What essential oils are good for food allergies
Little is known about how these oils might affect young, growing bodies, but there is some evidence that they can cause harm.
One trap parents may drop into is thinking that these oils are replacements for evidence-based treatments, according to Dr. Smith. He told me that the parents of one of his young patients had tried treating their child’s croup (a respiratory infection that causes difficulty breathing and a barking cough) with a variety of oils. Eventually, the illness progressed so much that they needed to take the kid to the emergency room.
“While the essential oils didn’t hurt the child,” Dr.
Smith said, “the delay in care allowed the condition to get worse.”
But by far, the greatest harm to children occurs when highly concentrated oils are accidentally swallowed, spilled onto the skin or splashed into the eyes. In , poison control centers in the United States recorded 17, such incidents in children under 12 — an 85 percent increase over the number of cases reported in (This is according to an analysis that the American Association of Poison Control Centers conducted for The New York Times for this story.)
A teaspoon of camphor oil, a type of oil extracted from the wood of a camphor tree, for instance, can cause seizures in children under 5 if swallowed, according to Nena Bowman, Pharm.D., managing director of the Tennessee Poison Center.
A similar dose of wintergreen oil, a cousin to aspirin, can cause rapid labored breathing, fever and — in severe cases — organ failure and death.
Even as little as half a teaspoon of commonly used essential oils such as eucalyptus, lavender and tea tree oils can cause sedation and difficulty breathing in little ones, Dr. Bowman said.
“The exposures we see are almost every in children and almost every accidental because essential oils aren’t always stored properly,” Dr. Bowman said, “they need to be kept up and out of the reach of children.”
Applying concentrated oils to the skin are common causes of adverse reactions too, said Robert Tisserand, an aromatherapy expert and author of the textbook “Essential Oil Safety.” In nature, oils with antioxidant and antimicrobial properties such as clove, oregano and thyme kill invading bacteria by rupturing their cell membranes, Tisserand said.
“And they do a similar thing to your skin cells and the mucous membranes that line and protect the inside of your body,” he said. “If you put undiluted oregano oil on your skin or in your mouth, you’ll own an irritant reaction — a extremely nasty one.
The skin will go red and burn love crazy.”
Children are more likely to own side effects from essential oil exposures than adults are, said Dr. Weber from the N.I.H. “They are still developing, which makes their brains and other systems more sensitive to potential toxicity from essential oils.” Their livers and kidneys, for instance, are likely to be less efficient at processing the compounds.
Young Living provides safety information to consumers and asks its sales distributors to share that information with their customers, according to a company spokeswoman.
“It’s significant that every things are done in moderation — specifically where children are concerned,” she noted, adding that Young Living offers product lines where the essential oil is already diluted in a carrier oil, making it safer for kids.
Top 5 Essential Oils for Allergies
1. Peppermint Oil
Inhaling diffusedpeppermint oilcan oftentimes immediately unclog the sinuses and offer relief to scratchy throats. Peppermint acts as an expectorant and provides relief for allergies, as well as colds, coughs, sinusitis, asthma and bronchitis.
It has the power to discharge phlegm and reduce inflammation — a leading cause of allergic reactions.
A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology investigated the effects of peppermint oil in the tracheal rings of rats.
The results propose that peppermint oil is a relaxant and exhibits antispasmodic activity, inhibiting contractions that causes you to cough. (1)
Another study published in the European Journal of Medical Research suggests that peppermint oil treatment has anti-inflammatory effects — reducing the symptoms of chronic inflammatory disorders such as allergic rhinitis and bronchial asthma. (2)
Remedy: Diffuse five drops of peppermint essential oil at home to unclog sinuses and treat a scratchy throat.
This will also assist to relax the nasal muscles, enabling the body to clear out mucus and allergens love pollen. To reduce inflammation, take 1–2 drops of pure peppermint essential oil internally once a day.
It can be added to a glass of water, cup of tea or smoothie. Peppermint oil can also be applied topically to the chest, back of neck and temples. For people with sensitive skin, it is best to dilute peppermint with coconut or jojoba oil before topical application.
Basil essential oilreduces the inflammatory response of allergens. It also supports the adrenal glands, which are involved in producing over 50 hormones that drive almost every bodily function. Essentially, basil essential oil is helping your body to react appropriately to a threat by rushing blood to your brain, heart and muscles.
Basil oil also helps to detoxify the body of bacteria and viruses, while fighting inflammation, pain and fatigue. Studies prove that basil oil shows antimicrobial activity and can kill bacteria, yeast and mold that can lead to asthma and respiratory damage.
Remedy: To fight inflammation and regulate the overreaction of the immune system when faced with an allergen, take one drop of basil oil internally by adding it to soup, salad dressing or any other dish. To support the respiratory system, dilute 2–3 drops of basil oil with equal parts coconut oil and apply topically to the chest, back of neck and temples.
Eucalyptus oil opens up the lungs and sinuses, thereby improving circulation and reducing symptoms of allergies. Studies own shown that it produces a freezing sensation in the nose that helps to improve airflow. (5)
Eucalyptus contains citronellal, which has analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects; it also works as an expectorant, helping to cleanse the body of toxins and harmful microorganisms that are acting as allergens.
A study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that eucalyptus essential oil was an effective treatment for upper respiratory tract infections.
Patients who were treated with eucalyptus spray reported an improvement in the severity of their most debilitating respiratory tract infection symptoms compared to participants in the placebo group. Improvement was defined as a reduction of sore throat, hoarseness or cough. (6)
Remedy: To treat respiratory issues associated with allergies, diffuse five drops of eucalyptus at home or apply it topically to the chest and temples. To clear the nasal passages and relieve congestion, pour a cup of boiling water into a bowl and add 1–2 drops of eucalyptus essential oil.
Then put a towel over your head and inhale deeply for 5–10 minutes.
4. Lemon Oil
Lemon oil supports lymphatic system drainage and helps with overcoming respiratory conditions. Studies own shown that lemon essential oil inhibits the growth of bacteria and boosts the immune system. When diffused at home, lemon oil can kill bacteria and eliminate allergy triggers in the air. (7,8)
Adding 1–2 drops of lemon essential oil to water also helps with pH balance. Lemon waterimproves immune function and detoxifies the body.
It stimulates the liver and flushes out toxins that can lead to inflammation and an overreactive immune system. Lemon water also stimulates white blood cell production, which is vital for immune system function because it helps to protect the body.
Lemon essential oil can also be used to disinfect your home, without depending on alcohol or bleach. It will remove bacteria and pollutants from your kitchen, bedroom and bathroom — reducing the triggers inside of your home and keeping the air clean for you and your family.
This can be especially helpful as the seasons change and allergens from exterior are being brought into your home on shoes and clothes.
Remedy: Add lemon oil to your laundry detergent, stir a couple of drops with water and spray it on your couches, sheets, curtains and carpets.
5. Tea Tree Oil
This powerful oil can destroy airborne pathogens that cause allergies.
Diffusing tea tree oilin the home will kill mold, bacteria and fungi. It is an antiseptic agent and it has anti-inflammatory properties. Tea tree oil can be applied to the skin to kill bacteria and microorganisms; it can also be used as a household cleaner to disinfect the home and eliminate allergens. (9)
A study conducted in Germany found that tea tree oil exhibits antimicrobial activity against a wide range of bacteria, yeasts and fungi.
These microbes lead to inflammation and force our immune system to work on overdrive. (10)
Remedy: Use tea tree oil on skin rashes and hives or as a household cleaner. When using tea tree topically, add 2–3 drops to a clean cotton ball and gently apply to the area of concern. For people with sensitive skin, dilute tea tree with a carrier oil first, love coconut or jojoba oil.
How to Use Essential Oils for Allergies
Food Allergies — Take 1–2 drops of lemon or peppermint oil internally to relieve the symptoms of a food allergy.
This will assist to detoxify the body and eliminate the allergens through sweat or urination.
Skin Rash & Hives — Use tea tree or basil oil topically to treat skin rashes and hives. Add 2–3 drops to a cotton ball and apply to the affected area. Layering oils over the liver area is another way to treat skin irritations because it helps the liver to flush out toxins that burden the skin. Dilute 3–4 drops of tea tree oil with coconut oil and rub it into the liver area.
Seasonal Allergies — Disinfect your home with lemon and tea tree oil; this will eliminate triggers and cleanse the air and your furniture.
Add 40 drops of lemon oil and 20 drops of tea tree oil to a ounce spray bottle. Fill the bottle with pure water and a little bit of white vinegar and spray the mixture on any area in your home.
To reduce respiratory issues associated with seasonal allergies, attempt my Homemade Vapor Rub; it delivers a soothing feeling that will open up the airways and make it easier to breathe.
Allergy Blend — Combine 2–3 drops of peppermint, eucalyptus and lavender oil with one teaspoon of coconut oil and massage the mixture into the temples, behind the ears and into the bottoms of the feet.
Possible Side Effects
When using these special essential oil for allergies, I dont recommend that you take tea tree oil internally; its best to use tea tree aromatically or topically.
When using any of these oils topically, dilute with a carrier oil, especially when using on sensitive skin or one sensitive areas, love under the eyes or on the neck.
When using essential oils internally, a little goes a endless way. Only consume 1–2 drops a day for one month. Then take a two-week break and start the treatment again.
Read Next:9 Natural Ways to Treat Seasonal Allergy Symptoms
When Eva Sheie walked into her daughter’s new day care classroom in Austin, Tex., final December, the floral aroma emanating from an essential oil diffuser instantly piqued her nostrils.
Sheie, who is sensitive to perfume, didn’t love the smell, but she also didn’t complain: “I don’t desire to be that parent, you know?”
But after a few weeks, she noticed that her toddler and several other students had developed nagging coughs that lingered well into January.
And when the teacher switched to an oil mix that was supposed to “disinfect” the air, Sheie said she felt “headachy and love I was going to throw up for an hour or longer” after dropping off her daughter each morning.
Finally, after a few days of feeling ill, Sheie convinced the day care to turn off the diffuser. “The relief was immediate,” Sheie said. Her symptoms went away, and her daughter quit coughing.
Dr. Justin Smith, M.D., a pediatrician at Cook Children’s Health Care System in Fort Worth, Tex., said that in recent years, more and more parents own been inquiring about whether inhaling, consuming or rubbing essential oils onto the skin can treat a variety of their children’s ailments, including cough, congestion, fever and more.
But little, if any, evidence back up claims about the healing properties of essential oils, Dr.
Smith said. And more worrisome evidence exists on the risks of using them.
Sheie can’t prove whether the diffused essential oils were responsible for her or her daughter’s symptoms, for instance, but the oils’ tiny particles are “really excellent at infiltrating the upper and lower airways, which can cause irritation, especially in people with underlying chronic medical conditions such as asthma or allergies,” said Dr. David Stukus, M.D., an associate professor of pediatrics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
Additionally, rubbing too-potent potions onto the skin can lead to chemical burns or irritation; and if they’re swallowed, they can be deadly.
“There are claims that because they are natural, they can’t cause side effects,” Dr.
Smith said, “but they definitely can and do.”
The new oil boom
Stroll through any department store, vitamin store or farmers market and you’re bound to discover little vials filled with strong-smelling oil. These pungent elixirs are extracted from fragrant botanicals, love lavender, citrus, peppermint and cloves. “If you ponder about when you squeeze a lemon, the extremely strong citrus smell that you get is the essential oil being released from the skin,” said Wendy Weber, Ph.D., N.D., chief of the clinical research branch at the National Middle for Complementary and Integrative Health at the National Institutes of Health.
Sales revenue from these potent plant extracts in the United States increased by almost 40 percent from to By , they’re projected to reach more than $5 billion in entire sales, according to market research firm Grand View Research.
But they’re not just being sold in shops and online.
Sheie said that she’s increasingly had to politely sidestep sales pitches from people in her social circles who are selling the oils for two of the largest essential oil companies, doTerra and Young Living. These manufacturers use multilevel-marketing strategies, where the people who sell their products profit from their own sales as well as those of others they recruit (think Avon or Herbalife). “I most often run into it at church and on social media, especially in my mom groups,” she said.
The most commonly reported allergic reaction to essential oils is contact dermatitis.
Contact dermatitis from essential oils causes an itchy, bumpy rash on the skin at the site of contact with the oil. The rash may appear similar to poison oak, may own blisters and peel when the rash is resolving.
It is also possible to own systemic contact dermatitis from taking the essential oils internally (by mouth). In this circumstance, a person may experience a full body rash, whole body itching (without a rash), and/or abdominal pains and diarrhea.
Contact dermatitis to essential oils may happen in people who own experienced past rashes to fragrances or own allergy symptoms related to weed pollens. People with this type of medical history should be extremely cautious when using any essential oil and should consider performing a patch test by placing a little quantity of the oil on the skin at the fold of the elbow (antecubital fossa) twice a day for 3 to 5 days.
If there is no reaction at the site of the oil application after the 5th day or so, then it is not likely that a person is allergic to the oil being used. If, however, the skin at the site of oil application becomes red and itchy, or the skin blisters and peels, then that specific oil should not be used by the person.
But can they improve your health?
Some sellers — along with specific social media posts and websites that expound the oils’ benefits — attest with a helpful of evangelical zeal that certain essential oils can assist treat a range of ailments, from attention deficit disorder and depression to Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, skin abrasions, infections, teething pain and more.
Companies commonly market essential oils to parents for their purported ability to boost kids’ immune systems and to improve focus, mood and sleep.
But the bulk of the research done on essential oils has been performed in petri dishes and on rodents.
“There are few human studies, and they are mostly little and of low quality,” Dr. Smith said.
And of the research that has been done on humans, said Dr. Smith, the bulk of the studies on essential oils’ effectiveness and safety has been performed on adults. A few studies in children propose that inhaling lavender oil can own a calming effect; that topical applications of tea tree oil may be useful against acne, lice and warts; and that peppermint oil capsules may assist with irritable bowel syndrome and abdominal pain.
However, there’s no evidence to support essential oils’ more common uses, such as for treating “fever, cough, congestion, allergies, teething symptoms and (the one that makes me the most frustrated) behavior problems,” Dr.
Smith wrote in a column for Cook Children’s Health Care System in
Unlike with prescription and over-the-counter drugs, the makers of essential oils do not own to prove to the Food and Drug istration that their products are safe and effective for certain conditions, or even that they contain what they tell they do on the label. And by law, oil makers are not allowed to advertise that their products can prevent or treat disease.
But that hasn’t stopped some sellers from making druglike claims. Within the past five years, the F.D.A.
has issued more than half a dozen warning letters to companies marketing cosmetic products containing essential oils, or the oils themselves. In , for example, the agency stated that paid consultants for both doTerra and Young Living were claiming, without evidence, that some of their essential oils could be useful against conditions such as autism, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, viral infections (including Ebola) and more.
In response to the F.D.A.’s letter, a spokeswoman for doTerra told The New York Times that the company has created a “compliance team” of more than 50 people that “crawls the web to ensure wellness advocates are not propagating noncompliant claims,” and that the company takes corrective action if needed.
Young Living also has a strict compliance policy, according to a company spokeswoman. “Consequences for violating said policy are swift and consistent,” she said, “up to and including the revoking of membership and its privileges.”
How to safely use essential oils around your children
Because there’s no solid evidence on the efficacy and safety of essential oils, major medical organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians own not issued recommendations for using them with children.
If you still desire to use the oils on or around kids, discuss it with your child’s doctor first, advised Dr.
Anna Esparham, M.D., a board-certified pediatrician at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Kan., who has been trained in aromatherapy. And heed the following advice.
Don’t diffuse essential oils around infants under 6 months ancient. For older babies and children, it’s reasonably safe to diffuse certain oils such as cedarwood, ginger or sweet orange for up to an hour while monitoring your kid, said Dr.
You can apply certain oils — such as chamomile, cypress and helichrysum — to the skin of children 3 and up, Dr. Esparham said, but you should dilute them first (using about 3 to 6 drops of oil per 1 ounce of a “carrier oil,” such as jojoba or almond oil). Or, use a product specifically formulated for children.
Always hold oils away from the eyes, nose and mouth. And do not apply essential oils to children with sensitive skin, eczema or other chronic skin conditions, as they can be irritating, Dr. Stukus said.
Avoid applying citrus oils — such as those made from grapefruit, lemon or orange — to the skin, as they can react with ultraviolet radiation from the sun to cause burns, rashes or skin discoloration.
Don’t flavor food or drink with essential oils, even if they are labeled “food safe.” They can be harmful if swallowed, and could damage the lining of the mouth or digestive tract.
Avoid using synthetic oils, Dr. Esparham said, because the chemicals are more likely to cause side effects such as nausea or headache, skin irritation or breathing problems than more “pure” oils. Nonsynthetic oils are typically more expensive than synthetics — around $12 to $25 per vial. You can spot them by looking for their Latin names on their labels, love “ percent Cedrus atlantica oil” for cedar oil, she said.
Never add undiluted essential oils to bath water. Oil and water don’t stir, so undiluted drops could irritate the skin.
You can, however, add diluted drops, said Dr. Esparham. Use 2 drops of oil to 1 ounce of liquid Castile soap or a carrier oil.
In general, diffusing essential oils into the air is safer than using them on the skin. (But even then, it can be irritating to some. Never diffuse them in classrooms or in public spaces.)
Even diluted oils can cause irritation, so always do a patch test: Rub the oil on a little area of skin and wait 24 hours to see if there’s any redness, swelling or rash. (If there is irritation, stop using the oil immediately.)
Store essential oils in a cool, dry put away from direct sunlight and out of the reach of children.
Dr. Esparham advised keeping oils for no longer than a year as rancid oils are more likely to irritate the skin or trigger allergic reactions.
If your kid develops a rash or skin irritation; headaches; nausea or vomiting; coughing, wheezing or difficulty breathing; or any other symptoms while using oils, stop using them immediately and call your doctor. Never use oils as a replacement for medical care.
(If you or someone you know may own been exposed to a dangerous substance, contact poison control immediately at or go to for assistance.)
Teresa Carr is an award-winning journalist based in Texas who specializes in science and health.
She is a previous Consumer Reports editor and author, a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and she pens the Matters of Fact column for Undark.
Essential oils own become favorite in recent years, and are used for their supposed health benefits. These oils are made from various plant products and are used in various ways. Oils can be diffused into the air, called aromatherapy, or used topically on the skin. Oils can also be taken by mouth and ingested internally.
By doing so, homeopathic practitioners claim that these oils own various health benefits, include physical, mental and spiritual. While essential oils are derived from natural plant sources, this doesn’t mean that they can’t cause side effects, especially allergic reactions.