Useful Essential Oils
Which essential oils are effective for asthma attacks?
For the acute care needed to get any asthma attack under control, traditionally people apply Roman Chamomile Essential Oil on the chest and back in a 10% dilution in a quickly penetrating carrier oil like jojoba or hazelnut. 10% dilution means 50 drops of essential oil to a tablespoon of base oil.
For long term management, traditionally people diffuse Allergy Easer Synergy. You may like to add some more Amni Visnaga to it, as this is the most powerful anti-asthma oil. But be careful not to overdo this by leaving the nebulizer running. After regular use, this may often prevent an attack from happening.
Others have also found that diffusing a mixture of Amni Visnaga and Eucalyptus Radiata in a 1:4 ratio and using it for 20 minutes twice a day also may help to temporarily relieve asthma symptoms. Some have found that this combination of oils clears their congestion and relaxes their breathing. Amni visnaga is expensive, but when you combine it with Eucalyptus Radiata, it's more affordable, and the two oils work together very well.
This video is by the founder of Amrita Aromatherapy and master aromatherapist Christoph Streicher, Ph.D.
You can also dilute Amni Visnaga 2% in any carrier oil (10 drops per tablespoon) and apply directly for spasms, but if used in excess, it can be toxic. Don't use it in this way if you are taking blood-thinning medications, because the coumarin in Amni Visnaga is a blood thinner. Amni Visnaga is extremely photosensitive, so after applying it to the skin, stay away from direct sunlight, UV light or infrared light for at least eight hours. But if you only diffuse it, these warnings do not apply.
Lavender has also traditionally been diffused for asthma.
For the essential oils and aromatherapy products mentioned in this video relating to asthma, see below:
For muscle spasms:
- If caused by cramping, which is often part of asthma attacks – Roman Chamomile Essential Oil (as described above).
You may also find this blog post about asthma and children useful.
For details on the other products mentioned in the video relating to bugs and so on, see essential oils for bugs and bites.
About the Condition
What is asthma?
Asthma is derived from the Greek word for "panting." Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways. It is also called bronchial asthma or reactive airway disease. The symptoms reoccur and vary. They include wheezing, coughing, tightness of the chest, and shortness of breath. Technically these symptoms are described as reversible airflow obstruction and bronchospasm. It is associated with inflammation of the bronchial tubes and an increased production of sticky secretions inside them. The number of people contracting this disease is increasing. Over 8% of the U.S. population suffers from asthma. And asthma attacks can be fatal.
What causes asthma?
The exact cause is unknown. The triggers for this chronic inflammatory disease of the airways vary from person to person. But when airways come into contact with this trigger, they become inflamed, narrow, and fill with mucus.
There is some evidence for genetic influences and environmental factors. For some people, allergies play a role. See our page about essential oils and allergies for more details on this related condition.
Some other common triggers include dust mites, molds, pollen, pets, cockroaches, household irritants and secondhand tobacco smoke. For some people, exercise can induce an asthma attack.
What are conventional medical treatments for asthma?
Treatment is geared toward preventing asthma attacks and also dealing with the attacks when they happen. They are generally steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs.
The drugs in the first category are called "controller medications." They aim to reduce the inflammation of the airways so they are less likely to react to triggers. The drugs in the second category are called "quick-relief or rescue medications." They aim to relax the muscles around the airway. These medications can be taken via inhalation, via a dry powder or a nebulizer (which changes it from a liquid to a mist), in a pill or liquid form. In attack situations, they can also be given by injection. Of course, as with all medications, there are side effects.
What are alternative treatments for asthma?
There have been research studies on using acupuncture for asthma. But only some showed a reduction in medication use and improvements in symptoms and quality of life. Some research found a trend toward improvement in symptoms with breathing techniques.
There are Ayurvedic herbs and approaches to asthma. As with most diseases, Ayurveda considers asthma as being initially caused by poor digestion and poor elimination which leads to a buildup of toxins and impurities in lung and airway tissues. It also considers that stress worsens the condition.
Of course, essential oils traditionally have also been used for asthma. For more information, see the Useful Essential Oils tab.