Essential Oils For Asthma
Asthma is an unpleasant condition that can affect a great many of us and especially as the weather starts to become colder. This condition is characterized by a shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing which in turn are caused by the bronchial passages becoming swollen and more narrow.
The result is that it becomes increasingly difficult to breathe. This can then be exacerbated by the ensuing panic that causes hyperventilation. In the worst attacks, this can lead to the patient passing out and may be highly dangerous.
Unfortunately, there is no known ‘cure’ for asthma. Instead, most sufferers are given an inhaler that they can use to relax their bronchial passages and allow air to pass through again. Asthma inhalers are designed to reduce swelling and normally this works by reducing the swelling. Because the inhalers are inhaled, they generally tend not to have systemic side effects. That is to say that you aren’t swallowing the substance and so the effects take place locally and help to ease the inflammation without causing unwanted side effects.
Introducing Essential Oils for Asthma
But if you’re looking for a little more gentle relief when you’re not having a full-blown attack, then using essential oils might be a good option. Essential oils provide asthma relief in much the same way that inhalers do – by delivering direct anti-inflammatory effects to the airways via inhalation.
To use them this way, simply add a couple of drops to a tissue and inhale. Alternatively, you can burn the oils using an TC diffusers and enjoy the smell and the therapeutic benefits in a more passive manner.
Note however that the effects of essential oils are considerably weaker when compared with the effects of inhalers or other medications that may be prescribed or recommended by a GP. This means that you shouldn’t consider this to be an effective treatment if you are in the throes of an asthma attack.
Something else to consider is that essential oils may exacerbate your condition if you have an allergy. All manner of things can cause swelling in the airways if you are asthmatic, so it’s important to be careful when introducing new particles to your air. It’s worth experimenting with small quantities before using them regularly. Another point to bear in mind is that essential oils can impact on your mood and even your wakefulness. Some essential oils such as valerian root oil or lavender oil can make you feel sleepy, others can make you feel focused and alert. It’s worth doing a bit of research into this before you start inhaling them throughout the day! According to some sources, clary sage oil may even be a potent aphrodisiac… certainly not appropriate in every situation!
However, as a more enjoyable and natural way to open up your airways and feel a little fresher-headed, carrying some essential oils can be a very good option – once you are aware of the side effects and any potential allergies.
The Best Essential Oils for Asthma Relief
With that in mind, which essential oils should you consider for asthma relief? Here are some of the best individual oils and mixtures.
Bergamot and Roman Chamomile Oil
This is a great combination that can be very effective in treating asthma and helping you breathe a little more easily. Both these oils are antispasmodic which means they can prevent and alleviate muscle spasms as well as relieving muscle tension that might make it even more difficult to breathe.
What’s more is that both these are sedative in nature. This is because they increase the production of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin as you might already know is the brain’s ‘happiness hormone’. This means that it can help to elevate your mood and thereby combat stress. What’s even better about this though, is that serotonin converts naturally to melatonin – the sleep hormone. Thus, when you inhale these you feel more at ease and less stressed.
This in turn can help to prevent the hyperventilation that often makes asthma even more dangerous. What’s more, is that being psychologically relaxed actually helps to ease muscle tension and the result is that you’re less likely to experience restriction in your airflow.
These two blend very well when added together.
Tea Tree Oil
Before bed, try adding a little tea tree oil with a carrier oil to the chest. Other options that work well include eucalyptus oil and peppermint oil.
The reason for this is that these oils are expectorants. That means that they can help to dispel and break up mucus, thereby helping air to pass more easily through the airways. If you find yourself waking in the night finding it hard to breathe, then this is a good option. This also works especially well if you are suffering with a cold, which can otherwise exacerbate the symptoms of asthma and make attacks more likely.
Another way to use tea tree oil is by dipping a clean face cloth in warm water with just a few drops of tea tree oil added. Now use this to bathe your face and breathe it in until the cloth becomes cool. This is also very refreshing.
Frankincense Essential Oil is an expectorant that has anti-inflammatory properties. That’s important because it can help to reduce inflammation in the airways when inhaled which is the main cause of difficult breathing.
What’s more is that frankincense oil can once again help to combat stress and anxiety as it is an excellent ‘nervine’. This is ideal if you feel you are on the brink of an attack and you’re struggling to control your breathing.
You can also use this one as a chest rub to alleviate congestion. Note that one of the best ways to use these oils is to combine a few that work in different ways. If you use the three combinations we’ve discussed so far, you will be launching a multi-pronged assault on asthma by blocking mucus, relaxing the muscles and reducing inflammation. One of these things at least is sure to help combat and reduce your asthma!
Valerian Root Oil
Valerian root oil is an essential oil that works as a very potent sedative and muscle relaxant. At least it is very potent when compared to other natural essential oils!
This is because valerian root oil has been shown to stimulate the release of GABA – gamma aminobutyric acid. This the main ‘inhibitory’ neurotransmitter of the brain. In plain English, that means it reduces and suppresses brain activity unlike something like adrenaline that increases it. This is good news because it can slow and relax your breathing while simultaneously relaxing your muscles – including those around the airways.
Note that as a sedative though, this can make you sleepy and may cause your windpipe to close on itself while you’re sleeping as the muscles lose their firmness! In other words, use this one only when relaxing and if you do go to sleep, trying lying on your side or propping yourself up (which is good advice anyway).
Clove oil is something of an all-in-one package when it comes to treating asthma. That’s because it has analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties. When these are combined, it can be highly effective in relaxing constricted respiratory passages and aiding asthma in patients. This once can even be used very effectively in a diffuser which is somewhat similar to using an inhaler!
Thyme oil is a good expectorant that also has antiseptic properties – very useful in cases where your breathing is being made harder by invading bacteria. It works through a vaporizer, an oil burner, when inhaled or when applied to the chest. It’s also just very good for you and can help to boost immunity – this is very important during those cold winter months seeing as a cold is a much more serious problem for anyone suffering with asthma.
A very popular oil for aiding sleep, lavender oil is sedative and very pleasant to smell. It also has further advantages thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. This one can work very well when added to a bath. If you’re finding breathing a little difficult then add about ten drops to a full bath and climb in. You can also mix this with eucalyptus oil for even strong benefits.
This is also a very nice way to unwind after a long day, which can once again prevent stress from leading to breathing difficulties!