Respiratory-System

Take in a deep breath. 

Now let it out slowly. 

Isn’t the respiratory system incredible?

Roughly 22,000 times a day—with every single breath—the cells, tissues, and muscles of the respiratory system work together to complete the complex biochemical process of allowing our bodies to 1) absorb fresh oxygen and 2) expel carbon dioxide and other waste.

And it is just this 22,000x a day job that makes the respiratory system one of the most vital AND most vulnerable systems in your body!

The respiratory system is vital because your brain (and by extension your whole body) can only survive a few minutes without fresh oxygen! 

And it is vulnerable because 1) your respiratory system is a major gateway for your body and it can’t let the oxygen in without also being constantly bombarded by toxic invaders from your environment and 2) because your respiratory system has to work so tirelessly, it is particularly susceptible to wear and tear!

Fortunately, the respiratory system can easily be supported! 

There are a few smart, simple wellness habits that you can use to keep your respiratory system in tip-top shape! And, if you know how to use them, your essential oils can lend a hand as well!

So, if you want to breathe easy and keep on breathing easy—keep reading!

What’s In a Respiratory System? 

Anatomically, your respiratory system consists of your mouth, nose, sinuses, throat, lungs, and various muscles, including the diaphragm, intercostal muscles, abdominal wall muscles, and heart.

Each of these parts needs to be taken care of! And we have a list of healthy habits/practices that can help you tend to each one of them!

Taking Care of Your Respiratory System

Step 1: Shut All the Doors to Toxins

The quickest way to sabotage your respiratory health is to allow toxins to get in! Whether it be smoke, bacteria, or airborne chemicals, these toxins can attack, damage, and inflame your respiratory tissues and even set you up to develop respiratory disease!

What can I do? What can my essential oils do? 

  • Brush, floss, and rinse! Any bacteria or toxins that build up in your mouth can easily trickle down to your lungs and mess with your breathing! Be regular about your oral hygiene. (Consider using essential oils in your mouthwash or in daily oil pulling!) 
  • Wash your hands! And clean often-touched items like door knobs, phones, and keyboards. The average person touches their face 23 times per hour! So, if you’re not careful, your hands can very easily deliver toxins to your respiratory system! Luckily you can use essential oils in your soaps and cleaning products to get rid of toxins and reduce the number of unhealthy chemicals in your home.
  • Watch your indoor air quality! Whether you live in New York City or the countryside, indoor air is often even more polluted than outdoor air. Check out our guide: Air Purification & Essential Oils.
  • Don’t let the grime/dust/dirt stay! Cleaning is (let’s be honest) a chore—an annoyingly regular, often very tedious chore. But the longer you let dust, food residue, and grime build, the more they can feed bacteria and release nasty micro toxins into the air!
  • Don’t smoke! Quitting smoking can be hard, but your lungs will thank you for it your whole life long!

Step 2: It’s Easier to Breathe Right When you Eat Right

Your lung and respiratory tissues (just like all the other tissues in your body) require certain nutrient “building blocks” in order to stay healthy and function optimally!

The right diet will supply your respiratory tissues with what they need to stay healthy and keep up their work. The wrong diet can leech strength from and even do outright damage to your respiratory system. 

What can I do? What can my essential oils do?

  • Eat & drink clean. Any toxins you consume, including preservative chemicals and heavy metals, have the potential to damage your respiratory tissues. So love your lungs by eating and drinking as cleanly as possible!
  • Take your vitamins! Your basic vitamins and minerals (especially Vitamins A, C, E, zinc, magnesium, selenium, and potassium) are crucial for the maintenance and proper function of the cells in your respiratory system. If you struggle getting your micronutrients in, use a nutrition tracker app. 
  • Hydrate! One of the reasons your respiratory system can run such a slick operation is that it is constantly generating mucus, which it uses to coat, protect, and streamline your respiratory tract and tissues. Your body needs its mucus.  But it can’t produce adequate mucus if you aren’t drinking enough. Try to work your way up to drinking about 3 liters of water a day and your respiratory system will thank you! 

Step 3: Exercise Wisely

The right amount and kind of exercise brings huge benefits to the body, including better respiratory health!

However, the wrong amount or kind of exercise can damage respiratory health! So it’s important to tailor your exercise routine to your body’s needs. 

What can I do? What can my essential oils do? 

    • Cardio optimized for YOU! The American Heart Association recommends either 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobic exercise per week. The trick is to get your weekly exercise in without overstraining your heart or lungs by doing too much or pushing too hard. Don’t be afraid to experiment a little to find the modalities, amounts of time, and intensities that suit your body. (Want to find a great routine for you? Use the fitness markers in your DNA to guide you!)
    • Crunch those abs! The muscles of your abdominal wall support the action of your respiratory system. Include some sit-ups, planks, bicycle crunches, or other abdominal exercises into your workout routine for optimal respiratory health!
    • Diaphragmatic Breathing The healthiest way to breathe is to let your diagram muscle, located at the bottom of your ribs, do most of the work! This kind of breathing pairs really well with meditation and can even reduce anxiety! (Enhance your meditation by diffusing some oils! They’ll work as a great sensory cue to focus your meditation and add their healthy properties to your lungs!)
    • Take a Walk! “Sitting is the new smoking” because your respiratory system needs your body to move! Include some short walks into your day to keep things flowing!
  • Posture makes Perfect Sitting and standing with good posture does all kinds of good things for your body—including strengthening your core muscles and making it easier for you to breathe with your diaphragm!

Can Essential Oils Save Your Respiratory System When Something Has Gone Wrong?

When your respiratory tissues, that is, your lungs, sinuses, and trachea are weak, inflamed, or infected—can essential oils help? Yes! If you know which oils to use and how to use them correctly. 

Want to get more specific? Check out our posts: 

Your Guide to Colds & Essential Oils

What Have Essential Oils Got to Do With the Flu

Essential oils can help by reducing inflammation, killing viruses and bacteria, supporting immune system activity, and even helping purge the air and environment around you from microbes so you don’t breathe them in to make your condition worse!

Top-Recommended Essential Oils Products for the Respiratory System

Try diffusing, steam breathing, or topically applying (appropriately diluted, of course) these oils to help you overcome respiratory health difficulties!

  • Eucalyptus Oil. Eucalyptus oil, especially due to its prominent chemical constituent 1,8-cineole, is the best-researched essential oil for respiratory conditions like bronchitis (Fischer 2013), rhinosinusitis (Tesche 2008), and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (Worth 2009). 
  • Rosemary Oil. Also high in 1,8-cineole, rosemary essential oil has some excellent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can help support your respiratory system. 
  • Peppermint Oil. Peppermint is a popular oil for opening up the airways and reducing respiratory congestion, as well as addressing the headaches or body aches that sometimes accompany respiratory conditions. 
  • Tea Tree Oil. Tea tree oil is a powerful antiseptic that you can use to clean or steam your home in the event of a respiratory infection. In fact, combined with eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil has been known to kill the flu virus in the air!
  • Other popular oils include: Frankincense, Helichrysum, Oregano, Thyme

Conclusion

So, as it turns out, Mother Nature not only produces generous amounts of oxygen for us to breathe—she’s also sent us some lovely essential oils to help us breathe better!

We really should send her a gift basket or something…

But, in the meantime, we’ll just have to show our appreciation by taking good care of our respiratory systems and savoring every breath we get!

Class Ideas
  • Review the respiratory system and (as listed above) the top strategies and oils for taking care of it. Share ideas with each other on how to establish homes and habits conducive to respiratory health. 
  • Make an EO home cleaning solution together and discuss cleaning strategies/habits that will help you maintain your home’s cleanliness/your family’s safety from harmful microbes.
  • Discuss the importance of hydration, as well as tips and life hacks to help get your 3 liters of water in every day. Share recipes for safe EO-inclusive drinks with each other.
  • Exercise for 20+ minutes together, spending a portion of that time in each of the 3 heart-rate zones. Discuss how to set up and maintain an exercise habit that is good for your heart and lungs. 
  • Using the oils listed above, mix up a throat/chest rub that can be applied in the event of respiratory illness. Discuss natural, holistic methods of combating a cold or flu.