A staggering one in four Brits suffers from hay fever. While extremely common, symptoms can vary greatly from a few sneezes or itchy throat to the more severe – allergic conjunctivitis, fatigue and difficulty sleeping to name a few.
Alongside medical treatments like allergy relief tablets and eye drops, symptoms can be alleviated using natural remedies too like essential oils.
Essential oils are aromatic compounds extracted from plants and they can work wonders if you suffer from hay fever. So, to help you pick the right scents, Rich Quelch, at home fragrance expertsLifestyle Packaging provides his top tips, including how to get the most out of them…
Peppermint oil (or menthol) can act as a muscle relaxant which naturally helps reduce coughing which some hay fever sufferers will experience. It is also an anti-inflammatory, helping to reduce the inflammation to your airways caused by allergic reactions.
Another little-known fact is that peppermint oil can also help to reverse mental fatigue and anxiety, according to research – making it a useful remedy if frustrating symptoms are causing you sleepless nights.
Lemon (or citrus) oil is not only a fantastic anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial for the body, but it can also help to neutralise pollen traces when sprayed in the air.
Some studies prove lemon oil to be effective at treating seasonal allergenic rhinitis, while other studies demonstrate its effectiveness as a nasal decongestant.
However, don’t apply any citrus-based oils directly to the skin. Exposure to the sun can render the skin damaged, blistered or even burned as these oils make the skin more sensitive to direct sunlight.
For those suffering from a sore throat, studies suggest that eucalyptus oil can alleviate symptoms almost instantly. However, it should be used with caution as eucalyptus oil is a common allergen – always do a small patch test first.
Eucalyptus also provides a soothing, cooling effect within your sinuses and upper respiratory tract, opening them up and providing relief from the most common and frustrating hay fever symptoms.
It’s also a fantastic expectorant, meaning it helps coughs by loosening phlegm – helping you breathe clearer.
Lavender and chamomile
Lavender and chamomile both boast effective anti-inflammatory properties. They’re also an effective treatment for reducing swelling in mucus membranes.
Lavender oil helps decrease histamine levels – the hormone responsible for the inflammation and other symptoms – and calms the immune response to allergens.
In addition, lavender and chamomile are effective treatments for puffy and itchy eyes because of how they naturally settle the response of the immune system.
With sleep being a common problem for hay fever sufferers, lavender can also help to calm the central nervous system and promote slow-wave sleep, meaning you’ll sleep longer and better.
Tea tree oil
Boasting anti-fungal and anti-viral properties, tea tree oil helps combat skin allergies – perfect for soothing those puffy eyes and itchy noses.
Research has found that topically applied tea tree oil reduces the amount of histamine-based swelling in an area compared with other well-known remedies like paraffin oil.
How to get the most out of essential oils
Depending on the oil you choose, different methods are needed to get the most out of them.
For example, powerful decongestants like lavender and chamomile work best when diffused into the air – either by spray, diffuser, or humidifier.
Oils like tea tree oil work well when applied topically. When mixed into creams can not only be good for relieving symptoms but nourish your skin. However, always read labels on product and don’t apply directly to the skin unless instructed otherwise.
Remember, lemon oil must never be applied to the skin, and you should never ingest any essential oil.