Growing wellness. Healing with HeART.

Growing Wellness. Healing with HeART.
Exploring Aromatherapy, Earth Medicine, and the creative process of Art Journaling as paths to healing and wholeness.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Essential Oils for lung support

My province of British Columbia is currently in a state of emergency with thousands of hectares of forest burning across the province.  While this in itself is devastating to people and wildlife, the fires have also resulted in very poor air quality across the province, even in the normally clear Lower Mainland.  

Photo from NASA showing the smoke over BC

In an effort to help family members ease their breathing through this smoky air, I created a blend to support lung health.  It occurred to me that it would be helpful to share some general information on how essential oils can help to support our lungs and alleviate the damage that the smoke can cause to our bodies.  

We can see the smoke in the air and even feel it in our eyes, and we may not be aware of the damage that this air can have on our respiratory tract.  Inhaling smoke can damage the tissues of the nose, mouth, throat, and lungs.  Some of the components of the smoke could even be toxic to these tissues.  This damage is in addition to the smoke decreasing the efficiency of our respiratory system in bringing oxygen into the body. 

There are a number of essential oils that help to both clear and soothe our lungs, and provide support to the respiratory system. Combining a few of these into a personal inhaler to breathe in throughout the day is a great way to keep your lungs healthy and to help counteract any damage that inhaling smoke might do. 

In choosing essential oils for this, we want to look at those with anti-inflammatory (reduces swelling), antispasmodic (calms coughing spasms), decongestant (helps to open breathing passages), expectorant (aids in removing phlegm), mucolytic (thins mucus), and balsamic (heals and soothes, and loosens phlegm) properties, and we are fortunate to have many beautiful essential oils to choose from! 
Some to consider would include:
  • Eucalyptus - anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties
  • Helichrysum - anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, expectorant, mucolytic properties
  • Roman Chamomile - anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, calming properties
  • Cypress - antispasmodic, decongestant, mucolytic properties
  • Myrtle - decongestant, balsamic, expectorant properties
  • Cedarwood - expectorant and mucolytic properties
  • Frankincense - anti-inflammatory, expectorant properties; soothing and helps to deepen breathing
  • Myrrh - anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties; soothing
  • Lavender - antispasmodic properties; calming and soothing; helps ease stress  

As always, it is important to consider the contraindications of any and all essential oils used, taking into consideration allergies as well as any underlying medical conditions (particularly asthma in this case).  If you are uncertain which oils are safe for you to use, please consult with a professional aromatherapist (you can contact me here).

We are seeing a close to record-breaking level of devastation this fire season, and I am thinking of those directly affected and am grateful to those who are committed to fighting these massive wildfires. 

*With thanks to my instructor Bev Hawkins at West Coast Institute of Aromatherapy whose writing and teaching informed and supported my inspiration in writing this.