essential oils
Sean Cate
Sean Cate
July 4, 2023 ·  5 min read

Can Essential Oils Help With asthma?

The process of steaming or pressing plants releases oils that are rich in aroma, often referred to as the essence of the plant.1 These essential oils contain the scent and flavor of the plants and can be utilized in various products, including perfumes, candles, and aromatherapy scents. They are also sometimes added to foods and beverages. Historically, essential oils have been used as alternative treatments for various medical conditions, and in recent years, they have gained popularity as nontraditional remedies. The health community is also interested in these oils, and the case for using essential oils for asthma has been growing.

Essential oils emit an essence, and the practice of using them for therapeutic purposes is called aromatherapy. When applying essential oils to the skin, it is important to dilute them in a carrier oil. Ingesting essential oils is not recommended.

Evidence on Essential Oils for Asthma

Extracting essences from plants naturally produces pure, high-quality oils that can be used in multiple ways. Many people use essential oils exclusively for aromatherapy purposes. These oils can also be applied to the skin or diffused in a steamer, and inhaling their scents can provide relaxation and relief from headaches.

Asthma symptoms often worsen during anxious moments, and combining breathing exercises with aromatherapy can provide relief for many individuals. Some essential oils have anti-inflammatory properties that may be beneficial in treating asthma symptoms in certain individuals.

Most high-quality studies focusing on essential oils have specifically explored their potential benefits as aromatherapy options. It is important to note that essential oils should never be used as the primary treatment for asthma. Aromatherapy may trigger symptoms in some individuals, so caution should be exercised.

Nevertheless, some essential oils that have been used for asthma include:


Clove essential oil, known for its culinary use, may help alleviate wheezing, chest pain, and difficulty breathing associated with asthma.


Early studies have indicated that rosemary extract relaxes the smooth muscles of the trachea, leading to improved breathing. A 2018 study demonstrated a reduction in asthma symptoms such as coughing, sputum production, and wheezing in participants who did not respond to traditional treatments2.


Animal studies suggest that thyme may reduce inflammation and support lung cell health. Consumption of thyme oil led to fewer asthma symptoms in the study. However, further research is needed to determine if thyme has the same anti-asthma effects in humans.2 Thyme extracts have historically been used to treat other respiratory conditions like cough and bronchitis.

Using Essential Oils for Asthma Symptoms

The optimal time to use essential oil treatments for asthma is between attacks rather than during an attack or when symptoms worsen. The effectiveness and duration of symptom reduction may vary among individuals, so it is recommended to try each oil separately.

Here are instructions to help you get started:

  • Mix 2 to 3 drops of essential oil in an ounce of carrier oil. Carrier oils dilute the essential oil and facilitate its even distribution. They also help reduce the intensity of the fragrance.
  • Apply the oil mixture to your chest and inhale the scent for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Wipe clean and repeat daily as needed.

Alternatively, you can use steam inhalation:

  • Fill a bowl or bucket with steaming water.
  • Add 2 to 3 drops of essential oil to the water and stir gently.
  • Position your face above the water, making sure to avoid direct contact with the hot water. Cover your head and the sides of the bowl with a towel.
  • Inhale deeply for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Take a break for a few minutes, then repeat the process 2 to 3 more times.

Air dispersion of oils can be achieved using an essential oil diffuser or a humidifier. It is important to clean these devices regularly to prevent mold growth.

If you have a large bathtub, you can also add a few drops of the diluted oil to Epsom salt and then pour the salt into a warm bath. Breathe deeply to enjoy the aromatic benefits of the essential oils during your bath.

Read: The Top 10 Medicinal Plants and Herbs for Your Health

Risks and Precautions of Using Essential Oils for Asthma

Different individuals may react differently to essential oils, so caution is advised when integrating them into your routine. Although they are generally considered safe, it is important to consult your healthcare practitioner to ensure you do not have any allergies.

Essential oil diffusers may release volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can exacerbate asthma symptoms. Essential oils themselves can also trigger asthma attacks. It is crucial to ensure that the use of essential oils does not interfere with your asthma management plan.3

Strong odors and fragrances, including those from essential oils and aromatherapy treatments, may trigger asthma attacks. Individuals with fragrance sensitivity should exercise additional caution and discontinue use immediately if negative reactions occur.

If asthma symptoms worsen after using essential oils, it is advisable to stop using them and consult a doctor before attempting this alternative treatment again.

Essential oils for asthma should not be consumed, as some are toxic.

Other Treatments for Asthma Symptoms

Aromatherapy and essential oils are not a cure for asthma. It is important to continue using prescribed medications or following recommended treatment regimens. Treatment options may include:

Control medications

Long-term medications, such as inhaled corticosteroids, are the foundation of asthma treatment plans. These medications help manage day-to-day symptoms and reduce the risk of asthma attacks.


Quick-relief bronchodilators provide immediate relief during asthma attacks by easing symptoms within minutes. Most individuals with asthma carry an inhaler at all times.

Allergy medications

People with asthma worsened or triggered by seasonal allergies may choose to take allergy medication during peak allergy periods.

Using Alternative Therapies to Prevent Asthma Attacks

Yoga and breathing exercises can help prevent respiratory distress caused by stress or anxiety. Buteyko breathing, which involves controlled pauses in breathing, is particularly helpful for people with asthma, allowing them to control their breath in stressful situations consciously.

Maintaining a healthy diet, engaging in regular exercise, and focusing on overall well-being can also provide benefits for asthma management.

What to Do Now

During an asthma attack, it is important first to use an inhaler and seek medical treatment if symptoms persist.

If you are curious about using essential oils for asthma and their potential to alleviate symptoms, it is recommended to conduct some research before proceeding. Consult with your doctor to ensure essential oil usage does not interact with any medications you are taking.

Find reputable sources for essential oils, as they are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Research the brands before making a purchase, and avoid products containing the term “fragrance” in the ingredient list.

Do not hesitate to ask questions and seek guidance from your doctor or nurse. Healthcare providers knowledgeable about essential oils can assist you in starting to use them.

If you experience any unusual symptoms while using essential oils, discontinue use and consult your doctor immediately.

Keep Reading: Are Essential Oils the Secret Weapon to Survive Allergy Season?


  1. Can I Use Essential Oils to Treat My Asthma Symptoms?” Healthline. Kimberly Holland. July 12, 2022
  2. Essential Oils for Asthma.” Very Well Health. Kristin Hayes, RN. November 11, 2021.
  3. Can Essential Oils Help Asthma?Everyday Health. Lauren Bedosky. October 15, 2019.