I am always looking for home remedies that help with colds and flu symptoms and especially essential oils for chest congestion. Chest congestion is one of those issues that we all suffer from during cold and flu bugs, but I have found that even in my special needs son, some essential oils do work really well.
We have been to the ER enough in my special needs son’s little life. He has had pneumonia at least four times, along with RSV , which landed him right in Intermediate Care for a couple of days. It is always beneficial for everyone if we can avoid a trip to the ER, especially with a special needs child, who can pick up another bug in addition to what they already have.
As always, you have to choose from what you have on hand, and what works well in your family, but I have found these oils, including combinations o them, to be really effective.
Why do you need a decongestant?
Especially if you have a sick child with a cold, the flu or even something serious like pneumonia, a decongestant breaks up the mucous in the body. My favorite over the counter medication for that is guaifenesin, which is typically found in Mucinex, or other generic brands related to Mucinex.
A decongestant breaks up the mucous and thins it out so that it is easier for the body to drain or cough up in phlegm. As you can imagine, in something like pneumonia or serious like RSV, this can really help your child. My son ended up in the hospital because he was so low in muscle tone that he could not cough up his own mucous.
The amazing thing about these essential oils is that they can help do the same job. Plus, there are not contraindications with drugs like guaifenesin, or antibiotics, of course, if your child is seriously ill. As always, I defer to going to the doctor if the oils or over the counter medications are not working.
What are the effects of over-the-counter guaifenesin?
While generally, taking a decongestant remains nothing other than helpful, there are some side-effects you may want to take note of:
More Mild Effects
- Incomplete bowel movements
- Relaxed easy state
- Stomach cramps
More Serious & Uncommon Effects
- Abnormal nervous functioning
- Decreased lung function
- Difficulty Breathing
You can read more about other side-effects here. However, these essential oils contain almost no side-effects and have many other beneficial effects on our bodies.
Here are some essential oils for chest congestion
Made from the leaves of the eucalyptus tree, this oil is where we primarily get menthol-related products. Eucalyptus helps with respiratory issues, opening up the airways, congestion with its cooling properties, as well as fevers and sinusitis.
Rosemary comes from the leaves of a rosemary bush and is also considered an herb. Also known for its cooling aroma, it helps with sinusitis, flu and some congestion.
Peppermint comes from the leaves of a peppermint plant. It also contains cooling properties, opening up the airways a bit. This herb can also help asthma, and stomach-related issues, such as nausea.
Copaiba works well as a pain reliever and appears to reduce inflammation. It is best used in conjunction with the more cooling oils listed above.
Thieves oil is always a great antibacterial and antiviral. If you have a child who is prone to infections from congestion, this oil can help prevent further spreading of the illness (such as wiping down counters, toilets and bedrooms. Thieves can also help prevent infection when diffused throughout the room. I also like to mix it with some of the mintier oils.
Ways to use essential oils for congestion
More often than not, I put these in a diffuser in my son’s room when he sleeps at night, or run them during the daytime in the room he is playing in. Inhalation works well to even help clean the air of viruses and inhibit the spreading of it amongst other family members.
Added to a carrier oil, such as 2-3 tablespoons of coconut oil, you can apply these oils to the chest area on your family. However, particularly, with children, care should be taken to make sure they can tolerate the cooling properties of the minty oils. My special needs son will not tolerate even using a small amount of minty oils, such as peppermint on his skin, and they do not wipe off very well.
Essential oils taken in a spoonful of honey or coconut oil by mouth can help open up the airways. If your child likes peppermint, they may enjoy the taste with a bit of honey and lemon, which always a favorite around our house.
What essential oils for congestion do you give your child, or take yourself? Please share!