Happy first day of spring! Spring may have officially sprung today, but due to a mild winter and unseasonably warm temperatures, spring has been “springing” for a while now. Across the nation, from Texas to New York, spring arrived two to three weeks earlier than normal, according to data from the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Phenology Network. If you suffer from spring allergies, you (and your sinuses) may have already noticed.
As the flowers are blooming and trees are budding, pollen and mold spores are becoming airborne which sends the body’s immune system into overdrive, resulting in sneezing and runny noses. According to Everyday Health, as many as 30 to 60 million Americans suffer from hay fever, or an allergy to pollen or mold, the most common form of spring allergies. Luckily, there are several powerful essential oils that serve as a natural and safe way to treat the symptoms of allergies and boost our immune systems.
What Causes an Allergic Reaction
An allergic reaction occurs in the immune system. According to Dr. Axe, an allergen is a substance that tricks the immune system — making it think that the allergen is an invader when it is actually harmless. The immune system overreacts to the allergen and produces Immunoglobulin E antibodies. These antibodies travel to cells that release histamine and other chemicals, causing the allergic reaction. Allergens will also trigger symptoms in the nose, throat, lungs, ears, sinuses and lining of the stomach or on the skin in the form of a rash.
Allergies, Asthma and Anxiety
Due to the restricted breathing that comes with allergies and asthma, anxiety and panic attacks are common among allergy sufferers. When our breathing is interrupted, our brain doesn’t get the oxygen it needs to function optimally, think clearly and ultimately calm the body down. Once our amygdala becomes activated, we go into “fight or flight” mode because the inability to take a full breath feels like a threat to our survival. We feel like we’re not getting what we need – air – which morphs into fear and anxiety. (Note: The only difference between fear and anxiety is that with fear, there’s a direct threat whereas anxiety is a perceived threat that can be real or imagined.)
How Do Essential Oils Fight Allergies
Two of the most powerful benefits of essential oils are their ability to fight inflammation and boost the immune system. Essential oils can help detoxify the body and fight infections, bacteria, parasites, microorganisms and harmful toxins. They can also reduce our bodies’ susceptibility to allergens and reduce the overreaction of the immune system when it is faced with a harmless intruder. Some essential oils can even work to relieve respiratory conditions.
Many brands of essential oils carry a “respiratory blend” that’s designed to reduce inflammation and make breathing a little easier. For example, doTERRA carries a blend called “Breathe” which consists of: Cardamom, Laurel Leaf, Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Melaleuca, Lemon, and Ravensara essential oils. Dani Singer, licensed psychotherapist and founder of Therapy Threads says, “for example, doTerra’s “Breathe” blend promotes feelings of clearer sinuses and easier breathing. This blend helps reduce all your nasty allergy symptoms and can be applied topically, diffused at nighttime, or even consumed, allowing for a more restful sleep during allergy season. I use the Respiratory Blend in my scarf, but also under my nose, and rub it into my sinus areas on my face, or diffuse it — especially at night when breathing is the hardest!”
Other Essential Oils to Fight Allergies
Peppermint essential oil can help to clear blocked sinuses and decrease nasal congestion caused by seasonal allergies. Peppermint oil is an expectorant which will help clear your airways and soothe inflammation. By inhaling peppermint essential oil as aromatherapy, you can help reduce phlegm and make your breathing easier, too.
The essential oil from lavender works as a natural antihistamine and will help to reduce inflammatory allergic reactions in your body. Lavender is well known as a natural cure for headaches, which can come about as a result of sinus pressure. You can also use it to treat skin reactions caused by allergies.
Lemongrass essential oil is great a natural remedy for allergy symptoms like sneezing, wheezing and a stuffy or a runny nose. Inhaling a lemongrass infusion through aromatherapy can help to reduce inflammation in the respiratory tract. Lemongrass essential oil is also antifungal and helps to kill off pathogens that can aggravate allergic reactions.
Eucalyptus essential oil is another natural expectorant and can help treat many respiratory conditions. The oil from eucalyptus helps with relieving nasal congestion and clearing airways. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, asthma attacks, or get a stuffy nose from pet dander, use steam inhalation with eucalyptus essential oil to get fast relief. Eucalyptus oil may also be used to reduce inflammation of the respiratory tract, treat coughs, reduce symptoms of asthma, ease sinus pain and clear respiratory infections. Diluted eucalyptus essential oil can also be used topically to reduce nasal stuffiness.
Chronic allergy sufferer? Try an aromatherapy scarf with any of these essential oils for stylish allergy relief on-the-go. Shop our aromatherapy scarves here.