Hay Fever, a dilema, to treat naturally or take antihistamines?

“Hay Fever” is a problem many in Cambridge  suffer from and this year it seems to have been particularly bad. I suffer from this myself though not as badly as a few years ago.

One possibility for why I now suffer less is that I eat local honey. However this tends to only be effective if the bees have been feeding on whatever causes the problem and bees rarely forage for pollen on grass which is the pollen I seem to react to. Another possibility is the desensitisation injections my bees give me from time to time. – I react much less to stings than I used to and perhaps my histamine response to allergens in general has been lowered by this?

So what part can essential oils play? Doing an internet search it is possible to find a number of essential oils that are supposed to have some antihistamine effect. These include Frankincense, Lemon, Lavender, Chamomile (whether Roman or German not stated) and Clove.

I do not claim that this is true of any of them. On checking none of them were listed as being antihistamines in the typed notes from my training and the fact that different sites give different oils makes me suspect that any antihistamine effect is negligible to say the least. That is not to say that the oils can not be helpful, indeed most of them are listed as being useful for asthma. They are also mostly listed as having a degree of anti-inflammatory action.

I personally use a mix of peppermint and either Bergamot or Lemon. (These should not be used on the skin if exposure to strong sunlight (or sunbeds for that matter) is going to take place in the following eight hours as they can cause photo-sensitivity. Again searching the internet, it is clear that the undiluted oil can cause severe burns in combination with UV light. I have been unable to ascertain the incidence of problems and have yet to meet anyone who has had a problem following massage with the diluted oil. This does not mean it isn’t a problem!” Despite not having seen it myself, I always warn clients about the dangers of sunbathing after the use of citrus oils and or Basil oils on the skin.

Incidentally some anti-histamines can also cause photo-sensitivity. Chlorphenamine (priton) does with some people. It is common with Chlorpromazine (widely used in psychiatry as an anti-psychotic it’s first use was as an antihistamine.)

So to answer the original question, I use essential oils to help control my symptoms but at the height of the season which for me is when there is a lot of grass pollen in the air I also take antihistamines.

Some of my clients feel they can manage without if they use essential oils whereas others still need medical intervention. If in doubt about the best way to go for yourself, always consult your doctor. You can then make an informed choice about what to do.