9 Ways To Relieve Seasonal Allergies Naturally

Allergy season has arrived!  With spring comes pollen, molds, mildews, cut grass, and the like.  Many of you know I suffer from chronic sinusitis and have asked what I've used to try and control my allergy issues.  I was allergy-free until I was 18 years old.  I can pinpoint what I believe caused my allergies: I moved into my parent's home they had just bought and later found out I was living in a basement full of black mold.  It absolutely killed my immune system. After living there for about a year I became incredibly sick with a very high temperature that the doctor's had a hard time getting to break. Ever since then I've had significant allergy complications.

What Causes Seasonal Allergies?
Allergy is misplaced immunity.  Seasonal allergies or hay fever is caused by an exaggerated immune response (release of histamine) to otherwise harmless airborne pollens from various plants and trees.  Histamines are perfectly normal, except when your body over reacts to these non-harmful substances.
When repeated exposure happens, the inflammatory response becomes chronic.  This, in turn, can result in inflammation of the sinuses which is chronic sinusitis.

Here's a list of things that have worked for me in hopes some of them may work for you as well:

1. Keep Allergens Outside
     If pollen is a trigger for you then keeping the windows closed, particularly on days when pollen is high or it's windy, will help keep it from coming in the house.  The same goes for hanging laundry on the clothesline.  Avoid high pollen or windy days.
     Take a shower if you spend a lot of time outside.  Getting out of your clothes that have pollen on them and washing it off of your skin and out of your hair will help.  And don't forget the animals!  Any animals that go outside will track pollen into the house.
     Regularly cleaning your floors and other surfaces will allow you to remove any pollen that does make it's way into your home.

2. Keep Your Nose Clean
     Using either a (affiliate links) Neti-pot and/or Saline Nasal Spray to flush out your nasal passages is said to be an effective way to help prevent allergy issues.  I tried a neti-pot once and that was enough for me.  Sending water from one nostril and then into the other just wasn't something I wanted to do.  I have, however, used a saline spray.  Honestly, although it makes sense, I haven't seen much difference.

3. Consider Stinging Nettle
     Found loose (to make into a tea) or as a capsule, freeze-dried stinging nettle can work as a natural antihistamine.  The key is to begin taking it a few weeks prior to allergy season and taking it daily through the end of it.  I have had some success with this and need to try it again.  I think since I've given up dairy (see #4) and began healing my gut (see #9) I may find this is even more effective.

4. Avoid Dairy
     Dairy is known to contribute to excess mucus production.  Many find that avoiding it completely during allergy season helps alleviate the symptoms. You don't have to be allergic to dairy to find that by omitting it you feel relief of other allergies.  Make sure to read labels because you will be surprised at how many items contain dairy.
     In my case I have seasonal allergies, asthma (although it rarely acts up) and chronic sinusitis.  I'm also allergic to dust mites, dogs and cats.  Since some amount of dust is inevitable and I live with a dog and a cat, I suffer from allergy issues year-round.  I gave up dairy 2 years ago and 32 days (to be exact) after giving it up completely I noticed a HUGE difference.  Daily congestion was gone.  I developed a lot fewer sinus infections, my head and chest felt clear, and I didn't get the other symptoms (headache, body aches, etc.) as often.
     After 2 months of being dairy-free I was frustrated about not being able to find a non-dairy creamer that I liked.  I thought, why not just add a tad of milk?  It's just a small amount.....I immediately got a sore throat and a head full of congestion.  Done - no more dairy for me.

5. Local Honey
     Taking one teaspoon of local honey per day can possibly help.  Although there isn't much scientific evidence to back this, it's thought that consuming local honey will help you adapt to the allergens in the environment.  This allows your body to build up a natural immunity and no longer see pollen as invaders during allergy season.
     Although avoiding dairy has helped relieve most of my symptoms, I still suffer from headaches, fatigue, and just feeling sick occasionally.  I began taking a daily dose of local honey about 3 months ago and I believe there certainly is a difference.  The hardest part for me was remembering to take it every single day.  I've never been a fan of sweetened tea but I decided it was the easiest way to incorporate it.  I now put it in my evening tea.

6. Elderberry
     Elderberry syrup can be used in 2 different ways: as a daily supplement (one teaspoon daily) to help boost the immune system or taken when you feel allergy issues coming on (up to four teaspoons per day).  Elderberry helps keep bacteria in check as well as supports the sinuses by discouraging the swelling of mucous membranes.
     For me, personally, I don't use elderberry daily.  Instead, I find that it works extremely well when I am suffering negative effects of allergies or if I know I've been exposed.  During those times I take one teaspoon 4 times per day until the symptoms dissipate.  This is the one that I use when I don't have time to make my own.  Be careful when sourcing the syrup because many companies use sugar instead of honey.  The one I linked to is made with raw honey, elderberries and echinacea.
     If you would like to make your own it's quite simple!  Here is the recipe:

Elderberry Syrup
Elderberry syrup is not shelf stable without a preservative because of the water content.  In order to make it more shelf stable either increase the honey to 2 cups or add the optional vodka.
2 cups dried elderberries
4 cups distilled or purified water
1-1/2 to 2 cups raw honey (or maple syrup for an infant/vegan friendly recipe)
1 cup vodka (optional - only necessary if you would like your syrup to be shelf-stable)
     Combine berries and water in a pan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and allow berries to simmer for 30-40 minutes.  Remove from heat and let steep for 1 hour.  Using a funnel lined with cheesecloth or a paper towel, strain mixture and discard solids.  Allow liquid to sit until it comes to just warmer than room temperature.  Stir in honey and vodka if using.  Pour into a jar or bottle with tight-fitting lid.
Store in the refrigerator (without alcohol or extra honey) for up to 3 weeks.  If using additional honey or optional alcohol, store at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for up to 3 months.

7. Drink Water
     It seems simple and maybe obvious but drinking plenty of water keeps your mucous thinned out and your body running optimally.

8. Try Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
    I have not used this to prevent seasonal allergies but I have used this for allergy relief and it really did help thin out the mucous.  I added one teaspoon of ACV (that has the mother) to a cup of warm water as well as one teaspoon of honey and drank it every morning and every evening.
     Others have found it helpful as a preventative by consuming 1 teaspoon of ACV up to 3 times per day, every day, starting a couple of weeks prior to the typical allergy season.
     *never take ACV without being diluted in water.  It can burn your esophagus and/or cause intestinal distress*

9. Boost Your Immune System
     An imbalance of your immune system is thought to be the reason for your body reacting too strongly to stimuli.  Healing it with good nutrition includes eating plenty of vegetables, fruits & whole grains (if you can eat grains), not overconsuming proteins and omitting all sugars and white, processed foods.  Consuming fermented foods or probiotics is also a boost to good gut health and astragulus has been found to be beneficial.  And reduce stress.  Easier said then done, stress does a number on your immune system, and not in a good way.

Listen to your body.  I can't emphasize this enough.  By trying different things and really paying attention to how your body responds you will find what works best for you.  Stress was a big one for me.  Because I was in a constant state of stress for the past 6 years, my immune system was shattered.  I can honestly say that during that time I never felt very good.  Having rid myself of the constant stress, omitting dairy, and taking honey and elderberry syrup, particularly when I know I've been exposed to illness, I have really experienced the best year, health-wise, I've had in 7 years.  I have been working very hard on healing my immune system and will now work on getting off the daily antihistamine's and back on stinging nettle.

Have you had success with natural alternatives to your own allergy issues?

1 comment

daisy g said...

I'm right there with ya. I don't do much dairy (ice cream or cheese is a once in a while treat), use a saline rinse at least once a day and drink lots of water and herbal tea. I tried the stinging nettle capsules for a couple of weeks and didn't notice a difference. Elderberry syrup is big here in NC, but I don't take it often. Honey, however, is a staple, local and fresh!

Glad you have found so many ways to alleviate your symptoms. Thanks for sharing your experience.
Bee well...