If you don't already use essential oils to relax and decompress, chances are, you're likely using them in some form or another, whether it's the tea tree oil in your face wash or the lavender oil in your bath bomb. What you might not know, however, is that they could help calm your allergy symptoms.
Maeve O'Connor, MD, an allergist and spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, says that while there isn't a ton of hard evidence that essential oils really work for allergies, there's some anecdotal evidence — and a lot of research being conducted — that they might be helpful. Whether you put them into a diffuser, dab them onto your wrists, or spill a few drops onto your pillow, Dr. O'Connor says they have some aromatherapy benefits that could be useful for allergies.
"Aromatherapy works by stimulating smell receptors in the nose, sending messages via the nervous system to a part of the brain that controls emotions, making some people calmer, less anxious, and relaxed," she says.
Still, Dr. O'Connor says, essential oils don't work for everyone, and when used the wrong way, they could have some seriously harmful effects. Some people might even be allergic to the oils themselves, and allergic reactions can cause rashes, hives, and wheezing after exposure.
"Improper use of essential oils can cause burns, headaches, nausea, hormonal imbalances, and some are toxic if ingested," Dr. O'Connor says, adding that she advises against using high doses of essential oils over a long period of time, especially in children.
"The best defence against seasonal allergies is to see a board-certified allergist," she says. "An allergist can treat more than just symptoms, identify the source of your suffering and develop a treatment plan to eliminate symptoms."
If you want to try essential oils for your stuffy and itchy nose, definitely check with your doctor first. With allergy season getting worse than ever, we're going to need all the help we can get. Read on for six essential oils that might make your allergy symptoms a little less miserable.