Nasal allergies often labelled with the generic term ‘hay fever’ tend to be associated with dusty summertime pollen and hay.

But here come the winter months and not all the sneezes will be the contagious kind.

What seems like the first signs of a cold coming on; coughing, sneezing, a runny nose or watery eyes, could actually be symptoms of an allergy.

Allergies are commonly triggered by moulds (increased by a combination of indoor heating and damp weather), or dust mites and protein particles from pets (which we are more exposed to with more time spent indoors).

Even your seasonal increase in red wine could be the culprit!

How do you tell the difference between a cold and an allergy?

Generally speaking, a cold or similar virus will be accompanied by other symptoms including fever, sore throat and body aches. Colds are also infectious.

It is fairly easy to identify the progression in a cold or flu – from gradual onset, to peak, to ending. In a healthy person, a cold normally winds up within a ten day period, or sooner.

An allergy, on the other hand, comes on fast and can last for months if you are not able to build up a tolerance to the offending particles.

Allergies might come and go with no apparent pattern, until you can identify where it is that you are being most affected and what it is that's triggering the symptoms.

Sinusitis is generally caused by viral infection but it can also occur in connection with allergy inflammation. Sometimes the fluids produced by an allergic reaction can build up in the sinus cavities and create a sinus infection too.

Why are pure essential oils recommended for dealing with allergies?

The reason why colds and allergies have comparable symptoms is because airborne irritants produce similar immune responses in the respiratory system.

The difference with an allergic reaction is that our body is not reacting to a viral pathogen but it is over-reacting to something that is basically harmless.

When your body gets stuck on ‘intruder alert', it constantly sends antibodies to attack. It's this process that triggers the symptoms of liquid flush and inflammation etc.

There are a number of conventional treatments to allergies that have varying degrees of success for people who suffer from allergies. Steroid nasal sprays are very often recommended for their powerful anti-inflammatory effect.

Meanwhile, without the harmful side-effects, pure essential oils have a spectrum of active constituents, including known anti-inflammatory properties, in their natural vapors. These are small, pure plant molecules that are easily absorbed and accepted by the body's systems.

When pure essential oils are inhaled/diffused their beneficial properties enter the nasal passages and respiratory system directly. When blended into a chest rub, they will be absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream.

We use oils that include antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, decongestant and anti-bacterial properties, which can help to reduce symptoms and support greater tolerance to allergens. These are also cleansing and vitalising compounds that support strong, functional body systems in general.

Used in combination with a conscious approach to managing environmental, lifestyle and dietary factors, essential oils give short-term relief and support the body towards its own immune adjustment.

There are small, proof of concept studies with results that support the idea of a zero symptoms outcome.

Interestingly, immunotherapy also needs the body to adjust its own errant immune response for a successful outcome. The advantage with essential oils is that they actively support the shift by promoting a healthy dynamic in the immune and supporting systems.

Which essential oils are used for respiratory allergies?

A principal component of essential oils with benefit to the respiratory system and its response to histamine is oxide 1,8 cineole.

Studies have identified anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-infectious, anti-tussive (anti-cough) and decongestant properties among its clinical benefits.

Everlasting Helichrysum Gymnocephalum

This is a species of the Helichrysum varieties that stands out for its relatively high Oxide 1,8 cineole content.

Analysis of this oil has shown other compound synergies that support the principle healing actions further.

With a vibrant, sweet aroma it is an easy choice for inhalation and diffuser blends, and its overall composition is still gentle enough for use on the young and elderly.

Eucalyptus Globulus

With a dominant 1,8 cineole content, it is easy to see how this oil has become known for its tonic effect on respiratory functions.

This Eucalyptus variety (also known as E. Blue Gum) gives a balanced, deep-cleansing aroma for diffusion or inhalation blends. Again, it can be used safely on the young and elderly (at half dosage).

Manuka and Kanuka

Both are gentler Tea Tree cousins (and NZ natives) probably best known for their association with the honey produced by the bees that populate them.

The essential oil versions are both notable for their powerful anti-bacterial properties but specifically for allergy relief, as they have high anti-oxidant activity which is especially pertinent for inflammation.

A host of other supporting compounds (including 1,8 cineole) create a synergy of support that promotes health in the respiratory and immune systems. Manuka is excellent for children and immune health and Kanuka is a little stronger and works well for respiratory issues.

Thyme Thymol, Thymus vulgaris CT thymol

Another potent anti-bacterial oil Thyme -  is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties.

Thyme hosts anti-oxidant agents and brings calming qualities to act on the nervous system against stress. This is worth considering because people with high stress levels are generally more susceptible to allergies.

For diffusion or inhalation it brings a tonic herbal element to respiratory blends.

Peppermint, Mentha Piperita

This powerful cleansing oil has anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties and brings a cooling, refreshing effect to respiratory blends.

Peppermint can be especially helpful to stuffiness and congestion headaches.

Lavender Spike, Lavandula Latifolia

This Lavender species brings the well-known relaxing and calming properties of Lavender with a higher content of respiratory tonic compounds, including 1,8 cineole.

It therefore can help to reduce the impact of histamine release and also helps to reduce stress. It is also suitably mild for small children and elders.

lavender absolute essential

How to use pure essential oils to help relieve respiratory allergies

Use single essential oils or combine them to the appropriate dosage total.

Diffusion: Adults 5-10 drops. Children (6 months+) 3-5 drops.

Bath: Adults 5-10 drops. Children 3-5 drops in Milk.

Steam/Inhalation: Adults 2-3 drops.  Children 1-2 drops on pillow or cotton hanky only.

Chest/neck/foot rub: Adults 5 drops direct (in 1 tsp carrier oil if sensitive). Children 3 drops in 1/2 tsp carrier oil.


Medicinal-grade Therapeutic Plant Oils must be 100% pure. At Absolute Essential we use certified organic or wild grown (sustainable) plants to produce our oils and all extraction processes are strictly controlled to produce the best quality oil with maximum purity and therapeutic value. See more at Absolute Essential.