Essential Oils and Asthma

6:30 AM Posted by jo

Asthma is when the small air tubes called bronchioles are reversibly narrowed. This could be caused by contractions of the muscular walls of the diaphragm, or the inflammation of the mucus membranes. Common symptoms of asthma are wheezing, difficulty in breathing, tightness in the breast and coughing due to excessive amount of mucus.

Asthma can be caused by allergies or infections. Essential oils with antispasmodic and expectorant properties are the most useful oils. The emotional aspect needs to be taken into consideration as well, and sedative oils may provide relaxation. 
Sandalwood, R.chamomile and tee tree NZ/Manuka (Leptosperum scoparium) are useful for their sedative actions as well as for their other actions. Chamomile and bergamot are antispasmodics, and they reduce or prevent muscular spasms or contractions. They will alleviate the contractions causing the narrowing of the bronchioles during an asthma attack.

The players
Tea tree/Manuka (Leptosperum scoparium), bergamot, and sandalwood are expectorants, and they will promote the expulsion of excessive mucus causing the wheezing and coughing. Bergamot and Roman Chamomile are relaxant nervines; as such, they relax the whole body and reduce tension of a specific body system. This is valuable because they work both mentally and bodily, and reduce visceral neuromuscular functions. They also relax the nervous system.

What experts say
According to Dr. Gary Young, you can also applied the oils to the soles of the feet. There are different opinions whether or not essential oils should be inhaled for asthma or not. To be safe, I recommend you to do more research in the subject.  Consult with your doctor before considering inhaling essential oils. 

Young recommends
Hyssop (Hysspus officinalis) and Hyssopus officinalis vae. decumbens for asthma. 

The Essential Oils Desk Reference
According to EODR, the following oils can also be considered:
Frankincense, dorado Azul, eucalyptus radiata, eucalyptus blue, ravinsara, and palo santo

Dietary changes
Dietary changes are important, and it is also important to check for food sensitivities.  Double blind food challenges in children have shown that immediate onset are usually due to eggs, fish, shellfish, nuts, peanuts. Delayed onset is triggered by milk, chocolate, wheat, citrus fruit, and food colorings. 

According to Battaglia, garlic should be consumed on a regular basis since it stimulates the immune system. It also inhibits lipoxygenase and cyclo-oxygenase, which generate inflammatory mediators from the mast cells. 

Digestive problems common
It is not un-common that people with asthma have digestive problems as well. A colon cleanse may be helpful. Adding digestive enzymes will break down the food better and reduce allergic reactions. Many experts suggest eating probiotics and/or fermented foods on a regular basis.

Asthma will also respond well to herbs, however, it is impossible to come up with standard "prescription" due to the various factors involved. Expectorant herbs such as licorice and aniseseed have traditionally been used to aid in eliminating excess mucus. Skullcap, peppermint, and crampbark have traditionally been used for spasmodic asthma. Steven Horne recommends lobelia and black cohosh since they act as two powerful bronchial dilators.

Allopathic medicine
Allopathic medicine still uses corticosteroids for asthma. It is interesting to note that glycyrrhizin, the glycoside found in licorice root, has a steroid-like activity. Licorice root has been used as an anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic agent for a long time. As mentioned, it is also an expectorant, a very useful property for asthma. Most people who suffer from asthma also have problems with their adrenal glands. Licorice root also supports the adrenal gland, and so does eluthero root. 

Before you leave:

I recommend that you always perform a skin patch test when you try a new oil on your skin.

Check out my safety page to make sure you are aware of any contrindications before you use essential oils. Some oils are not suitable when suffering from certain conditions. Also, Read this Before You Start Using Essential oils. Some oils should not be applied prior to sun exposure so make sure you check this list before spending time in the sun.

Not sure how to apply the oils? Visit these pages to learn how to apply the oils:
If you're new to essential oils you might want to check out my Getting Started Guide. 


Johanna is an aromatherapist and she is passionate about educating people about health, essential oils, real food, natural remedies, and nutrition so they make healthier choices in their lives. 

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