Asthmatics may be fearful about fragrances or products with a strong smell – with good reason. Airborne chemicals and aromas can trigger an asthma attack. Essential oils must be used very carefully on adults and children with asthma. However, there are ways to support the respiratory system with essential oils, without inhaling them and risking an attack.
Three Approaches to Essential Oil Use
Therapists who use real, highest-quality essential oils know that there are more ways to take advantage of the therapeutic properties of plant essences than by inhaling them.
While aromatherapists may advocate using the oils only to smell (often because they have only been taught about poor quality, perfume-grade oils), aromatologists will use oils:
- By inhalation (sense of smell)
- Internally – in vitamins, capsules or food, and
- Directly on the skin
Inhalation: Asthma and Chemical Sensitivities
An asthma attack may be triggered by almost anything that stresses the respiratory system. This includes natural products such as essential oils.
Asthmatics usually react to impure or “damaged” essential oils, due to chemical sensitivity. They will not usually react to therapeutic quality oils, but there is no guarantee. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so asthmatics should not use essential oils by inhalation until their asthma is under control or has been stabilized.
Using Oils Internally – Lowering Reactivity from the Inside Out
The gentlest way to use essential oils for asthma is without exposing the respiratory system to the oils at all. Ingesting oils or taking them internally is one safe approach.
Essential oils such as lemon and oregano have been shown to boost the immune system and lower reactivity to allergens and asthma triggers. Once they’re in gelatin or veggie capsules (found at any health food store), you don’t even have to smell them. Thieves blend is another great way to boost the immune system.
Safety note: Please ensure that any essential oils are therapeutic grade, organic, and preferably certified food grade (GRAS) before taking them internally. Most essential oils sold in stores are not safe to ingest and may be toxic.
Making External Use Safe for Asthmatics: Foot Reflexology
Another technique for asthma involves applying the essential oil on the bottom of the feet. Reflexology points on the feet correspond to every organ and part of the body, making the feet a surprisingly responsive location to apply essential oils.
What’s more, oils can be applied on the soles of the feet almost without smelling them. Covering the oils quickly with socks and shoes allows people with asthma to reap the benefits without exposing their fragile respiratory system to the aromas.
The most important part of the feet for respiratory conditions: the reflexology areas corresponding to the lungs. Massage oils into the ball of the foot, just below the toes to about a third of the way down.
Addressing the Causes of Sensitivity
Asthma, like most sensitivity conditions, is worsened when toxins start to build up in the body, overloading the ability of the liver and the lungs to remove everyday wastes.
Cleansing can make a noticeable change in asthma. Asthma attacks and symptoms almost always lessen after cleansing. If you do nothing else, drink lots of water. Essential oils start a gentle process of cleansing that is helped along by good hydration.
It’s also worth considering the emotional issues related to asthma, which usually date back to childhood and may involve feeling smothered or overprotected.