Warmer weather can come with some amount of difficulty for a portion of the population that suffers from seasonal allergies. If you’re one of them, you understand the sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, swollen sinuses, and scratchy throat that can come with sunnier days.
Seasonal allergies, also known as “hay fever,” can really knock you down. And while there are plenty of over-the-counter and prescription options for relief, maybe your case is mild and you don’t want to take medicine every day for a month or more.
Is there a solution that falls somewhere in between toughing it out and using pharmaceuticals?
Depending on your severity, you could have an easier allergy season with a few natural remedies. Some work better than others, and it depends on your individual situation, but you will come across people who swear by their home remedies for mild allergies. It’s a matter of finding what works for you.
Quercetin is a polyphenol, a plant compound that is thought to have an effect on the body’s histamine response.
Quercetin is of particular interest to allergy sufferers because of its ability to calm the body’s histamine response in some people. Your body’s histamine response is what you experience as allergies.
You can find it in capsule form. During allergy season, people take 500-800 mg of quercetin a day. A functional medicine doctor can determine whether quercetin is appropriate for you and help you find the correct dose.
The idea behind local honey as an allergy remedy is that the honey will contain particles of pollen that are found in the area, and consuming small amounts over a period of time will acclimate your body to them.
Allergies happen when your body mistakes pollen for an invader that it has to fight. So, with repeated exposure of small amounts in honey, your body may learn that local pollens won’t harm you.
Nasal irrigation (neti pot)
Your nasal passages have tiny hairs and sticky mucus that can catch allergens before you fully breathe them in. Sometimes, allergens get trapped in your nasal cavity, which could cause persistent irritation, and all of the sneezing, itching, and swelling that goes with it.
Nasal irrigation may dislodge mucus and everything that it’s holding. Some people swear by regular nasal irrigation during allergy season as a way to keep allergy symptoms in check.
A humidifier is a simple way to increase the water vapor in the air you breathe. This could help allergies by calming the histamine response in your nasal passages and increasing the moisture of your mucus so that you can more effectively expel it (aka, blow your nose).
Vacuum and dust more often
Normal dust in your home may be fine during most months, but during allergy season, you may find it helpful to dust more often. Just that little bit of naturally occurring dust inside might push you over the edge when you’re already dealing with allergens coming from the outside.
Make sure your vacuum has a HEPA filter, so that you’re not just taking the dust from the floor and blowing it around your house as you’re vacuuming.
Clean your ducts in your home
Duct work accumulates dust and particles over time. Especially as you’re switching from your heating system to your cooling or fan system, you might kick up some dust that you didn’t notice before.
Giving your ducts a good cleaning at least once a year can help you breathe easy all season long.
Watch your fragrances
As with dust, fragrances may be fine under normal circumstances, but may be too much for your body to handle when it’s already dealing with seasonal allergens.
Perfume and air fresheners are the obvious ones to look out for. Also keep an eye out for heavy fragrances in products like:
- Soap and body wash
- Skincare products
- Laundry detergent
- Household cleaners
- Scented Candles
The good news is, there are lots of fragrance-free, more natural alternatives to each of these available today.
Traditional folklore tells us that stinging nettle starts popping up in the spring, right when we need it most. People have been using stinging nettle for thousands of years to address allergy symptoms.
Research has shown that nettle has an effect on histamines. You can use nettle as a tea, in a tincture or extract, in capsules, or eaten as a cooked green, similar to spinach. (It’s delicious in omelettes!) Heat deactivates the chemical that gives it its “stinging” quality.
Other herbs that people reach for during allergy season include:
- Reishi mushrooms
- Butterbur (Petasites hybridus)
- Horehound (Marrubium vulgare)
You can find these as herbal simples (single ingredient capsules, extracts, or teas), or you can find them in herbal allergy blends.
Researchers have made connections between vitamin D deficiency and allergies. Since vitamin D is so important to so many things in your life, it’s probably a good idea to get your levels tested and work with a doctor to see if a vitamin D supplement can help you.
You can read more about vitamin D here.
FAQs About Seasonal Allergies
When is allergy season?
Allergy season varies depending on your location—warmer climates may have an earlier, longer season while colder climates may have a shorter season that starts later in the year. Allergy season can begin as early as February and end at the first frost in fall. Once you start seeing blooms, you can expect pollen counts to start to rise.
Can dogs have seasonal allergies?
Yes. Dogs’ seasonal allergies may look a little different than ours. While they might sneeze and their eyes can water like ours, you might notice skin redness and itching as a primary symptom. Ask your veterinarian if your furry friend has any concerning symptoms.
Can you develop allergies later in life?
Yes. Even if you’ve spent your whole life allergy-free, you could develop allergies seemingly out of the blue.
Can seasonal allergies cause itchy skin?
We mostly associate seasonal allergies with watery eyes, runny nose, and scratchy throat, but allergy symptoms can present as a skin reaction or irritation in some people.
Natural remedies for seasonal allergies can be a helpful and effective way to manage symptoms without resorting to medication. While they may not provide instant relief, regular use of natural remedies such as quercetin, vitamin D, and honey can help to reduce histamine response and boost the immune system over time. However, it's important to note that natural remedies should not replace prescribed medication if it is necessary for severe or life-threatening allergies. As always, it's best to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the best course of treatment for your individual needs.
- Hattori M, Mizuguchi H, Baba Y, Ono S, Nakano T, Zhang Q, Sasaki Y, Kobayashi M, Kitamura Y, Takeda N, Fukui H. Quercetin inhibits transcriptional up-regulation of histamine H1 receptor via suppressing protein kinase C-δ/extracellular signal-regulated kinase/poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 signaling pathway in HeLa cells, International Immunopharmacology, Volume 15, Issue 2, 2013, pp 232-239, ISSN 1567-5769.
- Roschek, B., Jr., Fink, R.C., McMichael, M. and Alberte, R.S. (2009), Nettle extract (Urtica dioica) affects key receptors and enzymes associated with allergic rhinitis. Phytother. Res., 23: 920-926. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.2763
- Tian HQ, Cheng L. The role of vitamin D in allergic rhinitis. Asia Pac Allergy. 2017;7(2):65-73. doi:10.5415/apallergy.2017.7.2.65
- White MV. The role of histamine in allergic diseases, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Volume 86, Issue 4, Part 2, 1990, Pages 599-605, ISSN 0091-6749.