Natural Allergy Relief

Allergy season has arrived, and this year, it seems to be particularly bad in the Washington DC area – unfortunately, for many, this is the downside of the wonderful spring weather we’ve been enjoying.  For many allergy sufferers, relief comes in the form of prescription or over-the-counter drugs, but there are a number of natural remedies that provide equal, if not better, and safer relief.  Here are some natural remedies that may help:

Saline Nasal Rinse

This is the single most effective thing you can do to help prevent seasonal allergies.  Using a Neti Pot regularly to rinse out nasal passages helps get rid of irritants and prevents them from settling long enough to cause a reaction.  For more information on how using a saline rinse can help you during allergy season, click here.

Strengthen Your Immune System

Allergies are a disorder of the immune system – they occur when the immune system responds inappropriately, excessively, or not at all.  People with healthy immune systems tend to not suffer from allergies. 


“Using nature-based products can be a very useful way to handle mild allergies and a useful adjunct for more significant allergies, and there are many types of treatments you can safely try,” says Mary Hardy, MD, director of integrative medicine at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.  Among those generating the loudest buzz right now is the European herb butterbur (Petasites hybridus), which, says Hardy, “has had some very impressive clinical trial results.” *


Many naturopathic doctors also believe that certain nutrients can help soothe seasonal allergies.  In particular, grape seed extract and a flavanoid compound called quercetin, can be helpful in reducing allergy symptoms, especially when combined with vitamin C.  All of these occur naturally in certain foods, but supplementation may be more effective.

Hot, spicy foods

Hot, spicy foods help thin mucous secretions, which can help clear nasal passages.  The most frequently recommended spices for this purpose include cayenne pepper, hot ginger, and fenugreek, as well as the traditional onion and garlic.


Food allergies and food intolerances may be more closely linked to seasonal allergies than we realize.  Food sensitivities that lead to upset stomach or allergic reactions present a load on the immune system, reducing its ability to cope with the challenges seasonal allergies present.  If you suffer from food allergies, be especially conscious this time of year of what you eat and avoid your trigger foods.


If you’re sensitive to pollen, keep the windows closed on days when the pollen count is high.  Wash clothes you’ve worn outside before hanging back in your closet.  Take a shower to wash pollen out of your hair before going to bed.  If you are highly susceptible, you may want to consider wearing a facial mask while you’re outdoors.

Be aware that even natural remedies can be toxic if not used properly, and especially when used in conjunction with conventional allergy medications.  If you have moderate to severe allergies, you may want to seek the advice of a physician before self-treating.

* Source:  WebMD.com

Allergy Relief from a Neti pot

Spring brings flowers and trees and newly growing grass.  Unfortunately, for many people, these joyful harbingers of warmer weather and longer days also mean the beginning of allergy season.  Allergy medications relieve symptoms, but often come with unpleasant side effects.  A natural alternative that has been helpful for many allergy sufferers is the regular practice of a nasal wash by using a Neti pot.

The nasal passages are lined with a thin layer of mucus that is one of our body’s first lines of defense against disease.  A nasal wash keeps this layer of mucus moist, clean and healthy.  And compared to other nasal wash techniques, using a Neti pot is easy.  A nasal wash can be as routine as brushing your teeth.

Rinsing with saline solution is a time-honored practice in the Orient.  Here in the West, the nasal wash has been used for decades as a means of treating sinus problems, colds, allergies, and post-nasal drip and to counteract the effect of environmental pollution.

Breathing through the nose filters and conditions the incoming air. The nasal passages are lined with a thin layer of mucus that traps dirt, dust, and pollen and moves steadily to the rear of the nasal cavity and settles in the throat, where it is swallowed.  Saline nasal rinses carry some of these impurities out of the body before they reach your stomach.

They also keep this protective layer of mucus functioning properly.  If the mucus becomes too thick and dry or too thin and runny, it is easier for bacteria and viruses to penetrate the nasal lining and cause the swelling and excess discharge of mucus we call a “cold.”  That’s why gargling or sniffing a little salt water at the first sign of a cold is a staple of folk medicine.  The Neti pot continues these time-tested traditions of hygiene.

For some people, the nasal wash is as routine as brushing their teeth. Others use it for specific purposes. Suggested uses:

  • Do the nasal wash to wake up, clear your nostrils, and start the day breathing freely.
  • Use it to remove excess mucus when you are experiencing nasal congestion.
  • Do it several times a day during the allergy season to rid the nostrils of pollen and other allergens.
  • Use the nasal wash when you’ve been exposed to soot, dust, smoke, or other airborne contaminants.
  • Use it to dissolve mucus build-up in dry climates or in air-conditioned or heated rooms, or after air travel.

I’ve been using a Neti pot regularly for several years, and I rarely get a cold, nor do I have allergy problems.

A nasal wash is not a substitute for medical treatment. Anyone with chronic inflammation of the nasal passages or other ear, nose, or throat disorders should seek medical attention.

Neti Pot can be purchased online or at Whole Foods grocery stores and other health food stores.

Your pets can contribute to your pollen allergy.  If your pets go outside, they’ll inevitably end up attracting pollen to their fur.  Wipe them down with a damp towel when they come inside – that way, when you cuddle with them, you won’t breathe in a concentrated dose of pollen!

Amber prefers to enjoy spring from inside.