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.
List of Essential Oils for Allergies
The ‘Ancient Science of Life’ journal reports that basil has a long history of use in alleviating coughs, headaches, and gastrointestinal discomfort. Basil oil, with its eugenol compounds, effectively combats bacterial and fungal infections, reducing the risk of respiratory tract infections that trigger asthma attacks.
Additionally, the ‘Internet Journal of Pharmacology‘ study reveals basil’s role as a natural antihistamine, mitigating the body’s allergic response. Researchers conclude that basil offers potent benefits in treating asthma and related conditions.
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 boasts a cooling and anti-inflammatory effect on the respiratory tract, effectively slowing down mucus production. When allergies trigger your immune system, eucalyptus oil steps in to moderate the response, as evidenced by a study. This soothing effect can be a game-changer during allergy seasons.
Inhaling eucalyptus oil not only feels refreshing but also leads to an enhanced sensation of airflow, as supported by a study. This is particularly valuable when allergies cause nasal congestion, making it easier to breathe freely. The journal ‘Pharmacognosy Magazine‘ reveals that a component of eucalyptus oil, 1,8-cineole, possesses potent antifungal properties, making it a formidable ally against mold.
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.
Research published in the ‘International Scholarly Research Notices’ highlights that a nasal preparation containing lemon essential oil effectively alleviates symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
A study suggests that lemon oil has mood-enhancing properties similar to benzodiazepines, often used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. So, not only does it alleviate allergy symptoms, but it also lifts your spirits.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 boasts anti-inflammatory properties that can help tame the inflammatory response triggered by allergens in your body. This, in turn, bolsters your immune system. A study revealed that a combination of frankincense essential oil, sandalwood, and Ravensara oil effectively reduced symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Frankincense contains alpha-pinene, a compound known to reduce allergic symptoms.
Another study from 2016 emphasized the therapeutic benefits of frankincense oil in treating allergic reactions. It acts as an expectorant, decongestant, and anti-inflammatory agent. It’s a remedy to unblock sinuses and clear bronchial congestion, reducing the risk of asthma
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.
Research published in the ‘International Journal of Molecular Medicine’ confirms that compounds in lemongrass essential oil have anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory effects. Inhaling lemongrass oil can help dampen an overactive immune response, providing relief from allergies.
Other studies underline the therapeutic potential of lemongrass. It can reduce skin inflammation and combat fungal infections when applied topically or inhaled.
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 is renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties. To make the most of its benefits, you can diffuse it or apply it to your skin after diluting it with carrier oil. This not only eases inflammation but also offers a refreshing aroma.
Studies have validated the anti-allergy effects of peppermint oil. The European Journal of Medical Research confirms that menthol oil, a component of peppermint oil, possesses anti-inflammatory properties.
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.
In the event of an allergic reaction, antihistamines are your go-to solution, as histamines are released by the body when it encounters allergens. Lavender oil, a natural antihistamine, steps in to counter histamine production, offering relief from allergies and their symptoms.
Research published in the journal ‘Life Sciences‘ reveals that lavender essential oil’s anti-inflammatory effects can effectively treat bronchial asthma complications.
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.
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 is a very popular remedy for respiratory conditions, such as asthma, as it can suppress inflammation and is 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.
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.