Treating Allergies with Essential Oils

by Emily Bowles

Allergies affect forty percent of children and thirty percent of adults in the United States. It is estimated that somewhere between ten and thirty percent of the worldwide population has been diagnosed with allergic rhinitis or seasonal allergies. Beyond that, there are animal allergies, skin allergies, mold allergies, and food allergies. Allergies can be a miserable condition causing congestion, runny nose, pain the ears, puffy eyes, itchiness, sneezing, stuffy nose, and post nasal drip.

There are essential oils with an antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, and anti-allergen properties that can treat these conditions. Recommended are eucalyptus, lavender, tea tree, peppermint, rosemary, lemon, frankincense, sandalwood, Ravensara, and roman chamomile.

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Eucalyptus oil contains eucalyptol, a cyclic ether, and monoterpenoid that acts as a cough suppressant. From the terpene class, the alpha-pinene in eucalyptus is anti-inflammatory. The limonene the plant contains can be used to treat bronchitis. Alpha-terpineol is antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, an immune system stimulant, anti-inflammatory, and tonic. Para cymene is antimicrobial and analgesic.  Camphor is also present in eucalyptus. It relieves pain and reduces itching.

Lavender essential oil is a natural antihistamine and has strong anti-inflammatory properties. Lavender contains many of the same constituents found in Eucalyptus such as eucalyptol, alpha-pinene, limonene, and camphor. Cineol is the primary component in lavender, and it treats respiratory infections, whooping cough, and asthma. This oil is excellent to administer on skin rashes and insect bites. It also has a potent ability to relieve allergy headaches.

Tea tree oil prevents infections and lowers inflammation, so it’s great for allergic skin reactions such as hives. It has an antihistamine effect, which reduces swelling. Its strong antimicrobial properties are attributed to terpinene-4-ol. It’s excellent at killing bacteria, viruses, and fungus in the air, thereby reducing the allergens present. Tea tree oil is also a decongestant that soothes coughs and reduces mucus.

Peppermint oil will unclog sinuses and cool a scratchy throat. It is anti-congestive, expectorant, and it has an anti-spasmodic effect on the windpipe muscles, relieving coughs. Menthol is the main constituent in peppermint. Its anti-inflammatory properties suppress pain and can assist in the treatment of bronchial asthma or other inflammatory conditions like seasonal allergies.

Rosemary is composed of carnosol, a diterpene with potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities. Itchy nose and itchy and watery eyes are alleviated by rosemary. It contains an ingredient called carnosic acid, which fights off free radicals. Rosemary has antihistamine effects. The anti-spasmodic aspect of rosemary relaxes the muscles of the windpipe, remedying coughs.

Lemon essential oil will heal the symptoms of a food allergy. Respiratory problems associated with allergic reactions are also subdued. The limonene in lemons can treat bronchitis. The anti-oxidant properties of lemon help to rid the body of toxins. Lemon is antiseptic, anti-fungal, and disinfectant, and can reduce the number of allergens present in the air. It lessons mucous and treats inflammation of the throat and mouth.  The alpha and beta pinene in lemon oil give it its’ anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties.

Frankincense oil is an excellent anti-inflammatory. The 3-acetyl-beta-boswellic acid contained in frankincense produces these properties which reduce swelling. It also contains anti-tumor characteristics and boosts the immune system. Frankincense, combined with sandalwood and ravensara oils were proven in one study to reduce the effects of allergic rhinitis. As an expectorant and decongestant, it can clear sinuses and unblock bronchial congestion.

Sandalwood essential oil helps to relieve the effects of pet allergies, dust allergies, and seasonal allergies. Simply by inhaling the vapors, allergic responses are inhibited and runny nose, stuffy nose, and mucous are treated. Sandalwood is a natural anti-inflammatory and expectorant, perfect for treating coughs. It’s also antiviral and antiseptic.

Ravensara is an anti-allergenic oil that treats a wide array of conditions from skin allergies to bronchitis, colds, and flu. Ravensara is also an expectorant and anti-spasmodic and mollifies the effects of a cough and congestion. It assists with the drainage of nasal passages. Hay fever has also been known to be reduced with the treatment of ravensara. Blend this oil with sandalwood and frankincense or lemon and rosemary to increase its potency.

Roman chamomile soothes itchy skin and has an anti-histamine effect on it. If you are suffering from sneezing, blocked sinuses, or excess phlegm, Roman chamomile can calm airways and reduce inflammation of mucous membranes. For allergic food reactions that cause upset stomach, chamomile eases nausea.

A Nasal Rinse can be used to flush and clear nasal passages, opening airways. Essential oils can be added directly to this solution. Choose some from this list, or create a new blend. All that is needed is 2 cups filtered or boiled warm water and 1 tablespoon sea salt. Add 4 drops eucalyptus oil, 3 drops lavender, 2 drops tea tree, 1 drop frankincense, and 1 drop rosemary. Spray this solution up to the nose or pour the solution through the nose using a neti-pot. Stand over the sink with your head facing downward and let sinuses drain. For additional support, inhaling essential oils directly can free airways and reduce congestion. Also diluting them in a cream or carrier oil and rubbing onto the chest is a preferred method of use. Breathe easy!

Emily Bowles is a Yoga Alliance certified Hatha yoga instructor—currently living and teaching in Northern California. She is a Reiki level II practitioner and essential oil wellness advocate, engaged in daily healing and self-liberation. She is about to release her first children’s book, and currently studying pre-med sciences to become a naturopathic physician. Emily maintains a personal piyo, core power, and yin yoga practice, believing that all things are possible—yoga being the dance, the lifestyle, and the vehicle that bridges us closer together, to our higher selves, and to home. She wants to remind you that you must never give up. Your dreams are alive within, waiting on you to manifest the courage and make them real. Her website link: ॐ

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