Best Essential Oils for COPD and Asthma Illustration

The 15+ Best Essential Oils for COPD and Asthma (2024)

by | Updated: Apr 28, 2024

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma are widespread respiratory conditions that significantly impact the lives of millions of people worldwide.

Conventional medical treatments have been successful in managing these conditions to some extent, but there is a growing interest in exploring natural alternatives that can provide complementary support.

Essential oils, which are concentrated plant extracts with potent therapeutic properties, have been found to be beneficial in alleviating symptoms and promoting respiratory health in individuals with COPD and asthma.

In this article, we will explore the best essential oils that have shown promise in providing relief and support for those suffering from these challenging respiratory ailments, as well as offer insights into their safe and effective use.

Best Essential Oils for Asthma and COPD

  1. Black seed oil
  2. Eucalyptus oil
  3. Bergamot oil
  4. Ginger oil
  5. Mullein extract
  6. Turmeric oil
  7. Peppermint oil
  8. Elderberry extract
  9. Astragalus extract
  10. Rosemary oil
  11. Lavender oil
  12. Cardamom oil
  13. Oregano oil
  14. Thyme oil
  15. Nettle leaf extract

1. Black Seed Oil

Scientific name: Nigella sativa

Black Seed, also known as black cumin or kalonji, is a plant native to South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. The plant produces small black seeds that have been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine for a variety of health benefits.

Black seed is believed to have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties and may help to support immune function and promote overall health and well-being.

Black seed oil, which is extracted from the seeds, can be used as a natural remedy for conditions such as asthma, allergies, digestive problems, and skin conditions.

Our Top Pick
MAJESTIC PURE Black Seed Essential Oil

This essential oil is cold-pressed with no additives or dilution, so you can take full advantage of the respiratory benefits.

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2. Eucalyptus Oil

Scientific name: Eucalyptus globulus

Eucalyptus is a type of evergreen tree that is native to Australia. It is widely cultivated in many parts of the world, and its leaves are commonly used for medicinal purposes.

Eucalyptus oil is extracted from the leaves of the tree and is known for its strong, distinctive aroma.

It has a variety of therapeutic properties, including being a natural decongestant and expectorant, making it beneficial for promoting respiratory health, clearing mucus, and treating allergic rhinitis symptoms.

Eucalyptus oil can be used topically or inhaled through steam inhalation or a diffuser. It is also used in a variety of commercial products, such as cough drops, chest rubs, and even insect repellents.

Our Top Pick
NaturoBliss Natural Undiluted Eucalyptus Essential Oil

Eucalyptus oil is a natural essential oil derived from the leaves and branches of the eucalyptus tree, known for its distinct fresh, camphor-like scent and potential medicinal properties.
 

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3. Bergamot Oil

Scientific name: Citrus bergamia

Bergamot is a type of citrus fruit that is native to Southern Italy. The essential oil extracted from the peel of the bergamot fruit is commonly used in aromatherapy and perfumery.

Bergamot oil has a fresh, citrusy scent and is believed to have a variety of health benefits. It is commonly used to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as to improve mood and promote relaxation.

One study found it effective in reducing high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease markers, which can indirectly benefit the respiratory system.

Bergamot essential oil can be used topically, inhaled through a diffuser, or added to bathwater. It’s also available in various supplements, including powders, capsules, and juices.

Our Top Pick
Handcraft Bergamot Essential Oil

Bergamot essential oil is extracted from the rind of the bergamot fruit and is known for its fresh, citrusy, and floral aroma. It's commonly used in aromatherapy for its calming and uplifting properties.

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4. Ginger Oil

Scientific name: Zingiber officinale

Ginger is a flowering plant that is widely used as a spice and as a natural remedy for various health conditions. It has a spicy and pungent flavor and is often used in cooking and baking, as well as in traditional medicine.

Ginger has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and is commonly used to treat nausea, vomiting, and indigestion.

In addition, a study confirmed the beneficial effects of ginger on smooth muscle tissues in the airways of the lungs.

Try adding a few drops of ginger essential oil to a bowl of hot water and inhale the steam to help relieve congestion and make breathing easier.

Our Top Pick
Gya Labs Ginger Essential Oil

Ginger essential oil is a concentrated oil extracted from the root of the ginger plant through steam distillation. It has a warm, spicy, and woody aroma and is known for its ability to aid digestion, reduce inflammation, and relieve nausea.

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5. Mullein Extract

Scientific name: Verbascum thapsus

Mullein is a biennial plant that is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa. It has long, fuzzy leaves and produces tall stalks of yellow flowers that bloom in the summer.

Mullein has been used for centuries in traditional herbal medicine for its numerous health benefits.

It’s packed with phytochemicals, such as quercetin, that have anti-inflammatory effects on the body. This is why researchers believe that mullein is beneficial for respiratory pathologies.

You can add a few drops of mullein extract to a vaporizer or humidifier and inhale the steam. This can help to soothe the respiratory system and relieve congestion.

Our Top Pick
Nature's Answer Mullein Leaf Extract

Mullein leaf extract is a natural remedy made from the leaves of the mullein plant, which is native to Europe and Asia but now grows in many parts of the world. It is commonly used to treat respiratory conditions such as coughs, bronchitis, and asthma due to its ability to reduce inflammation and soothe irritated mucous membranes.

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6. Turmeric Oil

Scientific name: Curcuma longa

Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory herb that has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including promoting lung health.

Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, has been shown to reduce inflammation in the lungs and improve lung function in people with respiratory conditions.

Turmeric can be consumed in many forms, including as a spice in cooking, as a tea, or as a supplement in capsules or tinctures.

Our Top Pick
Purality Health® Liposomal Turmeric

This turmeric product provides better nutrient absorption to help you get more of the benefits.

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7. Peppermint Oil

Scientific name: Mentha x piperita

Peppermint is a refreshing herb that contains menthol, a natural decongestant that can help to open up the airways and relieve congestion.

It also has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, which can help to soothe sore throats and reduce inflammation in the respiratory tract.

Drink peppermint tea or use peppermint essential oil to promote healthy breathing and relieve congestion.

Our Top Pick
Handcraft Peppermint Essential Oil

Peppermint essential oil is a highly concentrated oil extracted from the leaves of the peppermint plant through steam distillation. It has a refreshing, minty aroma and is known for its cooling, soothing, and invigorating properties.

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8. Elderberry Extract

Scientific name: Sambucus nigra

Elderberry refers to the fruit of the Sambucus nigra plant, which is a small shrub or tree native to Europe and North America. Elderberry has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments.

Elderberry is rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. It is commonly used to boost the immune system and to help prevent and treat viral respiratory illnesses.

Our Top Pick
Nature’s Way Sambucus Original Elderberry Extract

Elderberry extract is commonly used to boost the immune system and prevent or treat colds and flu due to its high concentration of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.

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9. Astragalus Extract

Scientific name: Astragalus membranaceus

Astragalus is a plant native to Asia that has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. The root of the astragalus plant is commonly used for its medicinal properties.

Astragalus is believed to have immune-boosting properties and is often used to prevent and treat colds, flu, and other respiratory infections. It is also used to reduce inflammation and improve the function of the liver, kidneys, and cardiovascular system.

Astragalus can be consumed in various forms, including capsules and liquid extracts.

Additionally, the root can be ground into a powder, which can then be used to brew into teas or added as an ingredient in various foods.

Our Top Pick
MaryRuth's Organic Astragalus Root Extract

Astragalus extract is a natural remedy made from the roots of the astragalus plant, which is native to China and has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. It is commonly used to boost the immune system and improve overall health and vitality.

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10. Rosemary Oil

Scientific name: Salvia rosmarinus

Rosemary is an evergreen herb with needle-like leaves and a woody aroma. It is native to the Mediterranean region, but it is now widely cultivated throughout the world.

Rosemary is commonly used as a culinary herb to flavor various dishes. It is also used as a natural remedy for various health conditions due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

In fact, a study found that rosemary extract may be effective in treating pulmonary fibrosis.

Rosemary can be used fresh or dried in cooking, adding a fragrant and savory flavor to dishes. It can also be brewed into tea, used as an essential oil for aromatherapy, or applied topically.

Our Top Pick
Handcraft Rosemary Essential Oil

Rosemary essential oil is a concentrated oil extracted from the leaves of the rosemary plant through steam distillation. It has a strong, fresh, and herbaceous aroma and is known for its stimulating and energizing properties.

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11. Lavender Oil

Scientific name: Lavandula

Lavender is a flowering plant prized for its beautiful purple-blue flowers and sweet, floral fragrance. It is a popular ornamental plant in gardens and is often used in landscaping and as a decorative element in floral arrangements.

Lavender has also been used for medicinal purposes, such as promoting relaxation and reducing stress and anxiety.

A study found that the inhalation of lavender essential oil suppresses allergic airway inflammation, which indicates its effectiveness in individuals with bronchial asthma.

Our Top Pick
Handcraft Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender essential oil is a highly concentrated oil extracted from the flowers of the lavender plant through steam distillation. It has a sweet, floral, and calming aroma and is known for its relaxing and soothing properties.

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12. Cardamom Oil

Scientific name: Elettaria cardamomum

Cardamom is a spice that is native to India, Nepal, and Bhutan. It is widely used in traditional medicine and cooking.

Cardamom has natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can lower blood pressure, prevent infections, and help with digestion.

A study found that it may also improve breathing by enhancing oxygen uptake and promoting the relaxation of the airways in the lungs.

Cardamom is a versatile spice used for cooking and baking. It’s also available as a supplement, extract, powder, and essential oil.

Our Top Pick
Artizen Cardamom Essential Oil

Cardamom essential oil is a concentrated oil extracted from the seeds of the cardamom plant through steam distillation. It has a warm, spicy, and slightly sweet aroma and is known for its digestive and respiratory benefits.

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13. Oregano Oil

Scientific name: Origanum vulgare

Oregano is a perennial herb native to the Mediterranean region and western Asia. It is a member of the mint family, Lamiaceae, and is known for its pungent, spicy flavor and aroma.

Oregano is commonly used as a culinary herb in Mediterranean and Mexican cuisine. In addition to its culinary uses, oregano has been used in traditional medicine for its antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidant properties.

It is often used as a natural remedy for respiratory infections, digestive issues, and skin irritations.

Oregano can be used fresh or dried in cooking, adding a savory and slightly spicy flavor to dishes. It is also used in oil form for aromatherapy and in topical applications.

Our Top Pick
SVA Organics 100% Natural Oregano Essential Oil

Oregano essential oil is a highly concentrated oil extracted from the leaves of the oregano plant, which is scientifically known as Origanum vulgare. It is a popular essential oil used in aromatherapy and natural health remedies due to its potent antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties.

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14. Thyme Oil

Scientific name: Thymus vulgaris

Thyme is a fragrant herb that is native to the Mediterranean region but is now grown all over the world. It is an evergreen shrub that belongs to the mint family, and it is widely used as a culinary herb and also has medicinal properties.

Thyme leaves are small, oval-shaped, and green-gray in color, with a pungent, herbaceous aroma and a slightly bitter taste. It is commonly used in cooking to flavor meats, soups, stews, and sauces, and it pairs well with other herbs like rosemary, sage, and parsley.

In addition to its culinary uses, thyme is also used in traditional medicine to treat respiratory and digestive issues, as well as sore throat and coughs. Its essential oil is used in aromatherapy and as a natural insect repellent.

Thyme extract is also known for its antimicrobial and antioxidant properties and has been used therapeutically to treat individuals with COPD.

Our Top Pick
Brooklyn Botany Thyme Essential Oil

Thyme essential oil is a highly concentrated, aromatic liquid derived from the thyme plant (Thymus vulgaris). The oil is extracted from the fresh or dried leaves and flowering tops of the thyme plant through a process called steam distillation. Thyme essential oil has a strong, herbal scent and is pale yellow to reddish-brown in color.

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15. Nettle Leaf Extract

Scientific name: Urtica dioica

Stinging nettle is a perennial plant that grows in moist, fertile soil and is often found in wooded areas or along streams and rivers. It’s most commonly found in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Stinging nettle got its name due to the small, hair-like structures on the leaves and stems that release histamine and other chemicals when touched, causing a stinging or burning sensation on the skin.

However, when properly harvested and processed, stinging nettle can be used for a variety of medicinal purposes.

A study found that this herb may have protective effects against airway inflammation, which is useful in individuals with asthma.

Nettle leaf oil is a natural remedy made from the leaves of the stinging nettle plant. It has been traditionally used for its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, as well as for its ability to support healthy skin and hair.

Our Top Pick
Nature's Answer Nettle Leaf Extract

Nettle leaf extract is rich in various beneficial compounds, including vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, magnesium, and chlorophyll. It is also high in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties, making it useful in natural medicine.

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What is COPD?

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a group of progressive lung diseases that cause breathing difficulties due to airflow obstruction. The two types include emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

Emphysema involves damage to the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs, while chronic bronchitis is characterized by long-term inflammation of the bronchial tubes, leading to excessive mucus production.

The primary cause of COPD is exposure to tobacco smoke, but other factors such as air pollution, occupational dust, and chemical fumes can also contribute. COPD symptoms include shortness of breath, chronic cough, wheezing, and excess mucus production.

Although COPD is a chronic and progressive disease, its symptoms can be managed with medications, pulmonary rehabilitation, and lifestyle changes.

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways, characterized by recurring episodes of airflow obstruction, leading to breathing difficulties.

The inflammation in asthma causes the airways to become more sensitive to various triggers, such as allergens, cold air, exercise, or respiratory infections.

When exposed to these triggers, the airways can become narrow and swollen and may produce excess mucus, making it difficult to breathe. Symptoms of asthma include shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness.

While there is no cure for asthma, it can be effectively managed with medications, such as inhaled corticosteroids and bronchodilators, as well as avoiding known triggers and implementing lifestyle changes to improve overall respiratory health.

FAQs

Are Essential Oils Safe to Use for COPD?

Essential oils can have therapeutic benefits for some individuals with respiratory issues, but it’s important to note that they may not be safe or suitable for everyone with COPD.

Some essential oils have calming, anti-inflammatory, and expectorant properties, which might provide relief from symptoms.

However, certain oils can also trigger allergies or irritate the airways, exacerbating COPD or asthma symptoms. It’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before using essential oils to manage COPD or asthma.

How to Use Essential Oils for Asthma or COPD?

When using essential oils for asthma or COPD, consider the following methods:

  • Aromatherapy: Diffuse essential oils in a room using a diffuser or a humidifier, taking care not to overdo the concentration. Inhaling the aroma can help reduce symptoms.
  • Topical application: Dilute essential oils with a carrier oil (e.g., coconut, almond, or jojoba oil) before massaging it onto the chest or back. This can help with symptom relief.
  • Inhalation: Put a few drops of essential oil in a bowl of hot water and inhale the steam. Keep a safe distance to avoid burns or excessive exposure.

It’s important to use high-quality, pure essential oils and to start with a low concentration to minimize potential adverse reactions.

What are the Side Effects of Essential Oils?

Essential oils can have side effects, especially when used improperly or in excessive amounts. Some common side effects include:

  • Allergic reactions: Skin rash, itching, or hives.
  • Irritation: Burning or stinging sensation on the skin, eyes, or airways.
  • Sensitization: Prolonged or excessive use of essential oils can lead to an increased risk of developing allergies to the oils.
  • Photosensitivity: Some essential oils, especially citrus oils, can cause increased sensitivity to sunlight, leading to sunburns or skin damage.

Always perform a patch test before applying essential oils to the skin, and follow guidelines for proper dilution and usage.

What are Some Other Herbal Treatments for COPD?

In addition to essential oils, there are various herbal treatments that may help alleviate COPD symptoms. Some options include:

  • Ginseng: Known for its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties, ginseng might help reduce inflammation and improve lung function.
  • Licorice root: This herb has anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties, which can help soothe airways and promote mucus clearance.
  • Nettle: Nettle is believed to have anti-inflammatory and antihistamine effects, which might provide relief from COPD symptoms.
  • Butterbur: Often used as an alternative treatment for allergies and asthma, butterbur may help reduce airway inflammation.

It’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before using herbal treatments for COPD or asthma, as they can interact with medications or cause adverse reactions.

What are the Best Holistic Lifestyle Changes to Manage a Respiratory Disease?

Adopting a holistic approach can help manage respiratory diseases like COPD and asthma more effectively. Some beneficial lifestyle changes include:

  • Exercise: Regular, gentle exercise can help improve lung function and overall health. Consult with a healthcare professional to determine an appropriate exercise plan.
  • Diet: Eating a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help reduce inflammation and support respiratory health.
  • Stress management: Techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and mindfulness can help alleviate stress, which can exacerbate respiratory issues.
  • Maintain a healthy weight: Excess weight can put additional stress on the respiratory system. A balanced diet and regular exercise can help maintain a healthy weight.
  • Quit smoking: Smoking is a leading cause of respiratory diseases. Quitting smoking is crucial for improving lung health and preventing further damage.
  • Minimize exposure to triggers: Identify and avoid allergens, pollutants, and irritants that can exacerbate respiratory symptoms.

Can Essential Oils Treat Asthma?

Essential oils may provide some relief from asthma symptoms, but they should not be considered a standalone treatment.

They can help manage stress, promote relaxation, and reduce inflammation, which may contribute to alleviating some asthma symptoms.

However, essential oils should be used alongside prescribed medications and under the guidance of a healthcare professional to ensure proper management of asthma.

What are Alternative Methods to Prevent an Asthma Attack?

Alternative methods to prevent asthma attacks can be used in conjunction with traditional asthma medications. Some strategies include:

  • Breathing exercises: Techniques such as pursed-lip breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, and Buteyko breathing can help improve lung function and reduce the risk of asthma attacks.
  • Acupuncture: Some studies suggest that acupuncture may help reduce the frequency and severity of asthma attacks.
  • Allergy management: Identifying and avoiding allergens, using air purifiers, and maintaining a clean environment can help minimize exposure to asthma triggers.
  • Stress reduction: Engaging in stress-reduction activities like yoga, meditation, and mindfulness can help minimize the risk of asthma attacks.

Can Essential Oils Replace Traditional Medicine?

While essential oils can provide some relief from respiratory symptoms and complement traditional treatments, they should not be considered a replacement for prescribed medications.

Essential oils can help manage symptoms and improve overall well-being but may not be sufficient in controlling respiratory diseases like COPD or asthma.

When to See a Doctor

It’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms that warrant a visit to a healthcare professional for respiratory issues. You should see a doctor if you experience new or worsening symptoms, such as persistent coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, or chest tightness.

Additionally, seek medical attention if your current treatment plan becomes less effective or you need to use your rescue inhaler more frequently.

Pay attention to signs of a respiratory infection, like fever, chills, or increased mucus production, as these can exacerbate underlying respiratory conditions.

Finally, if you experience severe breathing difficulties or your symptoms become life-threatening, seek immediate medical help. Regular check-ups with your healthcare provider can also help monitor and manage your respiratory health more effectively.

Final Thoughts

Essential oils can serve as a valuable addition to the traditional treatment plan for individuals living with COPD and asthma.

While not a replacement for medical intervention, these plant-derived compounds can offer complementary support by providing relief from symptoms, promoting relaxation, and enhancing overall respiratory health.

However, it is crucial to remember that essential oils are highly concentrated and should always be used with care and proper dilution.

Consultation with a healthcare professional is highly recommended to ensure safe and appropriate use of essential oils, especially for those with pre-existing respiratory conditions.

By incorporating these natural remedies into their daily routines, individuals with COPD and asthma can potentially improve their quality of life and better manage their symptoms.

John Landry, BS, RRT

Written by:

John Landry, BS, RRT

John Landry is a registered respiratory therapist from Memphis, TN, and has a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. He enjoys using evidence-based research to help others breathe easier and live a healthier life.

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