11 Surprising Essential Oils for Allergies

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Using essential oils for allergies can quickly mitigate the symptoms of allergic reactions and regulate the activity of your immune system so it functions properly.

Our bodies are complicated machines and that means they cannot function perfectly at all times. Allergic reactions are the best example of this, as they are essentially caused by the immune system reacting to something that isn’t inherently threatening.

Allergic reactions are something that almost everyone experiences at some point; your eyes get watery, your skin begins to itch, your lips or cheeks swell up, or you can’t stop sneezing, are among a long list of other potential reactions. When this happens, it means that your body has been exposed to a substance that it has previously created antibodies for. When the antibodies are alerted to the presence of this “dangerous” substance, the mast cells on which they are located release a barrage of chemicals, including histamines. This stimulates blood flow to an area, as well as an increase in mucus release and general inflammation.

The common causes of allergies include pollen and a wide range of foods. In terms of symptoms, allergic reactions can manifest in watery, swollen eyes, itchy and runny nose, sneezing, hives, cough, tightness in the chest, difficulty breathing, and facial swelling. Anaphylaxis is one of the most dangerous forms of allergic reaction and can be fatal in some cases. These effects can be monitored and controlled, and allergic reactions can often be prevented, with the use of essential oils for allergies. These benefits are attributed to the anti-inflammatory, anti-allergenic, sedative, analgesic, expectorant, and immune-boosting properties of these oils. [1]

List of Essential Oils for Allergies

Many of the most effective essential oils for allergies include tea tree, frankincense, peppermint, lavender, basil, eucalyptus, lemon, lemongrass, thyme, bergamot and clove oils, among others.

Three essential oil bottles surrounded with colorful flowers

Essential oil blends for aromatherapy Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Basil Oil

Research has shown that basil oil is able to reduce the severity of the immune response when it is exposed to allergens. Furthermore, it can stimulate the adrenal glands, which can help the body overcome the various symptoms of allergic reactions, such as trouble breathing or mucous membrane inflammation.

How to Use: To soothe allergic symptoms or prevent them altogether, mix coconut oil and basil oil in a 1:1 ratio and place a few drops on your chest, temples and the area above your sinuses.

Eucalyptus Oil

This oil is known to have a cooling and anti-inflammatory effect on the respiratory tracts, and can also help to slow down mucus production. When your body is reacting to a perceived threat (allergen), eucalyptus oil can moderate the response of your immune system. [2]

How to Use: You can simply inhale the oil to benefit from its aromatic compounds or you can mix it with warm water and sea salt for a mucus-clearing gargle, which can also reduce inflammation in the throat.

Lemon Oil

Lemon oil helps to defend against allergies in a variety of ways, both as a treatment to cut through phlegm and address the symptoms, but also detoxify the body and boost the immune system’s efficiency with various antioxidants and active ingredients. [3]

How to Use: Sprinkling a small amount of lemon oil on your pillow, or mixing it with warm water to prepare a nasal spray are two excellent ways to combat allergic overreaction by your body’s immune system.

Clove Oil

One of the best claims to fame of clove oil is its high concentration of antioxidants, which can help strengthen the immune system and function more responsibly, making it less likely to react to allergens when they enter your system. Clove oil is also anti-inflammatory and analgesic, which can lessen the discomfort of allergic reactions. [4]

How to Use: For topical inflammation from allergic reactions, applying a small, diluted amount of clove oil (jojoba oil or coconut oil works best) to the affected area can quickly eliminate the irritation.

Bergamot Oil

This powerful essential oil has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anti-asthmatic properties, which can help to strengthen your respiratory system against allergic reactions and support your immune system to better cope with exposure to allergens. [5]

How to Use: You can add 3-5 drops of bergamot oil to a pot of steaming water, then place your head over the pot and inhale deeply. The aromatic compounds released by the oil should quickly soothe your respiratory symptoms.

Frankincense Oil

Frankincense essential oil is one of the best essential oils for allergies, as it offers almost immediate relief from coughing and inflammation of the throat and nasal passages. When you are in the midst of an allergic attack, this oil can quickly soothe the symptoms and calm your immune system’s response. [6]

How to Use: For long-term allergenic protection, mix 5 drops of frankincense oil into your bath and soak in, allowing your skin and lungs to soak up this anti-allergenic substance. Simply inhaling the oil from a bottle can also clear the sinuses and stop mucus secretion.

Lemongrass Oil

Some of the lesser known allergic reactions are muscle cramps and headaches, both of which lemongrass can handle. The anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties of this oil can help counter these somewhat uncommon symptoms of an allergic reaction. [7]

How to Use: You can apply lemongrass oil directly to the temple, although you may want to dilute the oil. You can also rub lemongrass on the chest to relieve tightness or swelling in that area of the body.

Peppermint Oil

This soothing, anti-inflammatory oil is legendary for its ability to calm coughing, cool an inflamed throat, and eliminate symptoms of bronchitis and asthma. It can ensure clear breathing in the event of your airway closing during anaphylaxis. [8]

How to Use: This oil can be inhaled to have an effect, making it popular in diffusers and steam inhalation therapies, although 1-2 drops can also be used sublingually for rapid and powerful results.

Lavender Oil

Antihistamines are what you want in the event of an allergic reaction, as histamines are what the body releases when it encounters an allergen. Lavender oil is a natural antihistamine, as well as an anti-inflammatory substance for topical inflammation or irritation. [9]

How to Use: This oil can be used topically (in diluted form) to clear up any skin inflammation, or it can be inhaled or used in room diffusers to offer long-term protection against seasonal allergies.

Tea Tree Oil

This super oil from Australia boasts anti-allergenic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, which can inhibit the release of histamines, support the immune system, and quickly remedy any of the symptoms should an allergic reaction occur. [10]

How to Use: This oil is typically used in a diluted form on the skin, to relieve topical inflammation, or it can be mixed with other soaps and shampoos to protect your whole body from unwanted allergic reactions. Under no circumstances should this essential oil be orally consumed.

Thyme Oil

Thyme oil is a very popular remedy for respiratory conditions, such as asthma, as it can suppress inflammation and is an anti-spasmodic. It can also inhibit the allergic response from the immune system, and prevent the release of histamines when used as a preventative measure. [11]

How to Use: One of the best ways to soothe the allergic response before it becomes too serious is to add a few drops of thyme oil to a steaming pot of water and then inhale deeply, allowing the aromatic compounds of the oil to clear your sinus passages.

Word of Caution

While using essential oils for allergies can be extremely effective as both a preventative measure and a treatment, there are inherent risks to using some of these oils. Negative reactions to these extremely potent oils are not uncommon, and in most cases, very small amounts can be effective. Excessive use can often cause irritation, toxicity, gastrointestinal distress, and other unwanted side effects. If you are already taking allergy medication, it is best to speak with your doctor before adding one of these essential oil remedies to your health strategy.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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