Prevalence of asthma has witnessed a troubling trend of increase over the last four decades. Presently, more an estimated 25 million Americans have asthma accounting for almost 8 percent of adults and 8 percent of children. The condition best characterized by shortness of breath and wheezing presently does not have a cure. The only option available is management to ensure that it does not result in an emergency that demands hospitalization. Among the many different options presently in use, claims of effectiveness of natural therapies abound. Essential oils for asthma are touted to be a natural and effective method to manage the condition. Here is an evidence based approach to understand the truth behind the claims.
Overview of asthma and suitability of essential oils for asthma
Before we look at the suitability of essential oils for asthma it is important to understand more about Asthma. The chronic respiratory condition is mostly lifelong in nature, but for a limited number of patients the conditions disappear over time. The condition is primarily attributed to the inflammation of the lung tissue, resulting in narrowing/swelling and mucus production. The inflammation is itself attributed to allergens that could be different for different individuals. For some allergens include pollen from trees, and grass or weed. For others it could be mold, or pet dander, or bird droppings. Likewise for a significant percentage of patients, dust mites are the trigger for asthmatic symptoms.
The reasons are not limited to just the above, but could also include exposure to substances such as perfume, chemicals and pollution. Common symptoms associated with the condition include shortness of breath, wheezing, dry chronic cough that is mostly intermittent and a feeling tightness in the chest.
How will essential oils for asthma work?
As we look at the claims of using essential oils for asthma it is necessary to look at the mechanism of action of the alternate therapy. In other words, it is essential to understand how the oils work to deliver the claimed results. Some of the essential oils have proven anti-inflammatory properties in addition to exerting a calming influence on the individual. Asthmatic attacks are often attributed to anxiety, where an individual with the condition undergoes some kind of aggravation that triggers the symptoms.
This makes essential oils for asthma work as claimed. However, none of the essential oils are recommended to be used as the primary method for managing the symptoms. Essential oils are always recommended for use as adjuvant therapy. Individuals with the condition need to be on medication and other scientifically approved medical interventions. Essential oils for asthma are only intended for use as additional options to help prevent conditions that trigger asthma and to help individuals effectively manage the condition.
Best essential oils for asthma and methods of use
Here is a look at the best essential oils for asthma and the method of administering/using the oils as part of adjuvant therapy. Experts recommend that essential oils or any other secondary therapy for asthma should never be used when the individual is in the middle of experiencing an attack. It should always be used only between episodes of asthmatic attacks.
Essential oil as topical application – Most essential oils are potent substances and never intended to be used directly as topical application or for the purpose of inhaling through a diffuser. Only a few essential oils do not require dilution, whereas most of the oils require dilution with carrier oil. Essential oils when used as a topical application need to be diluted in the ratio of few drops of the oil with one ounce of carrier oil. The mixture needs to be applied on the chest and left in place for less than 30 minutes. During this time, the aroma from the mixture can be inhaled. On completion of 30 minutes the area can be wiped clean and the individual gets back to routine. This needs to be repeated daily for best results.
Essential oil for inhalation – This is safe as inhalation involves steam and dilution of the essential oil. Mix a few drops of the essential oil with a large bowl with hot water that lets of steam. Inhale the vapors that rise from the steaming water, cover your face and head with a clean towel to ensure that you inhale maximum steam. The inhalation needs to be performed for 10 minutes. Shorter spells of inhalation are not known to be effective. The inhalation needs to be repeated a couple of times with a short break of a few minutes between sessions. Never extend the break as the water is likely to lose its temperature and steam. In case the water is losing temperature, replace the bowl with hot water accordingly.
Four different essential oils for asthma that are considered as effective in alleviating/managing the condition include essential oil of lavender, clove, rosemary and eucalyptus. It is important to note that Eucalyptus oil is potent and should not be used in children with asthma. Other essential oils are suitable for use even by children. The common property among all the four essential oils is the effect of the oil on relaxing the smooth muscle. This is the main reason for the symptoms associated with asthma. Studies have revealed that essential oils help to relax the smooth muscle and this greatly alleviates the condition.
The control of inflammation that is experienced when the individual is exposed to allergens helps prevent asthmatic attacks. Essential oils for asthma possess pain killing properties. Consequently, individuals suffering from pain as a result of the wheezing or tightness of the chest will find considerable relief from the essential oil. However, as mentioned earlier, essential oils are not to be used during an asthma attack, but only between attacks. Among the reported benefits of essential oils, the property of reducing pain and preventing inflammation, rank as highly beneficial. When used in combination with the right kind of medications, essential oils are a good choice to manage symptoms associated with asthma.