11 Essential Oils for Allergy Relief
Allergens, such as pollen, mold, dust and pet dander, trick the immune system into reacting to a harmful invader. The immune system responds by producing antibodies that release histamine. Histamine causes blood vessels to dilate and tissues to become inflamed, resulting in symptoms of allergic reaction like swelling, rashes, runny nose, sneezing, sinus headaches, itchy eyes and more. Meanwhile, food allergens cause gastrointestinal distress due to inflammation of the stomach and intestines.
Essential oils, which are highly potent medicinal extracts from therapeutic herbs and plants, are able to interact with the body’s immune system, respiratory system and other key systems that respond to allergens. Some essential oils work by eliminating toxins that act as allergens, while others reduce inflammation to counter allergic reactions. They can offer relief from allergy symptoms naturally, reducing your need for synthetic drugs. Here are 11 essential oils that stand out for their allergy relief capabilities.
1. Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil reduces inflammation when inhaled, which helps relieve allergic reactions. As an expectorant and decongestant, it helps you get rid of mucus in the respiratory tract and sinuses. One test tube study published in the European Journal of Medical Research found that peppermint oil exhibited anti-inflammatory effects in cases of hay fever.
To use peppermint oil for allergy relief, inhale it using a diffuser or apply it topically under your nose or on your chest. Mixing it with a carrier oil such as jojoba oil or coconut oil allows the peppermint oil to stay on you longer so it can release its healing properties gradually.
2. Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil has a similar effect as camphor and menthol in opening your airways and allowing you to breathe more easily. It contains compounds that fight pain and inflammation, and it works as an expectorant and decongestant to help you dislodge mucus. The best way to use eucalyptus for allergies is to inhale it, using a diffuser or by adding a few drops to a bowl of steaming hot water to relieve congestion or sinus pressure.
3. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has powerful antimicrobial properties that have been shown to kill mold, bacteria and fungi. Diffusing it in a room can help purify the air of these microorganisms, which burden your immune system and can act as allergens. Tea tree oil also reduces inflammation in your respiratory pathways, and has an astringent, cleansing scent when inhaled. It’s effective against hives and rashes when used topically. You can 2 to 3 drops directly to a problem site on your skin, or combine it with a carrier oil to apply it to a larger surface area.
4. Lemon Oil
Lemon oil is another essential oil that helps purify indoor air when diffused. It has antimicrobial and immune-boosting properties, and stimulates your body’s natural detoxification system. Studies show that lemon oil boosts the production of white blood cells, which helps your body fight off anything causing the immune system to be overactive. You can diffuse lemon oil and apply it around your nose or neck to inhale its therapeutic compounds.
5. Basil Oil
Basil essential oil relieves inflammation and pain in the mucus membranes, which can help with sinus headaches when inhaled or applied topically. It’s shown to have antimicrobial abilities against mold, yeast and bacteria that can cause respiratory damage and asthma. Basil oil stimulates your adrenal glands, which helps your body respond to allergens more effectively.
6. Lavender Oil
Famously used to promote relaxation, lavender oil is also a natural antihistamine. It reduces inflammation in the face of allergic reactions, whether applied topically to allergic reactions on your skin, inhaled for sinus allergies or asthma, or taken internally for food allergies. Take no more than 3 drops a day if you’re taking lavender oil internally. It’s very gentle on the skin, as it’s used to effectively treat a host of skin problems, from burns to rashes.
7. Chamomile Oil
Similar to lavender oil, chamomile essential oil also has a relaxing effect and an ability to reduce inflammation when applied to allergic reactions on the skin or taken internally to reduce digestive inflammation. It also has antimicrobial and decongestant abilities, and can be used to reduce symptoms of hayfever. Take 3 drops a day with food, apply directly to the skin or use a diffuser to enjoy the soothing benefits of chamomile.
8. Oregano Oil
Oregano essential oil is a powerful antimicrobial agent that reduces inflammation throughout the body. This makes it great for treating allergic reactions whether on the skin, in your digestive tract or within your respiratory system. Oregano oil also prevents allergies by modulating your immune system and changing the way it perceives allergens. In a study published in BioFactors, allergy patients were given rosmarinic acid, an active compound in oregano oil. After 21 days, researchers concluded it significantly downregulated the immune system’s response to allergens, resulting in reduced symptoms.
You can use oregano oil as a decongestant to treat congestion, as it breaks down mucus in the sinuses and lungs when inhaled. To prevent and reduce allergy symptoms, add a few drops to a diffuser, or for more potent effects, add a few drops to a bowl of hot water and inhale the steam.
9. Thyme Oil
By preventing the release of histamines, thyme essential oil is able to significantly reduce allergic reactions. It’s an antispasmodic, which means it reduces involuntary muscle movements, making it helpful in treating asthma and bronchitis. Thyme oil also suppresses inflammation and kills pathogens. The best way to use thyme oil to prevent and manage allergies is to inhale it using a diffuser.
10. Clove Bud Oil
Studies show that clove bud oil inhibits inflammatory responses, such as reactions to allergens. An active compound in clove oil called eugenol has been found to be effective in treating asthma and hay fever by directly modulating the body’s inflammatory response system. Clove oil is also packed with antioxidants that boost your immune system. It acts as an antimicrobial agent and even works as a natural pain reliever that may help with sinus headaches when inhaled or applied to your sinuses. In cases of skin inflammation, you can combine clove oil with a carrier oil and apply it for relief. Avoid using clove bud oil directly on your skin.
11. Frankincense Oil
Frankincense oil is another immunomodulator, meaning it alters the immune system’s response to perceived threats. It downregulates your body’s reaction to allergens and reduces inflammation. Research has found that a compound in frankincense oil called alpha-pinene is responsible for preventing allergic reactions and reducing your risk of developing asthma. It can also treat allergic reactions by acting as an expectorant and decongestant when inhaled. Finally, frankincense oil is used topically to treat virtually any skin condition, and can be applied directly or combined with a carrier oil.
Using Essential Oils Safely
Most essential oils are safe to use topically, but if you have sensitive skin it’s wise to try combining them with a carrier oil before applying them directly on the skin. Some essential oils can be taken internally in very small doses, but may interact with medications. Essential oils have powerful medicinal properties, so it’s important to use them in small amounts and increase your dose gradually if needed, to ensure you get the right amount for symptom relief. For example, powerful expectorants like tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil can cause excessive coughing when you inhale too much of them.