Roughly 5% of the population lives with asthma. Asthma is a disease that is characterised by increased responsiveness of the trachea (windpipe) and bronchi (main airway) to some type of trigger (examples listed below). The trigger causes narrowing of the airways, making it hard for the person to breathe. This response can change in severity either as a result of treatment, or spontaneously.
The major features of asthma include:
1. Hyper-responsiveness of the airways to a specific trigger or group of triggers.
2. Obstruction caused by one or more of the following:
bronchospasm (contraction of the smooth bronchial muscles)
inflammation of the mucous membrane
oedema (swollen lung tissue)
Symptoms of asthma vary between people. They include: wheezing, coughing, tightness in the chest, difficulty breathing and shortness of breath.
Asthma triggers can include but are not limited to:
allergens (pollen, dust, mould, or certain foods)
smoke (environmental or cigarette)
cold air and cold draughts
some aerosol sprays, such as perfumes
animal hair and dander (skin flakes)
Many people with asthma find that strong emotions, stress or anxiety can make symptoms of asthma worse, especially during a severe attack. Sometimes asthma symptoms appear for no apparent reason.
Asthma attacks are described as:
mild - mild breathlessness
moderate - breathing distress and wheezing at rest
severe - marked respiratory distress
respiratory failure - life threatening severe respiratory distress
How can we treat asthma with essential oils?
Asthma cannot be cured, but thankfully it can be controlled - especially by avoiding triggers whenever possible, by staying active, fit and healthy and by taking asthma medications.
Asthma is a respiratory problem, meaning it is the perfect candidate for aromatherapy.
It is important to remember that therapies such as aromatherapy are complementary therapies for asthma. Aromatherapy is not an alternative to medications, but can be used to complement medical treatments.
Aromatherapy can be an enormous help in managing asthma. The following essential oils have warming, comforting and refreshing effects, as well as decongestive, anti-histamine, anti-inflammatory, and anti-spasmodic properties. Together, these oils can help ease the asthmatic's struggle to breathe.
Essential oils for asthma sufferers
Please use the following as a guide for creating your essential oil formula. Which essential oils should be chosen would depend on if there is an infection present as well as any allergies and emotional factors.
If there is an infection with flu-like symptoms and loose mucus, recommended oils would be:
For asthma with a thick, viscous mucus, recommended oils would be those with expectorant properties such as:
hyssop (not for use during pregnancy or on individuals with epilepsy)
Other essential oils that may be of benefit to asthmatics:
Marjoram (not for use during pregnancy)
Methods of application:
Note: The best and safest time to treat asthma with aromatherapy is in-between attacks, although Lavender can be used by most asthmatics during at attack, to relax the lungs and calm the panic.
Place a warm compress on the chest
Massage the essential oil formula into chest, neck, back and the balls of the feet
Inhale oil directly from the bottle or a tissue as required
Inhale from smelling salts formula (see below)
Breathezy Smelling Salts Essential Oils Formula
1) Almost fill a 12ml darkly coloured essential oils bottle with coarsely ground sea salt.
2) Add one drop of each of the following essential oils:
Eucalyptus Globulus, Eucalyptus Radiata, Eucalyptus Australiana and Eucalyptus Citriadora
Antiviral, anti-catarrhal, anti-septic
Anti-infectious, anti-septic, mucolytic, decongestant. Refreshing and relaxing the respiratory system
Anti-septic, anti-spasmodic, expectorant. Assists to open respiratory system and discharges toxins and mucus and relieve bronchial spasms. Not for use during pregnancy, or for individuals with epilepsy.
Analgesic, anti-depressant, anti-spasmodic, anti-viral, decongestant. Is calming, helps to control anxiety and so assists easier breathing
Anti-spasmodic, anti-bacterial. Relaxes and calms the muscles that constrict and may release spasms in the respiratory system. Helps to ease coughing and headaches also. Not for use during pregnancy.
Decongestant, anti-septic, anti-bacterial. Uplifting, may improve oxygenation and is beneficial to respiratory system, catarrhal conditions and chronic coughs.
Anti-septic, anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory. Is cooling and soothing and dilating to the respiratory system, beneficial for infection, inflammation and sinus congestion.
Anti-microbial, anti-neuralgic, anti-septic, anti-viral, bacterial expectorant. May help to improve circulation throughout the lungs as it helps to dilate and open the respiratory system, the bronchial tract, to clear cold phlegm, particularly from the lungs
Analgesic, anti-depressant, anti-septic, decongestant, expectorant, mucolytic. Assists with headaches and emotionally calming to the mind and body.
Other tips to control asthma:
Breathing exercises to reopen and relax breathing
Personal development exercises to help express negative internalised feelings
Seek nutritional balance to avoid food sensitivities and improve dietary intake. Add 1 tbsp a day of linseed oil
Vitamin and mineral supplements: Vitamins B6, B12, C and zinc.
Disclaimer: The above advice is not a replacement for treatment with a professional aromatherapist who at all times would look at any contraindications and dosages, depending on the person. Not all oils are suitable for all people, and some asthma sufferers may be sensitive to certain essential oils. Many oils may be required to be diluted before inhalation. We recommend a medical professional be consulted before starting any new treatment plan, with a qualified aromatherapist.