7 natural treatments for allergy relief

July 24, 2018 Providence Health Team

Diet may play a role in easing allergy symptoms.

Alternative therapies include acupuncture, hydrotherapy and immunotherapy.

Herbal remedies should only be used at direction of trained health care professional.

The runny nose, the watery eyes, the congestion—all signs that your allergies are working overtime. Whether it’s a seasonal allergy to pollen or spores floating through the air or a year-round trigger such as dust or pet dander, you want to avoid all those annoying symptoms. What if you don’t have allergy meds on hand, though, or you would prefer to avoid medications all together? There may be some natural remedies you can try to alleviate those symptoms. Next time the pollen count in your area is high, consider one of these alternative allergy relief options.

1. Allergy relief diet

Go easy on fat and increase complex carbs as a general eating rule of thumb, washing your meals down with half of your body weight in ounces of water each day. For example, if you weigh 140 pounds, you should be drinking 70 ounces of water daily. Include richly colored yellow, orange and green veggies, as well as garlic, ginger and cayenne. Try avoiding caffeine, alcohol, dairy, red meat, sugar and wheat. Research suggests the flavonoid quercetin acts as a natural histamine blocker, so foods high in quercetin, like apples, berries, grapes, tea, tomatoes and the aforementioned leafy greens might help with your hay fever.

2. Supplements

Many people believe that certain supplements can ease allergy symptoms. For instance, quercetin and other bioflavonoids thought to have antihistamine properties are available in supplement form, while probiotics encourage the growth of gut bacteria that can boost health. Other supplements that are thought to help with allergies: flaxseed oil, vitamins A, C and E, and zinc.

3. Acupuncture

It’s thought that one reason for allergies is a weak adrenal system, so acupuncture is used to support those glands. It’s also recommended to get plenty of exercise and sleep in conjunction with acupuncture

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4. Nasal saline wash

People who swear by this allergy relief treatment say the saline clears out any allergens lurking in their nostrils and eases the pain of a congested nose. Saline sprays or drops can be used, or pour a saline solution into a neti pot — the spout can be inserted gently into one nostril as you tilt your head so the liquid comes out the other nostril. It’s thought to work best before allergy season even begins, and if it’s used on a daily basis.

5. Immunotherapy

This is the practice of exposing yourself to your allergens in order to build up immunity. The allergen can either be injected via a shot or doses placed under your tongue. This one isn’t a quick fix, though; it’s thought that it takes three to five years for your body to build up enough immunity to the allergen. Allergists typically recommend immunotherapy only if the patient has multiple allergic sensitivities.

6. Hydrotherapy

Adherents believe water treatments help allergy symptoms by flushing the body of congestion buildup. Depending on the type of allergy, these methods can include cold compresses or hot foot baths.

7. Herbal medicines

Practitioners claim there are several types of these medicines that can act as anti-inflammatories or antihistamines, or relieve specific symptoms such as watery eyes or runny nose. However, it’s very important to only take these medicines under the supervision and guidance of a health care provider who can gauge effectiveness or modify doses to prevent side effects.

Be skeptical of natural remedies not backed by evidence. Ask your physician if natural remedies can be integrated into your allergy relief plan. If you need to find a doctor, search for one near you in our online directory. For more information on the emerging science of integrative medicine, visit one of our evidence-based integrated medicine programs in the following states: Oregon; California; Washington.

Providence Express Care Clinics and Urgent Care Clinics offer same-day appointments and extended hours to treat common conditions including allergies and asthma. Sign up for To Your Health and you’ll never miss a health update.

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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.

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