Want relief from seasonal allergies without relying on pharmaceuticals? This post provides home remedies for seasonal allergies, including herbs and supplements that help with seasonal allergies, simple tips to help with hay fever symptoms, food that reduce allergy symptoms and foods that may make allergies worse.
What Causes Seasonal Allergies?
Discovery Health estimates the 36 million people suffer with seasonal allergies (also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis). Pollen counts go up, and your immune system releases histamines. Histamines are naturally occurring and perfectly normal – except when your body over-reacts to non-harmful substances. Then you end up with itchy, watery eyes; runny nose and/or sinus drainage; sore or scratchy throat; and chest tightness, cough or difficulty breathing. If you’re faced with real toxic substances, this reaction helps keep them out of your body. When it’s just pollen, strong reactions pretty much only serve to make you feel miserable.
I’ve been less bothered with allergies since I’ve improved my diet, but this year the allergy season hit early and strong in our area. I started having chest pain and couldn’t figure out what was going on. It turned out my sinus drainage was causing acid reflux. The doctor prescribed Allergra and Zyrtec, but I didn’t like how the Allegra made me feel (and I didn’t even try the antacid). Time for some research on home remedies for seasonal allergies!
Supplements and Herbs That Help with Seasonal Allergies
Vitamin C – Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine, antioxidant and antitoxin. I’ve increased my vitamin C intake, along with my local raw honey intake, and it is working as well or better than the Allegra with no side effects. I’ve been using a combination of Ester-C and Emergen-C.
During acute flare-ups, take 1,000 milligrams five times a day for four to five days. Follow this with 1,000 milligrams three times a day for three weeks; then take 1,000 milligrams a day for two months. Some people with allergies find mineral ascorbate vitamin C or esterified vitamin C (Ester-C) easier to tolerate than simple ascorbic acid.
DoctorYourself.com shares some great stories about the healing power of vitamin C for allergies, bee stings and other illness.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) – Homemademedicine.com cites the sulfur in MSM for relief of allergy symptoms. They recommend 500 milligrams three or four times daily, with meals.
Flavonoids, such as Quercetin – Dr. Lam recommends 600-6000mg in divided dose on a empty stomach for allergies. Food sources of flavonoids include: apples, apricots, blueberries, pears, raspberries, strawberries, black beans, cabbage, onions, parsley, pinto beans, and tomatoes. Flavonoids also enhance the effects of vitamin C. (Read more at The World’s Healthiest Foods.)
Reishi Mushrooms – Studies have shown the reishi mushrooms may be affective against allergic reactions as well as other health problems.
Common Nettle – Nettle is a natural antihistamine. A number of sources recommend regular use of nettle tea or nettle capsules leading up to and continuing through allergy season. Learn more about nettles in the Weekly Weeder #16 – Common Nettle.
Peppermint – mint oils and heat from mint tea or inhaling mint steam help to relax airways and may make breathing easier.
Turmeric – Naturally anti-inflammatory, turmeric may sooth fatigue and aches associated with allergies. Homemade medicine recommends 500 milligrams three times daily. You can also use it in cooking – bring on the Indian food!
Rosemary, Ginkgo, Eyebright and Elderflower may also help relieve allergy symptoms. (Read more at Annie’s Remedy.)
Remember to use caution with all herbs and supplements, especially if you are nursing or pregnant or on any medication. Although rare, allergic reactions to supplements themselves can happen, as can interactions with medications.
Simple Tips to Help with Hay Fever Symptoms
Limiting your exposure to allergens can also help alleviate symptoms. Try the following:
- Use a neti pot or saline rinse bottle to rinse irritants out of your sinuses.
- Wash pollen out of your hair and off your skin after being outside. Eyes may be rinsed with cool water.
- Skip line drying of clothes and bedding, which may lead to pollen accumulating on the fabric.
- Try steam – float some decongestant flowers or herbs (such as New England Aster or fragrant herbs like eucalyptus or mint) in a bowl of hot water, use a towel over your head to create a tent and breath in the steam. (Click here to see me demonstrating this with New England Aster.)
- If you have pets, washing them may help, too, as pollen and other allergens can get caught in their fur (animal dander may also contribute to allergy attacks).
- Hard floors are easier to keep clear of allergens than carpets. Mop or vacuum frequently, and make sure your vacuum doesn’t recirculate the dust (HEPA filters are our friend). I love our Cyclovac Central Vac. It vents outside, so I know the dust is gone – at least for while!
- Drink plenty of water to thin secretions and help them clear.
Foods That May Make Seasonal Allergies Worse
While every person is different, the following foods may contribute to excess mucus production, worsening allergy symptoms. (From the Holistic Herbal.)
- Dairy products, including goat’s milk and yogurt
- Grains, especially gluten rich ones
- Potatoes and other starchy root vegetables
- Deep fried foods, processed foods
Foods That May Help Seasonal Allergies
Think fresh, clean and less processed. Load up on the fruits and veggies, which are high in antioxidants and water. Leafy greens – including edible weeds – are loaded with nutrients and trace minerals. The brighter the color of foods, the better the odds of it being high in antioxidants.
Seek out Omega 3s – Omega 3 fatty acids are also naturally anti-inflammatory. Some of the best sources of omega 3s are sardines, salmon, flax seeds and walnuts, but they can also be found in other seafood and in pastured animals and products from pastured animals.
Pour on the spices and seasoning – Turmeric is just one spice that relieves inflammation. Cinnamon and licorice root (most commonly used in teas) may also ease breathing. Onions, garlic, ginger, horseradish, hot peppers, hot mustard – if it’s strong enough to make you pay attention to the flavor, chances are it’s got compounds such as sulfur, quercetin and other anti-inflammatories.
Add live cultured/probiotic foods – There’s a saying that “all disease begins in the gut”. As we age, we use up our body’s stores of digestive enzymes. Many of us are deficient even when we are younger due to antibiotic use, poor diet, stress and other issues. By rebuilding the beneficial bacteria in our guts, we help our bodies better utilize the food we eat to promote healing and wellness. You can find several recipes for live culture foods on the recipe page.
Have some honey, Honey! – Local, raw honey is a wonderful allergy fighter for many people. I’ve seen recommendations ranging from teaspoons to tablespoons per day, once dose to three or more doses. I’ve been gnawing my way through a honeycomb and taking about 3 teaspoons per day, spread throughout the day. Bee pollen is also commonly recommended.
The Nourished Living Network has dozens (possibly hundreds, I’ve only started exploring) of recipes for beautiful, nourishing foods. Many of the recipes are also free of common allergens such as dairy and gluten.
Be well! Let me know if you’ve been using a home remedy that I’ve missed.
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