Treating Asthma with Essential Oils
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways, causing wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing.1 Asthma attacks can be triggered by many things, including stress, allergens, and smoke.
There are some effective treatments for asthma, but currently no cure. And if you are among the unfortunate population of those who suffer from asthma, you’ve probably exhausted all the options, right? Inhalers, nebulizers, steroids, limiting physical activities…the works. What if we told you there might be an option that was natural, convenient, less costly and best of all – effective?
Essential oils are quickly becoming an acceptable alternative treatment for many ailments, including asthma. There are scientific studies on the power of essential oils, including this one from the University of Minnesota, explaining how and why they work. It’s hard to believe that a few drops of liquid can “heal,” especially since they are all chemical and paraben free, but people are finding more and more that essential oils are a great natural alternative to many man-made medicines.
HOW THEY WORK:
Skin is a permeable organ, and an avenue for the active ingredients in essential oils to absorb easily and enter the bloodstream. Common areas of application are armpits, back of the neck and soles of the feet, because they are the most permeable.
When inhaled, the essential oil molecules enter the body through the olfactory system, sending signals directly to the limbic (emotional) system and the blood stream. These active ingredients are able to travel through various parts of our bodies this way.
While we don’t recommend ingestion, it is a less common way essential oils are sometimes used. Just like any other medication, ingesting the oils distributes the active ingredients into the blood stream through the intestinal lining.
Which Essential Oils Should You Use to Treat Asthma?
- Clove is an anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic. It helps to reduce the inflammation of the bronchi as well as clear mucus.
- Eucalyptus has a potent aroma that is enough to clear the nasal passageway with one sniff. It also acts as an antihistamine which helps the body resist asthma-causing allergens.
- Lavender is another anti-inflammatory so it also aids in reducing inflammation of the airway. Lavender works by boosting the immune system and stimulating blood circulation which then improves sinus congestion, bronchitis and even digestion.
- Peppermint relaxes the smooth muscles (fun fact: that’s why it is also used for soreness) of the respiratory tract.
- Bergamot is an anti-inflammatory, so it helps reduce inflammation of the cells and walls in the bronchi.
- Oregano is known mainly for its antifungal and antibacterial properties that help fight the bacteria that can cause asthma and respiratory infections.
- Thyme is an antiseptic, antibacterial oil that is useful in strengthening the immune system which in turn, strengthens the respiratory system.
- Tea Tree is the most popular oil in terms of a breathing aid. It works as an expectorant and helps remove blocked mucus that creates wheezing and coughing.
- Frankincense treats asthma and its symptoms successfully by cleansing the nasal passages and lungs.
HOW TO USE THEM:
To treat asthma with essential oils, it’s best to have some blends on hand that can be used in case of an emergency. Roller bottle blends are great to keep in stock so you can store them in your cupboard or handbag for easy access. It’s also a good idea to keep a ready-made blend by your diffuser or within reach for inhaling to open the bronchial passages quickly.
The most effective asthma treatment is a combination of both at the first signs of an asthma attack.
Here’s are a few suggestions:
To make an asthma rub, you will need a carrier oil and the essential oils you want to use. It’s best to experiment with mild asthma symptoms to begin with to decide which oils work best for you.
How to Make Asthma Rubs:
Asthma rubs can be made a few ways, and are great to make ahead of time in case of emergency.
- Whip coconut oil with a high speed mixer until creamy, and then mix in the essential oil(s) of your choice. Store in a glass jar and apply generously to the chest, neck and back when needed. When making the rub with this method, you will need to increase the essential oils used in order to add about 30 drops of all oils combined.
- Mix 10-20 drops of your desired oils with a carrier oil such as grapeseed or almond in a glass bottle. Keep in your handbag or vehicle to alleviate symptoms.
- Mix 5-8 drops of the desired oils in your hand with about 5 ml of carrier oil and apply immediately to the neck and chest.
How to Make Asthma Inhalants:
To make inhalants, it’s a good idea to make several blends to have available when needed, and there are a few ways you can inhale the essential oils.
- Mix 20-30 drops of your desired essential oils in a glass bottle and inhale directly as needed.
- Add 10-15 drops of oils to your diffuser and diffuse as directed.
- Make a spray by combining 15-20 drops of your selected essential oils in a small glass spray bottle and fill with purified water. Mist in front of your face to inhale.
- Fill a bowl with very hot water, add 5-10 drops of essential oils, and place your face over the bowl with a towel over your head. Breathe deeply.
- Drop 10-15 drops into your bath water or onto a wet rag.
Use these combinations with any of the methods above. These blends are recommended for specific symptoms when you have one primary issue causing your asthma. When making rubs, be sure to always apply these oils with a carrier oil, as some may cause skin irritation.
- Tea Tree
Tightness of Chest:
Shortness of Breath:
LET’S WRAP IT UP
So now that you have a basic knowledge of how to use essential oils for asthma treatment and prevention, it’s time to experiment to see which ones work the best for you. Please keep in mind that we are not suggesting you throw out all your prescribed asthma medicine, but simply suggesting a natural alternative to help alleviate your symptoms. Some people with mild asthma have found that this is all the treatment they need, and while they still keep prescribed inhalers on hand, they tend to use essential oils as their first line of defense.
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NIH).