Allergies plague so many of us, causing symptoms that can greatly hamper quality of life, create real discomfort, sap us of our energy, and much more. While over-the-counter medications have helped a lot of people, natural remedies can be effective and very appealing, especially because they lack some of the side effects of conventional medications. For this common health issue, essential oils for allergies can be a perfect natural alternative (or complement) to allergy medications or prescriptions, with the go-ahead and approval from your doctor.
Types of allergies
Someone might say that they have allergies, but this could mean quite a few different things. That’s because there are different types of allergies one can have. Some people even deal with more than one type of allergy. Regardless of the allergy condition, there can be a lot of overlap between the symptoms and issues.
- Seasonal (pollen). This is one of the most common types. Stuffy nose, red eyes, and sinus problems are all part of dealing with the strong release of pollen at certain times of year, especially in the spring but often in summer or early autumn too. Ragweed pollen allergy is one of the most common types in late summer and early fall.
- Pet dander. Allergies to the fur dander of cats, dogs, and other furry pets are common too. These can have similar symptoms to seasonal or pollen allergies: inflamed sinuses, stuffiness, but also itchy or irritated eyes, nose, throat, or all of these. Sneezing in the presence of certain animals is a telltale sign.
- Dust and environmental. Allergies to environmental things, like dust and mold, are also not uncommon. Dust and mold are very common environmental allergens, but others can include pollution, fumes, chemicals, fragrances, smoke, and more. The symptoms aren’t all that far off from pet dander or pollen allergies, too.
- Skin reactions or eczema. Some people experience allergy reactions more strongly on their skin than in their eyes, nose, and throat. Reactions could include hives, contact dermatitis, or even full-blown eczema. The allergens could be certain materials (like wool or specific metals) but topical skin reactions could happen from pollen, dander, or environmental allergens as well.
- Food intolerances. Sometimes your body can’t help but react to certain foods, for reasons both known and unknown. These manifest typically as headaches, extreme fatigue, bodily pains, digestive distress, and other issues. That said, some of them can cause sinus inflammation, itchy eyes, or other common allergy type symptoms. Common foods one might have an intolerance to are dairy, gluten, and sometimes nightshades or legumes.
- Food allergies. These are a far more serious allergy that could result in completely obstructed breathing, and possibly death. Common food allergies occur in response to things like tree nuts, peanuts, seafood, eggs, or other food items. When very lightly exposed, such as when breathing in very small amounts of these food particles in the air, they can be similar to other allergy types. But when they are consumed, they can have very serious effects (and cannot be helped by natural remedies or essential oils).
Allergy causes and symptoms
Regardless of type, allergies of all kinds work in the same way and have very similar symptoms to one another. Allergies are generally due to an “over-functioning” of the immune system responding to the presence of foreign substances, generally called allergens. The immune system “attacks” these foreign invaders. and the response can be unwanted and very uncomfortable inflammation—along with the stuffiness or runny nose you experience (which is your body’s attempt to get the allergen out of your body).
This is why symptoms can be so similar, regardless of the type of allergy you might have. Generally speaking, if you deal with the following symptoms, these could be a sign that you have an allergy of some sort—except for food allergies, which are far more serious.
- Itchy eyes, nose, and throat
- Runny nose or post-nasal drip
- Sore throat
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Overly dry, inflamed, or blocked sinuses
- Frequent sneezing
- Persistent fatigue
- Brain fog
- …and more
Best essential oils for allergies
Essential oils (or EOs) are nature’s purest and most potent form for delivering natural remedies to the body. When used correctly and safely, many of them can help with a wide variety of allergies. Below are 9 such oils that may help with different allergies.
A breath of chamomile from an oil diffuser, or diluted and applied to the skin, may support respiration issues or eczema from allergies.1 Research shows it supports respiratory, skin, and sinus inflammation.2
When used much like chamomile essential oil, feverfew could help allergies. Known to also help abort migraines, the flower is shown to work like an antihistamine and stabilize mast cells (both the cause of allergies).3
This Asian culinary root is famous for fighting inflammation and supporting respiratory health, and research shows it may help with breathing-related allergic reactions.4
This yellow roadside wildflower is often blamed for allergies, when it might actually help them according to research! 5 As an essential oil diffused, it may help with inflamed breathing such as from pet or seasonal allergies.
Essential oil from this Italian herb contains thymol and carvacrol, each of which are shown to boost immunity to support allergic responses and to possibly even help relieve asthma symptoms (ideally when diffused).6
This is a famous natural remedy for allergies, reputed to have an antihistamine-like effect for pollen and other respiratory allergies.7 If you’re wondering about taking parsley seed essential oil internally, talk to a trained herbalist first to make sure it’s right for you.
Some rose breeds and varieties are known to have an anti-allergic, skin-soothing effect for things like dermatitis or eczema, studies show.8 Rose petal essential oil, properly diluted in a carrier oil, could help.
Traditional medicine and research have both long upheld culinary sage essential oil as a support for respiratory issues, possibly including asthma and allergic airway inflammation (best when diffused).9
This culinary seasoning is the king among natural remedies for fighting inflammation.10 It could help allergic and asthma inflammation, too. Though turmeric may be labeled safe for internal use, you should still check with an herbalist to make sure internal consumption is right for you.
Best essential oil allergy blends
Herbal properties can be even more effective when more than one herb is combined! Essential oils are no exception to this rule. In fact, using different blends and combinations is a very popular way to optimize the potent natural benefits possible through essential oils, and that goes even for supporting allergies of all kinds.
It’s more likely that you’ll find relief for certain types of allergies if you use two oils together than can serve the same purpose. Here are some great pairings and suggestions:
- Chamomile and rose (skin reactions). Both herbs are popular in traditional herbalism (and supported by studies) for soothing skin. A few drops mixed into lotion or combined with a carrier oil (like shea butter or jojoba) could be applied to the skin for allergic hives, eczema, and other topical allergy relief.
- Feverfew and ginger (allergy headaches or migraines). Feverfew is one of the most recommended herbs for treating migraine, and ginger is sometimes used for migraines and headaches, too. If sinus headaches from allergies are something you deal with, try diffusing a few drops of feverfew and ginger together.
- Goldenrod and parsley seed (pollen allergies). Both these herbs and essential oils are associated with antihistamine properties. Diffusing or diluting before taking internally (under a herbalist’s supervision) may provide relief owing to seasonal pollen symptoms.
- Chamomile and goldenrod (pet allergies). Fido or Fluffy got you acting up? These two gentle flower essential oils may help with the sneezes, drippiness, and stuffiness of pet dander.
- Oregano and sage (for asthma-related allergies). Both these culinary herbs are popular traditional respiratory inflammation remedies. Combine them together in a diffuser and you might find easier breathing with allergy-related asthma.
- Oregano and turmeric (adjunctive immune support). Sometimes allergies have to do with a weakened immune system. To keep it in tip-top shape, try oregano and turmeric essential oils: two classic immune boosters.
- Ginger and turmeric (for acute sinusitis/allergic rhinitis). Ginger and turmeric are a classic combo for fighting inflammation. For the worst type of inflammation of the sinuses (dry or runny), try these two diffused or diluted and taken internally. Again, check with an herbalist to make sure taking essential oils internally is safe for you.
Many essential oils can be a great natural self-care approach for different types of allergy symptoms at home. When safely used, they can be very easy, convenient to use, affordable, and have practically no side effects!
That said, always consult with your doctor before using any essential oil for your health. These are gentle yet still very powerful remedies. Always be sure to test oils first before using them internally or topically to make sure that you don’t have an allergy to any of these in and of themselves.
About Adrian White
Adrian White is a certified herbalist, organic farmer, and health, food, and agriculture freelance writer—and upcoming author. She is a past contributor to Healthline with bylines in The Guardian, Civil Eats, and Good Housekeeping. She is the co-owner and operator of Jupiter Ridge LLC, and organic farm growing diverse vegetables, mushrooms and herbs. In addition to tending to her farm, Adrian enjoys experimenting with new food and herbal creations.
1. Kolanos, R. and S.A. Stice. “Chapter 44 – German chamomile” in Nutraceuticals: Second Edition (Academic Press 2021): 757-772.
2. Nemati, S., F. Yousefbeyk, et al. “Effects of chamomile extract nasal drop on chronic rhinosinusitis treatment: A randomized double blind study.” American Journal of Otolaryngology 42, no. 1 (2021): 102743.
3. Hayes, N.A. and J.C. Foreman. “The activity compounds extracted from feverfew on histamine release from rat mast cells.” Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology 39, no. 6 (1987): 466-470.
4. Kim, E., S Jang, et al. “Ginger-derived compounds exert in vivo and in vitro anti-asthmatic effects by inhibiting the T-helper 2 cell-mediated allergic response.” Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine no. 49 (2021).
5. Vasconcelos, J.F., I.P. Santos, et al. “The protective effect of solidagenone from Solidago chilensis Meyen in a mouse model of airway inflammation.” Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology 130, no. 1 (2022): 44-55.
6. Mohammadi, A., S. Mahjoub, et al. “Immunomodulatory effects of Thymol through modulation of redox status and trace element content in experimental model of asthma.” Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy 105 (2018: 856-861.
7. Ghorani, V., A. Alavinezhad, et al. “Carvacrol improves pulmonary function tests, oxidant/antioxidant parameters and cytokine levels in asthmatic patients: A randomized, double-blind, clinical trial.” Phytomedicine 85 (2021): 153539.
8. Sayin, Ibrahim, C. Cingi, et al. “Complementary Therapies in Allergic Rhinitis.” ISRN Allergy (2013): 938751.
9. Jeon, J.H., S.C. Kwon, et al. “Anti-allergic effects of white rose petal extract and anti-atopic properties of its hexane fraction.” Archives of Pharmacal Research 32, no. 6 (2009): 823-830.
10. Hamidpour, M., R. Hamidpour, et al. “Chemistry, Pharmacology, and Medicinal Property of Sage (Salvia) to Prevent and Cure Illnesses such as Obesity, Diabetes, Depression, Dementia, Lupus, Autism, Heart Disease, and Cancer.” Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine 4, no. 2 (2014): 82-88.