With hay fever affecting 1 in 5 adults and increasing, more people are discovering essential oils are an alternative or complementary treatment for allergy or sinusitis symptoms.
Aromatherapy is an ancient healing system that dates back to early Egyptian times. Breathing in the oils’ scents is known as aromatherapy. This practice stimulates your body through your sense of smell and enters the blood stream. It is a science based on the use of high grade pure essential oils derived from flowers, leaves, roots, seeds and stems of plants.
While conventional pharmacotherapy is the preferred method of treating allergic rhinitis and sinusitis, the interest of herbs, roots and plants for healing is gaining grounds fast as more studies gain scientific approval.
Although there is generally limited studies on aromatherapy, a 2016 study (1) showed promising signs that certain aromatherapy oils can help relieve perennial allergy symptoms, improve quality of life, and reduce fatigue in patients with allergies.
Also with bacterial resistance to multiple antibiotics becoming a serious health threat many essential oils such as tea tree and eucalyptus possess antibacterial properties with more and more researchers considering them as potential sources of novel antimicrobial compounds.(2)
More over, researches are also finding that essential oils like lemon and eucalyptus improve muco-ciliary function; improving the way the cilia beat in the lining of the respiratory system means phlegm can clear easier. (3)
Popular ways to use essential oils for hay fever and sinusitis include:
• diffusing them into the air particularly with vaporises
• using them in the bath
• steam inhalations
• spraying them into the air
• breathing them in directly from the container
• applying them inside the nose with a carrier oil
If you’d like to incorporate essential oils into your life to relieve allergy symptoms, here are a few you might want to try.
Lavender has a sweet, floral, herbaceous and fresh aroma. Lavender is one of the most popular essential oil’s for its calming, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activity. Antimicrobial activity was demonstrated in one study where several lavender oils, used singly and in combination, inhibited the growth of on methicillin-sensitive and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA and MRSA) with direct contact (4) - promising for those who suffer regular sinusitis infections.
2. Blend of sandalwood, frankincense, and ravensara oil
This study (1) used a blend of sandalwood, frankincense, and ravensara oils to treat perennial allergic rhinitis. Study participants reported improvement with their blocked nasal passages, runny and itchy noses, and sneezing. This suggests that this blend of essential oils can help with perceived symptoms, quality of life related to allergies, and better sleep.
Eucalyptus oil is known as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory (5) and may also whelp with congestion. Its antimicrobial effects are also being studied. Its major component, 1,8-cineole, has antimicrobial effects against many bacteria, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), viruses, and fungi (including Candida). Surprisingly for an antimicrobial substance it may also have immune-stimulatory, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, analgesic, and spasmolytic effects. (6) Its multiple uses are still being investigated.
4. Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil has a warm, fresh, camphoraceous aroma. There is still significant research to be done on the connection between essential oils and allergy relief, but tea tree oil is very promising with relation to allergy symptoms. Complementary and alternative medicines such as tea tree (melaleuca) oil have become increasingly popular in recent decades.
Tea Tree oil has been used for almost 100 years in Australia but is now available worldwide. The primary uses of tea tree oil have historically capitalized on the antiseptic and anti-inflammatory actions of the oil but recent developments in our understanding of the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activities of the oil and its components suggest it has other clinical uses. Specific mechanisms of antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory action are being studied (7)
Peppermint oil has a strong, fresh and minty aroma. Peppermint essential oil is known to reduce inflammation and popularly used for irritable bowel complaints. Peppermint oil was shown to inhibit histamine release in one study (8) making combining peppermint with lavender and lemon oils a soothing allergy relief combination for nasal congestion and sinusitis.
Lemon oil has a fresh citrus aroma reminiscent of the fresh peel. Citrus-scented essential oils are often used in aromatherapy to boost alertness and energy and can also help clear your sinuses and reduce congestion, common symptoms of seasonal allergies by improving much-ciliary function (3)
Where to buy:
I personally use Perfect Potions aromatherapy essential oils kit with a vaporiser which you can find here and find he oils high grade.
But trying essential oils is not without risk. Risks and potential complications of using essential oils can occur.
The purity, quality, and packaging of essential oils are not overseen by the FDA or TGA. Therefore, it’s important to use essential oils as directed and make sure you are using quality products which are certified organic and pure.
Important safety tips when using oils:
• You may experience allergic reactions to oils. Test each new essential oil, especially if you have a lot of allergies. Contact allergy to them is well known and has been described for 80 essential oils. Skin photosensitivites and skin irritations can also occur.
• Never apply the concentrated oil directly to your skin without diluting it in a carrier oil.
• Do not ingest essential oils.
• Use caution when using oils around pregnant and breastfeeding women, children, and especially young children.
(1) Choi SY, et al. Effect of Inhalation of Aromatherapy Oil on Patients with Perennial Allergic Rhinitis: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016.
(2) Solórzano-Santos F1, Miranda-Novales MG. Essential oils from aromatic herbs as antimicrobial agents.
Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2012 Apr;23(2):136-41. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2011.08.005. Epub 2011 Sep 6.
(3) Lai Y1, Dilidaer D, Chen B, Xu G, Shi J, Lee RJ, Cohen NA. In vitro studies of a distillate of rectified essential oils on sinonasal components of mucociliary clearance.Am J Rhinol Allergy. 2014 May-Jun;28(3):244-8. doi: 10.2500/ajra.2014.28.4036.
(4) Roller S1, Ernest N, Buckle J. The antimicrobial activity of high-necrodane and other lavender oils on methicillin-sensitive and -resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA and MRSA) J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Mar;15(3):275-9. doi: 10.1089/acm.2008.0268.
(5) Silva J1, Abebe W, Sousa SM, Duarte VG, Machado MI, Matos FJ.Analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of essential oils of Eucalyptus.J Ethnopharmacol. 2003 Dec;89(2-3):277-83.
(6) Sadlon AE1, Lamson DW. Immune-modifying and antimicrobial effects of Eucalyptus oil and simple inhalation devices. Altern Med Rev. 2010 Apr;15(1):33-47.
(7) Carson CF1, Hammer KA, Riley TV. Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) oil: a review of antimicrobial and other medicinal properties.Clin Microbiol Rev. 2006 Jan;19(1):50-62.
(8) Inoue T1, Sugimoto Y, Masuda H, Kamei C. Effects of peppermint (Mentha piperita L.) extracts on experimental allergic rhinitis in rats.Biol Pharm Bull. 2001 Jan;24(1):92-5.