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Top 5 Essential Oils for Asthma Symptoms

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Essential oils for asthma - Dr. Axe

Have you ever tried using essential oils for asthma? Asthma disturbs normal functions of the airways reaching the lungs that allow us to breath. If you struggle with asthma symptoms and are looking for natural alternatives to improve how you feel, you may want to consider essential oils.

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, asthma is more common in young boys than young girls, but more common in adult women than adult men. (1) When used appropriately, essential oils can be a really effective part of a natural treatment plan for asthma.

Given its anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, expectorant and anti-congestive properties, oils like peppermint have been used for breathing difficulties in traditional herbal medicine for centuries and now recent research is showing that peppermint isn’t the only essential oil that may help you to breathe easier! (2)


5 Essential Oils for Asthma

Asthma and allergies often go hand-in-hand, especially in cases of allergic asthma, which is asthma triggered by exposure to the same substances that trigger allergy symptoms. That’s why it’s not surprising that there is a good deal of overlap between essential oils for allergies and essential oils for asthma. What is the best essential oil for asthma?

1. Eucalyptus Oil

Asthmatic bronchitis is when asthma and bronchitis occur at the same time. If you’re looking for essential oils for asthmatic bronchitis, eucalyptus oil is a great choice. Eucalyptus oil is known for helping to open up airways, improving bronchial restriction. Eucalyptus contains the active component, citronellal, which has analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects. (3)

Wheezing can be a symptom of asthma where a combination of swelling, mucus and muscles tightening can cause narrowing of the airways. What essential oil is good for wheezing? Eucalyptus oil may definitely be worth trying! A scientific review published in 2014 highlights a beneficial component of eucalyptus oil known as eucalyptol, which is known for its ability to reduce spasms in the respiratory tract and thin out mucus, making it less thick, sticky and problematic.

Also known as 1,8-cineole, eucalyptol has shown to have therapeutic benefits in inflammatory airway diseases, including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Overall, the review concludes that based on the anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties demonstrated in recent clinical trials with eucalyptol, there is evidence for its use as long-term therapy to improve asthma control. (4)

Research has also shown that inhalation of eucalyptus oil produces a cold sensation in the nose that helps to improve airflow. (5) Talk about a great natural decongestant!

2. Peppermint Oil

Is peppermint good for asthma? Peppermint oil is definitely another top choice of essential oils for breathing difficulties. With its purifying and enlivening scent, peppermint oil is often used to cleanse the lungs and open up the bronchial passages.

A study published in the European Journal of Medical Research suggests that peppermint oil and its active component L-menthol have impressive anti-inflammatory effects that can benefit chronic inflammatory disorders like bronchial asthma. (6)

Another animal study published in 2010 demonstrates peppermint oil’s ability to act as a relaxing antispasmodic, which is a quality that can be especially helpful to common asthma symptoms like wheezing and coughing. (7) It’s also why peppermint oil is considered one of the best essential oils for coughing.

3. Thyme Oil

Thyme has potent antiseptic properties that can be cleansing to the lungs for healthier respiratory function. If you’re someone with asthma, struggling with an added layer of breathing difficulty due to bronchitis, thyme oil can really come in handy.

It’s one of my favorite essential oils for bronchitis because it’s known to be so successful at killing off all kinds of bacteria including those that can infest the respiratory tract. Thyme oil has even been shown to fight antibiotic resistant bacteria! (8)

4. Ginger Oil

Ginger has been used for centuries to treat respiratory disease. Ginger essential oil is often used as a natural remedy for asthma as well as colds, coughs and bronchitis. Research has shown that ginger extract inhibits airway contraction which can make for easier breathing. (9)

Airway hyperresponsiveness and inflammation are two common characteristics of asthma. A study published in the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology found that ginger and its active components caused a significant and rapid relaxation of isolated human airway smooth muscle. Researchers conclude that active components of ginger oil including gingerol may provide “a therapeutic option” for people with respiratory diseases like asthma alone or in combination with other accepted forms of treatment. (10)

5. Lavender Oil

Asthma is known for getting worse when a person experience stress or anxiety. Using a calming essential oil like lavender in combination with deep breathing may offer some relief.  Lavender oil is quite well-known for its relaxing, carminative, and sedative effects, which is exactly why it makes my list of the top seven oils for anxiety.

Bronchial asthma involves bronchial allergic inflammation with airway remodeling. An animal study published in 2014 demonstrates how the inhalation of lavender essential oil can inhibit allergic inflammation and decrease mucous production. Overall, the researchers conclude that lavender oil may be useful as an alternative medicine for bronchial asthma. (11)


How to Use Essential Oils for Asthma

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of essential oils from plants (flowers, herbs, or trees) for the improvement of physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. (10)

When it comes to how to use eucalyptus oil for asthma, diffusing it in the air is a great option. All of the oils I just mentioned can be used in an diffuser so you can breathe in the essential oil enriched air.

Are oil diffusers safe for asthma? Check with your doctor first, but many experts will agree that oil diffusers can be used with caution. Start off with just a couple of drops of oil(s) to see how you do. You can use a single oil in a diffuser or combine multiple oils to create your own custom blend.

Other ways to use essential oils for asthma through aromatherapy include:

  • Inhaling oils through the nostrils directly off of a cloth or from the bottle.
  • Soaking in an oil-infused bath.
  • Rubbing oils directly onto the skin.
  • Receiving massage therapy that includes the use of essentials oils.

Oral Application

Before using essential oils for asthma internally, read labels carefully to make sure an oil is appropriate for internal use. There are many essential oils that can be ingested by the mouth; however, it is critical to make sure that the oils you use 100 percent pure, therapeutic grade and certified USDA organic. Many oils on the market today are diluted or blended with synthetics that are unsafe for ingesting.

In general, you should only use very small amounts of essentials oils for asthma internally, about one to two drops at a time and a maximum of up to two to three times daily. If you experience mouth or throat irritation, dilute the oil in liquid or food such as unsweetened raw applesauce before swallowing. It’s also best to take essential oils with food rather than on an empty stomach.

Other oral application options include capsules, adding a drop or two to your favorite beverage, making a tea and cooking with essential oils. In all these scenarios, only a drop or two should be used.

Topical Application

You can also use essential oils for asthma topically for applying them to your skin. Peppermint oil and lavender oil can be applied topically to the chest, back of neck, temples and soles of the feet. For people with sensitive skin, it is best to dilute essential oils with a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba oil before topical application. You can also dilute and apply the other essential oils topically in the same fashion.

Want to know the best essential oil recipe for asthma? One of my favorite topical asthma remedies is to mix two drops each of eucalyptus, peppermint, thyme and ginger oil with one teaspoon of coconut oil and rub it onto the chest. Then take deep, diaphragmatic breaths.

Another great way to use essential oils for asthma topically is to create my Homemade Vapo Rub, which includes both eucalyptus and peppermint oils.


Possible Side Effects and Caution 

People respond differently to specific essential oils for asthma and to essential oils in general. If you are being treated for asthma (or any other ongoing health problem) or are currently taking any medication, talk with your doctor before trying essential oils for your asthma symptoms.

It is possible to be allergic to an essential oil, which could trigger an asthma attack. Do not use any essential oils that you know you are allergic to. Strong smells can set off an asthma attack so remember to use essential oils in very small amounts and dilute them properly. You only need a drop or two to experience their benefits. also Putting essential oils on the soles of the feet can be a good way to test out the possible benefits of the oils without having the scent overwhelm you.

If you notice that your asthma symptoms get worse instead of better after trying an essential oil, discontinue use immediately. Seek immediate medical attention if you believe you are suffering an asthma attack due to essential oil usage. Asthma attacks can be fatal, so being cautious is always best. Signs of a severe asthma attack include a pale face, sweating, blue lips, very rapid heartbeat and inability to exhale.

Always check with your pediatrician before using any essential oil in any fashion with an asthmatic child. Some essential oils, such as peppermint, should not be used in any way with children under the age of six. (12)

See your doctor if you suspect that you or your child has asthma. Common asthma symptoms  include coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and pain or pressure in the chest.


Final Thoughts

  • Asthma is a chronic disease of the lungs that affects both children and adults.
  • Common symptoms of asthma include coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and pain or pressure in the chest.
  • There are a lot of great natural remedies that can improve symptoms of asthma including diet and exercise as well as essential oils for asthma.
  • Check with your doctor before using essential oils for asthma whether you’re using them for yourself or a loved one diagnosed with asthma.
  • What essential oils are good for breathing problems like asthma?
    • Eucalyptus oil helps open up the airways and improves bronchial restriction. It’s also a great natural decongestant.
    • Peppermint oil cleanses the lungs and opens up the bronchial passages.
    • Thyme oil helps kill bacteria that causes respiratory infections like bronchitis that can make asthma even more challenging.
    • Ginger oil can help to reduce airway contraction in the respiratory system.
    • Lavender oil helps reduce the stress and anxiety that can make asthma symptoms worse while also inhibiting allergic inflammation and decreasing mucous production.
  • Only use essential oils for asthma that are 100 percent pure, therapeutic grade and certified USDA organic. This is key to ensuring both the safety and effectiveness of the oils.

Read Next: Fish Oil During Pregnancy Lowers Asthma Risk


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