Essential Oil Use and Asthma

Asthma is a serious disease, if you have asthma or difficulty breathing see a medical doctor. This article is not meant to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.

The American Academy of Allergies, Asthma and Immunology found that 70% of asthma sufferers have allergies.  They also stated that 34.1 million Americans will be diagnosed with asthma sometime in their life.  Last fall I became one of those statistics as I experienced the perfect storm resulting in  asthma.  In November after raking some leaves I had a full blown asthma attack.  Combined with a previous history of allergies, stress, lack of sleep, overworking and not fueling my body with optimal nutrients I had the ideal conditions to develop asthma.   Since I am familiar with stress management techniques as a yoga instructor, I quickly retreated to a hot bath with some Eucalyptus essential oils, then went to bed.  This did help relax and calm my mind and body, but over the next 2 months I had to work on reducing stress, exposure to allergens (artificial fragrance included) and adding even more nutrient dense raw foods to my diet through gentle daily cleansing. A visit to the bank the other day set me back a bit as I stood in line with someone wearing a strong perfume.  The fragrance filled the room and the minute I breathed it in I began coughing.  Since those episodes and recovering from my initial asthma attacks, I have supported healthy lung function with some essential oil blends.  During the couple of visits to my MD it was never suggested that I avoid asthma triggers or allergens.  In the past month I discovered some food allergies that were bringing on these symptoms.  Now I’m equipped to avoid allergens and any adverse reactions from exposure.

***Note that you should use essential oils sparingly, if at all when lung function is compromised. Inhaling synthetic fragrance can be very harmful when someone has an asthma attack and can make the situation worse. Make sure you only use essential oils of the highest quality and 100% purity, any additives could trigger an asthma attack. Massaging essential oils onto the feet is a gentle way to relax the body without irritating delicate airways from inhalation.

Here are some oils that may support healthy lung function:

Healthy Lung Function Blend – a blend of eucalyptus globulus, peppermint, eucalyptus radiata, copaiba, blue cypress, eucalyptus bicostata and myrtle oil.  This combination of oils are of great support to the respiratory tract.  Several, including copaiba have been researched for their support of healthy lung function.  Simply apply the roll-on oils to the chest area or VitaFlex points for the lungs on the soles of the feet.  A healthy lung function blend is synergistic and the combination of oils can be more powerful than their individual parts. Wintergreen essential oil is another option for supporting healthy lung function but is a very hot oil.  Always dilute Wintergreen oil, using only 1 drop of essential oil to 5 or 10 drops of a carrier oil.

Lavender essential oil is a calming oil.  Apply lavender oil (therapeutic grade) directly to the chest, sinuses or on the cheekbones, being careful to avoid the eyes.  Food grade lavender essential oil can also be taken in a capsule to support overall calm (make sure this is not “Food Flavoring” but Therapeutic, Food Grade essential oil). Lavender essential oil is excellent for skin support, especially when applied directly to the area you need.  Diffuse lavender essential oil to purify the air and keep your lung and nasal function healthy.  You can even apply a drop of lavender essential oil to your nose or throat to lessen irritation from dry, dusty air.

Essential oil Blends that may be helpful in supporting healthy lung function include  a Eucalyptus Blend, A Wintergreen Blend and Healthy Lung Function Blend.

Single oils that may open up the airways:  eucalyptus globulus, eucalyptus blue, Copaiba, wintergreen, peppermint, myrtle and Idaho balsam fir.  Many oils can help with managing stressful situations which can calm someone down during times of stress:  lavender, chamomile, citrus and tree oils (frankincense, sandalwood, spruce) can be very calming.

I believe our bodies were designed with systems in place to protect us:  pain receptors in the nerves, coughing or sneezing to eliminate bacteria and a fever to fight against germ invaders.  The problem is we have so many substances in our environment that could be causing  these symptoms that we don’t always take the time to find out what the root cause is.  The FDA has actually urged doctors to hold off on prescribing common daily asthma medications as they have been linked to severe and fatal asthma attacks.   More importantly, we should want to clean up our environment because it’s better for people and the planet  – wellness, purpose and abundance.

If you want healthy lungs, it’s important to listen to your body and discover the exposure of harmful substances that might be triggering your symptoms. Talk with your doctor about your options. Most doctors will agree that managing stress, providing our bodies with optimal nutrition, and avoiding allergens are good choices for a healthy body.

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.  This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.

Select Research

Farid A. Badria, Eman A. Mohammed, Mohammed K. El-Fadrawy, et al (2004).  Natural Leukotriene inhibitor from Boswellia (frankincense): A potential for treating bronchial asthma. Altern & Comp Therapies. 10 (5) 257-265.

Houssen M, Ragab A, Mesbah A, El-Samanoudy A, Othman G, Moustafa A, Badria F. (2010) Natural anti-inflammatory products and leukotriene inhibitors as complementary therapy for bronchia asthma. Clin Biochem 43 (10-11) 887-890.

Ziment I, Tashkin D. (2000). Alternative medicine for allergy and asthma.  J Allergy Clin Inmmunol. 106: 603-614.

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7 Responses to Essential Oil Use and Asthma

  1. Brian. Wilkinson June 7, 2014 at 6:35 pm #

    If I see one more internet “expert” saying lavender oil helps asthma I’ll scream, to me it like poison, I sat here again with an attack because my wife thinks I am needing lavender which sets off my attacks, I know I need to get rid of the current mrs

  2. Susan P June 20, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

    Thanks for stopping by Brian. Essential oils work differently for some people. They are also very potent, powerful substances and should be used with care. I have a sister who is very sensitive to lavender and while many recommend it as a general oil that is safe and effective for everyone, some oils may not agree with everyone. Quality is essential, and lavender is one of the most synthesized essential oils. Negative effects can easily happen from an oil that is not pure since synthetics are made with any number of chemicals to reproduce the smell. These are not therapeutic oils. I am curious what brand you used and how it was used. Good luck in finding relief.

  3. Ruth July 24, 2015 at 4:56 pm #

    I also had a very negative reaction to someone using lavender oil near me. I have asthma and my chest became really tight when the oil was used in the room. It is strange that lavender is suggested so often as a way to relieve asthma

  4. Susan P September 1, 2015 at 2:52 pm #

    Thanks for taking time to stop by Ruth, the practice of aromatherapy is really an art and many people are recommending essential oils for casual use. The FDA considers asthma a disease that should only be treated with a drug. Many aromas (natural or synthetic) can trigger an asthma attack. It’s important to remember that essential oils can often be used safely (if they are pure and contain no synthetic additives) on the soles of the feet, diluted perhaps in a foot massage to relax the body. Managing stress can have a positive effect on all body functions. I would not recommend lavender for inhalation for anyone with asthma as the risks of triggering an attack are too great. If you had this type of reaction after being exposed to the “lavender smell”, it may have been a synthetic oil or should be one you would consider avoiding.

  5. Tyler S April 28, 2016 at 7:28 pm #

    About 5 weeks ago I took a liking to essential oils and I began using various oils as air fresheners. Ylang ylang and grapefruit mixture became one of my favorite scents. At first I used it diluted in spray bottles. I diffused that mixture in my small bedroom earlier this week (so the scents were more concentrated and had a longer duration than I have done in the past) and after an hour or so I began to experience shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, and sweating. It did not occur to me at the time that the oils (or one of the two oils) I was breathing in could be causing the symptoms – that is until I diffused them another day this week and noticed the same effects and made the connection.

    I have experienced similar symptoms before but to a much more mild extent. I think I have some sort of heart or lung condition, and it is my conclusion that certain oils can exacerbate the underlying condition that I have, which I am now getting checked out by a doctor by the way.

    Moral of the story is that essential oils are STRONG and should not be taken lightly. I have seen a lot of people singing their praises in regards to being a healthier and more natural alternative to toxic air fresheners such as febreze. I believe this is true for the most part, but everybody is different and certain people have sensitivities to certain oils. Be careful with the amount used and duration of exposure until you know how it affects you. I’m no doctor but I would say be especially careful if you are trying to use oils to help a condition like asthma. Maybe certain ones can help for some people, but I’m inclined to think that breathing in foreign materials is risky.

  6. Susan P May 10, 2016 at 11:07 am #

    Yes, Tyler, anyone with a breathing condition should definitely see a doctor. Everyone has different chemistry and of course even natural essential oils can bring on an asthma attack in some individuals. The mind is also a powerful organ and studies have even found some people may experience an attack even if they THINK they are being exposed to an allergen. Many people advocate all oils are suitable for everyone when it’s a very personal choice. It always helps to work in person with an experienced professional who can help you find options that are best for you. Oils that have any fillers in them could also be the culprit…..making the oil no different than a perfume or synthetic fragrance which is sure to cause some reaction.

  7. Kacy Fletcher November 3, 2016 at 4:13 am #

    I really think it is essential to use high quality premium therapeutic oils and educate yourself about where they are from, how they are distilled and produced. Learn about the company that you are buying from. This is extremely important when it comes to using a product that you are breathing in, some oils are so highly cut with synthetics that you might as well smoke a cigarette. And of course, when we are talking about something so serious as asthma it would be obvious to practice common sense when using essential oils. I always use medication for the asthma sufferers in my family in conjunction with 100% therapeutic oils. A blend of Eucalyptus, Bergamot and Laurus Noblis works well for my 7 year old daughter who suffers from asthma.

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