I know from experience that once I begin convulsive coughing, I'm really headed for trouble. It's taken me months to get over bronchitis before, so I take every cough as a signal to act quickly with my essential oils and oil-based supplements.

Why is coughing such a serious matter? Two reasons: 1) it can do serious and permanent damage to my lungs, bronchioles and vocal chords; and 2) it produces a lot of chronic inflammation, irritation, and free radicals through my body, which take their toll on my health over an extended period of time.

Not only can bronchitis escalate into something more serious like pneumonia, but it can leave me weak, exhausted, and vulnerable for more serious degenerative illness over time. Bronchitis is not a temporary thing that ends when the coughing stops and the antibiotic prescription runs out. It must be healed promptly, deeply and completely. For me that will take at least 10 days after all symptoms have ended.

Here's what I do when I have a cold that begins to escalate into coughing.

I continue the steam treatments I started at the first sign of a cold, both in hot therapeutic baths each evening using essential oils and Epsom salts and also steamy showers with an essential oil diffuser in the same room for about 20 minutes each morning before I leave for work.

If I begin to cough at work, I've found that a convenient mug of warm aromatic water will quickly calm my coughing. I fill a thermos of hot tap water and put in a drop of Spearmint or Basil oil. These calming anti-inflammatory oils are soothing and also flavorful.

When I've had bronchitis, it's been common for me to start a convulsive cough spell shortly after I lie down for the night. When I was a child my mother would slather on Vicks VapoRub and put a cold wash cloth over my thymus area (just below where my collar bones join). Now I use diluted Peppermint oil on the area along with the cold washcloth and cover it with a dry towel. It stops the coughing by cooling the inflated bronchioles that tickle and trigger the coughing. If I find that the cloth heats up and the coughing starts up again before I can go to sleep, I will definitely wave the damp washcloth in the air to cool it and apply it again.

These are by no means the only things I do when I catch a cold. I take a large quantity of Vitamin D3 for 3 days. I up my intake of Krill Oil to control inflammation. I ingest a lot of essential oil capsules over a period of almost a month. I have oils in all my drinking water and many recipes. I use a cold-air essential oil diffuser at least twice a day. I do what's called the “lick trick” with essential oils to help with sore throat infections, and I keep my sinuses clear at all costs. For me, the sinuses are where the infection starts, and if I can get that cleared up quickly and keep it clear through any other symptoms, I can prevent ear infections, sinus headaches, and a lot of other symptoms typically associated with a cold.

I also apply a lot of oils topically, especially after my shower and bath while my skin is moist and the oils are most easily absorbed.

Dr. Daniel Penoel, who trained me in the medical uses of essential oils taught me that I needed to keep up all my aromatic habits for at least 10 days after I feel completely well. That's hard to do when I'm feeling great and back to normal. I also know from personal experience that if I do not heal completely, the symptoms can return with a vengeance.