Hay fever (allergic rhinitis) is a common allergic reaction to pollen that is said to affect one in five people at some point in their lives.
Pollen is a fine powder released by plants as part of their reproductive cycle. It contains proteins that can cause the nose, eyes, throat and sinuses (small air-filled cavities behind your cheekbones and forehead) to become swollen, irritated and inflamed.
Those who suffer with the condition will know only too well the main symptoms:
- blocked or runny nose
- itchy, sore, red or watery eyes
- a cough
- itchy eyes, nose and throat
- headaches and facial pain (caused by congestion of the sinuses).
Some people are allergic to a certain type of pollen, and the unlucky ones are allergic to more than one. The main culprits are tree pollen (spring), grass pollen (end of spring / start of summer) and weed pollen (late autumn).
If you are anything like me, the conventional allergy medicines often make me feel quite rough. Luckily, there is a natural alternative to relieve symptoms … essential oils!
5 of the top essential oils for hay fever
Eucalyptus: A powerful oil with a powerful effect on the respiratory system and soothes inflammation. A great decongestant, eucalyptus helps with catarrh, coughs, congestion and sinusitis. It also helps soothe inflammation and sore throats. The expectorant properties help with clearing excess mucus from the chest. Perfect! (Precautions: powerful oil, use in low concentrations, avoid if suffer from high blood pressure or epilepsy. May antidote other homeopathic preparations due to its strong odour).
Lavender: A versatile oil calming oil with analgesic and decongestant properties. Great for soothing irritation, coughs and sinusitis. (Precautions: avoid during early stages of pregnancy).
Peppermint: With its sharp menthol aroma which is great for opening up the nasal passages, peppermint is an expectorant which helps with getting rid of the pesky excess mucus from the bronchial tubes. (Precautions: a very stimulating oil, may cause sensitisation due to menthol constituent. It is best avoided in pregnancy and by those suffering from epilepsy or heart disease).
Pine: Being a decongestant and expectorant, pine is one of the most effective oils in helping with respiratory infections, sinus and bronchial congestion. (Precautions: best used in small doses as may irritate sensitive skins).
Roman Chamomile: Renowned for its soothing and calming properties, this oil has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties which may help soothe inflamed respiratory tracts. (Precautions: use in low concentrations on the skin and avoid during the early stages of pregnancy).
Ways to use them
Put 3 drops on to a tissue or handkerchief and inhale gently. Repeat as required.
Put 4-6 drops in a vaporiser or oil burner
Massage on to chest (essential oils should not be applied neat to the skin, always dilute first in a suitable carrier oil such as Grapeseed oil or Sweet Almond Oil. For a 2% dilution, an easy way to remember how many drops of essential oil to use is to divide the mls of carrier oil by two i.e. if you are using 10ml of carrier oil then you could add up to 5 drops of essential oil).
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