver fir        
  • LU yang deficiency: black spruce
  • LU qi deficiency: palma rosa, tea tree, naiouli 
  • Vaporize phlegm: geranium, E. globulus, silver fir, frankincense,       
  • Sedate metal constitution: bay laurel 

* Check your references for cautions & considerations, and route & dosing before using EOs. Especially during pregancy; on small children & infants; the elderly & weak; and those with epilepsy & neuro-muscular diseases.

Holmes, Peter. (2001). Clinical aromatherapy: Using essential oils for healing body & soul.
Michael Scholes. (2001). Aromatherapy certification course- notes. Michael Scholes School of
Nature's Nexus. Retrieved 10/21/09 from
Ody, P. (1993). The complete medicinal herbal. New York, NY: Dorling Kindersley.

1 Comment to Aromatherapy for Colds & Influenza (Part 2):

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