Asthma is a chronic disease that causes the airways in the lungs to become inflamed and narrow. Symptoms of asthma include wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing and tightness in the chest.1 These symptoms can be triggered by exercise or exposure to allergens.
Asthma has no cure, but doctors can prescribe medication to alleviate the symptoms of asthma. Both inhaled and oral medications are available. Some asthma sufferers need medication daily, while others only take medication as-needed.
Many people use essential oils to relieve their asthma symptoms, including coughing and wheezing. Historically, multiple essential oils have been used to treat asthma, and there have been some studies indicating that essential oils might be effective at alleviating various asthma symptoms.
Essential Oil for Asthma
Scientific research has discovered that a number of essential oils have anti-inflammatory properties. Because asthma symptoms are caused by inflammation, using essential oils for asthma relief might be effective.
Some essential oils can also act as decongestants. Using peppermint essential oil or eucalyptus essential oil to clear the sinuses of mucus is relatively common, and these essential oils may also help clear the lungs of excess mucus, which causes coughing.
What Essential Oils are Good for Asthma?
Certain essential oils have been historically used to improve lung function. In recent years, scientists have conducted experiments to determine whether these essential oils may be an effective, alternative approach to reducing asthma symptoms. Based on the most recent scientific research, the following essential oils may provide asthma relief.
Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine have traditionally used eucalyptus essential oil to help heal respiratory tract infections.
In clinical trials, eucalyptus essential oil has shown promise as an asthma treatment. During a 12-week study, participants with asthma took a daily oral dose of 1,8-cineole, the main component of eucalyptus essential oil, or a placebo pill. When the participants’ daily dose of prednisone (an anti-inflammatory drug that can help inhibit asthma) was lowered, the ones who took the 1,8-cineole experienced no increase in asthma symptoms, whereas the control group saw an increase in symptoms overall.
Further, those receiving the placebo had to use their rescue inhalers more frequently, compared to the participants who received the 1,8-cineole.2
Note: Ingesting essential oils is not recommended, unless you have been instructed to do so by a qualified professional.
Lavender Essential Oil
With anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing properties, lavender essential oil may have a therapeutic effect on asthma symptoms. In a study conducted on animal subjects with asthma, researchers found that those who inhaled lavender essential oil experienced a reduction in bronchial swelling and mucus production in the lungs.3
While further research is required, this study helps support the idea that lavender essential may reduce swelling in the lungs.
Pine Essential Oil
The anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties of pine essential oil may reduce inflammation in the lungs. One scientific study found that pine essential oil may help reduce spasms in the lungs and help keep airways open.
Camphor Essential Oil
While research on the possible effects of camphor essential oil on bronchial swelling is still ongoing, this essential oil has traditionally been used to relieve symptoms of asthma and bronchitis. Camphor essential oil has also been used to bring down inflammation, and is theorized to help relieve asthma symptoms by reducing the inflammation inside the lungs.
Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint essential oil is frequently used as a natural decongestant. While this essential oil does appear to help alleviate blockage in the upper respiratory system, it may also have an antispasmodic effect on lung tissue.
A 2010 study found that peppermint essential oil had an antispasmodic effect on tracheal smooth muscle in animal subjects. These results indicate that peppermint essential oil may help calm the airways and help keep them open.4
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2014). What Is Asthma? Retrieved from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/asthma – View reference
- Sadlon, Angela E., and Lamson, Davis W. Immune-Modifying and Antimicrobial Effects of Eucalyptus Oil and Simple Inhalation Devices. (2010). Alternative Medicine Review, 15(1). Retrieved from http://www.altmedrev.com/publications/15/1/33.pdf
- Ueno-Iio T., Shibakura M., Yokota K., Aoe M., Hyoda T., Shinohata R., Kanehiro A., Tanimoto M., & Kataoka M. (2014). Lavender essential oil inhalation suppresses allergic airway inflammation and mucous cell hyperplasia in a murine model of asthma. Life Sciences, 108(2), 109-115. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.lfs.2014.05.018
- Sydney de Sousa A., Soares P., Saldanha de Almeida A., Maia A., Prata de Souza E., & Assreuy A. (2010). Antispasmodic effect of Mentha piperita essential oil on tracheal smooth muscle of rats. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 130(2), 433-436. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2010.05.012