Natural Allergy Remedies: What You Got?

Oh god. Are seasonal allergies contagious?

The answer, obviously, is, “Of course not,” (thanks, Yahoo Questions) but it’s been looping around my monkey mind all week. For about a month, I’ve been hearing people say this is the worst allergy season in ages, and I’ve seen up close how it’s been affecting my Claritin-cloudy friends, my colleagues, my guy. About a week ago I started feeling kind of crappy: runny nose, sneezy, headaches. Naturally, I thought it was either contact allergitis (this is not actually a thing) or, more plausibly, adult-onset—which would make sense since they hit my brother when he was in his early 30s. My dad has terrible allergies, t00. Ask him how he’s doing this time of year and the answers tend to be along the lines of “I can breathe today” or “I could smell a little this morning.” Suffice to say, and sorry to all you allergy sufferers out there, I was horrified at the idea of staring down the next 50 years in your camp.

Turns out, lucky for me, I just have a cold.

But what about all these poor suckers I care about? There’s got to be something other than a daily Allegra or Claritin that can help, right?

I’ve seen some interesting research about acupuncture helping with seasonal allergy symptoms (see here, here, and here), but it requires frequent visits, which is inconvenient and can be prohibitively expensive if your insurance doesn’t cover complementary medicine. (Course, if you compare the cost of thrice-weekly acupuncture for four weeks with a daily pill for four months, for years on end, the needles would probably win, but whatever—I know it’s not for everyone.) Over at Prevention, where I work, we have a neat piece about yoga poses that alleviate allergies, as well as a “Problem Solved” column with 10 solutions, many of them natural, and all of them science-backed. A woman I work with told me the other day that her husband started putting a teaspoon of raw local honey in his coffee every morning and is happy to report this is his first symptoms-free allergy season in years. Of course, there’s research debunking the effectiveness of local honey for allergies, but if you do what I do for a living, you learn that there’s a study for and against pretty much everything under the sun.

So we turn to you. We know y’all are a crafty bunch, and we’d like to know what, other than neti pots, you’ve tried with some success. Or, if you don’t have allergies yourself (high five!), what have you heard works well? Share, share. Our friends need us!

Image of my favorite flower, which is conveniently allergies-friendly, via

28 Responses to “Natural Allergy Remedies: What You Got?”
  1. Michelle says:

    I don’t have allergies but have heard fantastic things about freeze-dried nettles (MUST be the freeze-dried version). Apparently they work in about 5 minutes. I would be curious to see if anyone else has had awesome results with the nettles.

  2. Kate says:

    OK – I have MAJOR allergies (shouty caps were necessary – I promise). I even had immunotherapy (weekly injections) for five years when I was a teenager to try to control my allergies to basically everything…Mother Nature related. My allergies to cats are much more avoidable than the great outdoors. That being said, I’ve found that if I’m good about keeping my indoor environment as free of pollen, etc. as possible, it’s a huge help plus I use a few natural remedies in an effort to stave off an allergy med. I do keep some on hand for days that I just can’t get relief any other way but I rarely use them.

    Indoors: I keep the windows shut and I change the A/C filter every year. I struggle with my environmental guilt all the time but this has been major for my allergies. I also take off my shoes the instant I come inside and wipe off my dog’s paws. On days with a really high pollen count, I sometimes take a shower before I go to bed (so that my hair isn’t pollen laden, etc.) but I will more often than not just change my pillowcase a few times a week.

    Remedies: I’m a believer in raw honey regardless of the study. :) I’ve definitely seen a difference. To Michelle’s point above, I’ve also had really, really great success with freeze-dried nettles as well. I’m a wuss about neti pots at times but hot tea and facial steams often do the trick for me. I’ve got the kind of allergies where just walking through fresh cut grass will give me red welts all the way up my legs (it looks so pretty in shorts!) but aloe is great here and I’ll sometimes bathe them in oatmeal. Weleda also has some great first aid creams that I’ve used here too.

    Would love to hear what has worked for others – always looking to add more to my arsenal!

  3. Sarah Linnell says:

    I don’t know if this would really help with seasonal allergies, and that there are plenty of cons to coffee, but! last year in August I was helping my friends pack and move out of their house and the dust – oh! it was a-flying! I was have such a terrible itchy throat, runny-nose, puffy-itchy-red eye attack it was TERRIBLE. And no one (including myself) had any allergy relievers. There was, however, free coffee they had bought as a thank you to us for helping them out. I had a cup of that and BOOM. My symptoms were gone. It was the strangest thing!! Later I Googled it, and found an article or two, that said there had been a little research done to show that coffee can counteract some allergy symptoms.

    Maybe not the the best option for everyone, but, hey! If you’re cleaning house and getting itchy…

  4. liz says:

    allergy bedding and eating a plant-strong diet (vegetables,fruits, beans and nuts) has helped so much.

  5. Rebecca Bailey says:

    Probably no one wants to hear this, but going vegan, raw and gluten free took me from a lifetime of daily, year round allergy medication to the odd day where I take half a Zyrtec. And this year has been particularly bad (thanks, global climate change) – I think I’ve had 3 days on meds so far this year, when last year was maybe one or two days total. I made all the changes to my diet in a short span of time, so I’m saying it’s the combination of things. When I experimented a couple times with going back to a little animal food, my pollen allergies would come back, with a vengeance. Fish in particular is bad, for some reason. I have no scientific explanation for this, it’s simply my experience. I do think that with the gluten thing (IF you are sensitive) going off it just makes you healthier in general, because your body isn’t so stressed out. I rarely get sick anymore, and even then it’s short-lived. I spent most of my life with a constant stream of allergies and colds and whatnot. Plants and molds affect me, no animals that I’m aware of.

    I can’t say I’ve ever tried the honey thing, but maybe I’ll try that in this bad year. Marshall’s Farm is local and sells a blend of whatever is blooming at the moment.

  6. natalie says:

    The timing of this post is amazing! My husband has (had) absolutely horrible allergies. His daily regimen was a prescription nose spray in the am, 2 inhalers, an Allegra D as soon as he woke up and on bad days (which were more often than the not-so-bad days) he would have to take another Allegra D mid day or a Claritin D mid day to switch it up. On top of that, he took a Benadryl if not 2 almost every night just for some relief at night. He had been going to an allergy doctor and doing the immunotherapy shots and he also tried the local honey. A few times a year he would have to go on a heavy dose of steroids to calm everything down because he was just too inflamed for any of that to work. Nothing helped and his allergies would keep him home for days at a time and would prevent him from doing his running he loves to do. He is also in his early 30s but has had allergies for as long as he can remember. Anyway, NETTLES have been an absolute miracle for him/us. He takes 2 Nettle pills every morning and sometimes 2 at night as well and we also have a Stinging Nettles tincture that we put a dropper full in his green smoothie every day. It has totally changed his life. You have to stay on your medication when you start with the nettles for at least 2 weeks I would say to make sure it is fully in your system to control your inflammatory response which he did. He slowly weened himself off of everything and he hasn’t had to take an allegra D, a Claritin D or a Benadryl whatsoever in probably a few months now. I am keeping my fingers crossed that this continues to work for him! If you have allergies or know someone I highly recommend incorporating nettles a few times daily and slowly trying to see how you do without the meds after a few weeks. I hope it works for other people as well as it works for him!!!

  7. Charlotte says:

    i started taking a tea spoonful of bee pollen everyday from march. this time of year my hayfever gets really bad, but i havent had any problems this year, which im putting down to the bee pollen. i really dont have any other explanation since my allergies begin every year without fail from may onwards

  8. Steff says:

    I’ve thankfully never suffered allergies either but my brother has always had a horrendous time when it’s comes to them.
    I’ve heard really good things about nettles and perhaps drinking nettle tea (great if you can even get them from your garden) would provide some anti-allergy properties.
    Like Kate said, I would also think of facial steams with some essential oils such as eucalyptus and peppermint. That tends to help me when I feel stuffed up from a cold so maybe it would work or bring some relief from allergies.

  9. Susannah says:

    Wow, looks like nettles are promising for allergies. I don’t really suffer from them, but my dogs occasionally get seasonal allergies. I give them a natural supplement for dog allergies that works wonders and guess what? It contains nettles!

  10. Cornelia says:

    I’m not an allergy sufferer myself, but I find that using a Neti-pot to rinse the nasal passages has definitely improved my colds. I can breathe through my nose mostly whenever I get a cold these days thanks to the neti-pot. The trick is to use it before your nose gets to swelled up. So when you feel a cold coming, go rinse your nose straight away! Appparently Katey Denno recommended the neti-pot as a natural treatment for allergies:

  11. Blue says:

    I like Charlotte’s idea of bee pollen, and I’d like to contribute my own proven hurrahs with pure, raw, unpasteurized honey every morning in the smoothie-du-jour. For “allergy relief” the question is different for everybody — i.e. we’re all allergic to different things (or not at all) and at different times of year and at different degrees of severity, so with topics like these I believe in a holistic approach rather than a situational approach. For situations of heavy mung in the nose and throat, hot liquids and lemons will clear the passages. Breathing steam and all that. But for a regular, fortified-breastplate-of-courage to face the springtime world on a daily basis, I believe you have to start early and keep faithful: the bee pollen or unpasteurized honey, daily doses, regular habits, good habits, etc… Of course, if you have hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on allergy relief, there is always going out on a boat and sailing into the Atlantic for the first three months of every springtime season. Breathing in all that saltwater freshness REALLY clears you up (and cleanses the palate, to boot) like nothing else I’ve ever experienced.

  12. Emily says:

    I’ve been getting acupuncture for my allergies for a couple of months (only once a week though). It’s helped with my breathing, which is great. But I still take allergy meds everyday for the rest of my symptoms. My acupuncturist suggested that I stay away from dairy since it aggravates allergies in general. I’ve done the neti pot too, but not regularly. Gotta get on that…

  13. Christine says:

    Xylitol nasal spray is the deal if full-on netiness isn’t possible or preferable. Xylitol inhibits the growth of bacteria – lots of studies on that – and a saline spray helps loosen and flush out mucus and dust-pollen-etc. you can find it at the co-op where I live, but I imagine it’s readily available over the Internet.

  14. Nina says:

    This is not a remedy, but eating a low histamine diet is very helpful. Histamine plays a major role in allergies, and the less you pile on your body by eating, additionally to the histamine that is already released by the allergies, the better your symptoms may be.

  15. Alexis Smart says:

    An amazing natural remedy is a supplement that has nettles but also quercetin and bromelain (an enzyme for inflammation). It’s called D-Hist and it works really well. I use it for occasional asthma and dust allergies. My friend has gotten her son off of conventional allergy meds with this and loves it.
    Also, I know the gut plays an important role in allergies and histamine production. I never had allergies until I took huge rounds of antibiotics. Clearly, killing all the good bacteria confused my immune system.
    I would suggest taking Mega Flora by MegaFoods or Primal Defense, both broad spectrum and powerful probiotics.

  16. Jaclyn says:

    Local honey in nettle leaf tea! The ‘local’ part is key! I also like to sniff some eucalyptus essential oil when I have some sinus pressure or rub it on the bottom of my feet overnight to clear up some of the congestion. All abord the neti pot train!

  17. Aubrey says:

    After meeting with a naturopathic doctor to treat my endometriosis, she did a full analysis of my health. My allergies were one of the top concerns, and what she had me take was Quercetin tablets along with my other vitamins. These worked so well for me, I haven’t had any problems with allergies for over a year.

    After seeing how well they worked for me, my mom gave some to my brother, who has terrible allergies. They have helped him as well. I just take one in the morning if I’m starting to feel anything related to allergies, and within an hour the symptoms are gone. It’s definitely worth a try!

  18. Frances@Lila says:

    Neti pot is a must, plus a little sniff of tulsi or eucalyptus essential oil to clear the nostrils, but I also find that doing Breath of Fire is really helpful, just 3 minutes a day in the morning makes a big difference.
    Here’s a video on how to do it.

    Also, drinking nettle tea with local honey is very beneficial.

  19. Victoria says:

    I had such a terrible bout of allergies last year that I took measures to help lower my histamine levels this Spring by eating magnesium rich foods which help inflammation in the airways and reduces histamine release. Cashew and almond milk are great sources of magnesium as well as oatmeal, dates, avocados, brown rice, pintos beans, etc. Incorporating all these foods into my diet have made this season non problematic for me.

    Omega 3’s, Vitamin C, and quercetin rich foods like red and yellow peppers are also helpful, but high quality green tea (my favorite is matcha tea) helps alleviate the actual symptoms. And a spoonful of manuka honey in the morning with a scoop of Artisana coconut butter is my medicine everyday to improve my immune system. Hope that’s helpful to you!

  20. Jennifer says:

    My husband has been making me this tea with grated ginger, cinnamon, raw honey and hot water that makes the symptoms much better!

  21. Beth says:

    I realize that this is late in the game, but as an allergy sufferer I do have to say, be very careful with bee pollen. You can have an allergic reaction to it. The amount of pollen in honey is much less so try that first but if you decide to try bee pollen go slow and be prepared for the possibility of a reaction. I am quite allergic to it and the reaction is destinctly uncomfortable.

  22. Alina says:

    I have horrible spring allergies, or in fact any flowers in apartment cause my face turn red and itchy, which is not pretty.
    Unfortunately, I have not found anything to help them,even over the counter meds do not reach promised result.
    In spring season, I just hope and wait for the best and end of it all.
    I will try these natural remedies but one cannot interfere with the work of immune system. Immune system has high response and sometimes that high response is transferred towards allergens. Body is doing what it is meant to do, protect our health.

  23. Moksha says:

    I used to have hideous allergies to dust, pollen, etc. I tried everything to treat them (both naturopathic and pharmaceutical) and nothing worked. Things like clairitin would work temporarily and then my allergies would come back with anger and glory. A naturopath recommended that I try super concentrated oregano in pill form for a course of three months. The cost was mildly surprising to me at the time but I gave it a go. not only did it completely clear my allergies, it made it so that once they were gone I did not need to continue taking the supplement. I have not had allergies since doing this course. If I have started to have them, I do a 30 day run with the oregano and they are gone again. I shall build a shrine to the plant and embrace the scents of Italian kitchens for a long time to come.

  24. Silvy says:

    Honey is good because of the pollen in it, so taking the pollen straight works best for my family. Must be LOCAL and start with a few pellets, slowly increasing the dose (as the bottle will probably tell you).

  25. Amanda says:

    I know the question was what besides neti pot do you do, but I have to say that I use it everyday and while everyone around me is hopped up on claritin and zyrtec I only feel a little stuffy. This is actually a huge change, just 2 years ago I was an avid claritin user (pretty much on it april through november) and now I haven’t taken one in over a year and I feel better then I ever did taking them! I also in that time went gluten free, and hugely reduced my dairy and sugar intake, which probably didn’t hurt. I have also tried bee pollen which didn’t seem to do anything for me and acupuncture which definitely helps but is hard to get to since I work crazy hours.

  26. x says:

    I have not seen research done on natural allergy fixes so I will refrain from making any recommendations. However, I just want to give y’all some hope. :) Sometimes, allergies get better over time, I’m not sure why. I used to suffer from quite unpleasant seasonal allergies and for the past 3-4 years, bam! Nothing.

    In the meantime, 10mg loratadine every 24 hrs (I know, I know, it’s not natural, go ahead and shoot me lol), and use only distilled water for your neti pots (otherwise, you could get a deadly brain infection caused by a protozoan—a rare occurrence that can so easily be prevented!). I hear that drying your clothes in the dryer (instead of on the clothesline) also helps, as you avoid getting pollen stuck in the fabric.

  27. Margaret says:

    I have sometimes allergies and I swear by local bee pollan. You can add it to foods, but I just take a spoonful every morning! I haven’t gotten sick in years. It’s a weird texture and sometimes flavor (depending on your current state of health and how many amino acids you are lacking). But it’s great!

  28. Catherine says:

    I used to have TERRIBLE allergies. I’ve been gluten free for 18 months through 2 allergy seasons, and all I have now is occasional sneezing. Cut the gluten = no more allergies!

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