Should You Use Essential Oils For Asthma?
Asthma is an inflammatory respiratory tract condition that results in the narrowing of airways and is sometimes also associated with the presence of mucus.
Asthma symptoms can include difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest pain, and coughing.
Asthmatic inhalers or other asthma medicines like oral steroids are used before, during, and after an asthma attack to decrease airway inflammation.
Allergic reactions can also be asthma triggers.
Allergens may include mold, dust, animal dander, and pollen.
According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), approximately 19.2 million U.S. adults have asthma and 5.5 million children under the age of 18. (1)
It can affect people in varying degrees.
For some, it’s a slight annoyance, and for some, it’s a daily battle.
Asthma treatment includes rescue inhalers to treat attacks and symptoms the moment they arise, and controller inhalers to prevent symptoms and flare-ups from occurring.
Please consult with your doctor about the right course of treatment if you’re experiencing difficulty breathing or tightness in your chest.
Essential oils may also be a useful way to manage symptoms when used safely and correctly.
Essential Oils As A Natural Treatment
Essential oils (EOs) are highly concentrated plant extracts that may promote health and well-being when used correctly.
They contain many active compounds that support the body’s healing mechanisms.
Research shows EOs can be capable of:
- Boosting immunity
- Relieving pain and discomfort
- Soothing eczema and other skin conditions
- Treating colds, coughs, sinus infections, and sore throats
- Addressing allergy symptoms
- Soothing headaches and migraines
- Supporting weight loss
- Treating warts
- Healing bug bites
- Treating hemorrhoids
- Soothing arthritis symptoms
- Helping sunburns and skin burns
- Providing constipation relief
- Improving mood and mental health
Aromatherapy, a form of complementary and alternative medicine, involves the use of essential oils for therapeutic purposes.
Some people living with asthma opt for using EOs as part of a preventive care plan.
Many EOs possess anti-inflammatory properties that can help support respiratory system health.
Both of which can help keep symptoms under control.
While this may help relieve some symptoms in some people, it’s essential to know that EOs are not cure-alls and should never be used to replace conventional asthma treatment.
Talk to your doctor before using EOs for asthma.
The 4 Best Essential Oils for Asthma Relief
Eucalyptus oil (Eucalyptus globulus, Eucalyptus radiata)
Eucalyptus oil is anti-inflammatory, immune-stimulating, and a pain reliever.
A 2010 study published in Alternative Medicine Review found that one of the primary active components in eucalyptus oil, 1.8-cineole, can provide relief from inflammatory respiratory issues such as asthma, bronchitis, rhinosinusitis, and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). (2)
It can also reduce mucus secretion, which is sometimes associated with asthma symptoms. (3)
Note: Eucalyptus should not be used with children.
Lavender oil (Lavandula angustifolia)
Lavender essential oil is an anti-inflammatory pain reliever that also acts as a calmative.
It helps stimulate the respiratory system.
A 2014 animal study published in Life Sciences found that diffusing and inhaling lavender oil could reduce bronchial asthma allergic inflammation.
However, human studies are needed to determine the exact effect on human lungs. (4)
Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis)
Chamomile oil is known for its anti-inflammatory effects.
A 2012 comparative study found chamomile oil to help relax the bronchi in bronchial asthma patients. (5)
Peppermint oil (Mentha piperita)
Peppermint essential oil is an anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic that can help relax muscles.
It’s rich in menthol, which can help provide a cooling and soothing sensation when inhaled.
Although the safe and mindful use of EOs usually offers little to no side effects, you should proceed with caution regarding respiratory conditions like asthma.
Using an essential oil diffuser may cause further irritation of asthma symptoms.
This device evaporates and disperses millions of aromatic volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as terpenes into the environment.
These VOCs act can act as irritants on the respiratory tract and lungs and, in extreme cases, can exacerbate asthma symptoms.
You should also only use the highest-quality, certified organic, therapeutic grade EOs to reap the full medicinal and therapeutic benefits they offer.
The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) doesn’t regulate EOs, so there aren’t any uniform quality control standards.
Unfortunately, most EO products on the market are either diluted or contaminated with potentially harmful chemicals, pesticides, and solvents that can cause more respiratory irritation.
The safest course is to first consult with your doctor or healthcare provider before using any EOs for asthma control.
As mentioned before, EOs aren’t a cure-all and should not be used as a substitute for asthma medical treatment.
How To Use EOs for Asthma
Topical application – If you’re going to apply EOs directly on the skin, be sure to always dilute them with a carrier oil like coconut oil or olive oil.
Inhalation – If you’re going to use an oil diffuser, make sure you’re only using certified organic products from a reputable and trusted company to ensure that indoor air quality remains as irritant-free as possible. Stay away from commercial air fresheners as these can also be irritants.