Appropriate use of essential oils and their components in the management of upper respiratory tract symptoms in patients with COVID-19

J Herb Med. 2021 Aug:28:100451. doi: 10.1016/j.hermed.2021.100451. Epub 2021 Mar 26.


Introduction: The involvement of the upper respiratory tract is common in COVID-19, and the majority of patients are treated at home with a mild-to-moderate form of the disease. Many approaches based on essential oils have been proposed for the symptomatic treatment of COVID-19. This work aims to outline the potential and safe evidence-based uses of essential oils and their major components for the clinical management of mild respiratory symptoms caused by uncomplicated coronavirus infections, including SARS-CoV-2. Due to their wide use, a focus on the constituents eucalyptol and menthol has been provided.

Methods: An overview of the scientific literature with a critical discussion of retrieved evidence and clinical recommendations.

Results: In general, eucalyptol and essential oils or blends whose content is rich in it, may be used as an integrative remedy for the symptomatic improvement of patients with mild and uncomplicated infections caused by coronaviruses. Menthol is not recommended in patients with COVID-19, due to a potential reduction of the self-perception of dyspnea, which can lead infected patients to underestimate the actual disease severity and to delay medical attention.

Discussion: Based on available evidence, symptomatic remedies for COVID-19, such as essential oils and their isolated compounds, can be useful, but are not an alternative to standard medical therapy and do not exempt patients from following precautionary measures issued by health authorities. Clinical recommendations on the appropriate use of essential oils for the management of upper airway symptoms of COVID-19 are provided. Further studies on the topic are advised.

Keywords: Aromatherapy; COVID-19; Coronavirus; Essential oils; Eucalyptol; Menthol.

Publication types

  • Review