Concentrated plant extracts have been used for centuries as medicinal and beauty products. Today, essential oils for asthma are a fairly popular natural treatment. If you're considering adding aromatherapy to your asthma regimen, here's what you need to know:
How do essential oils treat asthma symptoms?
Links between essential oils and asthma mostly come from individual experience. More research is needed to decide just how effective they are, and some people might not notice much benefit.
Some people believe essential oils have medicinal properties that reduce inflammation in airways. For others, aromatherapy soothes the stress that may worsen asthma.
Popular Essential Oils for Asthma
- Menthol is a chemical component of peppermint oil and one of the ingredients that give medicated lip balms and vapor rubs their characteristic cooling sensation.
- Peppermint oil is said to have an anti-inflammatory and relaxing effect on the throat, but this hasn’t been shown in any large studies involving humans.
- Even if you’re a big fan of vapor rubs and chewing gum, use caution with peppermint oil. Peppermint oil should especially not be used on children, as it may slow their breathing.
- Believed to have anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties, making it a popular treatment for cough and cold.
- Ingesting eucalyptus can be extremely toxic, causing disorientation, seizures, and potentially death.
- Always keep eucalyptus safely out of children’s reach, and use eucalyptus oil in a diffuser or chest rub rather instead of ingesting it by mouth.
- One of the strongest essential oils. Tea tree should always be used in a diluted form or tested for skin reaction before more widespread use.
- People who use tea tree oil for asthma or respiratory illness say it helps to clear congestion, and is usually used as an inhalant.
- Like eucalyptus oil, tea tree can be poisonous if swallowed. Keep away from children, and avoid any treatments that recommend ingesting it.
- One of the most popular essential oils when it comes to adding fragrance.
- Lavender oil appears to reduce inflammation due to asthma in rodent studies.
- If strong medicinal smells irritate your nose, lavender is a better aromatherapy option than eucalyptus or tea tree oil.
Cautions: Scent Sensitivity
Essential oils may smell good to most people, but they could end up triggering your asthma symptoms. Just as the strong smell of certain lotions or cleaning supplies can be asthma-inducing irritants, essential oils have the same power to cause wheezing and difficulty breathing.
Diffusing essential oils may release volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These can worsen asthma symptoms and cause respiratory irritation in otherwise healthy people.
If you plan to inhale essential oils for asthma, start with a very low dose. Be sure to always have rescue medication on hand, and avoid using oil diffusers in your bedroom or while you sleep.
Cautions: Skin Sensitivity
Placing essential oils directly on the skin is used in an effort to cure everything from acne to insomnia. But concentrated essential oils may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction.
To reduce skin sensitivity:
- Before rubbing essential oils on your skin, always dilute with a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba.
- Don’t use essential oils on your skin before stepping into the sun. UV exposure may increase irritation or cause burning.
- Do a patch test by placing a small amount of the product in an inconspicuous area like the inside of your arm. You should wait at least 24 hours for signs of irritation, although some reactions can take up to 72 hours to appear.
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DISCLAIMER: The content in this article is intended for informational purposes only. This website does not provide medical advice. In all circumstances, you should always seek the advice of your physician and/or other qualified health professionals(s) for drug, medical condition, or treatment advice. The content provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.