Hay Fever - Stop the sneeze with essential oils!
The sun has started to shine - and that can only mean one thing: summer is on its way! Whilst that’s extremely exciting, and the sun is a welcomed warmth, it also means that the hay fever season is here. If you’re one of the ‘one in five’ unlucky sufferers of this allergy, then do not fear this year; read on to find out how essential oils can help!
What is hay fever?Hay Fever is actually ‘allergic rhinitis’ which is caused by pollen or dust that inflames the mucous membranes of the eyes and nose, causing runny noses, sneezing, and watery or itchy eyes. It sends your immune system into chaos, reacting to plants and dust by trying to push them out of our bodies. With tree pollen and rapeseed about to flower, it’s a good time to start thinking about preventative measures! Whilst there are lots of antihistamine products available from the medical world to help treat the symptoms, the uncomfortable and irritating sneezing, sniffling and weeping can also be relieved with 'natural' aromatherapy.
Which essential oils can help with hay fever?There are a few obvious essential oils that stand out when thinking of hay fever:
- Eucalyptus – having an affinity with the respiratory system, this aromatherapy oil is perfect for reducing inflammation and easing breathing
- Rosemary– having mucolytic properties, this helps with congestion
- Lavender – a natural antihistamine, this oil is soothing and can reduce irritation and relax breathing
- Lemon – this oil is anti-inflammatory for the respiratory system, improves immunity and is also antibacterial
- Chamomile – an anti-inflammatory relaxant which soothes and builds your pollen reaction (in some people, it can also be one of the oils that triggers hay fever, so test it first)
- Peppermint – this essential oil really helps open up the nose and also relieves headaches resulting from stuffed sinuses
- Tea Tree – a natural choice for anti-allergy and building immunity
How to use the essential oilsThere are so many ways to integrate these essential oils into your daily life to relieve symptoms, and we discuss some great ideas below:-
Hay Fever BalmA popular way at the moment is using essential oils in a balm which you can place around your nose. As well as enabling you to inhale the scent of the essential oils, the balm also traps allergens before they even enter your body, so it’s a great preventative method. Why not try making your own balm with the recipe below?
5g Cocoa Butter
12.5ml Sunflower Carrier Oil
4 drops Lavender essential oil
4 drops Eucalyptus essential oil
Add the Beeswax, Cocoa Butter and Sunflower oil to a large bowl and immerse it in a pan of hot water (using the double boiler method like when you melt chocolate). Stir until it has all fully melted.
Remove the bowl from the pan of hot water and add your selected essential oils (I chose Lavender and Eucalyptus but you can use any of the ones we’ve listed above!). Don’t let the mixture thicken yet – you can put it back in the hot water if needed.
Prepare a 10ml jar and fill with the mixture, place this in the fridge to harden before using.
Allergy Relieving SpritzWhy not make a spray that you can spritz over yourself throughout the day? Particularly useful before bed to help clear congestion, or to spray on your pillow to help clear sinuses whilst you sleep. Take 100ml of hydrolat (Chamomile or Lavender) or just use water. Add up to 30 drops of essential oils from the list above. Choose the oils that you like the smell of, as those are the ones your body will need the most! I like Lavender and Peppermint for this because Lavender is relaxing, and Peppermint is cooling, so it’s perfect for spraying onto the skin when the temperature is rising!
Nasal InhalersAromatherapy inhaler sticks are super for supporting symptom relief. All you have to do is choose either one single essential oil or a blend of up to 3 oils, and add to a cotton pad which you place inside the inhaler. Try Lemon, Rosemary and Chamomile for a lovely energising and hay fever-soothing blend during the day.
DiffusionTry diffusing your selection of essential oils around the home – or even in the office - using an electric diffuser or candle burner. Chamomile, Lavender and Lemon is a nice blend to try and, as well as soothing symptoms, it makes the room smell beautiful! Lemon’s great for concentration too, so it’s ideal for the work or study environment!
Steam InhalationIf you’re really congested, try a steam inhalation over a bowl of boiling water with up to 10 drops of Eucalyptus oil (adjust quantity to suit). Place a towel over your head as you inhale for a few minutes at a time, remembering to close your eyes. Better still, try having a bath with your chosen oils. Ensure that all of the doors and windows are closed and enjoy your inhalation whilst having a relaxing soak.
Massage TherapyAnother option is to ask your local holistic therapist for a sinus-relieving therapy such as Indian Head Massage or Ear Candling with facial pressure points, and see if they can add in some essential oils to support hay fever relief! Or, you can mix essential oils in a carrier oil and do self-massage. Try mixing 4 drops of whichever combination of essential oils works for you, with 12ml of carrier oil such as Coconut, Sunflower or Sweet Almond.
Cool compresses can be extremely soothing for sore, red, itchy eyes ! Try making these with Chamomile or Rose Otto Hydrolat (not essential oils). Keep the hydrolat in the fridge so it's nice and cold. Soak a couple of cotton pads in the hydrolat and place over the eyes for 10-15 minutes.
Above all else…Whichever methods you use to help the symptoms of your allergy, remember to choose the aromatherapy oils that you like the smell of, as these are likely to be the best ones for your body. Your body knows what it needs, so let it be selective.
We hope these techniques help to relax your immune system and calm your hay fever symptoms, so that you can stop sneezing and enjoy the novelty of British sunshine this Spring and Summer!
Guest Blogger & Consultant Aromatherapist