Many individuals suffer from allergies. An allergy is the immune system's abnormal response to contact with a specific substance. This substance is called an allergen and the allergic reaction is also known as a histamine reaction. There are many allergens in our environment, including food, grass, pollen, mold spores, insect bites, fabrics and much more. Allergy symptoms vary from person to person but can often include swelling, itching, runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, and difficulty breathing. Since more than 40 million people in the United States suffer from various allergies, it's important to have treatment options readily available. If you are looking for an all-natural alternative to popular medications, you've come to the right place. We spoke to Dr. Patrick Fratellone, an expert in naturopathic medicine and the founder of Fratellone Medical Associates, to find out which essential oils he prefers to use in his practice. Here are five of his favorite picks:
1. Melaleuca (Tea Tree Oil) - This is a commonly used essential oil from the botanical myrtle family. The leaves of the Melaleuca tree have been used for centuries for a variety of conditions including healing cuts, wounds, and skin infections. Dr. Fratellone frequently uses this oil for treating mold and fungi allergies.
2. Roman Chamomile - Coming from the botanical daisy family, this herb is more popularly known for its relaxing, sleep-inducing qualities. However, it's also an excellent choice for allergy treatment, especially if the patient is having problems breathing. Inhaling this oil is the most effective way to use it.
3. Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm) - This essential oil comes from the mint family and can be used in a bath or as a vaporizer to soothe symptoms and reduce the body's reaction to any allergen. The delightful and aromatic lemony fragrance is beneficial to the mind and body. Dr. Fratellone likes to use lemon balm nasal spray as an alternative to conventional medicinal treatments for perennial and seasonal allergies.
4. Peppermint - Another herb from the mint family, peppermint can be applied directly to the skin or first diluted with a carrier oil such as jojoba or coconut oil. You can also vaporize peppermint to treat a reaction to pollen, trees, or grasses during the height of allergy season. The L-methol from peppermint inhibits the production of inflammation mediators in the body.
5. Lavender - Although used for a variety of conditions relating to sleep and relaxation, lavender has also been shown to inhibit allergic reactions. This can useful for any allergen that causes an immediate reaction, such as swelling and itching. Dr. Fratellone finds this essential oil particularly useful for children who need urgent relief from their allergy symptoms.