Essential Oils for Asthma


The word is Greek, and it means “panting”—a pretty good description of how asthma sounds and feels. Many people mistakenly think that asthma comes and goes. This is not the case; it’s a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways. Even when someone with asthma is not having immediate problems breathing, the underlying inflammation is still there.

            Essential oils for asthma can be a helpful relief for this often misunderstood condition—especially when used in-between episodes to reduce stress and inflammation.

            Anxiety and stress are linked with asthma, although experts disagree as to the source; asthma itself may cause stressful anticipation, or psychological and mood disorders may trigger the condition. Asthma often accompanies other conditions—gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), rhinosinusitis and obstructive sleep apnea—which are worsened by stress and anxiety.



Fragrance, even the organic botanical extracts used in essential oils for asthma, may trigger airflow obstruction and other symptoms. Before experimenting with essential oils for asthma, people with asthma should try a “sniff test”—sniff the essential oil to see if you have a reaction.


If there is no negative reaction to any of these essential oils for asthma during the sniff test, using this soothing rub when no symptoms are present may prevent attacks or reduce the severity of attacks:


Asthma Inhalation Rub

  • 6 drops lavender oil
  • 4 drops geranium oil
  • 1 drop marjoram oil
  • 1 drop peppermint or ginger oil
  • 1 ounce vegetable oil

Combine the ingredients. Rub on throat and chest after a warm shower, especially before bedtime.



Essential Oil Steam

  • 1/4 teaspoon eucalyptus oil
  • 3 cups of water

Bring water to a simmer, turn off heat, and add essential oils for asthma. Place your face  (eyes closed) over the steam and drape a towel over the back of your head. Breathe in the steam, coming up for fresh air as needed. Fresh or dried eucalyptus leaves can be added to the water instead of the pure essential oil. Also try this steam treatment with Lavender essential oil.


 The recipe for this chest rub combines essential oils for asthma that have decongestive and antihistamine properties-- peppermint and ginger. German chamomile, which contains chamazulene, is thought to actually prevent the release of histamine. Frankincense, marjoram, and rose encourage deep breathing and allow lungs to expand. To reduce bronchial spasms, use the relaxants: chamomile, lavender, rose, geranium, and marjoram.


If you find that steaming only makes it more difficult to breathe, use an aromatherapy diffuser or a humidifier instead. For babies and small children, put some very hot water in the bathtub, add several drops of lavender essential oil, and hold the child in your arms over the steam. By the way, these essential oils for asthma also make a great foot rub, combining the relaxing aspects of the massage itself with the properties of the oils.

Many theories are offered about the origins of asthma. One group of studies correlates airborne irritants—smoke, pollutants, molds, animal dander—with the condition. Another school of analysis links asthma with economic affluence, identifying a correlation between asthma and delivery by Caesarian section, small family-size, and the hyper-cleanliness of much of the modern world (since the presence of some bacterial colonization seems to suppress asthma).

In any case, asthma has been with humans since earliest times. The ancient Egyptians combined as many as 36 ingredients into a medicine called Kyphi, taken as a beverage and a salve, and burned as an incense—an early form of aromatherapy diffuser  -- for the wheezing and breathlessness that we now call asthma. Some of the known ingredients of Kyphi, according to these historic texts, included Cinnamon and Cassia bark, Cypress root, Cedar, Juniper Berry, Frankincense, Myrrh and other aromatic herbs and dried botanicals, along with wine, raisins and honey when made into a drink.  Egyptian writings reveal that Kyphi was considered sacred, and was packaged and entombed with the Pharoahs for their enjoyment in the afterlife. With this revelation, essential oils for asthma seem even more appealing today.