Essential Oils for Breathing Difficulties
The respiratory system is a complex series of processes. When you breathe, air enters your body through your nose or mouth and transfers to the air passages, which carry oxygen to your lungs. Your lungs then pass oxygen into your bloodstream where is it transported to tissues and organs.1
If you are suffering from a respiratory disorder, you may have difficulty breathing and your body may not be getting the right amount of oxygen that it needs to function. This may leave you feeling low on energy and can compromise your immune system.1
There are many common breathing problems that are temporary such as sinusitis, bronchitis or pneumonia. Others can be chronic, such as asthma, allergies or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Typical symptoms can include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Itchy eyes and nose
If you’re experiencing respiratory problems, all you want is to be able to easily breathe again. While over-the-counter medications can be used to improve breathing, the high cost, risk of side effects, or lack of efficacy have led people to search for alternative remedies. For those looking for a natural solution, you may want to consider using essential oils to help breathing. Due to their natural anti-inflammatory and decongestant properties, essential oils may offer relief from symptoms.
Best Essential Oils for Wheezing and Breathing Problems
Whether you’re asthmatic or suffering from chronic sinusitis, you can use several essential oils for breathing problems. Below, Essential Oil Experts lists the top essential oils for respiratory conditions.
Chamomile Essential Oil
Considered one of the best essential oils for wheezing, there are several benefits of chamomile essential oil including natural anti-inflammatory, sedative and pain-relieving properties. Inhaling chamomile essential oil may relieve inflammation in the bronchi and allow users to breathe more clearly. When used at night time, chamomile essential oil may provide soothing relief and help users get a restful sleep.
To use chamomile essential oil, add 4-5 drops into a diffuser filled with water. Lay down and inhale the aroma. For a homemade chest rub, add 6-8 drops of chamomile essential oil to 1 oz. of carrier oil. Rub the mixture on to the chest until fully absorbed.
Tea Tree Essential Oil
Arguably one of the most beneficial essential oils, tea tree essential oil’s properties include antiviral, antimicrobial and expectorant (mucus-dissolving) activity. In a recent clinical trial, tea tree essential oil helped eliminate pathogenic microbes that lead to fungal pneumonia. Tea tree essential oil also reduced natural pro-inflammatory responses, reducing inflammation.2
To experience these therapeutic benefits at home, add 2-3 drops of tea tree essential oil into a diffuser filled with water.
For quick relief, open the bottle and hold the essential oil 2-3 inches below your nose. Take 3 deep inhalations then move away from your nose. Repeat as necessary.
Eucalyptus Essential Oil
The benefits of eucalyptus essential oil have historically been harnessed to ease congestion, treat coughs, relieve allergies, and improve respiratory health.
Inhaling eucalyptus essential oil has been noted to improve breathing in patients with inflamed nasal cavities or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Nicknamed the ‘breathe easy essential oil’ eucalyptus essential oil is an effective decongestant.
For a natural breathing remedy, add 2-4 drops of eucalyptus essential oil to a diffuser. Deeply inhale to help clear sinuses or calm allergy symptoms.
Eucalyptus essential oil can also be used as a therapeutic chest rub by adding 2-3 drops to 1 Tbsp. of carrier oil, such as almond oil or coconut oil.3 Gently massage the mixture on the chest until fully absorbed.
Frankincense Essential Oil
One notable benefit of frankincense essential oil is its anti-inflammatory quality, which may help soothe inflamed mucous membranes. Frankincense essential oil contains monoterpenes, which have an immunomodulatory effect which stimulates the immune system and may benefit people with breathing conditions, particularly asthma.4 As well as adding a few drops to your diffuser, you can also apply a frankincense rub to your chest to ease congestion.
Oregano Essential Oil
Traditionally used to treat a range of respiratory disorders, oregano essential oil may help eliminate bacteria that causes respiratory infections and alleviate bronchial inflammation.5 Thanks to these properties, oregano essential oil is thought to be a natural decongestant.
To experience oregano essential oil’s healing benefits, place 3 drops in a diffuser filled with water. Let the diffuser run for up to 30 minutes. Essential oils for breathing should never be ingested, and only used for inhalation or topical application.
Cedarwood Essential Oil
Considered a natural decongestant, the components of cedarwood essential oil may help break up mucus and improve breathing. Reported to have a cooling and soothing effect, cedarwood essential oil has traditionally been used for colds and chest congestion. In a 2013 study, cedarwood essential oil was also observed to have a sedative and relaxing effect on the automatic nervous system when inhaled by participants. These qualities may be useful for those experiencing difficulty breathing at night.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- Pittman, R. N. (2011). Regulation of tissue oxygenation. Richmond, VA: Morgan & Claypool Life Sciences. Retrieved May 15, 2017 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK54112/
- Li, M., Zhu, L., Liu, B., Du, L., Jia, X., Han, L., & Jin, Y. (2016). Tea tree oil nanoemulsions for inhalation therapies of bacterial and fungal pneumonia. Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces, 141, 408-416. doi:1016/j.colsurfb.2016.02.017
- Sinclair, A. (1996). Remedies for common family ailments: 10. Nasal decongestants. Professional Care of Mother and Child, 6(1), 9-11. Retrieved May 15, 2017 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8704411
- Choi, S. Y., & Park, K. (2016, March). Effect of Inhalation of Aromatherapy Oil on Patients with Perennial Allergic Rhinitis: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med, 2016. doi:1155/2016/7896081
- Grondona, E., Gatti, G., López, A.G., Sánchez, L.R., Rivero, V., Pessah, O., Zunino, M.P., Ponce, A.A. (2014.). Bio-efficacy of the essential oil of oregano (Origanum vulgare Lamiaceae. Ssp. Hirtum). Plant Foods Hum Nutr, 69(4), 351-357. doi: 1007/s11130-014-0441-x.