by Sandra Nanka
Do you dread the arrival of spring due to seasonal allergies? Do you find yourself constantly sneezing, with a runny nose and itchy eyes? Well, what if we told you that there's a natural solution that could alleviate your symptoms and help you enjoy the season to the fullest? Enter essential oils - these powerful plant extracts have been used for centuries to combat a range of health issues, including allergies. Not only do they offer a safe and natural alternative to over-the-counter(OTC) drugs, but they can also help fight some of the most common allergens such as pollen, dust mites, and pet dander. So, if you're ready to explore the world of essential oils and learn which ones can help with your allergies, then keep reading! We'll explore the 9 best essential oils for allergies, and how they can help you stay on top of sneezing, congestion, and itchy eyes.
How do essential oils help treat allergies?
Essential oils are concentrated liquids containing therapeutic oils from plants. Countless studies have proven that essential oils have medicinal properties that can relieve allergic symptoms. These oils can be extracted in numerous ways; steam distillation and mechanical extraction are the two most popular methods.
Many oils have anti-inflammatory effects, alleviating allergy-induced swelling, redness, and itching. Some have antihistamine properties, reducing the body’s overproduction of chemicals that cause sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, and runny nose.
Essential oils’ antioxidant effects reduce oxidative stress, which is believed to contribute to allergic reactions. Certain oils also have antimicrobial effects, preventing secondary infections caused by allergic symptoms. Additionally, many open your airways, alleviating respiratory symptoms associated with allergies.
Although there are plenty of effective essential oils for allergies, many of which can reduce & even eliminate your symptoms, you shouldn’t rely on them as your first defense against serious symptoms. You should see a medical professional for treatment advice if your allergies cause severe respiratory or skin reactions.
9 best essential oils for seasonal allergies
1. Peppermint oil
Doctors often prescribe steroids to treat allergy-induced inflammation. However, these drugs can raise your blood pressure and may result in short-term weight gain. Peppermint oil contains menthol, which reduces inflammation without the adverse side effects of steroids. Menthol is also effective at alleviating nasal congestion and coughing fits.
The topical application of peppermint essential oil can soothe allergy-induced skin irritation and excessive coughing. Coughing causes your tracheal smooth muscle to contract, possibly leading to chest tightness. Peppermint oil relaxes the tracheal smooth muscle, reducing muscle contractions. Excessive coughing can also cause you to develop a headache. A randomized controlled trial suggests that peppermint oil inhalation may reduce hay fever symptoms.
2. Lavender oil
Lavender essential oil inhibits histamine production by mast cells, one of the primary cells responsible for allergic reactions. When applied topically, lavender oil can effectively treat allergy-induced skin irritation. A 2014 study confirmed that it can also reduce allergic airway inflammation.
Lavender promotes the release of serotonin and dopamine, helping to regulate sleep. This oil is an excellent choice for those who have trouble sleeping due to allergies.
3. Lemon oil
Lemon oil contains limonene, a compound with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. It can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which contribute to allergy symptoms. A 2012 study confirmed that lemon oil reduced eosinophils granulocytes and mast cells, two of the primary cells responsible for allergic reactions. Its ability to reduce allergy-inducing cells in nasal passageways makes it a promising treatment for nasal inflammation.
Lemon oil can boost the immune system and improve respiratory function. It also has antibacterial properties, which can be especially helpful for preventing allergy triggers like dust and pet dandruff around your home.
4. Eucalyptus oil
OTC decongestants like Vicks VapoRub typically use eucalyptus oil to reduce nasal stuffiness. It contains eucalyptol, a terpene with anti-inflammatory properties. Eucalyptol is also an effective bronchodilator, opening the lungs and airways to make breathing easier.
If your allergies are causing coughing fits, you can use eucalyptus oil to loosen your phlegm and relieve your cough. According to a 2020 study, eucalyptus oil suppressed mast cell activity on patients’ skin, effectively treating allergic dermatitis.
5. Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil's anti-inflammatory properties can alleviate allergy-induced skin reactions. In fact, a 2010 study found that tea tree oil reduced contact dermatitis by 40.5%. However, it can cause contact dermatitis in those with sensitive skin.
If you’re experiencing respiratory congestion, you can inhale tea tree essential oil for temporary relief. It also has antiviral, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties, making it an effective household cleaning agent during allergy season.
6. Frankincense oil
Frankincense oil contains boswellic acids, a class of terpenes that inhibit inflammatory enzymes. This oil’s anti-inflammatory properties help reduce swelling and redness caused by allergies. If you’re experiencing respiratory congestion, you can use frankincense essential oil to break down the mucus deposits in your respiratory tract.
7. Thyme oil
Thymol, one of the primary constituents of thyme essential oil, is commonly used to treat upper respiratory system problems. Thymol is an effective expectorant, meaning it can clear phlegm from your airway. Additionally, it has anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, and antiseptic properties.
8. Rosemary oil
Rosemary oil contains rosmarinic acid, a chemical compound with anti-inflammatory properties. You can use rosemary essential oil to reduce muscle spasms associated with frequent coughs. Additionally, it acts as a natural antihistamine.
Studies have shown that rosemary oil reduces oxidative stress, which is known to cause allergic disorders such as asthma, rhinitis, and atopic dermatitis. This oil is also effective at alleviating respiratory congestion and improving immune function.
9. Basil oil
A 2014 study found that basil oil is toxic to dust mites, one of the leading causes of allergy symptoms. You can add basil essential oil to a spray bottle with some water to make a household cleaner that kills dust mites.
Eugenol, one of the primary constituents of basil oil, has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It supports adrenal function, producing hormones to combat allergens. According to a 2022 study, basil oil has relaxant properties, effectively treating many respiratory issues. Other studies have shown that this oil also has antimicrobial properties.
Are there other ways to treat allergies naturally?
The best way to treat allergies naturally is to avoid allergens. If pollen triggers your allergy symptoms, stay inside during peak pollen periods. Anti-allergy bedding can be an effective treatment method if dust mites trigger your allergies. These products are usually tightly woven and made with an anti-dust mite coating. If you aren’t sure what causes your allergies, consider visiting an allergist for a blood test.
Allergic reactions occur when your immune system misinterprets a harmless substance as a threat. When this happens, your body produces antibodies to fight the perceived threat, leading to various allergic symptoms. Supporting your immune system won’t prevent allergic reactions, but it can reduce the time it takes to bounce back after a reaction. Eating healthy and exercising will help you build a healthy immune system. Proper sleep habits and reducing stress are essential as well.
Saline nasal rinses can help to flush out allergens from the nasal passages and reduce inflammation. They are available over the counter or can be made at home using a saline solution and a neti pot. To use a saline nasal rinse, fill the neti pot with the saline solution and tilt your head to one side. Gently pour the solution into one nostril and let it drain out the other side.
Like essential oils, many herbal teas are made from plants containing antihistamines. For example, green tea contains a compound called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which inhibits histamine-producing enzymes. Some herbal teas, such as peppermint tea, can relieve congestion, while others have anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, warm herbal teas produce steam which can help alleviate allergic rhinitis.
Essential oils can be a game-changer for allergy season, helping you manage your symptoms so you can continue living your life to the fullest. From peppermint oil to basil oil, these plant extracts can provide natural relief without the side effects of prescription allergy medication or OTC drugs. But it's important to note that everyone's body is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. Make sure to follow the instructions on the bottle and experiment with multiple oils to find the ones that work best for you. With so many options out there, there's sure to be an essential oil that can help you conquer your allergies and enjoy the great outdoors again. So why not give them a try and discover the natural power of essential oils for yourself? Your nose and eyes will thank you.