Do you occasionally feel congested, constricted, or short of breath? You know, that "smothery" feeling like there's a weight on your chest and you could use a solution STAT??
I can relate. Every once in a while this happens to me when I'm in a crowded room (not as much a problem currently!), when I'm overheated, or when I've inhaled certain grasses, pollens, or synthetic fragrances.
As one who experienced frequent attacks of intense respiratory discomfort from childhood until my early 20's, I'm also aware that some of my issues may be triggered by anxious feelings, as much as by any one of the environmental factors mentioned above.
But the respiratory distress is no less real, and I've learned a few natural, essential oil-based strategies for clearing and opening my airways ASAP! I'm sharing my top four with you here.****
Before we dive in, here are a few good rules of thumb to keep in mind.
First of all, these strategies work best when you can catch it early, and hit it hard! Start doing at least one of these as soon as you first notice an issue. This is a good rule of thumb in general when you're using essential oils, whatever the health concern.
Something else you should be aware of is that our bodies metabolize essential oils much more quickly than other synthetic options you might be accustomed to. If you're new to essential oils, this might be a bit of a paradigm shift for you! When we use essential oils (and more specifically, dōTERRA oils) we're using real plant extracts and wholly natural substances. Our bodies like them and are able to metabolize them more quickly and efficiently because they are natural.
For that reason, we may need to use our oils more frequently to get the results we're after. And in this case, less is more---essential oils are highly concentrated so one drop goes a long way! Consider Peppermint for example---one drop of Peppermint essential oil is equivalent to about 28 cups of Peppermint tea!
So to maximize the benefits of an essential oil, we use less oil more often.
I liken this to the way we eat and take in our daily caloric needs. Think of it this way--we don't sit down at breakfast and eat a whole day's worth of calories in one sitting! We eat until we're full, we get hungry again a few hours later and eat again until we're full, and so on and so forth the rest of the day. In other words, we eat, our bodies metabolize that food---burning those calories as fuel---and we're ready to eat again.
Similarly, when I'm using oils to manage my respiratory health or another concern, I may apply an essential oil first thing in the morning, apply it a different way an hour later, and repeat until I feel better.
That being said here are...
Four Strategies to Open Your Airways Naturally
1. Inhale the Breathe "Respiratory" blend of essential oils.
dōTERRA's Breathe blend has been been my go-to for the past several years whenever I feel the least bit stuffy or constricted in my airways. It's helpful whether the stifled breathing stems from feeling claustrophobic, overheated, or triggered by environmental irritants.
What makes Breathe so effective? It's a combination of 8 essential oils---Laurel Leaf, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Melaleuca, Lemon Peel, Cardamom Seed, Ravintsara Leaf, and Ravensera Leaf---known for their abilities to open and soothe tissues in the respiratory tract, as well as for their protective properties against unwanted germs and potentially harmful airborne contaminants.
Inhaling this blend feels very much like receiving a gulp of fresh, cool, minty air. You know that feeling when you're super hot and thirsty and you swallow a few sips of ice cold water, and you immediately begin to feel cooled and refreshed? Imagine that same feeling, just translated into air and a refreshing openness for your lungs. That's Breathe!
My two favorite methods for employing this strategy are:
- Hand Funnel Method (see image on the right): Simply add a drop of Breathe to the palm of your hand. With your oiled palm open, make a fist and "O" shape with your other hand, creating a funnel, and place it on top of your open palm. Make an "O" with your mouth, position it over the opening of your fist "funnel," and suck in air deeply.
- If you've ever had to do a pulmonary function test, this is the same idea, only instead of breathing out into a tube, you're breathing in!
- DIY Aroma Inhaler: I carry one of these with me everywhere I go! It's very travel friendly, looks like a tube of chapstick, and is less conspicuous to use when in a crowd! It's also super effective and very simple to make.
- To make--you need a pack of aroma inhalers. Add 3-4 drops of Breathe to the cotton wick. Drop the wick into the tube, and press in the cap to secure. Use the cover to store until you're ready to use. (I walk you through how to do this in a video in my Instagram stories here.)
2. Apply Breathe topically.
I like to do this in conjunction with inhaling the oil blend. By using Breathe both aromatically and topically, we maximize the body's absorption of this blend's beneficial properties.
I recommend diluting Breathe before applying topically (as explained below), then applying to your chest and back, the back of your neck, along your spine, and on the bottoms of your feet.
There are two methods for simplifying this topical application and making it more effective.
Keep in mind, when I say "dilute" I do not mean that we're "watering down" the oil, or making it "weaker." Diluting an essential oil means to add one drop of that oil to a few drops (or more) of a carrier oil, which actually improves your skin's absorption of that oil. The carrier oil does exactly what its name implies--it "carries" the properties of that essential oil deeper into your tissues and across a broader area compared with what one drop "neat" (without a carrier oil) would be able to do. It also minimizes the loss of any of the aromatic compounds due to evaporation off the skin.
- DIY Roller Blend (shown in image above): One method is to create your own Breathe roller by adding 10-15 drops of Breathe to an empty 5mL roller bottle, and topping off with fractionated coconut oil (aka, "FCO," my preferred carrier oil).*
- Breathe Vapor Stick: Another method is to use dōTERRA's pre-made Breathe stick. This is a super convenient, already diluted way for you to apply the Breathe blend. I love it and use it on myself and kids especially during the cold winter months.**
*If you're prone to skin sensitivities, I highly recommend testing a small area of skin on the inside of your wrist or elbow. If you experience any redness or irritation, wait for it fully clear. Then dilute the Breathe blend in more carrier oil (transferring to a clean, new roller bottle if needed) and test again before use.
**A couple of my kiddos have more sensitive skin, so I use a heavier dilution of the Breathe oil when using on them and they do just fine. When they're in need of the vapor stick, I also first apply a fine layer of FCO to the area, then roll on the vapor stick.
3. Take a TriEase "Seasonal Blend" Softgel or my DIY veggie cap.
When seasonal and/or environmental irritants are high and I'm experiencing more-than-usual respiratory challenges, I add the internal use of essential oils to my protocol.*
- TriEase Softgel: This is the classic combination of Lemon, Lavender, and Peppermint essential oils---oils that are known for the way they work synergistically to cleanse, soothe, and cool respiratory tissues, as well as to support a healthy immune response to seasonal threats. When I'm fighting anything respiratory due to spring or other seasonal irritants, I grab this one from my natural health toolbox. I take one softgel 2-3xs per day when I'm struggling, and back off to one softgel per day as symptoms begin to subside.
- DIY TriEase: You can also make your own blend for internal use by adding these oils to a veggie cap. This is my daughter's preferred way to take TriEase, and it allows me to dilute the essential oils for her in a carrier oil such as olive oil. (You could also use avocado oil or MCT oil for this.)
- To make--
- Add one drop each of Lemon, Lavender, and Peppermint to an empty veggie cap.
- Top off with olive oil, avocado oil, or MCT oil.
- Put veggie cap together, and take immediately. Don't let your prepared veggie cap sit out for very long---the essential oils will eventually break down/melt the veggie cap! If you don't plan to take it right away, you can freeze your filled caps and keep in the freezer to take as needed.
*Please know---when I talk about using essential oils internally, I'm referring to dōTERRA essential oils. It's especially critical when you're using oils internally that you only use essential oils that come from a trusted source and that test at the highest standards for purity, quality, and potency. There are a ton of essential oils on the market, but the essential oil industry is not regulated, meaning that anyone can slap a label on the bottle and claim that it's 100% pure, but it could be adulterated, mostly synthetic, and/or contaminated with other unknown substances, and there's no one to tell the difference.
dōTERRA, however, maintains the strictest protocols and highest standards when it comes to sourcing, purity, and potency, as evidenced by its "Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade" protocol and its transparency in testing every single bottle of every batch of essential oil. DōTERRA goes above and beyond by also releasing that information on every bottle of oil to its customers via the site Source to You. If any oil doesn't test absolutely pure, it's not released for distribution. Period. 4. Diffuse Breathe and Lavender at night.
This is the easiest strategy ever! Simply add 3-4 drops of Lavender and 3-4 drops of Breathe to your diffuser before you go to bed. Ideally, start diffusing about 30 minutes before you actually want to be asleep so that those essential oil droplets have a head start in circulating the air of your bedroom. As you sleep, you breathe in the healthful properties of both Lavender and the Breathe blend.
And did you know that while you're sleeping your body detoxes and works on repairing and renewing its tissues? It's work that must happen but can't be done during your waking hours when so much brain power is being used to help you function throughout the day! But when you rest, it gives your body a chance to literally recharge. Awesome, right?
So a fantastic way to support healthy respiratory tissues is by breathing in and getting the benefits of these oil vapors all night long.
Did one of these strategies work for you? Share in the comments below--I'd love to hear how it helped you, a loved one, or a friend!
****Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor is this professional medical advice. Please consult a physician if you need professional medical help.