Over the last 50 years, the rise in prevalence of allergic diseases and disorders has continued in the industrialized world. Allergic rhinitis, the medical term for hay fever and what’s behind the unpleasant seasonal allergy symptoms we all know so well, develops when the body’s immune system becomes sensitized and overreacts to something in the environment.
Today, 40 to 60 million Americans are affected by allergic rhinitis and the numbers continue to grow, especially in children. When left untreated, allergies can cause blocked and runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, headaches and an impaired sense of smell — but this is in less severe cases. For some people, allergies can be life threatening, leading to inflammation and shortness of breath.
People who suffer from allergies are often told to avoid triggers, but that is nearly impossible when the seasons are changing and our immune systems are impaired by the food industry and environmental toxins. And some allergy meds are linked to dementia and other scary health effects, too. Thankfully, some powerful essential oils serve as a natural and safe way to treat the symptoms of allergies and boost our immune systems. These essential oils for allergies have the ability to chemically support the body and help it to overcome hypersensitivity.
How Do Essential Oils Fight Allergies?
An allergic reaction begins in the immune system. An allergen is a substance that tricks the immune system — making it think that the allergen is an invader. The immune system then overreacts to the allergen, which is really a harmless substance, and produces Immunoglobulin E antibodies. These antibodies travel to cells that release histamine and other chemicals, causing the allergic reaction.
The most common causes of an allergic reaction include:
- Insect stings
- Animal dander
These allergens will trigger symptoms in the nose, throat, lungs, ears, sinuses and lining of the stomach or on the skin. The question here still remains — if these common causes have been around for thousands of years, then why have the allergy rates increased in recent history?
One of the theories behind explaining the increase in allergies has to do with inflammation, the root of most diseases. The body responds in a certain way to an allergen because the immune system is in overdrive. When the body is already dealing with high inflammation, any allergen sets off an increased reaction. That means that when the body’s immune system is overworked and stressed, introducing an allergen sends the body into overreaction.
If the immune system and inflammation within the body was balanced, the reaction to the allergen would be normal; however, today these reactions are exaggerated and lead to the next unneeded allergic reaction.
One of the most amazing benefits of essential oils are their ability to fight inflammation and boost the immune system. Essential oils for allergies will help to detoxify the body and fight infections, bacteria, parasites, microorganisms and harmful toxins. They reduce the bodies susceptibility to outside sources and reduce the overreaction of the immune system when it is faced with a harmless intruder. Some exceptional essential oils even work to relieve respiratory conditions and increase sweat and urination — helping with the elimination of toxins.
Top 5 Essential Oils for Allergies
1. Peppermint Oil
Inhaling diffused peppermint oil can oftentimes immediately unclog the sinuses and offer relief to scratchy throats. Peppermint acts as an expectorant and provides relief for allergies, as well as colds, coughs, sinusitis, asthma and bronchitis. It has the power to discharge phlegm and reduce inflammation — a leading cause of allergic reactions.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology investigated the effects of peppermint oil in the tracheal rings of rats. The results suggest that peppermint oil is a relaxant and exhibits antispasmodic activity, inhibiting contractions that causes you to cough. (1)
Another study published in the European Journal of Medical Research suggests that peppermint oil treatment has anti-inflammatory effects — reducing the symptoms of chronic inflammatory disorders such as allergic rhinitis and bronchial asthma. (2)
Remedy: Diffuse five drops of peppermint essential oil at home to unclog sinuses and treat a scratchy throat. This will also help to relax the nasal muscles, enabling the body to clear out mucus and allergens like pollen. To reduce inflammation, take 1–2 drops of pure peppermint essential oil internally once a day.
It can be added to a glass of water, cup of tea or smoothie. Peppermint oil can also be applied topically to the chest, back of neck and temples. For people with sensitive skin, it is best to dilute peppermint with coconut or jojoba oil before topical application.
2. Basil Oil
Basil essential oil reduces the inflammatory response of allergens. It also supports the adrenal glands, which are involved in producing over 50 hormones that drive almost every bodily function. Essentially, basil essential oil is helping your body to react appropriately to a threat by rushing blood to your brain, heart and muscles.
Basil oil also helps to detoxify the body of bacteria and viruses, while fighting inflammation, pain and fatigue. Studies prove that basil oil shows antimicrobial activity and can kill bacteria, yeast and mold that can lead to asthma and respiratory damage. (3, 4)
Remedy: To fight inflammation and regulate the overreaction of the immune system when faced with an allergen, take one drop of basil oil internally by adding it to soup, salad dressing or any other dish. To support the respiratory system, dilute 2–3 drops of basil oil with equal parts coconut oil and apply topically to the chest, back of neck and temples.
3. Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil opens up the lungs and sinuses, thereby improving circulation and reducing symptoms of allergies. Studies have shown that it produces a cold sensation in the nose that helps to improve airflow. (5)
Eucalyptus contains citronellal, which has analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects; it also works as an expectorant, helping to cleanse the body of toxins and harmful microorganisms that are acting as allergens.
A 2011 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that eucalyptus essential oil was an effective treatment for upper respiratory tract infections. Patients who were treated with eucalyptus spray reported an improvement in the severity of their most debilitating respiratory tract infection symptoms compared to participants in the placebo group. Improvement was defined as a reduction of sore throat, hoarseness or cough. (6)
Remedy: To treat respiratory issues associated with allergies, diffuse five drops of eucalyptus at home or apply it topically to the chest and temples. To clear the nasal passages and relieve congestion, pour a cup of boiling water into a bowl and add 1–2 drops of eucalyptus essential oil. Then place a towel over your head and inhale deeply for 5–10 minutes.
4. Lemon Oil
Lemon oil supports lymphatic system drainage and helps with overcoming respiratory conditions. Studies have shown that lemon essential oil inhibits the growth of bacteria and boosts the immune system. When diffused at home, lemon oil can kill bacteria and eliminate allergy triggers in the air. (7, 8)
Adding 1–2 drops of lemon essential oil to water also helps with pH balance. Lemon water improves immune function and detoxifies the body. It stimulates the liver and flushes out toxins that can lead to inflammation and an overreactive immune system. Lemon water also stimulates white blood cell production, which is vital for immune system function because it helps to protect the body.
Lemon essential oil can also be used to disinfect your home, without depending on alcohol or bleach. It will remove bacteria and pollutants from your kitchen, bedroom and bathroom — reducing the triggers inside of your home and keeping the air clean for you and your family. This can be especially helpful as the seasons change and allergens from outside are being brought into your house on shoes and clothes.
Remedy: Add lemon oil to your laundry detergent, mix a couple of drops with water and spray it on your couches, sheets, curtains and carpets.
5. Tea Tree Oil
This powerful oil can destroy airborne pathogens that cause allergies. Diffusing tea tree oil in the home will kill mold, bacteria and fungi. It is an antiseptic agent and it has anti-inflammatory properties. Tea tree oil can be applied to the skin to kill bacteria and microorganisms; it can also be used as a household cleaner to disinfect the home and eliminate allergens. (9)
A 2000 study conducted in Germany found that tea tree oil exhibits antimicrobial activity against a wide range of bacteria, yeasts and fungi. These microbes lead to inflammation and force our immune system to work on overdrive. (10)
Remedy: Use tea tree oil on skin rashes and hives or as a household cleaner. When using tea tree topically, add 2–3 drops to a clean cotton ball and gently apply to the area of concern. For people with sensitive skin, dilute tea tree with a carrier oil first, like coconut or jojoba oil.
How to Use Essential Oils for Allergies
Food Allergies — Take 1–2 drops of lemon or peppermint oil internally to relieve the symptoms of a food allergy. This will help to detoxify the body and eliminate the allergens through sweat or urination.
Skin Rash & Hives — Use tea tree or basil oil topically to treat skin rashes and hives. Add 2–3 drops to a cotton ball and apply to the affected area. Layering oils over the liver area is another way to treat skin irritations because it helps the liver to flush out toxins that burden the skin. Dilute 3–4 drops of tea tree oil with coconut oil and rub it into the liver area.
Seasonal Allergies — Disinfect your home with lemon and tea tree oil; this will eliminate triggers and cleanse the air and your furniture. Add 40 drops of lemon oil and 20 drops of tea tree oil to a 16-ounce spray bottle. Fill the bottle with pure water and a little bit of white vinegar and spray the mixture on any area in your home.
To reduce respiratory issues associated with seasonal allergies, try my Homemade Vapor Rub; it delivers a soothing feeling that will open up the airways and make it easier to breathe.
Allergy Blend — Combine 2–3 drops of peppermint, eucalyptus and lavender oil with one teaspoon of coconut oil and massage the mixture into the temples, behind the ears and into the bottoms of the feet.
Possible Side Effects
When using these special essential oil for allergies, I don’t recommend that you take tea tree oil internally; it’s best to use tea tree aromatically or topically. When using any of these oils topically, dilute with a carrier oil, especially when using on sensitive skin or one sensitive areas, like under the eyes or on the neck.
When using essential oils internally, a little goes a long way. Only consume 1–2 drops a day for one month. Then take a two-week break and start the treatment again.