During the summer months it is thought that more than ten million people suffer with symptoms of hay fever in the UK. Peak hay fever season runs from late May until around mid August and with temperatures set to rise over the next coming days many could find symptoms worsening with rising pollen levels!
Hay fever, also known as seasonal rhinitis is an immune response from the body where pollen from trees, grass, weeds, dust mites and mould cause the immune system to produce antibodies which release a product called histamine which is present in all the cells of the body. This release then causes irritation to the upper respiratory tract and inflammation to the mucous membranes (throat, eyes, noses and sinuses) causing sneezing, itching and watering of the eyes as a few of the common symptoms of hay fever. Other symptoms include: Wheezing, difficulty breathing, itchy mouth, throat and ears, loss of smell and in some cases difficulty in concentrating.
Essential oils can be of benefit to those suffering from hay fever symptoms due to their natural properties alleviating the detrimental effects of hay fever.
Essential oils can be used in many different ways such as massage or inhalation, which are absorbed through the skin or inhaled through the nose and so have an influence on the nervous system and brain areas. This can have an effect on hormones, metabolism, respiratory and other bodily functions as the oils travel to different cells.
Hence why during the hay fever season essential oils can be of may benefit, causing reduced side effects. Oils to look for would be ones with anti-allergenic, anti-inflammatory and mucolytic properties. These oils include:
• LAVENDER – A natural anti-histamine with anti-inflammatory properties, helping to reduce irritation and breathing difficulties
• EUCALYPTUS – anti-inflammatory properties, helping to ease breathing difficulties and congestion
• ROSEMARY- has mucolytic properties which helps to ease congestion
• LEMON – antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, helps to improve immunity, mood booster
• PEPPERMINT- helps to open up the respiratory tract, alleviating blocked noses as well as reducing headache symptoms
• TEA TREE- has anti-allergy properties and increases immunity
• ROMAN CHAMOMILE- its anti-allergy properties help to soothe itching and irritated symptoms of hay fever.
• GERANIUM – anti-inflammatory and soothing properties, also help to boost mood
• SANDALWOOD – expectorant properties often used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to treat bronchitis
• RAVENSARA – contains estragole which helps alleviate symptoms of fatigue, stress as well as improving sleep quality
A study published in 2016 in the journal: Evidence- Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine examined the effects of inhalation of essential oils in patients with Perennial Allergic Rhinitis, found that inhaling certain essential oils helped alleviate the participant’s symptoms. The study looked at changes in symptoms, quality of sleep, fatigue and quality of life through inhaling a blend of sandalwood, geranium and Ravensara for five minutes twice a day for a week. The results showed a significant improvement in quality of life and fatigue levels; suggesting that the inhalation of certain essential oils could help improve quality of life and reduce fatigue levels for those suffering from Perennial Allergic Rhinitis.
These oils can be used alone or blended together to create an effective hay fever treatment. They can also be used in many ways, adding a few drops of one or a few of these oils to a cream or lotion and using to massage onto the face- around the temples, head and nose area- or just as you would apply a daily moisturiser.
These essential oils could also be used in a bath, or in a diffuser as well as through massage to help alleviate the pesky symptoms of hay fever. Always check that using essential oils is safe as certain oils are not suitable for different individuals who may have different ailments.
By Jade, our Complementary Therapist