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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

5 Essential Oils for Relieving Your Allergy Symptoms

Fall allergies are a real thing. Ease your allergy symptoms naturally with these essential oils that can be sprayed, inhaled, or rubbed into your skin.

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Lavender essential oil

Lavender has remarkable healing properties, but it may be best known for helping you get your zen on. While stress may not cause your stuffy head, runny nose, and watery eyes, it certainly doesn’t make them any better. In fact, stress pretty much makes everything—including your allergies—worse. “Lavender is also a cooling oil with anti-inflammatory properties,” explains Regina Touhey Serkin, MLic Ac, Dipl. Herbology, an herbalist in Lenox, MA. Japanese researcher found that a drop of lavender oil can out the brakes on allergic airway inflammation and decrease mucus production, suggesting a potential role as an allergic asthma treatment.

Essential Oil Expert Rx: Place a drop of lavender oil in a diffuser for total immersion in this healing scent. Ellia offers a full line of decorative diffusers that fit with any style or taste along with a host of oils including lavender to choose from.

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Eucalyptus essential oil

This is a go-to essential oil for many allergy sufferers, one of eucalyptus oil’s many useful tricks. “This menthol oil—which is the same as found in Vicks Vapo Rubs and other commercial rubs—opens up the nasal passages quickly and deftly,” says Neeta Ogden, MD, an allergist in private practice in Englewood, New Jersey, a member of the Medical-Scientific Council of the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America, and an American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology spokesperson. “Eucalyptus oil will help break up mucus and phlegm,” Serkin adds.

Essential Oil Expert Rx: Place one drop in a neti pot (a small ceramic teapot) with distilled water, tilt your head over the sink at a 45-degree angle, place the spout into your top nostril, and gently pour the solution into your nostril,” she says. You can also make your own eucalyptus oil steam inhaler. Here’s how: “Boil water on the stove and place a drop of eucalyptus oil in it, and breathe in the steam.”

This is oil that can be placed on the skin, she says. Place a drop on your chest to help clear mucus there. But if you are unsure and tend to have strong reactions to creams, put a drop of the eucalyptus oil in some Aquaphor lotion to eliminate this risk and find relief from chest congestion, Ogden adds. Think of the Aquaphor as a carrier oil. Some strong essential oils can be mixed with carrier oils (a base oil or vegetable oil) to dilute their strength before applying them to the skin.

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Oregano essential oil

Oregano is not just for adding zest to Italian recipes: Its essential oil holds anti fungal and antimicrobial properties which work together to kill bacteria that can worsen cold or allergy symptoms.

Essential Oil Expert Rx: “You can use it with cooking or use a drop of oregano essential oil in diffuser to spread its healing properties throughout the room,” Ogden says. “You can also add one drop to your vaporizer and inhale to ward off worsening allergies and inflammation.” This is a very strong oil and should not be used directly on skin, Serkin cautions. Learn some more ways to fight off allergies.

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Peppermint essential oil

While largely known for its ability to settle an upset stomach, peppermint oil has plenty of surprising uses. It also holds a place in the list of essential oils for allergies. The minty scent can also unstuff your sinuses and may even relieve a scratchy sore throat. “This is a great one,” says Serkin. “It also has the power to discharge phlegm and reduce inflammation—a leading cause of allergic reactions.” An animal study backs this up. Peppermint essential oil stopped sneezing and nose rubbing in the face of nasal allergies.

Essential Oil Expert Rx: Circulate peppermint oil in the air with a diffuser or place one drop in a neti pot with distilled water if your head is congested, Serkin says. Another trick: Steam a pot of water, add a drop of peppermint oil, and place a towel over your head and the pot so the steam knows exactly where to go. Peppermint is also OK for the skin. “Apply a drop down the middle of your chest for congestion relief,” Serkin suggests.

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Lemon essential oil

Looking for natural remedies for allergies? Think of lemon essential oil as a lemon aid. “It will help decrease phlegm production,” Serkin says. A study showed that lemon oil may have enough anti-inflammatory punch to knock out asthma symptoms.

Essential Oil Expert Rx: You can even put drop in a glass of water and drink it, she says. There are other citrus essential oils that also help reduce allergy symptoms including mandarin and grapefruit. “You can put a drop of either of these in water and drink it or diffuse an entire room,” she says, adding, “citrus flavors can diffuse a room very well.”

Denise Mann, MS
Denise Mann is a freelance health writer whose articles regularly appear in Reader’s Digest. She has received numerous awards, including the Arthritis Foundation's Northeast Region Prize for Online Journalism; the Excellence in Women's Health Research Journalism Award; the Journalistic Achievement Award from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery; National Newsmaker of the Year by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America; the Gold Award for Best Service Journalism from the Magazine Association of the Southeast; a Bronze Award from The American Society of Healthcare Publication Editors; and an honorable mention in the International Osteoporosis Foundation Journalism Awards. Mann received a graduate degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and her undergraduate degree from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. She lives in New York with her husband David; sons Teddy and Evan; and their miniature schnauzer, Perri Winkle Blu, and rescue chihuahua-pitbull, Thomas.