Cough oils: what to use and how to apply?

, medical expert
Last reviewed: 17.06.2019

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Even with a large selection of pharmaceuticals for the treatment of cough, no one has canceled the traditional means - alternative medicine, which have been used by many generations. And cough oil is one such home remedy. Considering its continued popularity, as well as not always reliable information regarding methods of use, it is useful to have an idea of which oils really help cure coughing and why.


Indications Cough oil

The nature of cough is different: with the formation of mucous bronchial secretions (sputum) - productive or dry, that is unproductive - depending on the etiology and course of the disease. And the main indications for cough oil use are practically the entire spectrum of diseases accompanied by this symptom, including ARVI (which we call colds), pharyngitis and nasopharyngitis, laryngitis, tracheitis, bronchitis (acute, chronic, obstructive), tracheobronchitis, COPD, pleurisy, pneumonia.

Various recipes with cough oil recommend the use of regular butter and ghee, cocoa bean oil, as well as essential odors from cough and rhinitis, which are complex compounds of many organic substances extracted by plants, including medicinal ones.

What oil is more effective for cough? Obviously, one which, depending on the nature of the cough, will increase the production of the bronchial secretion or make it less viscous (that is, thin); facilitate the removal of sputum from the respiratory tract or arrest spasms of the bronchi; remove inflammation and swelling of the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract.


Cough oil benefits

Let's start with cough oil for oral administration, which we often use simply out of habit. Of course, this butter is used in several versions. The easiest of them, and probably the most "ancient" -  milk with cough oil.

Please note that in almost all recipes there is milk: milk with honey,  butter with honey and cough soda,  or  milk with honey, butter and cough soda.

Although milk does not relieve this symptom, this product contains the essential amino acid tryptophan, which increases the production of the hormone melatonin by the pineal gland, which promotes sleep, and the synthesis of another hormone, serotonin, which ensures the stability of the body's immune system. In addition, along with other fatty acids, butyric or butanoic acid (about 3%) is a part of milk. Biochemists have found that it can affect the activity of cellular immunity - suppressing the reaction of pro-inflammatory cells.

Information for those who believe that goat milk for cough is healthier than cow milk: the content of butanoic acid in goat milk is higher, but most of all it is in buffalo milk. Lactic acid in the form of acylglycerol tributyrin is also contained in concentrated milk fat - butter.

Ayurveda considers heat-treated butter to be a cure for many diseases, so you can safely put cough butter in hot milk (a teaspoon in a glass).

In a slightly smaller amount, you should put cough cocoa butter in the warmed milk according to the recipe described here -  Cocoa with butter and cough honey

The effectiveness of cocoa bean oil when coughing is indisputable, as it contains theobromine purine alkaloid, which blocks the adenosine receptors, reducing the bronchiole tone; at the same time, the bronchial tubes open, which makes breathing easier in case of obstructive bronchitis.

The anti-inflammatory and immune-stimulating properties of aloe are well known due to the presence of sulfur compounds, saponins (lupeol) in this plant, and benzylidene acetic (cinnamon) and 2-hydroxybenzoic (salicylic) phenolic acid antiseptics. That is why you can combine aloe, honey and cough oil for colds and bronchitis (in a ratio of 5: 1: 2); recipes in articles:

Treatment of bronchitis at home

Honey cough treatment: effective recipes

Adding a raw egg whipped with sugar and yolk into hot milk with cough oil for laryngitis and sore throat for tonsillitis was used a long time ago, and the mixture was called eggnog. But, given the risk of becoming infected with salmonella, today it is not worth putting raw egg yolk in this tool.

No one has tested the effectiveness of such dubious home remedies as beer or vodka with cough oil: even there are no reviews about them... Although it is very good to drink more when you have a cold or cough, and when you have a sore throat, drinks should be moderately hot. See -  Cough Drinks. As for hot drinks, doctors recommend avoiding alcohol when coughing, as it dehydrates the body and weakens the immune system.

Despite the fact that flax seed oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acid, flaxseed oil for cough, accompanied by the formation of sputum, has no effect. However, with a dry, “fighting” throat cough caused by gastroesophageal reflux, this oil (inside a teaspoon a couple of times during the day) helps to remove irritation of the mucous membranes and moisten them.

Apply inside and coconut oil for cough and sore throat. It consists of half of saturated fatty lauric acid, transforming in the body into monolaurin. In vitro studies have revealed the antibacterial and antiviral properties of this monoglyceride. The most popular recipe means for oral administration: two tablespoons of coconut oil + two tablespoons of honey + a teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Take a teaspoonful twice a day.

If the body temperature is normal, then to reduce the intensity of wet cough and better expectoration of sputum, you can do warming compresses from the oil - on the chest. Usually use vegetable oil, heated to + 40 ° C, it can be sunflower or olive oil.

Castor oil which is well absorbed by the skin from cough is used, as well as peach oil obtained from the kernels of the seeds of the fruit - as the basis of home remedies for rubbing the chest. For example, you can mix 50 ml of castor oil or peach oil, a tablespoon of grated ginger root, half a teaspoon of ground red pepper and 10 drops of eucalyptus essential oil.

An oil solution of propolis or propolis oil for cough in case of respiratory infections and tonsillitis, which preserves the antimicrobial activity of phenolpropanoid compounds, is used to lubricate the inflamed tonsils.

And for inhalation they use sea buckthorn oil for coughing and airway inflammation (nasopharynx, vocal cords, trachea, bronchi). Read how to apply  Sea buckthorn oil for sore throat.


There are contraindications for use:

  • camphor oil - bronchial asthma, inflammatory diseases of the kidneys and bladder, skin diseases, epilepsy, pregnancy and breastfeeding, as well as children under three years of age;
  • peppermint and eucalyptus oil - increased blood pressure, bronchial spasms, seasonal allergies, sleep disorders, age up to two years;
  • tea tree oils - arterial hypotension, vegetative dystonia, age under six years;
  • fir oil - asthma, febrile states, infectious diseases, heart failure, arterial hypertension.

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Side effects Cough oil

When using cocoa butter, possible complications are related to the fact that its active substance, theobromine, acting on adenosine receptors, can reduce heart rate, blood pressure and appetite, cause headache, as well as nausea and vomiting.

Fir oil can worsen the condition of asthmatics and whooping cough. Peppermint oil can cause allergies, hypotension; and in children, the complication may take the form of depression of the respiratory reflex with episodes of acute cardiovascular insufficiency and loss of consciousness.

Eucalyptus oil can trigger an asthma attack, in young children - the appearance of shortness of breath and apnea. And getting into the digestive tract, this oil can cause a feeling of fatigue, convulsive syndrome, epigastric pain.

The side effects of tea tree oil are irritation of the skin with hyperemia and itching, and when swallowed it may be a lack of coordination of movements.

It is known for its side effects and developing on their soil complications of camphor oil, among which there is hyperemia and irritation of the skin at the site of application. But the most dangerous consequences are the ingestion of this oil, which causes burning in the mouth, throat and esophagus, as well as toxic effects in the form of headache, nausea and vomiting, difficulty breathing with spasms of the bronchi, muscle cramps, cardiovascular disorders. Vascular system and liver. As a result, a coma may occur, and respiratory failure is fraught with rapid death.

As an afterword. By illiteracy, thoughtlessly or carelessly applying any home remedies, including essential oils for cough, you may encounter problems, for the solution of which you will have to go not to your doctor, but to emergency medical care. Remember this, be treated correctly - as recommended by the doctor.


Dosing and administration

Due to the antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and expectorant properties of biologically active substances that make up their essential oils occupy a separate niche among the means that are used in the complex treatment of respiratory, otolaryngological and pulmonological diseases and help get rid of cough.

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Essential oils for cough

How to use essential oils for chronic bronchitis, detailed in the material -  Oils for the treatment of bronchitis

The main essential oils for dry cough are  eucalyptus oil, menthol or  peppermint oil, oregano oil (oregano oil - Origanum vulgare).

The most suitable cough oil for aroma lamps, first of all, include essential oil of thyme (thyme), tea tree, lemon, rosemary, fir, juniper, myrrh.

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Eucalyptus oil

This essential oil for inhalation is considered No. 1 because it simultaneously acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, and as an antiseptic, and as a bronchodilator and extractor, which is provided by the most complex combination of isoprene derivatives (terpene alcohol 1,8-cineole, monoterpenic compounds and sesquiterpenes), aldehydes and phenols. And the best way to use it is steam inhalation. How to do them correctly, in detail -  Inhalation with eucalyptus when coughing and bronchitis

In addition, these recipes are offered mixtures (balms) for rubbing the chest:

  • a teaspoon of almond oil takes three drops of eucalyptus essential oil, two drops of thyme essential oil and one drop of pine essential oil;
  • For a tablespoon of coconut oil, take eight drops of eucalyptus oil, five drops of lavender oil and two drops of thyme oil.

There is also a recipe for oral cough medicine, which is prepared by mixing three tablespoons of honey with two drops of eucalyptus and the same amount of lemon essential oil (which improves blood circulation in the respiratory system and relieves spasms). Take the mixture in a teaspoon, dissolving it in 200 ml of warm water. It is recommended to drink this remedy slowly and not more than twice a day.


Menthol oil

Peppermint oil has a strong antiseptic and effective antispasmodic reputation, supported by monoterpene menthol. It is proved that it relaxes the smooth muscles of the bronchi and increases their ventilation, reducing the intensity of cough. It is also believed that menthol contributes to the dilution of thick bronchial secretions and soothes sore throat.

There are several ways to apply it: dissipate in the air and breathe it, inhale the smell directly from the bottle or from a tampon moistened with oil, or make steam inhalations (with the addition of 5-6 drops in water for one procedure).


Thyme Oil (Thyme)

Due to the content of 2-isopropyl-5-methylphenol (thymol), this essential oil can also be called multifunctional - antiseptic (antimicrobial and fungicidal), antispasmodic, mucolytic and mucokinetic. All applications of thyme oil relieve cough, but most often it is used in aroma lamp.

Oregano oil (oregano oil)

The combination of terpene compounds (including thymol and carvacrol) and esters gave this essential oil not only strong antimicrobial properties, but also the ability to relieve spasms of all structures of the respiratory system, which soothes coughing and facilitates the restoration of normal mucociliary clearance of the bronchial epithelium.

Tea Tree Cough Oil

Containing α-phellandrene, alpinins, β-pinene, cyneol, γ-terpineol, limonene, linalool and piperitone  tea tree essential oil  are among the universal biologically active substances that provide, among other things, the expectorant effect.

Read more -  Applying tea tree oil

Fir oil

Fir is the closest relative of pine, and its essential oil also contains organic terpene compounds, in particular, α-pinene, which determines its antimicrobial effect. It is used as an oil for cough inhalation for respiratory diseases, for spraying (diffusion) and in the aroma lamp - as a prophylactic during flu epidemics.

Anise oil

Effective mucolytic and mucokinetic means, proof of which is the presence of anise oil in chest elixir and ammonia-anise drops. Phenylpropin anisic oil compound - anethole - has an antimicrobial and antiviral effect, and also increases the production of bronchial secretions, dilutes it and promotes expectoration. When using it, it should be borne in mind that anise oil interacts with drugs that affect the work of the central nervous system.


Camphor oil

It is allowed to use camphor oil only outwardly and with caution: camphor is classified as a neurotoxin. Experts warn that when ingested camphor oil in the gastrointestinal tract can be serious side effects, even deadly.

With a strong wet cough, frankincense oil (obtained from the resin of Boswellia sacra tree) is recommended, used in sprayers or aroma lamps; basil essential oil (two or three drops of oil mixed with coconut oil and rub the chest with this mixture); steam inhalations with essential oils.

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Cough Oil Inhalation Oil

A simple and at the same time effective method of applying the above essential oils is inhalation, with simultaneous moistening of the respiratory tract with water vapor, a decrease in the viscosity of sputum, as well as removal of nasal congestion and relief of breathing. Two procedures a day are enough with a duration of each not more than five minutes.

For carrying out inhalations, Makhold's oils for coughing and nasal congestion for colds (with a special inhaler attached to them - Mahold inhaler) are also sold in pharmacies. It is a blend of essential oils of eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree, rosemary and cedar. The instructions indicate that this tool does not apply to patients younger than 12 years and pregnant.

Cough Essential Oils for Aroma Lamp or Steam Evaporator

All the previously mentioned cough essential oils can be used for the aroma lamp, through which they are intensely evaporated during the heating process.

Additionally, lemon oil and other citrus oils can be evaporated in the aroma lamp (they ensure normal breathing, clearing the upper respiratory tract); fir and pine oil (help reduce sputum formation and facilitate its elimination from the respiratory tract); rosemary and cedar oils, which contribute to the dilution of thick sputum, as well as to the relaxation of smooth muscles of the trachea and bronchi and the removal of cough.

The recipe for universal cough mix for aromalampy (or steam evaporator): 12 drops of eucalyptus essential oil, 10 drops of lemon essential oil, 8 drops of thyme and laurel essential oil, 6 drops of myrrh’s essential oil and 4 drops of spruce (cedar and pine) essential oil. ) and incense.

Aromatherapists note that peppermint, bay, clove and thyme oils should be used with caution, as they can cause irritation of the mucous membranes.

Read on what and how exactly essential cough oils are used in the bath, read -  Bath for bronchitis

It should be borne in mind that essential oils - camphor, fir, tea tree, oregano, thyme, menthol, bitter wormwood and tarragon - during pregnancy and breastfeeding can not be used. What kind of oil cough during pregnancy can be used in the material -  How to treat a cough during pregnancy

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Essential oils for cough for children

Essential oils are most often used to children externally, in more detail in the publication -  Cold ointment in children: rub or not rub?  More useful information is provided in the article -  Cough Ointment.

Geranium, cypress, blue (German) chamomile, mandarin and sandalwood oils are considered useful for children with coughing and ARVI. Dill, mint, eucalyptus, tea tree, cloves, cinnamon, rosemary and verbena are contraindicated in children under three years of age due to the threat of convulsions and respiratory arrest. And adolescent boys are not recommended to apply tea tree oil and lavender.

Experts emphasize the need to dilute essential oils with any vegetable oils and indicate that the oil is well tolerated when used externally, may be toxic when taken orally.

Those who are interested in the Kyzyl May product, manufactured in Kazakhstan, for children from cough and cold, intended for external and internal use at any age (children are only three years old). The composition is a mixture of extracts of medicinal plants such as St. John's wort, thyme, lemon balm, nettle, licorice root and rose hips on the basis of sea buckthorn and sunflower oils.

It is important to know!

A long-lasting cough can be a sign of serious illness, so it cannot be ignored. What to do when you cough? Figure out the cause and fight it. Read more..

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To simplify the perception of information, this instruction for use of the drug "Cough oils: what to use and how to apply?" translated and presented in a special form on the basis of the official instructions for medical use of the drug. Before use read the annotation that came directly to medicines.

Description provided for informational purposes and is not a guide to self-healing. The need for this drug, the purpose of the treatment regimen, methods and dose of the drug is determined solely by the attending physician. Self-medication is dangerous for your health.

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