When it's allergy season, symptoms like stuffy heads, congested sinuses, nonstop sneezing and watery eyes can send us scrambling for relief. Of course, there are lots of allergy medications to try, but more and more people are also using natural remedies to combat their allergy symptoms. One of the big ones this time of year: aromatherapy, and in particular, DIY aromatherapy shower squares.

Aromatherapy usually involves smelling essential oils or applying them in their diluted form to parts of your body. Some say it works because the smells of essential oils send chemical messages along nerve pathways to the brain's limbic system, according to the National Cancer Institute, which affects moods and emotions. This improves our state of mind, which in turn improves our health.

When you make a shower tablet, you concentrate the essential oil into a square and let the hot water do the heavy lifting as it breaks it down while you shower. Over at Wellness Mama, Katie Wells has a simple recipe with the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • ½ cup sea salt
  • up to 2 tablespoons water
  • 20 drops each of eucalyptus, peppermint, lavender, rosemary, and lemon

Follow her steps to make the tablet, and store them in an airtight container in your bathroom so you pop one in your shower throughout allergy season. When piled into a clear jar tied with a ribbon, they make a great homemade, inexpensive gift for a friend. But check with your pediatrician before using strong essential oils on children.

Showering you with benefits

A jar filled with DIY aromatherapy squares, a towel and a shower pouf Aromatherapy shower tablets combine the benefits of steam inhalation with the benefits of essential oils. (Photo: Trueblackheart/Shutterstock)

“Aromatherapy tablets provide an effective, simple and luxurious way to experience essential oils in the shower,” explains Deena Barselah, integrative health coach at MyVitalityLab.com.

“The water and steam release the therapeutic properties into the vapor, allowing you to take deep inhalations while supporting your respiratory system, immunity, energy, seasonal sniffles, mood and more. It’s also great for pre-workout to support deep breathing," Barselah says.

Steam inhalation can be useful for relieving congestion. Indeed, many pediatricians and moms alike recommend taking your baby into a bathroom hot from a steam shower when his nose is all stuffed up. The shower tablets combine the benefits of steam inhalation with the benefits of essential oil.

Which specific ones does Barsaleh recommend? “A favorite of mine is RC, a respiratory blend by Young Living, which includes eucalyptus, pine, lavender, cypress and others to support your health and open up airways.”

The practice of aromatherapy has picked up quite a bit in the last decade, with proponents touting its ability to boost energy, promote calm and improve other aspects of well-being.