The snow is gone (in most places in North America), the birds are chirping and spring is officially here. While it is wonderful to get outdoors to garden, hike or cycle, it is good to have some natural remedies on hand if you are an allergy sufferer.
There are many essential oils that are effective for allergy symptoms and for alleviating sinus congestion, sneezing, respiratory problems and so forth. The following list is not exhaustive but includes some of the oils that are readily available and highly effective for allergies. It’s not necessary to use all of the oils; actually it is preferable to stick to one or two individual oils or a blend of a few. I’ve included the Latin names of the preferred varieties of essential oil to help ensure that you obtain the correct oils and avoid using any varieties that may lack therapeutic properties, or worse, be harmful.
Some of my favorite essential oils for allergies include:
Blue Tansy (also known as Moroccan chamomile, Tanacetum annum) contains a unique compound known as chamazulene that has anti-allergic and anti-histamine properties, thereby reducing allergy symptoms while also preventing more allergic reactions. Do not use other varieties know as tansy as they can be toxic.
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus radiate and Eucalyptus globulus) is an excellent expectorant that helps to clear sinus and lung congestion. Eucalyptus is highly effective at alleviating stuffed nasal passageways. Place a few drops on a tissue and inhale deeply for 5 to ten 10 minutes. Alternativelsy, simply placing this oil in an aromatherapy diffuser (a small device that diffuses the essential oil into the air) can help alleviate the congestion of allergies. Some people, but not all, can handle one drop of this oil “neat,” which means undiluted on the palms of the hands. Dilute it in a carrier oil if you have sensitive skin.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) works as a natural decongestant to alleviate nasal and sinus congestion. Unlike most essential oils, peppermint can be used neat to help reduce congestion and sinus headaches that often accompany allergies. A little goes a long way, as this oil leaves an intensely cooling sensation to the skin. Use only one drop under your nose to help sinuses drain or a couple of drops on your temples to alleviate sinus headaches. Wash your hands immediately and avoid eye contact as peppermint oil can irritate the eyes.
Tarragon (Artemesia dracunculus) has antiallergic properties that halt, reduce and treat allergic reactions.
Thyme (Thymus satureioides and Thymus vulgaris) Both of these types of thyme balance the immune system to prevent overworking, which happens in the case of allergies.
As I mentioned, it is not necessary to use all of these oils. Choose the ones that best fit your typical allergy symptoms or that fall within your price range. Remember, however, that it is better to get one high quality essential oil than to get several cheap oils. Most of the essential oils sold in pharmacies, grocery stores and department stores are made of cheap imitation ingredients or are synthesized so they have little or no therapeutic properties, or worse, they may be harmful. Some have been obtained using harsh solvents and contain these toxic solvents in the final product. Sadly, there’s no good way to tell if the product you are considering is harmful or low quality. Like anything, it is best to choose essential oils made by a reputable company.
Other than peppermint and possibly eucalyptus, do not use the oils undiluted; they need to be diluted in a carrier oil to prevent skin or respiratory reaction and to obtain the best results. Dilute in a small amount of sweet almond or fractionated coconut oil before applying to the skin and remember: a little goes a long way.