Essential Oils for Allergies
An allergy is a condition where the immune system responds to a foreign substance. This can range from pollen to food. Allergic rhinitis or hay fever produces symptoms in the nose, throat, skin, sinuses, lining of the stomach, or ears. Roughly 7.8% of people 18 and over in the U.S. have hay fever. Worldwide, allergic rhinitis affects between 10% and 30 % of the population. In 2010, white children in the U.S. were more likely to have had hay fever (10%) than black children (7%). Allergies cost Americans $3.4 billion each year, with more than half of that going towards prescription medications.
- Intermittent allergies are those which occur seasonally based upon certain exposures. These usually occur fewer than 4 days a week for less than 28 days. In the US, they are referred to as seasonal allergies and are often triggered in the spring and fall by pollen, grasses, and weeds.
- Perennial allergies occur year-round though they often are worse during the winter. These are triggered by indoor allergens such as dust, mold, and animal dander.
While allergies have been noted in writings from previous generations, the rapid modern increase or allergy epidemic is directly related to the decrease in infectious disease as a result of modern hygienic practices. Susceptibility to allergic responses is strongly genetic, with modern researchers questioning the role epigenetics plays in the development of both seasonal and food allergies.
In 2010, a pilot study evaluated a blend with astragalus as the active component for a 6 week intervention in allergy symptoms. The results found that both objective and subjective measures favored the astragalus supplement.
Essential Oil Blends
In a 2016 study, “Fifty-four men and women aged between 20 and 60 were randomized to inhale aromatherapy oil containing essential oil from sandalwood (Santalum album), frankincense (Boswellia carterii), and ravensara (Ravensara aromatica) or almond oil (the placebo) for 5 minutes twice daily for 7 days.” The results found that the aromatherapy group had significantly less nasal blockage and clear breathing as compared to the control group. The blend was equal parts of the oils in a 0.2% dilution, with 1ml total applied to a cotton pad for inhalation.
A specific butterbur extract (Ze339) has been used in multiple clinical studies effectively for the treatment of allergies and found to be as effective as popular pharmaceutical solutions such as Zyrtec (Schapowal, 2004). These supplements were standardized to 8mg of petasin per tablet, 3x per day.
- Avoidance of triggers as possible.
- Routine supplementation with anti-inflammatory botanicals and food.
- Butterbur during known seasons with EO blends as-needed for symptoms.
Anti-inflammatory Allergy Spray
This spray helps to eliminate symptoms of allergies but does not address the root cause. It can be added to a comprehensive protocol to address flare-ups while also treating the root cause.
30 drops Citrus x limon (Lemon) essential oil
20 drops Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender) essential oil
10 drops Mentha x piperita (Peppermint) essential oil
2 ounces distilled water
2 ounces vodka
Combine the base of alcohol and water. Add the essential oils and shake well. To use, spray into the air or an inhaler strip and breathe in the aroma. Store in a sterile 4 ounce spray bottle. Shake well before using as the oils and base will separate.
Dose: 2-3 sprays of the formula inhaled for 5-10 minutes
Frequency: 1-2 times per day
Limits: 3-4 times per day, depending on age
Duration: no duration limits
Age: 12 months and up (reduce direct inhalation for small children)
Storage & Shelf Life
The solution can be stored in a sterile glass bottle in a cool dark space (such as a medicine chest) for up to 12 months. Shake well before using. Always label handmade products with the date it was made, an expiration date, ingredients used, applications, and precautions.
Bloom B, Cohen RA, & Freeman G. (2011). Summary health statistics for U.S. children: National Health Interview Survey, 2010. National Center for Health Statistics. 10(250).
Choi, S. Y., & Park, K. (2016). Effect of Inhalation of Aromatherapy Oil on Patients with Perennial Allergic Rhinitis: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2016.
Gupta, R, et al. The Prevalence, Severity and Distribution of Childhood Food Allergy in the United States. Pediatrics.
Matkovic, Z., Zivkovic, V., Korica, M., Plavec, D., Pecanic, S., & Tudoric, N. (2010). Efficacy and safety of Astragalus membranaceus in the treatment of patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis. Phytotherapy research, 24(2), 175-181.
Meltzer, EO & Bukstein DA. (2011). The economic impact of allergic rhinitis and current guidelines for treatment. Annuls of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. 106(2 Supplement) S12-6.
Okada, H., Kuhn, C., Feillet, H., & Bach, J. F. (2010). The ‘hygiene hypothesis’ for autoimmune and allergic diseases: an update. Clinical & Experimental Immunology, 160(1), 1-9.
Pawankar, R., Canonica, G., Holgate, S., &Lockey, R. World Health Organization. White Book on Allergy 2011-2012 Executive Summary.
Schapowal, A., & Petasites Study Group (2004). Butterbur Ze339 for the treatment of intermittent allergic rhinitis: dose-dependent efficacy in a prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Archives of otolaryngology--head & neck surgery, 130(12), 1381–1386.
Meet Dr Hawkins
Dr. Hawkins brings 20 years of expertise in the integrative health field to her role as Executive Director of the Franklin School of Integrative Health Sciences and the leader of our clinical research team.
She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Health from Union Institute and University, a Master’s Degree in Health Education & Promotion from the University of Alabama, a post-graduate certificate in epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, a PhD in Health Research from Middle Tennessee State University, and is completing the post-doctoral Global Scholars Research Training Program at Harvard Medical School. She also holds certifications in numerous natural health fields including aromatherapy, aromatic medicine, herbalism, childbirth education, and labor support.