Millions of people suffer from some kind of allergy. In fact, it is one of the most common, but overlooked, diseases.
Allergies are a major cause of illness in the United States. According to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America, an estimated 50 million Americans, suffer from nasal allergies (1). It also states that allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S.
When you have an allergy, your immune system reacts to a foreign substance, called an allergen. It could be something you eat, touch, inhale into your lungs, or inject into your body.
Your body responds by producing a chemical called histamine to help counteract the allergen. This leads to symptoms like coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes, a runny nose, and a scratchy throat.
Other symptoms include rashes, hives, low blood pressure, breathing trouble and asthma attacks, to name a few.
There is no cure for allergies, but you can manage allergies with lifestyle changes and certain home remedies.
Here are the top 10 ways to get relief from mild allergies.
Note: In case of a severe allergic reaction involving swelling of the airways, difficulty breathing, and a sudden drop in blood pressure, make sure to get immediate medical help.
1. Saline Rinse
Clearing the nasal passages of allergens and irritants is very important to get rid of allergy symptoms. You can do this using a saline nasal rinse.
A nasal rinse cleans mucus from your nose and can ease allergy symptoms there. It also can wash away bacteria and thin mucus, and cut down on the postnasal drip.
A 2008 study published in the World Mycotoxin Journal offers strong evidence that saline nasal irrigation is an effective adjunctive treatment for symptoms of chronic rhinosinusitis (2).
Another study published in the American Journal of Rhinology & Allergy in 2012 reports that saline nasal irrigation using an isotonic solution can be recommended as a complementary therapy in allergic rhinitis (3).
- Mix 1 teaspoon of salt into 2 cups of warm distilled water.
- Using a nasal bulb, pour a small amount of this solution into one nostril.
- Allow the solution to drain back out through the other nostril or through the mouth.
- Gently blow your nose to remove excess mucus and solution.
- Follow this same process with the other nostril.
- Repeat a couple of times daily until your condition improves.
Note: Make sure to use distilled water for nasal irrigation, and wash the irrigation device after each use.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is an age-old remedy that is often recommended for the treatment of different types of allergies.
Its antihistamine properties help relieve inflammation quickly and regulate the body’s immune system response. It also reduces mucus production and cleanses the lymphatic system, which in turn reduces allergy-related symptoms.
Plus, it helps restore an alkaline pH in the body.
- Add 2 teaspoons of organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to a glass of warm water.
- Mix in 1 teaspoon each of raw honey and fresh lemon juice.
- Drink this twice daily during the allergy season.
Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin that has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions that greatly help relieve allergy symptoms.
It acts as a decongestant, helps eradicate allergens from the body, reduces allergy symptoms, builds your immunity, and helps ward off colds. Plus, it aids faster recovery.
A 2008 study published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research reports curcumin to have anti-allergic properties with an inhibitory effect on histamine release from mast cells. However, more research is still needed (4).
- Mix 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder in a glass of warm milk. Drink it twice daily.
- You can also use turmeric in your cooking, or take turmeric supplements but only after consulting your doctor.
Caution: If you are taking prescription blood thinners, consult your doctor before taking turmeric as a medicine as it also as blood-thinning properties.
Ginger is another effective remedy that you should try. It can help get rid of allergy-related symptoms like nasal congestion, a runny nose, a cough, and a headache.
It works as a natural antihistamine and has antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and immune-boosting properties.
A study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found ginger to be effective in prevention or alleviation of allergic rhinitis symptoms (5).
- Add 1 tablespoon of grated ginger, along with a few cloves and a small piece of cinnamon, to 1 cup of water. Bring the water to boil, then let it steep for 5 minutes. Strain it and add a little raw honey and lemon juice. Drink this herbal tea 2 or 3 times daily during the allergy season.
- Also, chew small pieces of fresh ginger several times a day as well as including ginger in your cooking.
5. Local Raw Honey
Having some local honey every day can help control allergy-related symptoms.
Local honey is effective due to the presence of bee pollen. It also desensitizes your body’s immune system to other pollens.
A 2011 study published in the International Archives of Allergy and Immunology reports that patients who pre-seasonally used birch pollen honey had significantly better control of their symptoms than those on conventional medication only, and they had marginally better control compared to those on regular honey.
The results should be regarded as preliminary, but they indicate that birch pollen honey could serve as a complementary therapy for birch pollen allergy (6).
Honey also contains many enzymes that support overall immune function.
You can start taking 1 tablespoon of local honey daily before the onset of allergy season. You can eat it as is or stir some into tea, add some to oatmeal along with cinnamon, or put some in your smoothies.
6. Stinging Nettle
Stinging nettle is highly effective for treating different types of allergies, be it hay fever, allergic rhinitis, or seasonal allergies.
Being a natural antihistamine, it can be very effective as it blocks the body’s ability to produce histamine. It also reduces inflammation of the upper respiratory tract and provides comfort from symptoms like nasal congestion, coughing, sneezing, and itching.
Plus, the vitamin C and butyric acid in it help maintain a healthy immune system and metabolism.
A 2009 study published in Phytotherapy Research found that the bioactive compounds in nettle extract contribute to the inhibition of pro-inflammatory pathways related to allergic rhinitis (7).
Nettle is a powerful but gentle remedy. It was used as a “spring tonic” generations ago.
- Add 1 tablespoon of dried stinging nettle leaf to a cup of hot water. Cover and steep for 5 minutes. Strain it and add a little raw honey. Drink it 2 or 3 times daily until your symptoms disappear.
- Alternatively, you can take a stinging nettle supplement (600 mg daily for 1 week). Consult your doctor first before taking this supplement.
Caution: Nettle is not recommended for pregnant women and young children.
7. Probiotic-Rich Foods
Allergy problems, manifested through your skin or nasal passages, commonly begin in the gut. So, when there is an imbalance or lack of “good” bacteria in the gut, allergic reactions can result.
To keep your gut healthy, include probiotics in your diet. This will help prevent and reduce allergies.
Moreover, probiotic foods support the immune system and can help promote quick recovery.
A 2017 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that a probiotic combination of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria helps maintain digestive health and parts of the immune system.
Researchers suspect that probiotics might work by increasing the body’s percentage of regulatory T-cells, which in turn might increase tolerance to hay fever symptoms (8).
- Eat probiotic foods, such as Greek yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, raw probiotic cheese, miso, and kombucha.
- You can also take a high quality probiotic supplement. Consult your doctor to help you choose the right supplement.
8. Oil Pulling
Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic technique that helps a variety of health problems and allergies are not an exception. It helps draw out irritants from within your body that can lead to an allergic reaction.
Plus, it helps get rid of harmful toxins, which is essential for healthy and strong immunity.
- Put 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin coconut oil in your mouth.
- Swish the oil around in your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Spit out the oil, then rinse your mouth with warm water.
- Do this daily in the morning (for at least a few months) before brushing your teeth.
Note: Do not swallow the oil as it would be containing lots of toxins after this process.
Garlic contains quercetin, a natural antihistamine that can be very effective in treating allergy-related symptoms as well as infections and viruses.
This powerful antioxidant also boosts your immunity and may literally keep the doctor away!
- Chew 2 or 3 raw garlic cloves daily to combat various allergic symptoms.
- Also, include raw garlic in your day-to-day cooking.
- You can opt to take a garlic supplement daily during the allergy season. Consult your doctor for the correct dosage.
10. Foods Rich in Vitamin C
Vitamin C works as a natural antihistamine, making this water-soluble vitamin very effective in treating allergy symptoms. It also boosts your immune system. This in turn will help prevent infection as well as shorten the duration of an illness.
A 1992 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that 2 grams of ascorbic acid decreased histamine levels by 38 percent and those levels did not change for four hours. (9)
Another study published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine in 2011 reports that vitamin C works as an antihistamine by destroying the molecular structure of the imidole ring of the histamine molecule. (10)
- Eat foods high in vitamin C like lemons, oranges, broccoli, grapefruit, kiwi, bell peppers, potatoes, strawberries, sprouts, cabbage, blueberries, raspberries, and tomatoes.
- You can also take a vitamin C supplement daily, but it is always best to consult your doctor before taking any supplements.
- Know your triggers and try to avoid them as much as possible.
- Avoid foods that make your allergy symptoms worse like dairy products, gluten-rich grains, eggs, sugar, starchy root vegetables, deep fried foods and processed foods.
- Eat foods rich in quercetin, such as broccoli, onions or shallots, green tea and citrus fruits.
- Limit your exposure to allergens to help alleviate symptoms.
- Wash pollen out of your hair and off your skin after being outside by taking a quick shower.
- Do not line-dry your clothes and bedding, which may lead to pollen accumulating on the fabric.
- If you have pets, bathe them regularly. Pollen and other allergens can get caught in their fur.
- Vacuum your house regularly to keep it free from dust and irritants.
- Use portable air filters to help eliminate allergens from the indoor air.
- During the allergy season, keep the windows and doors closed most of the time. Also, keep the car windows up almost all the time when driving.
- Since you are going to be in your bed for several hours a day, having clean sheets is a must.
- To ease a stuffy nose and help you breathe easier, take a steamy shower and inhale steam for 5 minutes.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. This will help to thin secretions, making them easier to clear.
- Avoid smoking as well as secondhand smoke, as it can make your symptoms worse.
- Avoid smoke from wood-burning fireplaces.
- Acupressure and acupuncture may also bring some relief.
- When working in your yard or vacuum, try wearing a mask.
- Reduce stress, which can make your condition worse.
- Allergy Facts | AAFA.org. AAFA. http://www.aafa.org/page/allergy-facts.aspx. Accessed March 08, 2018.
- Nasal irrigation for chronic sinus symptoms in patients with allergic rhinitis, asthma and nasal polyposis: a hypothesis generating study. WMJ : official publication of the State Medical Society of Wisconsin. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2755042/. Published April 2008. Accessed March 07, 2018.
- Nasal irrigation as an adjunctive treatment in allergic rhinitis: A systematic review and meta-analysis. American Journal of Rhinology & Allergy. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3904042/. Published 2012. Accessed March 08, 2018.
- Immunomodulatory effects of curcumin in allergy. Molecular nutrition & food research. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18398870. Published September 2008. Accessed March 08, 2018.
- Prevention of allergic rhinitis by ginger and the molecular basis of immunosuppression by 6-gingerol through T cell inactivation. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0955286315002260. Published September 01, 2015. Accessed March 08, 2018.
- Birch pollen honey for birch pollen allergy–a randomized controlled pilot study. International archives of allergy and immunology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21196761. Accessed March 08, 2018.
- Nettle extract (Urtica dioica) affects key receptors and enzymes associated with allergic rhinitis. Phytotherapy research : PTR. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19140159. Published July 2009. Accessed March 08, 2018.
- Probiotics (Lactobacillus gasseri KS-13, Bifidobacterium bifidum G9-1, and Bifidobacterium longum MM-2) improve rhinoconjunctivitis-specific quality of life in individuals with seasonal allergies: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial | The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition | Oxford Academic. OUP Academic. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/105/3/758/4569700. Published February 22, 2017. Accessed March 08, 2018.
- Antihistamine effect of supplemental ascorbic acid and neutrophil chemotaxis. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1578094. Published April 1992. Accessed March 08, 2018.
- Vitamin C: Overview and Update. Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.874.8799&rep=rep1&type=pdf. Accessed March 08, 2018.