Can Essential Oils Really Help Allergic Rhinitis (Hay Fever)?
Seasonal allergies, hay fever, and allergic rhinitis are all terms for the disordered immune response many people develop when their bodies are sensitized to something in the environment. You may know it as the blocked and runny nose, watery eyes, headaches, sneezing and other uncomfortable symptoms as a result of exposure to things such as dust, pollen, mold, and pet dander.
While one can do their best to avoid triggers and reduce their numbers indoors it is tough to do. While there is NO magic essential oil or blend that can wipe out allergies for everyone there is research and anecdotal evidence to support that essential oils can help the body naturally.
How can essential oils help combat allergies? An allergic reaction is actually an OVERreaction of the immune system to an allergen. When the immune system overreacts to things such as dust, pollen, mold, insect stings, animal dander, food, medications, and latex, immunoglobulin E antibodies are produced and signal the body to release histamine and chemicals that trigger allergy symptoms.
The symptoms can appear in the nose, throat, ears, lungs, sinuses, stomach, or skin. Some believe allergies also have to do with inflammation -- which is also thought to be the root of many other diseases. A stressed, body dealing with high levels of inflammation and an overworked immune may respond with hyperactivity.
One way essential oils are thought to help is with their anti-inflammatory effects. They may also fight germs and clear toxins via the lymph system, urination, and sweating. Essential oils may also help open up stuffy sinuses and help clear mucus.
Essential oils are also known to act in tonifying ways to balance and support the body and nudge it back into health. Essential oils may also help reduce or eliminate dust mites, mold, and reduce exposure to synthetic chemicals and toxins found in when used for cleaning and in body, hair, and skin care products.
Research suggests chamazulene, terpinene-4-ol, and eugenol may have antihistaminic properties and chamazulene and farnesol may have anti-allergenic properties.
Oils containing chamazulene are German chamomile, blue tansy, and yarrow and associated with the blue color of these oils. Eugenol is found in clove bud, cinnamon leaf, and holy basil. Terpinene-4-ol is present in tea tree, plai, makrut lime, and marjoram. Farnesol is present in linden blossom, orange blossom, and rose.
Other essential oils that may be useful in dealing with allergies include peppermint, eucalyptus, and siberian fir to open airways. Lavender to calm and soothe the lungs and body. Lemon to promote movement of fluid and lymph. Eucalyptus dives to dry mucus.
A simple blend to support the body during allergy season is a combination of equal parts peppermint, lemon, and lavender. This combo can help soothe the airways with the anti-spasmodic and calming effects of lavender, the airway opening and analgesic effects of peppermint, and the disinfecting and cleansing properties of lemon essential oil. This would be a great blend for cleaning and killing germs, for the diffuser, for a chest rub, or an inhaler.
To create a simple chest rub mix 4 drops each of lavender, lemon, and peppermint into an ounce of unscented cream. Rub onto chest to support open airways and soothe and support the body. You could also try adding 5 drops of each to an inhaler.
Or create a sinus soothing blend using 2 drops of each oil on a damp cloth placed on the shower floor during your morning or evening shower. If you are not much of a DIY kind of guy or gal you may be interested in the Be Kekoa Apothecary sinus helper shower steamer, sinus steaming blend, or a sinus support inhaler.
For young kids most certified and clinical aromatherapist you'll want to avoid strong oils such as peppermint and eucaplytus. Instead opt for safer respiratory support and decongesting oils such as cedarwood and frankincense used along with oils such as lavender, orange, or tea tree in lower doses than used with adults.
If you have questions about essential oils and aromatherapy to support sinus health or soothe allergies please contact Tricia or stop by the shop in Old Town (28636 Old Town Front St Suite 200). As I mentioned there is no magic essential oil "cure" for allergies but there are natural ways to help ease symptoms and feel better using essential oils. Lifestyle changes to reduce stress and inflammation, reducing exposure to synthetic and toxic chemicals, and clearing triggers from your environment can also help.
Here's to breathing easier this spring.