If you're one of the many who suffer from seasonal allergies, you might feel forced to choose between a really miserable couple of seasons of sniffling, scratchy throat, coughing, itchy eyes – or the alternative – taking medications that you’d prefer not to take, or that make you sleepy and zap your energy or make you feel dried out.
But I have some great news: natural remedies can really help. I'm going to explain what they are and how they work, plus how you can get started on your natural and non-drowsy seasonal allergy plan.
If you want to dive deeper into the root cause behind seasonal allergies, and how you can reverse them for good, head over here to learn about The Gut and Allergy Connection.
Herbs and Supplements for Allergy Relief
To relieve seasonal allergies, pick from one or a combination of several of the following herbs and supplements to be taken daily. Whenever possible, it’s fantastic if you can get onto this plan even before allergy season hits, but you can start anytime and still get great relief! You can also take them on an as-needed basis, but my experience is that taking them daily through the allergy season(s) that hit you is the most effective strategy for maximum relief.
Freeze-Dried Stinging Nettles
If you’ve ever gardened near a patch of stinging nettles you know that this herb can pack a little wallop of burning fire if you brush up the wrong way. But when it comes to allergy relief, this humble herb can really do the trick and has been a go-to in my herbal and medical practice for 35 years, often in combination with quercetin (see below).
Nettles also some nice science to back up its use: One study found that 600mg of the freeze-dried form in capsules daily was able to reduce symptoms compared to placebo and 48% of people in the study found it better than other over-the- counter medications. It works by inhibiting the breakdown of something called ‘mast cells’ in your body.
Mast cells are where histamine is formed, stored, and released. So by preventing their breakdown, they act as a natural antihistamine. But the cool thing is that this natural version doesn’t make you sleepy or dry you out.
Dose: 300 mg 2-3 times daily. Tea can be taken for very mild allergy symptoms, but overall I find the freeze-dried form most effective.
Findings from a 2007 systematic review of six randomized controlled trials suggest that butterbur is superior to placebo or similarly effective compared with nonsedative antihistamines for intermittent allergic rhinitis. In one study of 125 individuals with allergies, it was been found to be as effective in relieving allergic rhinitis as Zyrtec to relieve symptoms of tearing, itchy, and red eyes associated with seasonal allergies
Dose: 75 mg twice a day. It’s important that any product you purchase be labeled “PA Free” for safety (PA’s are a chemical that can cause liver damage, but when removed from the herb, the product is considered safe) .
Black seed, or Black cumin, has data supporting its effectiveness in helping reduce seasonal allergies, as well as rhinitis, eczema, and asthma associated with allergies as a trigger. Dose 1-3g/day in capsules.
Quercetin is a yellowish plant pigment found in many common herbs and foods, such as onions, apples, and other fruits and vegetables. In supplement form, it is used as an anti-inflammatory and boosts the immunity in your mucus membranes (your nasal and breathing passages) while reducing reactivity to seasonal allergens like pollen.
Recent research shows that quercetin it is effective for allergies, because it inhibits histamine release – in other words, it’s a natural antihistamine. But it’s one that doesn’t dry you out or make you sleepy.
Dose: 500 mg daily. It should not be taken during pregnancy because of potentially harmful effects on fetal development.
NAC has beneficial anti-inflammatory and mucolytic capabilities that can help to relieve common seasonal allergy symptoms like nasal congestion.
Dose: 300 to 900 milligrams, three times a day.
A neti pot is a container designed to rinse debris or mucus from your nasal passages. This traditional Ayurvedic practice has been recommended even by the FDA for treating symptoms of seasonal allergies, sinus infections, and colds.
Neti pots are often readily available in pharmacies, online, and in natural food stores. It's important to use a saline solution rather than water to protect the linings of your nasal passages, which can be irritated by plain water. If you choose to make your own saline solution at home, it's important to use distilled or sterilized bottled water so you don't get an infection.
To use a neti pot, tilt your head sideways over the sink and place the spout of the neti pot in the upper nostril. Breathing through your open mouth, gently pour the saline solution into your upper nostril so that the liquid drains through the lower nostril. Repeat on the other side. Children over 5 can generally use a neti pot as well.
Clean your neti pot between uses. If you are pregnant, using this on your child, or are immunocompromised, speak with your healthcare provider before trying this.
Probiotics are certainly the rage. Probiotics containing Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species have been shown to support healthy immunity. They are also effective in helping to heal the gut, which we now recognize, can be a source of many inflammatory conditions – including seasonal allergies
A systematic reviews found that probiotics, taken for seasonal allergies, may improve the overall quality of life and reduce nasal allergy symptoms. Lactofermented foods are a healthful part of the diet – so I definitely recommend including those, and if you'd like to try a probiotic supplement seasonally for extra immune support, it's a simple and safe approach to add to your plan.
Have you tried natural remedies and supplements to relieve your seasonal allergy symptoms? I have some great news: Natural remedies can really help.
Can I Take These During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding?
The probiotics, NAC, and freeze-dried stinging nettles can be safely taken in pregnancy, though I don’t recommend any supplements other than you prenatal vitamins and possibly a probiotic in the first trimester, and always check with your doctor or midwife before taking supplements in pregnancy. The other supplements and herbs should not be taken in pregnancy. These are generally considered safe for seasonal use while breastfeeding.
Can My Child Use These Remedies?
Probiotics, NAC, and nasal saline rinses have all been studied in children for allergies or cold symptoms, and have been found to be safe and effective. The remedies below may also be used for children. The dose for children 5-12 years old would be about ¼- ⅓ of the adult dose, and for kids 12 and over, ½ to the full adult dose depending on their size. But make sure to check with your child’s doctor before starting any new supplements. If you want to learn a whole lot more about kids and allergies, check out my course The Allergy Epidemic, right here.
Lifestyle Shifts for Allergy Relief
Beyond using natural supplements, other lifestyle habits can help lower the severity of seasonal allergy symptoms so you can experience quick relief.
One of them is using a neti pot. A 2012 systematic review and meta-analysis of 10 studies found that saline nasal irrigation from using a neti pot resulted in less irritation and mucus. It also improved quality of life in adults and children with allergic rhinitis, or seasonal allergies. One of the ways it works is by cleaning out the pollen from the nasal passages.
Use distilled or boiled water in your neti pot when making your saline solution to avoid contamination, and do it one to three times a week for up to seven weeks.
Another way to address seasonal allergy symptoms through your lifestyle habits is to lower stress- which can affect your immune response and is associated with increased allergic reactivity. Read more about my tips on how to beat stress naturally here.
Finally, if you want to dive deeper into the root cause of seasonal allergies and how to heal them for good by healing your gut, you can find that in my post here.
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