Want natural allergy relief without relying on pharmaceuticals? We're sharing home remedies for seasonal allergy symptoms like runny nose and sore throat. We'll talk about DIY essential oil blends, pollen busters, herbs, supplements, foods that reduce allergy symptoms and foods that may make allergies worse.
What Causes Seasonal Allergy Symptoms?
Seasonal allergies are also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis. When mold spore and pollen counts go up, 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. Unfortunately, many of us now have immune systems gone haywire, with more than 50 million Americans suffering from some sort of allergy.
When is Allergy Season?
Spring and fall tend to be the worst times, with tree pollen peaking in spring and perennial plants like ragweed peaking in fall. Mold spores show up year round, but are more abundant in wet conditions.
Natural Allergy Relief Options
Natural allergy relief options work to calm down your immune system, boost natural healing and eliminate triggers. They don't have the harsh side effects of pharmaceuticals. Some of them include:
- Honey and Pollen
- Vitamin C
- Stinging Nettles
- Herbal Remedies
- Aromatherapy and Essential Oils
- Neti Pot
- Keeping pollen out of your home
- Reishi mushrooms
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids
- Avoiding foods that can make allergy symptoms worse
- Fermented Foods and Probiotics
- Drink Plenty of Water
- Apple Cider Vinegar
#1 – Honey and Pollen
Raw local honey is a wonderful natural allergy relief option for many people. Dosing recommendations range from teaspoons to tablespoons per day, once dose to three or more doses. Try different amounts and see what works for you.
Bee pollen may help, too. Always looks for local sources for best results.
#2 – Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine, antioxidant and antitoxin. To use it to fight hay fever symptoms:
- Take 1,000 milligrams five times a day for four to five days during acute flare-ups.
- 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.
Some of the best food sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit and lemons; papaya, bell peppers, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables (sauerkraut and kimchi are great!), strawberries, pineapples, kiwifruit and cantaloupe.
#3 – Stinging Nettle
Nettles are a natural antihistamine. Try nettle tea or nettle capsules leading up to and continuing through allergy season.
Learn more about nettles in Stinging Nettle – One of Most Useful Wild Plants – Weekly Weeder #16.
#4 – Herbal Remedies
The Herbal Academy also recommends elderflower and goldenrod for seasonal allergy relief, in addition to nettle. Like nettle, elderflower tea can be consumed leading up to allergy season.
They explain that: “Goldenrod is an anticatarrhal, an herb which helps the body remove excess mucus. Goldenrod also contains high levels of the anti-inflammatory constituent quercetin, which, along with its astringent action, can help alleviate the symptoms of allergies. Goldenrod tea as a Neti pot sinus wash can provide instant relief (be sure to bring tea to room temperature before using!).”
You can learn more about herbalism with online courses from the Herbal Academy.
#5 – Aromatherapy and Essential Oils
Mint oils and heat from mint tea or inhaling mint steam help to relax airways and may make breathing easier.
Modern Essentials recommends the use of lavender, eucalyptus, rose or peppermint essential oils for natural allergy relief.
- For lavender and peppermint essential oil, dilute 1-3 drops of EO in 1 tablespoon of carrier oil. Apply to sinuses and bottoms of feet.
- For eucalyptus and rose essential oils, diffuse into the air or inhale oil applied to a tissue or cotton wick.
#6 – The Neti Pot
Use a neti pot or saline rinse bottle to rinse seasonal allergy irritants out of your sinuses.
Note: Make sure to use only purified water or saline solution in your neti pot. Although rare, some people have been infected with a brain eating amoeba via the nasal passages from contaminated tap water while using a neti pot.
#7 – Keep the Pollen Out of Your Home
One of the simplest home remedies for pollen allergies is to limiting your exposure to pollen. Try the following:
- 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.
- Wash your pets. 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).
- Get rid of carpet. Mop or vacuum frequently, and make sure your vacuum doesn't recirculate the dust. (HEPA filters are our friend).
- Try an air filter. Portable air filters can clear out your most used living areas, while whole house filters work throughout your home. Make sure to clean or change filters regularly.
The Enviroklenz Mobile Air System has certified HEPA filtration and covers up to 1000 square feet. We received one to test this winter after dealing with a moldy batch of firewood, and it made a huge difference in the basement air quality. Before we got it, the mildew/moldy stuck around long after the wood was burned. Once the unit fired up, it de-stinkified the room in short order.
#8 – Add Some Spice!
Pour on the spices and seasoning! Try turmeric, onions, garlic, ginger, horseradish, hot peppers, hot mustard – get spicy! If it's strong enough to make you pay attention to the flavor, chances are it has compounds such as sulfur, quercetin and other anti-inflammatories.
Cinnamon and licorice root (most commonly used in teas) may also ease breathing.
#9 – Reishi Mushrooms
Studies have shown that reishi mushrooms (Ganoderma lucidum) are anti-inflammatory and antiallergic, making them a powerful herbal ally for natural allergy relief. They also act as a liver tonic, helping us to clear out toxins.
#10 – Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acids are also naturally anti-inflammatory. Since allergic rhinitis is a form of inflammation, foods that reduce inflammation may help provide seasonal allergy relief.
Some of the best sources of omega 3s are:
- flax seeds
You can also find Omega 3s in other seafood and products from pastured animals.
#11 – Avoid Foods That Make Allergy Symptoms Worse
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
#12 – Fermented Foods and Probiotics
What's a “live culture food”? Live culture foods are those that are fermented, either using salt or a starter culture. This helps preserve them and creates a great assortment of tasty food options. Think kimchi and sauerkraut, yogurt and kefir, wines and fermented condiments.
These foods are easy to digest and loaded with nutrition. They also rebuild the beneficial bacteria in our guts, which helps promote healing and wellness.
If you're not fermenting foods yet, many natural food groceries now carry live culture foods. (Read labels and watch out for excess sugars and artificial ingredients.)
Traditional Cooking School has great fermentation cheat sheet to make fermenting easy for everyone to try.
Have fussy eaters or nervous about fermenting? Try probiotic supplements as a source of healthy bacteria.
#13 – Flavinoids
The term flavonoids applies to over 6000 substances, many of which give plants their bright, beautiful colors. Flavonoids also enhance the effects of vitamin C.
Some of the best food sources of flavonoids include: apples, apricots, blueberries, pears, raspberries, strawberries, black beans, dark leafy greens, cabbage, onions, parsley, pinto beans, and tomatoes.
Think fresh, clean and less processed. Load up on the fruits and veggies, which are high in antioxidants and water. The brighter the color of foods, the better the odds of it being high in antioxidants.
For acute seasonal allergy symptoms, Dr. Lam, a physician physician specializing in nutritional and anti-aging medicine, recommends 600-6000mg of Quercetin (a flavinoid) in divided doses on a empty stomach.
#14 – Drink Plenty of Water
Drink ample water and eat foods that are loaded with water, such as fruits and veggies. Staying hydrated helps to thin secretions, making them easier to clear. It also helps your mucus membranes stayed hydrated, reducing that dry, scratchy feeling.
#15 – Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
Last but not least, let's not forget our perennial favorite home remedy for just about everything – apple cider vinegar!
Mix 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1/2 tablespoon raw honey. Drink three times a day.
Like many natural remedies, this option may take several weeks before you feel the full affects.
This post is provide for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any illness. 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.
What's your preferred option for natural allergy relief?
Let me know if you recommend a home remedy for seasonal allergies that I missed.
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Originally published in 2012, last updated in 2019.