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  • Writer's pictureSimone Grove

Top 5 essential oils for breathlessness

Breathlessness is a symptom that I talk about often. More than 6 million people in the UK suffer with breathlessness (which is usually linked to a variety of health conditions such as anxiety and lung disease), yet dedicated support can be hard to come by. When left untreated, breathlessness may be difficult or distressing to live with – so sensitive, timely and effective treatment is incredibly important.

Often, we find that breathlessness is closely linked to other issues we may be experiencing physically, unaware that the two are related. Breathlessness also understandably causes emotional distress including anxiety – which can create a vicious cycle as anxiety itself may contribute to the breathlessness, making the cylce hard to break.

Although we often tend to think only of the allopathic, physical remedies for breathlessness, holistic healthcare also has a lot to offer and I love to incorporate natural techniques within my integrative approach and practice. Aromatherapy has a number of incredible benefits beyond relaxation – and each essential oil has its own set of beneficial properties to offer.

Here I’ve shared a round-up of five oils I find really useful in the management of breathlessness. These can be used in a variety of ways – being sure to carefully follow the guidance and safety instructions that come along with essential oils (more on this below).

Breathlessness has a variety of causes – and the magic of essential oils is that their versatility lends them perfectly to a number of uses, including:

Roll-on: Purchasing or making your own roll-on is a great way to harness the many benefits of essential oils, especially if breathlessness can catch you off-guard when out and about. Simply add the essential oils of your choosing to a carrier oil and roll or spray the blend on your temples and pulse points when needed.

Self-massage: If you are at home, you might like to use your essential oil blend to massage – simply use a carrier oil or purchase a blend with the essential oils of your choice.

Eye mask: A weighted heated or cooling eye mask can work wonders to calm body and mind and ease anxiety-induced breathlessness – simply add a few drops or spray essential oils onto the side of the mask that isn’t touching the skin, lie down or sit back, and breathe.

Spray: Using a vaporizing spray bottle you can mist the essential oils around you, or around the room you are in to help promote a feeling of calm and assist in opening your airways.

Bath salts or oil: If you have time, you might like to make your own bath salts or bath oil using a carrier oil, salts and the essential oils of your choosing. Particularly for anxiety related breathlessness, soaking in a hot bath and allowing the oils to do their thing can be incredibly helpful and can also enable you to come back to your breath.

5 essential oils for breathlessness

Ylang Ylang - Cananga Odorata

Ylang Ylang is particularly useful for anxiety-related breathlessness and in times of stress. This oil reduces cortisol levels and brings down systolic and diastolic blood pressure. In doing so it also slows rapid breathing, bringing balance where there is agitation and reducing stress and anxiety. This is my absolute ‘couldn't be without oil’, without fail this oil calms me down and slows down my respiratory rate if I am feeling agitated and panicky.

Frankincense - Boswelia Carterii

Traditionally valued for its immune-strengthening capabilities, frankincense also has beneficial effects for the respiratory system. An antiseptic and anti-inflammatory to the lungs, frankincense can be helpful for asthma, sinusitis and bronchitis, as well as stress and tension that may be associated with anxiety-related breathlessness.

Benzoin - Styrax Benzoin

A great oil where there is mental strain and exhaustion, benzoin quietens a mind that over-thinks with worry. It reduces mental tension and stress and encourages relaxation. Physically, benzoin’s anti-inflammatory properties are used to relieve and soothe irritation of the nose, throat and airways. It's a great oil for conditions such as laryngitis and croup, as well as being effective for colds and flu, helping clear congested mucous, coughs, sore throat and loss of voice.

Eucalyptus - Eucalyptus Globulus

Well-known for its therapeutic uses on the respiratory system, for many years eucalyptus has been used to relieve coughing. In fact, some over the counter medications have eucalyptus as one of their main ingredients – for example Olbas Oil and Vicks VapoRub. Eucalyptus oil can also help the clearance of mucous from the chest. With antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-viral properties it's clear to see why this oil is so well used and renowned worldwide for its healing abilities.

Lavender - Lavandula Augustifolia

Lavender is one of the most well-known essential oils, and it is used extensively in aromatherapy. It can reduce stress, harmonise the mind and act as a sedative where there is agitation or a sense of panic. Lavender calms the mind of fears and irrational thoughts. It is also a great oil to use at times of infection due to its anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties.

Notes when using essential oils for breathlessness

As always, care needs to be taken when using essential oils. It's very important to use oils safely, using correct methods and dose. Remember to seek advice from a qualified aromatherapist and do your research before using them on yourself or others (take a look at my blog on anti-viral essential oils here for some basic guidance to be mindful of before you buy).

If you or someone you know is living with breathlessness, then you can download your FREE guide "5 Ways to Help Breathlessness" here.

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