Does your allergy medication make you drowsy or offer limited relief? Try these alternative remedies to naturally alleviate your seasonal flare-ups.
Warm, long days and blossoming trees and flowers mean spring is in full swing. For many, this is a season of outdoor adventures, digging in the garden and watching the landscape colors change. But for others, these changes are the beginning of an allergy season that brings itchy eyes, sneezing and congestion, and a newly stocked cabinet of medications.
“Approximately one in 10 Americans suffer from some kind of allergy disorder,” says Radmila Savcic-Kos, M.D. “We live in a world where antihistamines are widely used and accepted for immediate relief, but these solutions could lead to negative side effects like drowsiness, or they may not provide enough relief and be expensive.”
Dr. Savcic-Kos says there are other methods for allergy suffers that don’t include over-the-counter remedies.
“The most important and best method for allergies is allergen avoidance — that means staying indoors more during allergy season, taking more showers to rinse off allergens and using air filters,” she says.
But take note: If your allergy symptoms are new or unusual, always see your doctor.
“All patients with newly developed, severe, worsening allergies, and allergies that affect lips, mouth, tongue and airways should be seen by a doctor,” says Dr. Savcic-Kov.
For natural relief of seasonal allergies, try these five natural allergy alternatives:
Neti Pot and Saline Rinse
Before your allergies are in full force, head them off by using a Neti Pot and saline rinse. It’s a great way to flush out pollen and loosen mucus in your sinuses. While it might not take the place of your allergy medication, it can reduce the need for more medications. Neti Pots and saline rinses can also help reduce cold and flu symptoms and nasal dryness, as well as decrease snoring.
To use: Use a pre-made saline solution or make your own by dissolving 1 teaspoon of sea salt in a quart of boiled distilled water. Cool the water fully and then pour into the Neti Pot. Lean your head sideways and poor the mixture into one nostril and let it drain out the other.
Eucalyptus Oil and Steam
Open your sinuses and nasal passages by inhaling steam and the woodsy aroma of eucalyptus oil. The vapor provides an invigorating, menthol-like sensation and makes breathing seem easier.
Eucalyptus oil can also be used as a pain reliever, a warm-up for athletes and an antibacterial agent for tooth decay.
“Recent clinical trials with eucalyptus oil have shown evidence for the beneficial use in long-term therapy in the prevention of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) exacerbation and as a method for improved asthma control and decreased visits to the ER,” Dr. Savcic-Kos says.
To use: Add a few drops to the tub before a shower and inhale the steam or add to a steamy bowl of water, place a towel over your head and breathe deeply.
Bees can be great helpers to those with allergies: They fly from one flower to another, collecting pollen in the region that is impacting your allergies. “Consuming local, raw honey might build up your immunity to the pollen allergies where you live,” says Dr. Savcic-Kos.
While this theory is widely believed, there’s little scientific evidence to support it, Dr. Savcic-Kos says. But eating local honey does have other positive uses. It can help soothe coughs, boost memory and immunity and provides small amounts of calcium, copper, iron and magnesium.
To use: Enjoy it in your tea, coffee or eat it spread on toast.
Before trying any of natural remedies, talk to your doctor about your allergies and if these methods could help, especially if you have liver issues, are pregnant or on hormonal contraceptives.