Although some allergies are seasonal, and therefore, short lived, recurring allergies can cause more serious problems over time. The immune systems of people with allergies have to work harder, however, aromatherapy can help build up the immune system so that the body can begin the process of healing itself. Essential oils are one way to naturally treat allergies, such as nasal allergies, hay fever or asthma.
The best essential oils for aromatherapy for allergies contain expectorant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and/or immune stimulating properties. While spike lavender and yarrow are useful for allergies in general, eucalyptus, myrtle, lavender, peppermint, rosemary, thyme and tea tree are helpful in treating hay fever. German chamomile, known for its anti-inflammatory effect, suppresses histamine release and should be used as oil with body massage.
Choosing the right blend of essential oils can help reduce the symptoms of asthma. People who suffer from mild asthma symptoms may find relief in adding rose, frankincense, or clary sage to the water in a dehumidifier. Essential oils can help to open up constricted airways that make breathing difficult. Be sure to consult with your physician first before using these or other essential oils. Do not discontinue any prescription medications unless advised by your medical provider. Your doctor will tell you if it is safe to combine aromatherapy with conventional medical treatment. While aromatherapy can combat the negative side effects of certain steroid medications used to treat asthma, the use of essential oils may not be safe for children under age five.
Kathi Keville, director of the American Herb Association, cautions that because asthmatics can be extremely sensitive to scents, you should do a sniff test before using essential oils as ingredients in an asthma steam or inhalation rub. Sniff individual essential oils or blends to make certain that you experience no adverse reactions. People who suffer other kinds of allergies can also be sensitive to certain aromas and ingredients. Check labels to confirm that an essential oil is of a high quality grade or that the oil has not been diluted with synthetic fragrances or other ingredients, which could cause allergic reactions. Use only pure, therapeutic grade essential oils for aromatherapy. Skin irritations are common reactions that people report when essential oils or blends are topically applied.
Aromatherapy for allergies involves the use of essential oils usually by massage or through inhalation. Aromatic oils that come from leaves, roots, seeds, fruits, flowers and wood can be inhaled or absorbed through massage to help you breathe better. For inhalation therapy, dilute one drop of essential oil in 1 cup of boiling water and then inhale the steam. Eucalyptus or lavender oils are commonly used for asthma steams. When choosing aromatherapy massage, add 10 drops of an essential oil to 1 oz. of carrier oil. You can also add the essential oil of lemon, eucalyptus or chamomile into a tub of hot water and soak for about 20 minutes.
Inflammation of the nasal passages is often activated by an allergic reaction to something in the environment. Airborne allergens, such as pollen, dust mites, pet dander, feathers or mold may cause the body to react by releasing excess histamine into the blood. According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, histamine is what triggers the body’s immune system to respond to these foreign pathogens, causing veins to constrict and capillaries to expand. Inflammation then occurs that causes the nasal airway to become congested with mucus, or in the case of asthma, the lower airways are affected. When using aromatherapy as a natural antihistamine, the essential oils of lavender and wintergreen have anti-inflammatory properties and act as vasodilators, which cause blood vessels to dilate. Lavender is also an antifungal and relaxing agent helpful in treating some allergies.