Essential Oils for Allergies
As anyone who spends any time on this website will know, Essential oils can be incredibly effective for treating a wide range of different complaints. This is why it’s such a good idea to keep essential oils around the house: whether you have a headache, you’re feeling stressed or you have a nasty pimple… you might just find that essential oils offer the relief you need.
Now there’s one more reason to keep essential oils around: for treating allergies!
Read on and we’ll look at what makes essential oils such a good choice for combating allergies, how they work and how you should go about using them.
How do Essential Oils Treat Allergies?
To understand how essential oils treat allergies – and what essential oils can’t do, it’s useful for us first to look at what exactly causes an allergic reaction in the first place.
The main thing to understand then, is that an allergic reaction is not caused by the actual substance that causes the allergy. That is to say that when you tear up because you’ve breathed in cat dander, or pollen from outside, it’s not either of those things that is actually causing the problem.
Rather, the problem is in fact being caused by your own body. What’s happening, is that your body is treating this innocuous substance as though it were a harmful toxin. This means that your body is going to swell up and become itchy. If the substance is in your eyes, then your eyes will stream in order to try and flush it out. In other words, the symptoms are caused by you overreacting to the substance.
It’s not entirely certain why some people develop allergies and others don’t. One popular theory is that allergies are caused when we have a reaction to something and the body mistakenly blames the wrong stimulus. In other words, if you get stung by a wasp but you’re also eating a strawberry, you could develop an allergy to strawberries. This isn’t proven and there is debate as to what else might be the cause – but it is one possible explanation.
Either way, this means that essential oils aren’t going to help you ‘cure’ your allergies. There is no such thing as a cure for an allergy, though certain types of immunotherapy (involving slowly reintroducing the substance into your therapy) may be effective.
Instead, the job of essential oils is going to be to help you treat the symptoms of your allergy. In particular, an essential oil can be very effective at helping to combat inflammation. This makes those oils especially useful in treating allergies that cause rashes – which actually happens to include quite a large number of them. Likewise, essential oils might be useful for treating conditions that cause swelling.
Meanwhile, other allergy symptoms can also be effectively treated to alleviated to some extent using essential oils. For example, many allergies lead to a runny nose and congestion – particularly hay fever. If you suffer from these conditions, then using an essential oil that can break up mucus and clear the airways may be useful.
Essential oils can also provide pain relief and can provide a calming and relaxing effect, which can be a great help if you’re experiencing a lot of discomfort.
Be wary of sources that tell you to use essential oils to ‘detoxify’ the body during an allergen. This is actually pseudoscience – not only is it very unclear what ‘detoxification’ even means in this context, but it also misunderstands the mechanisms that cause the allergic reaction.
How to Use Essential Oils for Allergies
So if you have an allergic reaction, how should you use essential oils?
First of all, note that this is a strategy you should only use if you are a) familiar with the allergic reaction and b) familiar with the essential oil.
Why do we say this?
Well, first of all, if you are someone who is very prone to allergies, then it’s possible that you might also have an allergic reaction to the essential oil itself. Of course this would be rather counter-intuitive and not what we’re trying to achieve – so make sure you test a small amount of the essential oil before you use it under these circumstances.
Likewise, if you’re having an allergic reaction for the first time then you should really wait to see how it progresses. This is important as an allergic reaction can actually be very dangerous. That is to say that some allergic reactions lead to anaphylactic shock, which can cause you to hyperventilate and potentially even fall into a coma of sorts. Watch out for worrying signs such as an elevated heartrate, extreme swelling or rapid breathing.
Assuming this is just a minor rash or runny nose you’re experiencing though, you can use essential oils in a number of ways.
For food allergies: Try taking 1-2 drops of lemon oil internally (consume it).
Dander/hay fever: If you suffer with congestion in the presence of dander or pollen, then a good option is to try inhaling an essential oil. You can do this with something like peppermint or eucalyptus which can even be combined into a vapor rub.
Skin rash or hives: Apply an essential oil such as basil oil topically to the area. Use about 2-3 drops and apply. You can also use 3-4 drops of tea tree oil, using another oil such as coconut oil as a carrier.
The most common causes of allergic reaction include:
- Insect bites
- Certain foods
The Best Essential Oils for Allergies
So now you know how to use essential oils for allergies, which ones do you need to start stocking your cupboards with?
Some good options include:
Peppermint essential oil is one of the best essential oils for clearing blocked sinuses and congestion. If you struggle to breathe during the spring months, then try applying a little to your chest and inhale it as you sleep. Peppermint oil also has anti-inflammatory effects, which means it can help to reduce swelling in the throat that might make breathing difficult.
That said, if you do find yourself struggling to breathe, then make sure you see a doctor as soon as possible.
Basil oil is able to reduce the inflammatory response in particular which makes it very useful when applied directly to the affected area. Basil oil is very effective when combating hives, rashes and other similar reactions.
Eucalyptus oil is useful for opening up the lungs and sinuses in a similar manner to peppermint. This makes it useful for improving breathing when you are suffering with congestion. It is also useful for a host of other health benefits and can improve circulation among other things. It may therefore also be useful for addressing headaches. Eucalyptus is also anti-inflammatory.
Lemon oil is another good choice for improving breathing during an allergic reaction. It can be made into a useful spray that you can carry around to keep your nose unblocked!
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is an anti-inflammatory essential oil which means that it can be applied directly to a rash or a swollen area in order to provide relief.
In fact, any essential oil that has anti-inflammatory properties will be very effective when used in this way. This means you can benefit from using:
Note that none of these essential oils will immediately relieve your symptoms or provide any long term protection. Instead though, they offer a very relaxing, gentle and natural way to help reduce the pain and discomfort that an essential oil can provide.
You may also find that if you are struggling with dander or mold, that freshening up your air with a pleasant smell can make quite a big difference to your general sense of well-being and energy levels.
Meanwhile, make sure to keep a close eye on what it is that is triggering your allergies. If you’re unsure, then keep a diary of what you’re eating, what you’re doing and when you notice the allergy arise. If you do this, then you should eventually begin to notice correlations which can clue you in as to what might be responsible for your episodes! Avoidance is perhaps the most effective ‘treatment’ for allergies of all!
But having essential oils around sure can help too!