Natural Ways to Reduce Seasonal Allergy Symptoms By Dagny Taggart for The Organic Prepper
Itchy, watery eyes. Stuffy nose. Or, a runny nose. Scratchy throat. Fatigue. Facial pain. Postnasal drip with a side of coughing.
All of those symptoms are signs it is that time of year again – allergy season.
Allergies are exaggerated immune responses to substances that are generally not considered harmful. When you come into contact with something you are allergic to, your immune system releases a chemical called histamine, which triggers an allergic reaction and all of the annoying symptoms.
There are many different kinds of allergies, including food and skin allergies. Seasonal allergy – also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis – is a type of allergy that occurs when your immune system overreacts to airborne particles such as dust, dander, or pollen, causing symptoms such as a runny or itchy nose and sneezing. Pollen, a common allergen, is a substance released by every tree, flower, and weed.
Seasonal allergies can make life absolutely miserable. Unfortunately, so can the medications that are used to treat symptoms. Prescription and over-the-counter drugs for allergy relief can cause a long list of unpleasant side effects, including fatigue, dry mouth, stomach problems, nasal dryness and irritation, dizziness, headache, blurred vision, and sleep problems.
There are natural ways to reduce seasonal allergy symptoms.
The good news is that you don’t have to resort to using pharmaceutical drugs to find some relief from all that sneezing and itching. Here are natural ways to reduce (or even eliminate) seasonal allergy symptoms.
Limit exposure to allergens.
If you know what triggers your allergies, you can attempt to limit exposure. If pollen is a problem for you, try keeping your windows closed in the spring (at least on high pollen count days) and limit your time outdoors.
A good quality air purifier with a HEPA filter may also help reduce or eliminate allergens in your home. Change air conditioner and furnace filters with a MERV rating of 8 to 12. A MERV rating tells you how well the filter can remove pollen and mold from the air as it passes through.
Change your clothes when you get home and place them in your dirty laundry receptacle. Take a shower after spending time outside to remove pollen from your hair and body. Bathe pets to remove pollen from their hair and fur before they come back inside.
Consider removing carpet from your home and replacing it with wood, vinyl, or laminate flooring. Clean your carpets, area rugs, and upholstery frequently with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter and an anti-allergen seal. Dust and vacuum at least once a week.
Don’t wear shoes in the house – leave them at the door or in your garage.
The cabin air filters in your car should be changed at least once a year. Pollen and other allergens can accumulate in them – and end up blasting you in the face when you turn your car’s A/C on.
Try nasal cleansing products.
No matter which nasal irrigation product you use, be sure to use sterile, distilled, or boiled water (boil for 3-5 minutes, then cool) in your device. Never use tap water in your device or to clean it. Some tap water contains low levels of organisms such as bacteria and protozoa, including deadly amoebas (Naegleria fowleri, commonly known as the “brain-eating amoeba” is one of them) that may be safe to swallow because stomach acid kills them. But in your nose, these organisms can stay alive in nasal passages and cause potentially serious infections. They can even be fatal in some rare cases.
NeilMed Sinus Rinse kit: This kit uses a saline solution to rinse irritants like dust and pollen from the nasal passages.
Neti pot: These devices look a bit like a genie lantern and are used to naturally remove irritants from the sinus passages.
Grossan HydroPulse: This device uses a pulsating action to cleanse nasal and sinus passages that also helps restore sinus cilia (tiny hair-like cells that help clear allergens) to good health.
Saline spray: These products can help clear your nasal passages of mucus and irritants.
Improve your gut health.
A 2015 review published in the journal International Forum of Allergy and Rhinology found that people who suffer from hay fever may benefit from using probiotics (good bacteria). Although studies have not confirmed that probiotics are an effective treatment for seasonal allergies, the researchers stated that these gut bacteria could keep the body’s immune system from flaring up in response to allergens, which could, in turn, reduce allergy symptoms.
These natural remedies can provide seasonal allergy relief.
The herb butterbur is a shrub-like plant that grows in northern Asia, Europe, and parts of North America. Extracts made from the herb have been used in folk medicine for allergies, asthma, migraines, stomach cramps, and coughs.
Exactly how butterbur works is still not known, but it is thought to work in a similar way to allergy medications by blocking the action of histamine and leukotrienes, inflammatory chemicals involved in allergic reactions.
Numerous studies have shown butterbur can significantly improve unpleasant allergy symptoms.
In a study involving 186 people with hay fever, participants took a higher dose of butterbur (one tablet three times a day), a lower dose (one tablet two times a day) or a placebo. After two weeks, both the higher and lower dose relieved allergy symptoms compared to the placebo, but there were significantly greater benefits seen with the higher dose.
In another study, 330 people with hay fever were given a butterbur extract (one tablet three times a day), the antihistamine drug fexofenadine (Allegra), or a placebo. Butterbur was as effective as fexofenadine at relieving sneezing, nasal congestion, itchy eyes, and other hay fever symptoms, and both treatments were more effective than the placebo. (source)
One study found that butterbur could suppress allergic reactions in rats. In a human study, people with allergies that were given butterbur tablets for a week showed significant improvement of their allergy symptoms. After five days of treatment, the participants’ bodies contained smaller amounts of the allergy-producing substances leukotriene and histamines.
In a 2003 review, butterbur was found to be equally effective for itchy eyes as a commonly used oral antihistamine.
A 2007 review of 16 randomized controlled trials, testing 10 herbal products, suggests that butterbur could be an effective herbal treatment for hay fever. This review suggested that butterbur was better than a placebo, or as effective as antihistamine medications, for relieving allergy symptoms.
Quercetin is a natural bioflavonoid and antioxidant that is found in many plants and foods, including apples, berries, citrus fruits, red grapes, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, black tea, and green tea. It is believed that quercetin helps stabilize mast cells to keep them from releasing histamine and has anti-allergy and anti-inflammatory properties.
A common herb in natural medicine, stinging nettle (also known as nettle root) may also be a natural antihistamine. A number of studies suggest that nettle may help with allergy symptoms such as sneezing, nasal congestion, and itchiness, possibly by reducing inflammation.
Bromelain is a popular natural remedy for swelling or inflammation, especially of the sinuses and following injury or surgery. Research on mice suggests that bromelain can reduce allergic sensitization and allergic airway disease thanks to its anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties.
Vitamin C boosts the immune system. It also acts as a natural antihistamine.
According to a 2018 study on vitamin C in the treatment of allergies, oxidative stress plays a key role in allergic diseases. The researchers found that high doses of intravenous vitamin C reduced allergy symptoms. They also reported that a deficiency in vitamin C might lead to allergy-related diseases. As vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, it may act as a treatment for allergies.
While there isn’t much scientific evidence to support the idea that local honey can provide allergy relief, it is a quite popular home remedy. The claim is that consuming local honey will help your body adapt to allergens in the environment.
A potent anti-inflammatory and immune enhancer that contains histamine-lowering quercetin, garlic has been shown to reduce allergy symptoms. A 2012 study published in the International Journal of Food Science & Technology found that fresh, raw garlic was effective at suppressing the release of a substance called beta-hexosaminidase. The inhibition of this substance is an effective measure against allergic reactions.
Turmeric, a spice commonly used in curries and in Indian cuisine, contains a powerful active compound called curcumin which animal studies have shown can significantly reduce and inhibit allergic responses. Another study published by the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology of 214 people with allergic rhinitis found that those who took curcumin for two months alleviated their sneezing and congestion, and improved nasal airflow compared to those who took a placebo.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of essential fatty acid that we must obtain through our diet. Research suggests that they may reduce the production of inflammatory chemicals in the body (prostaglandin E2 and inflammatory cytokines).
Although there are no randomized controlled trials showing that omega-3 fatty acids are effective allergy remedies, a German study involving 568 people found that a high content of omega-3 fatty acids in red blood cells or in the diet was associated with a decreased risk of hay fever.
What do you think?
Have you found ways to reduce (or even eliminate) seasonal allergies? What has worked – and not worked – for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
About the Author
Dagny Taggart is the pseudonym of an experienced journalist who needs to maintain anonymity to keep her job in the public eye. Dagny is non-partisan and aims to expose the half-truths, misrepresentations, and blatant lies of the MSM.