Health Topics

Asthma & How Aromatherapy May Help Reduce Symptoms

asthma inhaler man

Health Description

Asthma is a complex bronchial disorder with a wide variety of root causes.  Simply described an asthma attack occurs as the air passageways become inflamed and muscles may contract both of which limit the air being taken into the lungs.  As the body tries to compensate for this loss wheezing, coughing, excess mucus or other signs of shortness of breath occur.  Symptoms can also be complicated by previous medications used to treat the problem.

Asthma varies in severity.  Most suffering will have attacks of shortness of breath interspersed with longer periods of normal breathing.  Some will have more severe attacks and others suffer milder shortness of breath continuously.  With more severe attacks immediate medical attention should be sought.  There are a number of types of asthma and sometimes it appears to run in families.  The various types include: Allergic Asthma, Exercise-Induced Asthma, Cough-Variant Asthma, Work-Related Asthma, and Nocturnal Asthma.

  • Allergic asthma attacks (or even other forms) may be triggered by common allergens or everyday situations.  Some of the most common are:
  • Animals (pet hair or dander)
  • Dust
  • Changes in weather (most often cold weather)
  • Chemicals in the air or in food
  • Exercise
  • Mold
  • Pollen
  • Respiratory infections, such as the common cold
  • Stress
  • Tobacco smoke

Inhalers or other techniques to quickly open air passageways are helpful to some but in other cases tend to exacerbate the problem.  Therefore using them should be carefully tested to be assured they provide positive results.  Most experts in essential oils advise a slow and metered approach to using oils with attention to what the root cause and triggers for attacks might be.

Special Precautions: With potential life threatening diseases, it is always recommended to progress with treatment under the care of a licensed medical practitioner.

Suggested Protocols

Please note: The information provided below is a compilation of suggestions made by those that have used essential oils and has NOT been scientifically verified with clinical tests nor reviewed by medical experts. It is anecdotal information and should be treated as such. For serious medical concerns please seek professional medical attention.

Essential Oils to Use for Asthma:

Oils & Blends: Bergamot, a Respiratory Blend, Cypress, Eucalyptus, Frankincense, Lavender, Lemon, Peppermint, Rosemary

Also consider: Helichrysum, Lime, Marjoram, a Protective Blend, Oregano, Thyme, Vitamins

Ways to Use Essential Oils:

Asthma varies so much depending on the root cause, age, previous medical intervention, and severity it is difficult to give a “one protocol fits all” summary so we have included below a summary of individual positive experiences and suggestions.

  • With asthma, normally do not use cup and inhale or diffusion in hopes of immediately easing the symptoms. Rather use topical or massage applications, starting with gentle aromatic oils like Lavender, then progress to oils with more expectorant properties like Eucalyptus. Finally use Rosemary or relaxing oils for calming.
  • Diet, especially if allergies are suspected, is very important.  Most recommend avoiding sugars and dairy products.
  • Provide a solid foundation of nutrients using supplements like Vitamin products.
  • To prevent attacks:

Rubbing 2-4 drops of a grounding blend of oils on the bottom of each foot morning and night

Layer Bergamot after a grounding blend on the feet if there is stress.

Take a capsule with 3-5 drops of Frankincense in the morning (and evening if necessary).

  • To help during attacks

Rubbing 2 – 4 drops of Respiratory Blend on the back and chest.

For some it helps to augment the Respiratory Blend with Lime or to layer other oils after the Respiratory Blend, specifically Rosemary and Cilantro/Frankincense.

  • Oil Pulling has been the best method some have found for applying the oils with their asthma.
  • It is vitally important to find the root cause of asthma.  Study the root cause and the triggers that cause attacks to best determine which oils to use and how to apply them.
  • If asthma is caused by allergies consider using oils that can help reduce symptoms or allergies or try to figure out what the allergen is and avoid it. Keep in mind allergens are not just in the air. We can be wearing things or eating things that we may be allergic to.  The most popular technique is 2-3 drops each of Lemon, Lavender, and Peppermint in a shot of water, swish it for a couple minutes in your mouth, and swallow. This helps some people with their allergies.
  • Some with mild asthma have carried a respiratory blend (in a bottle or a vaporizer like Vicks comes in) with them to work or school to help with exercise induced asthma.

Experiences & Testimonials

Please note: The information provided below is a compilation of the experiences of others who have used essential oils and has NOT been scientifically verified with clinical tests nor reviewed by medical experts. It is anecdotal information and should be treated as such. For serious medical concerns please seek professional medical attention.

Jackie – My 12 year old daughter has had severe asthma her whole life. She has been in the hospital several times. The last couple of years, her asthma has been under pretty good control because her doctor put her on very strong medications (advair-500 dose, singulair, flovent). She has been taking these every day for about 2 years. Before that, she was taking advair, but not the other two. She does not like the side affects that go along with these medications and we are trying to wean her off of them and only use oils.  Has anyone done this before that can give us good advice? She was able to get rid of her inhaler pretty easily with just using a Respiratory Blend. The other medications are proving much harder. Your body gets addicted to the steroid in advair from what I hear which makes it even harder. We are currently using the following oils: a Respiratory Blend, Eucalyptus, and Frankincense. We’ve been rubbing them on her chest. She is still really struggling most days. Is there anything that can heal the damage that has been done to her lungs?

Brenda – Be sure she is using the vitamin supplements.  Beyond this for me a respiratory blend also works because my asthma is exercise induced. My kids are a different story. I highly recommend 2 things:

1) Read about Oil Pulling and have your daughter start it immediately.  We are a family of asthmatics and oil pulling is amazing for it.  We don’t use any medications.  My son is 7 and I started him at 6 1/2.  Could probably do it earlier if you do some reverse psychology and tell them how wonderful they are at doing the pulling. I tell everyone in front of my son that he is the King of Oil Pulling!  It works, but you can’t get some adults to even try it! I think it is too easy!

2) Also do you know what is the main reason for her asthma? If it is allergies then you can use the Lemon, Lavender, and Peppermint.  We use 2-3 drops of each in a shot of water, swish it for a couple minutes, and swallow.  I know others just do it topically and get major relief but with someone like her I would do it internally for sure.

That is good that a Respiratory Blend is giving her some relief but a Respiratory Blend does not touch my younger sons asthma.  That led me to think that I needed to control his allergies so then I moved to Lemon, Lavender, and Peppermint with him and that really helped.  Last year at this time, he was home with asthma symptoms many times and now this year not one day missed.

Hopefully you will get some other ideas.  Experimenting is key. These are just things what worked for me and it feels really good to help my kids. My son had problems when I was out of town.  I told my husband what to do over the phone and it worked.  I talked to my son on the phone and I knew, just by hearing his voice, that he was fine.

Derek – The vitamin supplements are the basis for overall health.  It is hard to get someone healthy that is unhealthy when they aren’t building a foundation.  That is what supplements do. They work on your cells and there are individual things in them that actually help asthma and are antihistamines (would apply if her asthma is allergy triggered).  Also consider her diet.  Really work with her on things that we know are a big no no but we do it anyway,  like dairy, foods with dyes, white sugar, etc.  May be tough for a 13 year old. You never know kids are amazing when they are educated and we give them some credit.

I have found that Vitamin D specifically helps reduce asthma symptoms.

Patricia – She needs to diffuse a respiratory blend in a diffuser to help her so she can inhale the oils. This is going to take some time since there is probably a lot of damage done. She needs to go off the medications very slowly and only when she is comfortable with her breathing. You might also consider two capsules a day with Frankincense and Orange in them.  Be aggressive and consistent with the oils.  I would also highly recommend the vitamin supplements.

Teresa – Eucalyptus and Frankincense.  Plus avoid sugar and dairy products.

Gloria – Are there any suggestions of which oils to help with chronic asthma? Thanks so much

Jenny – My son has asthma and he is supposed to be on an inhaler twice a day. This year I started using the blend Respiratory Blend.  We apply it on his chest, upper back and feet. I should do it once a day, but sometimes I don’t always remember. He is no longer on an inhaler, we just use the oils.

Especially For Kids

Please note: The information provided below is a compilation of the experiences of others who have used essential oils and has NOT been scientifically verified with clinical tests nor reviewed by medical experts. It is anecdotal information and should be treated as such. For serious medical concerns please seek professional medical attention.

Editor’s note: April’s experience with asthma and oils.

GloriaMy 9 year old gets asthma and starts wheezing bad whenever he starts to get a cold. The week before I joined in on using the oils we had to give him 2 Albuterol breathing treatments to kick it. He started to get another cold. I put  a respiratory blend with Eucalyptus on his back, chest, throat (with coconut oil to dilute) and on the bottoms of his feet with socks. I had to apply once more to his chest and back, but he stopped wheezing and fell asleep and didn’t wake up the whole night. That may not sound like a big deal to many of you, but to us it was a VERY big deal. Little miracles, you know?

Cherrie – So my daughter only gets asthma attacks when she gets a cold or is around, like touching cats, especially kittens. Well these attacks are far and few between but the last 2 or 3 Respiratory Blend has not helped at all. I’m thinking Respiratory Blend isn’t the oil for her for her asthma. What are some other oils anyone has had good experience with for asthma?

Brenda – Mindy, here are some blends I have used in the past for respiratory issues, including asthma.  Sometimes just adding Lime to Respiratory Blend has helped boost the effectiveness of it.  I hope these recipes will help.

Essential Oil Chest Rub

4 oz Virgin Coconut Oil to Dilute the Essential Oils!
5 drops  Eucalyptus
5 drops  Frankincense
6 drops Melaleuca
12 drops Patchouli
2 drops Sandalwood
15 drops Lime

May apply to chest or feet or take internally.

This may be put in a jar and used as a chest rub, massage between shoulder blades, put on bottoms of feet, etc. This is a big enough batch that you can have several roll-ons and still have some to put in a small jar.

For really stubborn respiratory cases with a stubborn cough I have added a few drops of Patchouli and Sandalwood to the blend and put in a capsule.

Jeana –  My son has the same asthma reaction.  When a respiratory blend of oils alone does not work I always layer with Frankincense and Cilantro along with the respiratory blend on his back and chest and up his neck.  I keep massaging those areas to calm him down until he can breath normal.  Just last night my son had a bad attack, where it hurt so much to inhale. Within 3 minutes he was he was breathing normal and thanking me and then 5 minutes later sleeping.

Whitney – I have a friend who uses a respiratory blend then layers Rosemary on top for her daughter’s asthma. This has been very effective for her. She also diffuses that in her home to kill allergens as well because her daughter is highly allergic to cats (they have an indoor cat) but w/oils she has had no allergic response. She is even actively participating in sports, this is huge for her.

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