Spring is in full swing, and unfortunately for millions of people around the world, so are seasonal allergies. It’s hard to enjoy blooming plants, fresh grass and warmer weather when you’re sniffling and sneezing, your eyes are puffy, and you feel too stuffy to breathe!
Aside from staying inside to avoid airborne allergens (which nobody really wants to do!), most people reach for over-the-counter decongestant or antihistamine medications to clear up their congestion, runny nose, headaches and other symptoms. However, there are many other ways to help ease your allergy symptoms by using ingredients or techniques right at home. These remedies may be more natural and safer long-term alternatives to medications.
Since seasonal allergies are caused by an overreaction by the immune system to substances that are not actually harmful to us, many natural remedies focus on bolstering the immune system and reducing the release of histamine, which is what causes the frustrating symptoms you experience each year. Others may help break up the mucous and relieve existing symptoms after they occur.
Try out these top natural remedies for spring allergies.
- Apple cider vinegar: Apple cider vinegar is a popular home remedy for many things, including cleansing your hair, reducing odors and even cleaning your house. If you have a bottle in your pantry, you’re in luck: apple cider vinegar may also help reduce symptoms of seasonal allergies by breaking up mucous. Try swallowing a tablespoon a day, mixed with honey or water.
- Butterbur: The plant butterbur is a useful allergy remedy if you suffer from headaches and nasal allergy symptoms. Butterbur blocks the receptors that trigger allergy symptoms like swelling in the nose. The plant can be taken in tablet form or can be brewed into teas.
- Nasal rinses: Pollen and other airborne allergies can easily get lodged in your nasal passages after a long day of being outside, and they can get trapped even longer if mucous starts to develop. To rinse your system of both frustrating mucous and allergens that may be lingering, use a nasal rinse system like the Neti Pot to flush everything out with a saline rinse.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C is one of the top known antioxidants and is a natural antihistamine. This necessary nutrient strengthens the immune system and is known to reduce the severity of allergy symptoms by decreasing the body’s production of histamine.
- Healthy diet: A healthy diet helps maintain a healthy body, and junk food or sugar can make your body and immune system weaker. Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet may help alleviate some allergy symptoms. You’ll also want to avoid inflammatory foods, since these can heighten your body’s inflammatory response, which is already high due to your allergies. Eat anti-inflammatory foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids and quercetin, instead, like fish, broccoli, garlic, grapes, flaxseed oil and green tea.
- Stinging nettle: Stinging nettle contains anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties, so it is believed that its leaves can help reduce the histamines in your body, relieving allergy symptoms. Dried nettle leaf capsules or teas are usually the most effective way to use this plant for allergy relief.
- HEPA filters: Your allergies most likely flare up the worst when you’re outside, surrounded by pollen and other allergens, but they can be triggered by allergens trapped in your home, as well. Since there’s little worse than being uncomfortable in your own home, buy an air filtration system that uses high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) technology or install HEPA filters into your HVAC system. HEPA filters are able to trap up to 99.9 percent of particles in the air, which will help you breathe more easily.
- Turmeric: Turmeric has been used as a natural remedy for centuries. Its main ingredient, curcumin, contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can not only give your immune system a boost but also help reduce your allergy symptoms.
- Probiotics: An astounding portion of your immune system actually lies in your gut, so if your gut bacteria are imbalanced, your immune system won’t work as well as it should. Taking probiotics helps reintroduce “good” bacteria into your intestines to maintain that balance. Doing so may help your body more easily cope with seasonal allergies and reduce your symptoms.
In addition to all the home remedies above, you should also take an active role in preventing allergies as much as possible. Monitor pollen levels in your area and try to avoid going outside at times when pollen is highest.
Through natural remedies and careful attention to your diet and allergen exposure, you should be able to enjoy spring without the side effects!