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How to Treat Asthma with Aromatherapy
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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)
  • mucus formation
  •  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)
  • exercise
  • cold air and cold draughts
  • some aerosol sprays, such as perfumes
  • animal hair and dander (skin flakes)
  • cold fluids
  • viruses
  • house mites
  • food additives
  • changes in weather
  • emotional stress
  • exercise


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:

  • eucalyptus
  • lemon
  • spike lavender
  • myrtle
  • cajeput

 For asthma with a thick, viscous mucus, recommended oils would be those with expectorant properties such as:

  • peppermint
  • aniseed
  • fennel
  • hyssop (not for use during pregnancy or on individuals with epilepsy)


 Other essential oils that may be of benefit to asthmatics:

  • Atlas Cedarwood
  • Clary sage
  • Clove
  • Cypress
  • Frankincense
  • Lavender
  • Lime
  • Mandarin
  • Marjoram  (not for use during pregnancy)
  • Myrrh
  • Niaoli
  • Petitgrain
  • Pine
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Rose
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Sweet Fennel
  • Teatree


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
  • Use oil in a vapouriser
  • 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.

Lavender Augustilolia
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.

Scotch Pine
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

Spike Lavender
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.

By Gwendoline Ford Dip. Aromatherapy, Adv. Dip. Natural Therapies, Dip.Training and
All rights reserved. Any reproducing of this article must have the author name and all the links intact.


Biography: Diploma of Aromatherapy, Advanced Gwen is the Principal of The Aromatherapy College of Australia (ACOA). She has a Diploma of Aromatherapy, Diploma of Natural Therapies, Diploma of Training and Assessment, among other qualifications.

With over a decade of activity in the natural health industry, Gwen and The Aromatherapy Colleges of Australia (ACOA) bring you a diverse and contemporary selection of flexible home-study courses that will prepare you for professional practice.

ACOA is an innovative place of learning for the ancient and abundant modalities of complementary medicine. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact the College.

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