I remember growing up watching my mom suffer from seasonal allergies every year. I felt fortunate that I didn’t have any allergies, especially because even as a young child I hated the idea of taking pills. That all changed when I moved a couple of years ago. Something in the air now gets me every Spring, and I’ve learned firsthand how downright miserable seasonal allergies can be. But I still hate the idea of taking pills. Besides the side effects and questionable ingredients, pharmaceutical remedies are pricey.
Thankfully there are several natural remedies for seasonal allergies.
How allergies affect your life
Sneezing, itching, watery eyes… there’s really nothing fun about seasonal allergies. But beyond just the annoying symptoms, studies have shown that during certain seasons that allergy sufferers often experience a general sense of fatigue and are more prone to sadness. People who suffer from allergies are also up to 14 times more likely to experience migraines (source).
What causes seasonal allergies?
When an allergen trigger like pollen lands on top of receptors in our nasal passage it alerts the body to release histamine. Histamines are naturally occurring. They initiate a series of reactions that are designed to help the body get rid of unwanted visitors. The problem is when body overreacts to non-harmful substances. That’s when we end up with the constant itchy eyes and runny nose. For some people these reactions can become increasingly bothersome and in some instances can make it difficult to breathe.
Natural Remedies for Seasonal Allergies
Here are some of the most popular approaches to dealing with seasonal allergies that don’t involve pharmaceuticals.
1. Nasal Rinse/Neti Pot
Neti pots rinse the nasal passage. This simple act also rinses away allergens. These small pots have been used in India for thousands of years. An Italian study published in the International Archives of Allergy and Immunology found that nasal flushing was a mild and effective way to treat seasonal allergies in children, and markedly reduced their use of antihistamines (source).
Neti pots are widely available online and at natural food stores. Use your pot about twice a day during allergy season, especially in the morning and after spending time outdoors. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully. And be prepared to feel a little weird the first time you use it. I personally love my Neti Pot. It’s been the most simple and effective means to help me deal with seasonal allergies.
2. Local Raw Honey
Raw, local honey has been known to reduce allergies for a long time. The idea behind it: If you know what it is that causes your allergies to flare up, your body can build a tolerance to it if you consume local honey from that specific plant source. Check out your local farmers market and do a little research to find the honey that’s best for you.
3. Cool-Mist Humidifier
According to John Salerno, DO, a family practitioner at Patients Medical holistic wellness center in New York City: “When it’s still a little cool at night and indoor humidity is low, using a cool-mist humidifier can help get allergens out of the air. Water droplets bind to the allergens, and they get heavy and fall to the floor so you don’t inhale them” (source).
4. Stinging Nettle
Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) behaves in much the same way as many of the drugs sold to treat allergies. With one big bonus: no ugly side effects like drowsiness or dry mouth.
Nettle actually inhibits the body’s ability to produce histamine. It’s a common weed in many parts of the United States, but the most practical medicinal form is a freeze-dried extract of the leaves sold in capsules. Studies have shown that taking about 300 milligrams daily will offer relief for most people, although the effects may last only a few hours. You also can make your own tinctures or teas with stinging nettle (source).
A simple tea made from nettle leaves is very effective. Be careful, however, if you are foraging for your own herbs as contact with the stinging hairs on fresh nettle can cause skin inflammation, so wear protective gloves when handling it. Always do your research or consult with an expert before making your own herbal remedies.
5. Raw, organic apple cider vinegar
Another win for ACV! According to many, taking a tablespoon of raw, organic apple cider vinegar before going outside helps with seasonal allergies by blocking our body’s histamine reaction. It also reduces inflammation. Simply mix 1 tablespoon of ACV with a cup of warm water and a spoonful of local, raw honey.
6. Keep the pollen out
Some of the most basic and simple ways to reduce seasonal allergies is to be diligent about keeping pollen out of your house. Wash your hair before at night. Put fresh sheets on your bed. Don’t line-dry clothes outside. Keep windows closed during peak allergen hours.
7. Essential Oils
Many find relief through the use of various essential oils including lavender, peppermint, lemongrass, and eucalyptus. Simply diffuse a few drops in a humidifier or cold air diffuser. Or massage oils using a carrier oil (like olive, coconut, almond, or jojoba) into the feet, wrists, face, and chest. (Mix 1 drop of essential oil into 1 Tbs. of carrier oil). (Learn how to get my favorite essential oils at wholesale prices here.)
8. Acupuncture and Homeopathic remedies
Both acupuncture and homeopathic remedies have been used successfully to help with seasonal allergies. Find a qualified healthcare practitioner who can help you with your unique situation.
9. Eat well
Not surprising, our diet can also help with seasonal allergies. A German study, published in the journal Allergy, found that participants who ate foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids were less likely to suffer allergy symptoms than those who didn’t regularly eat these foods (source). Avoiding highly processed foods, pasteurized dairy, and consuming lots of probiotic rich foods can strengthen your immune system and help keep seasonal allergies at bay.
Not sure where to start? Check out my real food basics to get you going.
There you go, lots of options to explore as you combat those nasty seasonal allergies naturally. Tell me, what are you favorite ways to deal with allergies?