Essential Oils for Asthma | Nikura

5 min read / 2 July 2024 / yasmin sharp

Essential Oils for Asthma

Explore the potential benefits and safe usage of essential oils for managing asthma symptoms.


It is estimated that around 5.4 million people in the UK have asthma, with the lung disease affecting as many as 300 million individuals around the world.  

The severity of symptoms varies from person to person, ranging from mild breathing difficulties to full on asthma attacks, which also means it can be treated in different ways.

Some people find that inhaling essential oils offers some relief alongside their existing medication. We take a closer look at those claims to see if using essential oils to help breathing can make it easier to live with the symptoms of asthma.

Are essential oils safe to inhale?

Inhaling essential oils is perfectly fine and is one of the most common ways people receive their aromatherapeutic benefits.

You can inhale aromatherapy oils for asthma by:

Adding a few drops to a diffuser

Whether it’s a heat diffuser, ultrasonic diffuser or reed stick diffuser, this method allows you to inhale the natural properties of the oil as you go about your routine at home.

Diluting with a carrier oil and adding to warm bath water

Mixing essential oils with bath water promotes both topical absorption into your skin, while allowing you to inhale the oil’s properties through the steam as you relax and unwind.

Intaking the oil through steam inhalation

This is done much in the same way as you would with Olbas oil and hot water, by inhaling the steam to allow the oil’s properties to be naturally absorbed in your system.

What are the best essential oils for asthma?

Some of the best essential oils for asthma include:

Peppermint oil opens airways and reduces inflammation

Many people inhale peppermint oil for asthma as it can help to ease breathing difficulties. Its refreshing and enlivening scent can open the bronchial passages and cleanse the lungs, relieving some of the pressure.

One study found that menthol – one of the oil’s most active ingredients – produced impressive anti-inflammatory effects.

This could mean that using peppermint essential oil for asthma may help to combat conditions like bronchial asthma.

Eucalyptus oil helps clear nasal congestion and ease breathing

Should you use eucalyptus oil for asthma? It is generally seen as one of the best essential oils to help breathing, as it contains a compound called citronellal, which contains anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.

Research also suggests that the presence of eucalyptol in the oil (also known as 1,8-cineole) could make it useful as a solution for long-term asthma therapy.

Inhaling eucalyptus essential oil for asthma may help to thin out mucus so it is less sticky and reduce spasms in the respiratory tract.

Lavender oil calms the respiratory system and reduces allergic reactions

Stress and anxiety are additional factors that can complicate asthma, exacerbating the condition to make it harder to breathe.

Some people use lavender essential oil for asthma because of its sedative properties, enabling them to feel more relaxed and calming when experiencing respiratory issues.

A 2014 animal study also found that lavender oil was able to inhibit allergic inflammation and decrease mucus production in mice following inhalation.

The authors concluded that the oil could prove useful as an alternative treatment for bronchial asthma.

Can I use essential oils for asthma attacks?

Ideally, you should only use essential oils in-between attacks and not when you are experiencing a sharp increase in symptoms.

Essential oils are a complementary treatment that can be used alongside your existing treatment.

Inhalers are the most common form of treatment, although some people are prescribed tablets and other forms of medication if the condition is more severe.

How to use essential oils for asthma

There are a few different ways you can use essential oils for asthma, such as:


The aromatherapy approach covers the inhalation methods we mentioned above, which means you can try:

  • Diffusion: Add a few drops of essential oil to a diffuser to inhale the aroma.
  • Direct inhalation: Add a few drops of an essential oil to a bowl of hot water, cover your head with a towel, lean in closer to the bowl and inhale the steam.
  • Bath: Mix your preferred essential oil with a carrier oil and add to a warm bath for overall relaxation and symptom relief.

Topical application

Alternatively, you can apply aromatherapy oils for asthma to your skin by following the steps below:

  • Mix 2-3 drops of your chosen essential oil with a tablespoon of carrier oil.
  • Carefully spread the mixture across your chest and inhale the scent for no more than 20 minutes.
  • Wipe your skin clean using a slightly damp cloth.

This is a process you can repeat daily as needed, helping to open your airways to encourage better breathing.

First-time users of any essential oil should complete a patch test to ensure the oil is compatible with their skin.

Simply mix with a carrier oil and apply a small amount to the inside of your elbow. Cover with a plaster and leave for 24 hours. If you see any signs of irritation, wash the oil off your skin and discontinue use.

Final thoughts

Many people use essential oils for asthma as they believe it can help to ease some breathing difficulties.

However, there is no solid scientific evidence that essential oils can have a direct effect on asthma, so the results can vary from person to person.

If you have asthma and are considering using essential oils, speak with your doctor who can offer advice based on your individual symptoms.

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Medical Disclaimer

The content in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to take the place of medical advice. Please consult your personal physician for any advice or treatment regarding specific health questions. Neither the article editor, writer, nor the organisation of Nikura takes any responsibility for possible health consequences following the information given in any article. All readers should consult their physician before taking any advice given within these articles.

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