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Essential oils for seasonal allergies

By Grace Orosz, R.N.-BC, CCAP

When I was growing up in Chicago, I can vividly remember how I looked forward to the change of seasons – all four of them. The Midwest was an open, clean, fresh place to live. I spent most of my free time outdoors. We almost never played inside. We had many wonderful forest preserves, lakes and hiking paths. I loved being in nature.

At the time, I was unaware of how pollen and grasses affected people. I never had a problem with any seasonal allergies. However, I knew several people who did. I would privately make fun of them, in my mind. I just could not believe that people could be suffering so miserably with allergies, hay fever, sinusitis etc. It seemed almost “too dramatic” for me. However, I tried to understand how maybe it affected them and make an effort to be sympathetic. They were always going for sinus X-rays, CT scans, and using a plethora of antihistamines, decongestants, and steroidal sprays and inhalers.

Then, about 27 years ago, I moved to the East Coast. Initially the seasons were pretty much the same, but not for long. Everything started to change. Perhaps the unhealthy climate changes, our polluted environment and dramatic fluctuations in the barometric pressure contributed to my newly developing allergy symptoms: sinus pressure, headaches, congestion, sneezing, phlegm, and an annoying cough. Oh brother, not me, I thought.

I found myself in the same position as those I previously made fun of – blame karma. There I was with a cabinet full of all the over the counter (OTC) allergy medications you could imagine, and pretty much addicted to Sudafed. Then, I just could not stand taking those chemicals anymore. They made me feel so crummy.

It was about that time that I had a personal and spiritual awakening, about my health and my life. I knew I needed to be more mindful of looking for a natural and holistic approach to treating this condition, as well as in my life in general. I started using essential oils to treat my sinus and upper respiratory symptoms. I use them religiously now and have to say that I cannot remember the last time I took an OTC allergy medication. Allergens trigger symptoms in the nose, throat, lungs, ears and sinuses. Therefore, I thought if you suffer with these symptoms, why not try to counteract these allergens with other airborne components? I diffuse essential oils in my home almost constantly. I switch up my essential oil choices depending on the time of year and the symptoms I have.

Here are a few tips that might help you too.

First, find yourself a moderately priced diffuser with an ultrasonic cool mist humidifier. They hold anywhere from 150-500 ml of water. Be sure to get one that has a timer and an automatic shutoff.

You can then begin diffusing essential oils. Lavender works as a natural antihistamine and possesses strong anti-inflammatory properties that will treat and relieve most allergic reactions. Peppermint is strong, fresh and minty and opens clogged sinuses almost immediately. It also has anti-inflammatory, pain relieving and decongestant relieving abilities. It opens airways and relieves a scratchy throat. Holy basil reduces the inflammatory response of allergens, and supports our immune system overall. It has antimicrobial abilities and can remove toxins from our system, as well as clear airways. Eucalyptus opens up the sinus and lungs, therefore improving circulation, which reduces the symptoms of allergies. It works as an expectorant, but also has anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. Lemon works as a natural antihistamine relieving excess mucous and cools down inflammatory reaction. It also helps with respiratory conditions. Lemon is also known for its anti-bacterial properties. It is best used in a blend with lavender and peppermint.

Depending on the capacity of your diffuser, use two to five drops of any of these oils mentioned, in whatever combination you like. You could also use one drop each of these oils on a tissue and just directly inhale deeply. Experiment to find the combination that gives you the most relief. As a certified clinical aromatherapist, I firmly believe this is the best treatment for so many ailments. Hopefully, aromatherapy brings you some healthier options for relief during allergy season.

For more information, register for our free aromatherapy educational seminars at 6 p.m. Oct. 22 at Raritan Bay-Old Bridge, or at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 23 at Raritan Bay-Perth Amboy.

Grace Orosz, R.N.-BC, CCAP, is part of Hackensack Meridian Health Integrative Health & Medicine at Raritan Bay Medical Center. Since 2004, Raritan Bay’s qualified practitioners have provided integrative therapies to enhance patients’ health and well-being with complementary medicine supporting the mind-body-spirit connection. For more information about services or to register for the seminars, call 732-324-5257.  


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