Spring time is here and with it is an influx of pollen, dust, and other allergens. Thankfully nature has given us some great tools to fight allergies without having to turn to pharmaceuticals (most of the time).
What causes an allergic reaction?
If you look at a microscopic image of pollen you will see this spiky ball. The spiky ball is inhaled through your nose or mouth and gets stuck in your mucous membranes. The mucous membranes in our breathing passages contain mast cells which are a part of our immune system. These mast cells contain histamines. Histamines are what cause “allergic reactions” and allergy symptoms. So, when a spiky pollen grain attaches its self to the mucous membranes it triggers mast cells that start producing histamine. This then signals the body to try to rid its self of the invader The body does this through coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, skin eruptions, and other uncomfortable symptoms of allergies.
By understanding the basic “why” we can then look at some simple, effective, and natural solutions to help reduce allergy symptoms.
Here are 20 Natural Allergy Treatments
1. Saline Rinse
This by far is the most simple of solutions. A simple saline rinse will flush the pollen from your nasal passages and remove the offending pollen grain. You can use a saline nasal spray or a netti pot. Netti pots, in my experience, are much more effective at getting the foreign particles out. You can find great step by step instructions on how to use a netti pot here. This (affiliate link) is the ceramic netti pot I use.
2. Nettle Leaf
Nettle or Urtica dioica is a wonderful herbal remedy for allergies. Nettle is a potent anti-inflammatory and has been traditionally used to treat allergic rhinitis, itchy, watery eyes, sneezing and runny nose.Nettle seems to work on allergies because if its natural anti-inflammatory properties. By reducing inflammation in the body we also reduce our auto-immune response to foreign particles. Nettles are known as a natural anti-histamine preventing the mast cells from producing histamine 1. A quart of nettle leaf infusion can be drunk throughout the day to relieve allergy symptoms. You can also apply a salve, like my dry itchy skin salve, containing nettle to soothe skin irritation, or use nettle tea in your hair to ease an itchy scalp. To read more about the medicinal benefits of nettle, you can take a look at this herbal primer.1/4 C Nettle Leaf (affiliate link) 1 inch piece of sliced or grated fresh ginger (optional) – Read more about Ginger in Natural Herbal Living Magazine‘s October issue! 1 Quart Boiling Water 1 Quart sized mason jar (affiliate link)
Put the nettle leaf inside the jar. Put the chopped up ginger into water and simmer for 20 minutes. Pour the water into the mason jar, cover, and let sit at least 4 hours. Strain the leaves and drink throughout the day. I brew our herbal infusions before we go to sleep so they can be drunk first thing in the morning. The ginger can be re-used 3-4 times until the water no longer tastes of ginger when boiled.
Some people will find that taking a tincture of Nettle Leaf is more effective for allergies than drinking a large amount of tea. I love the tea because of its wonderful nutritive benefits, but the tincture is much easier to get the dose you need if you have serious allergies. We have been using this tincture from Wishgarden Herbs for my kids. They have an adult version here. I love this company. They are local, organic, and have very ethical practices. I am not an affiliate, I just think they are great.
Drinking hot tea with a nice dollop of local raw honey will help loosen congestion and phlegm. The essential oil, which is in the peppermint leaf, is anti-inflammatory and acts as a decongestant. All you need is a table spoon of peppermint leaf (affiliate link) and 2 cups of boiling water. Steep the peppermint for 15-20 minutes, strain the herbs, add some nice, local, raw honey, and enjoy the soothing effects of peppermint tea.
4. Green Tea
Green tea is a wonderful drink full of antioxidants and vitamins. It has also been shown to block a key receptor in the allergic response. This is my favorite bagged organic green tea here (affiliate link) or Mountain Rose Herbs has several wonderful loose leaf green teas here (affiliate link).
Local honey is a remedy you will hear time and time again. The theory behind local honey working for allergies is, by eating local honey daily you will inoculate your self against the pollen in your local area, therefore building an immunity to these allergens. No studies have been done on the effect of local honey on allergies but plenty of people swear by it. To get the most benefit try to find a bee keeper within 10 miles of your home. Their bees will be harvesting the same pollen that is causing you issues. If you don’t have a local bee keeper, there is usually a great selection of local raw honey at the farmers market and health food stores.
6. Bee Propolis
Bee propolis is “a resinous mixture that honey bees collect from tree buds, sap flows, or other botanical sources.” (Source) It is a different product than bee pollen which has other health benefits. It commonly comes in little yellow granules. Bee propolis has been shown to inhibit histamine release from the mast cells and is considered to be effective in releiving symptoms of allergic rhinisitis and inhibiting histamine release.
It would be best to get bee propolis from a local bee keeper. If there are none in your area there are plenty of sources online (affiliate link).
7. Spicy Foods
Spicy foods like horseradish, ginger, cayenne and other peppers will get the sinuses flowing! They will help push those invading molecules of of the sinuses and clear your breathing passages. They also reduce inflammation in the body decreasing the puffiness caused by allergens.
What can’t apple cider vinegar do? Raw (with the mother) apple cider vinegar has been used for centuries to treat everything from itchy skin to allergies, eczema, digestive complaints and a whole host of other issues. Take a tea spoon of ACV 2-3 times a day to reduce allergy symptoms. You can also apply it topically to ease itchy dry skin and scalp.
Quercetin is a plant-derived flavonoid found in fruits, vegetables, leaves and grains. It has been shown to control the release of histamine and other chemicals that initiate the allergic response. It is effective against allergies, hay fever, hives, and watery eyes. Here (affiliate link) is a great gluten free, GMO free quercetin and organic nettle leaf supplement.
Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Technique or NAET is “a non-invasive, drug free, natural solution to alleviate allergies of all types and intensities using a blend of selective energy balancing, testing and treatment procedures from acupuncture/acupressure, allopathy, chiropractic, nutritional, and kinesiological disciplines of medicine.” (source) It is basically a step by step clearing of allergens people experience on a day to day basis. I have gotten these treatments and they worked wonderfully. They also pointed me to issues with foods that I was suffering from that I hadn’t quite connected the dots to yet. I have received NAET treatments from both my Acupuncturist and Chiropractor. You can find more information on NAET at their website here.
An acupuncturist can do a holistic assessment of the patient and get down to the core issue of allergies. People with chronic allergies commonly have deficiencies which the acupuncturist can help balance. Acupuncture is very effective in the treatment of allergies and people commonly start seeing improvement immediately.
Massage relaxes the body, reduces stress, releases endorphins, reduces inflammation and increases blood flow. Some massage therapists are trained in lymphatic massage and craniosacral massage which are very helpful for getting the fluids in the body moving and gentle alignment of the body. By reducing stress and inflammation massage can help reduce the symptoms of allergies.
13. Air Filtration
Removing the particulates from the air from dust mites, mold spores, pollen, and pet dander is a simple and effective way to prevent indoor allergies. A HEPA or high-efficiency particulate air filter is a mechanical air filter that works by forcing air through this filter. It then pulls out over 99% of air particulates that cause allergies. You can purchase HEPA air filters to cleanse the rooms of your home. Be sure the size is correct for the room you will be using it in. Amazon has a great selection of highly rated air filters (affiliate link). It is also recommended to get a vacuum with a HEPA filter (affiliate link) so when you clean your home you aren’t just throwing those particulates that collected in the carpet back into the air.
14. Steam Inhalation
A nice hot steam inhalation can open up the sinus passages and help relieve the symptoms of allergies in the lungs and sinuses. Steam inhalation is very easy. You can either get a glass or ceramic microwave safe bowl and heat the water to boiling, or boil some water. Place the bowl with the steaming water on the table. Get a towel, place it over the top of your head to trap the steam, and breathe in the soothing vapors. You can enhance the benefits of the steam by adding beneficial herbs or essential oils like lemon, peppermint, lavender, ginger, horseradish, eucalyptus or ravansara to the water and breathing deeply. For children, run a steaming hot shower and sit in the bathroom breathing the steam from the shower. You can add herbs or a washcloth with essential oils on it to add the aromatherapy benefits to the steam.
15. Essential Oils
There are many essential oils that are beneficial to allergies. A few of my favorites are:
- Eucalyptus (affiliate link) is anticatarrhal, anti-inflammatory and an expectorant. It is traditionally used to treat asthma, bronchitis, congestion, coughs, as an expectorant, and is usually indicated in respiratory issues. It pairs well with citrus oils, and spicy oils like ginger and peppermint. Dilute it in a carrier oil 1-2 drops per teaspoon and apply to the chest, neck, and back as needed.
- Ravensara (affiliate link) is analgesic, anti-allergenic, anti-spasmodic and an expectorant. It is a better option to use for young children as it is not as harsh as eucalyptus. I find it blends nicely with lemon, ginger and peppermint for allergies and chest congestion.
- Lemon (affiliate link) is wonderful to clear air pollution. You can diffuse lemon alone, or paired with peppermint and eucalyptus to clear the air and ease allergy symptoms. It is also a wonderful tool to use when cleaning the home, dusting, and polishing furniture.
- Peppermint (affiliate link) is analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and invigorating. Dilute 1-2 drops of peppermint in a tea spoon of carrier oil and rub it along the throat and on the chest to reduce the symptoms of cough and congestion. Diffuse peppermint to ease allergy symptoms.
- Ginger (affiliate link) is wonderful to clear mucous and reduce the symptoms of sinusitis and sore throats.
- Roman chamomile (affiliate link) is anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmoditc, calming and relaxing. It is wonderful to use to ease a cough that just won’t stop. Avoid chamomile if you are allergic to ragweed.
- Myrrh is anti-inflammatory and is traditionally used to treat congestion. It is a wonderful addition to an allergy blend when chest congestion is present.
- Breathe blend by doTERRA. I personally use Breathe when I am suffering from allergies. It helps open up my breathing passages and eases tightness in my chest. “Many of the oils in this blend have been studies for their abilities to open and soothe the tissues of the respiratory system and also for their abilities to combat airborne bacteria and viruses that could be harmful to the system.” – Modern Essentials 4th Edition. It contains Laurel Leaf, Peppermint, Eucalyptus radiata, Melaleuca alternifolia, Lemon and Ravensara. I am a doTERA consultant, if you have any questions feel free to contact me. You can order Breathe and these other oils on my doTERRA site.
“Probiotics play a substantial role in preventing allergies according to these studies2:
- Non-pathogenic E. coli was administered to infants to stimulate their immune systems. At 10 years old and 20 years old these children suffered from significantly fewer allergic diseases.
- Prior to delivery, expecting mothers received probiotics or a placebo. Following delivery, the children who received probiotics continued dosage for 6 months. After 4 years, only 26% of the children on probiotics developed eczema while 46% of those without probiotics developed the condition.” from Body Ecology
17. Diet Changes
A study by Global Allergy and Asthma European Network (GA²LEN) suggests that allergies may be caused by simply changing the diet, especially in children. The study showed that exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months drastically reduced the childs incidence of allergies. It showed that children who eat more foods high in anti-oxidants and magnesium like fresh fruits and vegetables had a lower incidence of allergies, and children who eat probiotic foods tend to have less allergy symptoms. You can read more about this study here.
Other people would benefit from removing foods that they have an intolerance or allergy too. Food intolerance and allergies cause systemic inflammation in the body. When the body is constantly on “attack mode” for any foreign invaders the body will react strongly and constantly to things that might be innocuous at other times. When I gave up gluten my allergy symptoms drastically reduced within days and my asthma disappeared. Common food intolerances and allergies include dairy, gluten, soy, corn, nuts, fish, and pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides on produce as well as hormones and anti-biotics in factory farmed meats.
18. Stay Inside
When the pollen counts are high outside stay inside with your HEPA filters on and your windows and doors closed. You can simply reduce allergic symptoms by avoiding the cause. You can get daily updates on pollen counts here.
19. Drive With the Windows Up
Drive with the windows up and air conditioner on during high pollen count days.
20. Take a Shower
After being outside take a nice hot shower. Washing off the offending particles that trigger allergies is a simple yet effective way to reduce your exposure. Rinse your hair with an apple cider vinegar rinse and breathe in the steam.
Although not all of these remedies will work for every person, hopefully these ideas will be helpful in defeating your seasonal allergy issues.
What are your favorite ways to battle seasonal allergies?
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