Allergies don’t just rear their heads during springtime. They can attack your immune system at any time of the year.
For some people, allergies may even be worse in the fall or winter. So if you sneeze or break out in hives the second that Christmas trees start popping up, don’t worry. You’re not alone.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, more than 50 million Americans experience different types of allergies each year. Unfortunately, both indoor and outdoor allergies can occur all year long, not just during “allergy season” and without regard to your surrounding environment.
How Do Essential Oils Combat Allergies?
When people experience allergies, it’s because their immune systems are overreacting to foreign substances or allergens. The immune system detects the “invaders” and thinks the body is in danger, so it goes into overdrive and attacks. This misunderstanding triggers allergic reactions, leaving sufferers to suffer unwanted side effects such as sneezing, congestion, runny or stuffy noses, scratchy throats and watery eyes.
Those symptoms occur because allergies cause inflammatory responses in the nasal passages, the eyes’ protective tissues, and the upper respiratory system. The nose is particularly vulnerable, which is why these types of allergies are sometimes referred to as allergic rhinitis. (“Rhinitis” simply means inflammation of the nose.) The more common term, of course, is hay fever; hay fever is different than sinusitis, which is caused by viruses or bacteria and not allergens.
There are many effective remedies for these seasonal allergy symptoms, and we’re not only referring to the usual medical advice to use over-the-counter antihistamines (or the natural antihistamines you can find on Amazon, for that matter). You can also use an assortment of essential oils to combat your allergies – no matter what season it is and what’s causing your symptoms.
Because inflammation is a contributing factor to allergic reactions, it’s important to find ways to reduce it. And since many types of essential oils are great for fighting inflammation, they’re a great way to battle allergies naturally.
Their benefits aren’t just anecdotal, either. Essential oils have been used as medicinal treatments for centuries, because they have naturally occurring chemical components that are able to inhibit inflammatory pathways.
Modern-day scientists have analyzed these pathways and anti-inflammatory effects, and have conducted studies to test the efficacy of different oils for various symptoms and conditions. A 2016 study, for example, found that a blend of oils was more effective than a placebo in treating nasal symptoms caused by allergies.
Which Essential Oils Are Good for Seasonal Allergies?
Each season may expose you to different potential allergens. For example, in the spring when trees and plants are blooming, you will be exposed to pollen. So, if you have an allergic reaction to pollen, you’re likely to see your symptoms flare up every spring.
Alternatively, in the winter you’re spending more time inside where you might be exposed to indoor allergens such as mold or dust mites. Symptoms can worsen throughout the season.
Here are some common seasonal allergies people have throughout the year, as well as tips on using essential oils for allergy relief.
The Best Essential Oils for Winter Allergies
Two of the most common winter allergies are caused by dust mites and mold. You can target these allergens directly by spraying areas in your home with a lemon essential oil mixture to kill dust mites and reduce mold. You can also reduce your allergy symptoms with lemon essential oil.
“Lemon oil is great for allergy symptoms because it reduces inflammation in the sinuses,” Noelle Kovary, Ayurvedic Health Counselor and author, told Public Goods.
This oil is also dual-purpose. Like lemon oil, eucalyptus essential oil can both kill dust mites and mold because of its antifungal properties, and it can fight your symptoms.
“Eucalyptus is one of my favorite oils for allergies and infections of the upper respiratory tract,” Kovary said. “Use of eucalyptus can lead to a significant and immediate improvement in allergy symptoms.”
This is also a good essential oil to apply if you suffer from other common winter allergies such as pet dander or cockroach droppings, and it can be effective for bronchitis as well.
The Best Essential Oils for Spring Allergies
Spring allergies caused by trees and pollen are infamously hard to deal with, so you want to choose an essential oil that will ease your symptoms and help you enjoy the spring weather. Because it contains natural menthol, peppermint essential oil is a very effective oil choice multiple spring allergy symptoms. It can help clear your sinuses, work as an expectorant to loosen phlegm, and suppress coughs. (Roman chamomile is another good antispasmodic essential oil to help ease coughing fits caused by allergies.)
Rosemary essential oil has also demonstrated the ability to reduce inflammation, thereby lessening the severity of symptoms. Bonus: because it has anti-bacterial and antioxidant properties, it can help boost your immune system at the same time.
The Best Essential Oils for Summer Allergies
Grasses and weeds are the most common triggers for summer allergies. You can fight the inflammation caused by these triggers by using oregano oil. Studies have found that rosmarinic acid, a naturally occurring ingredient in oregano oil, can have anti-allergic effects that can actually reduce the severity of your allergic reactions.
Frankincense oil is great for alleviating coughs, which can get pretty bad with grass allergies. This oil can soothe inflammation in the airways, helping you to breathe more easily and cough less. If you have asthma on top of your allergies, frankincense oil can be a beneficial treatment for that issue, too.
The Best Essential Oils for Fall Allergies
One of the most common fall allergies is triggered by the ragweed plant. You can combat the inflammation that comes with this pesky allergy by using lavender oil, which has been proven to provide anti-inflammatory properties.
Allergic reactions can be more intense when the body is stressed, so trying to decrease stress and anxiety levels can help allergy symptoms – and lavender essential oil has been shown to provide that benefit as well.
You might just love the calming effect of lavender so much that you end up adding it to your daily routine! The dual anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety effects of lavender oil makes it one of the best essential oils for seasonal allergies.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree is another oil that’s very effective as an anti-inflammatory agent, so it will help ease symptoms caused by ragweed (or other fall allergens). On top of this effect, it has antiviral, antifungal, antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.
How to Use Essential Oils Safely
Before rushing to use essential oils for seasonal allergies, be sure to know how to use them safely. Even though these oils are a great natural remedy, that doesn’t mean they are without risks if not used properly.
Here are the different ways to safely use essential oils.
A diffuser, sometimes called an aromatherapy diffuser, is one of the most popular and simple ways to use your oils safely. It infuses the air in the room with essential oil, which allows the particulates to be easily inhaled as you go about your business. Be sure to learn how to use a diffuser before you start experimenting with it.
You can create your own sprays from essential oil blends, without needing to use a diffuser. Simply spray these oil blends around the room, or spray them directly onto surfaces which might harbor allergens.
“You can make a targeted spray using essential oils like lemon, eucalyptus, or tea tree by adding about 20 drops to white vinegar,” Kovary said. “You can use it around your home to reduce mold, bacteria and dust mites that can trigger allergies.”
Inhaling essential oil can be very effective when done correctly and safely. You do not want to get the oil in or on your nose, so you shouldn’t just hold the bottle straight up to your nose and sniff. There are much safer ways to inhale these oils, aside from using a diffuser.
One effective method of inhalation is taking a bowl of steaming hot water and adding a couple of drops of essential oil into it. Then lean your head over the bowl, cover yourself and the bowl with a towel, and inhale the steam for a few minutes.
Another way to do this is by using essential oil in the shower. Kovary said this is one of her favorite ways to use eucalyptus oil.
“I suggest adding a few drops to the floor of your shower and letting the steam diffuse the oil into the shower,” she said.
This method involves adding a few drops onto a piece of fabric, towel or even a cotton ball. You can then hold the material up to your nose and breathe in.
“Specifically for sinus issues, you should apply the essential oil to a cotton ball and then inhale it,” Kovary said. “This way, you aren’t going to accidentally inhale the raw oil into your nose and possibly burn your mucous membranes.”
For cough relief, she adds, “Frankincense can be applied to a towel and inhaled.”
You should never apply undiluted essential oils directly to the skin, as the chemicals can cause irritation, rashes or burns. They should always be mixed with a carrier oil, so the oil is diluted. Some examples of carrier oils you can use are coconut oil, argan oil or jojoba oil.
It’s a good idea to be cautious. Take a tiny bit of the diluted mixture and do a patch test on a small area of skin to make sure you don’t react negatively. When using oils for seasonal allergies, you can create also topical chest rubs (similar to Vicks VapoRub).
“Two drops of peppermint added to a tablespoon of coconut oil can make a great substitute for a vaporizing chest rub,” Kovary said. This mixture will be great for opening your sinuses.
She noted that this method can be done with frankincense, too, to suppress coughs.
Fighting Allergies with Natural Remedies
As you now know, there are plenty of different essential oils that are beneficial for seasonal allergies, and many ways to utilize them. Stock up on a few different oils and experiment with them – or ask an aromatherapist for suggestions – to figure out which essential oil and which method of use works best to relieve your symptoms – and remember, many of the same oils can also help with general health and wellness. Soon enough, you’ll be able to experience relief and live your life without worrying about allergies ruining your day.
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