An Introduction to Using Essential Oils in Reducing the Symptoms of Hay fever
So what is hay fever and why is a natural approach important in helping to reduce its symptoms?
For those of us that suffer the symptoms of hay fever, we are all familiar with the itchy, streaming and stinging eyes, nasal and sinus congestion including sinus headache, facial neuralgia, skin irritation and the irritating dry itchy cough that can accompany. Not to mention the misery we can go through when faced with stressful periods such as exams, which usually exacerbate the symptoms of hay fever with a vengeance.
Thankfully, there is a multitude of over the counter and GP prescribed – conventional medicines that effectively help reduce the majority of hay fever symptoms. There are antihistamines to turn off the body’s histamine responses, cortisol nasal sprays to reduce inflammation in the nasal passages and sinuses, decongestants and eye drops. These medicines work well. However, if you would like to combine a more natural approach with the conventional options above or just go for it naturally – then this introduction to using Essential Oils in reducing the symptoms of hay fever – may be for you.
As a former classical singer – hay fever played havoc with my singing schedules – I was constantly gambling between catarrh running over my vocal folds and causing real unpredictability in my vocal delivery (despite a solid technique) or using antihistamines that dried out my vocal cords so much I struggled to get through a full performance without my voice cracking. If, like I was, you are a performing artist that relies on their voice or an instrumentalist using their breath – turning to some natural support such as using essential oils to reduce the symptoms of hay fever, might just help you.
The symptoms of hay fever are the body’s inflammatory response to airborne allergens, most commonly tree pollens and grass seeds. The body has an allergic response and the symptoms mentioned in my introduction are commonly experienced. Whilst there is no known cure for hay fever, as an Aromatherapist, I look to choosing essential oils that may calm the body’s inflammatory responses, relieve congestion, soothe and calm itching and swelling.
My top Essential Oils to help reduce the symptoms of hay fever include:
- Roman Chamomile Chamaemelum nobile – anti-inflammatory, soothing, natural analgesic properties
- Lavender Lavandula Angustifolia – natural antihistamine, calming, can help to reduce antibacterial, heals wounds, relieves headaches & pain. To quote the excellent Healthline article on Essential Oils for Hay fever https://www.healthline.com/health/essential-oils-for-allergies; ‘One study concluded that the essential oil prevents allergic inflammation as well as the enlargement of mucous cells’.
- Eucalyptus* – antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, aids in curing respiratory issues and relieving sinus infection. There are 4 main types of Eucalyptus and Aromatherapist Robert Tisserand shows them clearly in this table. *Do not use if epileptic – known to cause seizures
- Peppermint Mentha piperita – antimicrobial, fever reducer, expectorant, cold/cough/sinusitis/asthma/bronchitis relief
- Lemon Citrus Limonum – antibacterial, anti-infection, cough relief, immune-boosting, cleansing
- Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis – mucolytic properties – helps to ease congestion
- Tea Tree Melaleuca alternifolia – antiviral, antifungal, relief from cough, cold & congestion, immune-boosting
Suggested ways in which to safely use your chosen essential oils to reduce the symptoms of hay fever
Add 2 drops of your chosen oil of one of each to a steam diffuser. Whilst it is lovely to use a ceramic burner with a candle, I believe it is much safer to use a steam diffuser which you can plug into your wall. It will automatically switch itself off when the water runs out and you do not run the risk of releasing toxins into the air as will happen when your ceramic burner runs dry.
There are many Essential Oil Diffuser/Humidifiers available online at very affordable prices from sites such as Amazon. Amazon is currently offering the fantastic deal of a Diffuser with a set of 10 Essential Oils including Eucalyptus, Lavender, Sweet Orange, Peppermint, Tea tree, Rosemary, Lemon, Frankincense, Rose, Lemongrass.
Add drops of your chosen essential oils to a bath. I like to mix my essential oils into milk – which works as a natural emulsifier (cow’s milk and soya milk work equally well) to evenly disperse the oil droplets throughout the water. If you add to a hot/warm running bath and close the door – not only will your bathroom smell divine but you will have the benefits of the steam and humidity to aid the decongestion.
Steam Inhalation to reduce sinus and nasal congestion:
- Heat water up to the boiling point on a stove or in an electric kettle then remove from heat.
- Allow water to stand for one minute. Your water needs to be hot but not boiling.
- Pour water into a large and add 1-2 drops of chosen essential oil(s).
- Place the bowl on a steady surface & set the timer/alarm to 5 minutes.
- Cover your head with a large bath towel and place your face above the bowl but not so close that the steam will burn your face.
- Inhale through your mouth and nose for 5 minutes.
SAFETY: Make sure you don’t burn yourself and keep children and pets away from the steaming bowl.
If you have a cold, a persistent cough or a sinus infection, steam inhalations can be done several times a day, until symptoms subside.
Adding your chosen Essential Oils to a base product such as a lotion, body oil or cream at a maximum of 5 drops to 30 ml.
Gentle facial massage around the nose and sinus area
Create your own balm to apply to the base of your nostrils to trap allergens – add drops of chamomile and/or lavender to a natural balm at a maximum of 5 drops to 30 ml and apply to the base of nostrils* take care though as may irritate chafed and sore skin of the nasal label that have been blown too many times! This is thought to trap the allergens before they can enter the nasal passages. This is an application, I personally find very effective.
Of course, we should also look to natural dietary and lifestyle choices to reduce inflammation in the body – so I am going to leave you some links on useful articles on Essential Oils for Hay fever, as well as in the hands of the brilliant Dr Rupy and his Doctor’s Kitchen and Dr Chatterjee and his 4 Pillars of Health.