Natural Remedies

Essential Oils for Allergies—The Best Way to Find Allergy Relief

By Heather Dileepan
Coley Christine

If you’re like the other 50 million people who suffer from allergies each year, you understand how debilitating it can be. Runny nose, congestion, and sneezing from seasonal allergies can strike during the spring, summer, and early fall, but many unfortunate people experience allergy symptoms all year round.

Collectively we spend about $18 billion dollars treating our seasonal allergies with over-the-counter medication and allergy shots each year, and experts believe pollen counts are on the rise. While medications can help, there are also many natural essential oils for allergies that may help you combat seasonal symptoms.

What are Seasonal Allergies?

Seasonal allergies, or seasonal allergic rhinitis as it’s called by doctors, are activated by tree, grass, and weed pollens that circulate through the air as early as February and as late as the first winter frost. When plants release high counts of pollen grains into the air for fertilization, our immune systems respond by releasing histamines to combat the allergen. Histamines trigger symptoms like a runny nose, itchy/watery eyes, sneezing, and in rare cases, asthma attacks.

Even though seasonal allergies are most commonly referred to as ‘hay fever’, there are actually a number of plant pollens that can cause an allergic reaction. The most common culprit is ragwood, but there are many others, including:

  • Tree allergies: Maple, birch, cedar, and oak
  • Grass allergies: Ryegrass, Bermuda grass, orchard grass, and Kentucky bluegrass
  • Weed allergies: sagebrush, pigweed, lamb’s quarters, and tumbleweed

Depending on where you live, you may experience higher levels of specific pollens. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, the National Allergy Map can help you pinpoint the most common allergy-inducing pollens in your area.

The Best Essential Oils for Allergies

Doctors typically suggest using nasal sprays, antihistamines, decongestants, or corticosteroids to treat seasonal allergies. They may also recommend allergy shots for longterm treatment, which requires multiple treatments and may also come with some side effects.

If you’re looking for a more natural remedy, there are a number of essential oils for allergies that may benefit your symptoms, including:

Learn more about how each of these essential oils may help alleviate the symptoms of seasonal allergies.

Lavender Oil

Perhaps the most versatile essential oil there is, lavender offers many health benefits. In addition to reducing stress and anxiety and relieving headaches and back pain, lavender essential oil can also reduce the symptoms of asthma and congestion. Lavender can help naturally reduce inflammation, which can alleviate swelling from inflamed airways and nasal passages. As an antioxidant, it also helps you fight off allergic reactions, so you feel better, faster.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil has been used for over a century in Australia to treat a number of ailments, and it’s common to see it sold in over-the-counter topical creams. Said to have antimicrobial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties, tea tree oil contains several healing agents that can fight off the symptoms of allergies. However, about 5% of tea tree oil users have reported a skin rash after using it, so make sure to test it in small doses to make sure it doesn’t trigger an allergic reaction.

Citrus Oils

Orange, grapefruit, and lemon essential oils are natural antihistamines that also boost your immunity. These oils help clear inflammation and soothe sore throats, all while warding off additional symptoms of allergies. Citrus and lemon oils are good energy boosters that naturally lift our spirits when we’re feeling fatigued and run down.

Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus contains menthol oil that’s similar to over-the-counter rubs for opening congested airways and nasal passages. It also contains the antimicrobial eucalyptol, which disrupts the growth of microorganisms like bacteria and mold. Eucalyptus will break up phlegm and mucus brought on by seasonal allergies, and help your body fight off histamines.

Peppermint Oil

The minty freshness of peppermint essential oil is both pleasant and helpful for treating allergy symptoms. It’s said to contain anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties that heal coughs and congestion. Like eucalyptus, it contains menthol, which clears nasal congestion and relieves respiratory inflammation. It’s also been shown to ease headaches, making it a useful supplement for allergy sufferers.

Using Essential Oils for Allergy Treatment

There are several ways of using essential oils to treat the symptoms of seasonal allergies:

  • Aromatherapy: Inhaling essential oils is a great way to reap their benefits. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to a diffuser, warm bath water, or a spray bottle to breath in their healing properties.
  • Topical Rubs: You can try rubbing essential oils directly onto your skin or combine a few drops with a carrier oil—a fatty vegetable oil that helps ‘carry’ essential oils—like coconut, almond, or hemp seed oil. Experiment with a combination of oils with complementary smells for a relaxing, effective balm.
  • Ingesting Them: While not all essential oils are safe to ingest, some are considered food grade and can be ingested directly. A word of caution: always check labels carefully to ensure food grade quality and make sure you trust the manufacturer. Essential oils are not regulated by the FDA.

Risks and Precautions of Essential Oils

While essential oils are widely considered a safe and natural health supplement, it’s important to consider dosing and application in order to ensure you’re using them correctly. It’s also good to note that not all essential oils are created equally and some have higher reports of allergic reactions and sensitivities than others.

When you’re just getting started with essential oils for allergy relief or other ailments at home, make sure to test a small amount on a patch of skin and wait at least 24 hours to assess any sensitivities or reactions. In particular, if you’re considering ingesting essential oils, talk with your doctor first to ensure there are no additional health factors to consider, and make sure to buy high-quality, food grade oils from reputable manufacturers. As with any new allergy medication, ensure proper dosing and avoid ingredients you have a known sensitivity to.

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