by Lynn Fang
Over-the-counter drugs might alleviate your allergy symptoms, but the side effects can be the pits. Try these food-based natural remedies for seasonal allergies instead!
Spring heralds warmer weather and explosions of color as flowers blossom and fruits ripen, but for many people the joys of spring also mean runny noses, itchy eyes, and incessant sneezing. Before you reach for the over-the-counter allergy drugs, try these natural remedies for seasonal allergies!
Seasonal allergies, also known as allergic rhinitis or hay fever, are caused by hypersensitivity to airborne particles such as pollen, dust, animal fur, and even food compounds. The immune system recognizes these particles as threats and produces IgE antibodies, which mostly bind to mast cells containing histamine. Histamine is released when mast cells are stimulated by allergens, causing itching, swelling, and mucous production in the sinuses.
Natural Remedies for Seasonal Allergies
Most over-the-counter drugs cause side effects such as drowsiness, and for some they are not effective in suppressing allergy symptoms. Steroids are prescribed as a more powerful way to suppress allergies, but long-term steroid use can also cause chronic side effects deleterious to overall health.
Simple natural remedies using ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen pantry can help ease allergy symptoms without any side effects.
1. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a well-known antioxidant and immune booster – it can soothe allergies by reducing inflammation. You can eat foods rich in vitamin C – chili pepper, bell pepper, broccoli, kale, papaya, strawberries, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and pineapple all contain more vitamin C than oranges.
2. Quercetin – Garlic, Onions, Apples, Cayenne Pepper
Quercetin is a flavonoid that gives color to many fruits, flowers, and vegetables. Flavonoids like quercetin are antioxidants, fighting and neutralizing free radicals that may damage cellular tissue or DNA. Quercetin acts as an antihistamine and anti-inflammatory, helping to stabilize the mast cells that release histamine. Foods like garlic, onions, apples, cayenne pepper, fresh dill weed, and ancho pepper are naturally high in quercetin.
Create a red onion water for immediate decongestant relief: add 1 red onion chopped into rings into 4 cups of water, and add honey to taste. You can also take quercetin supplements, though it is not recommended during pregnancy or nursing.
3. Apples and Walnuts
Several studies have shown that eating apples regularly protects against allergies. Apples contain quercetin and their skin is naturally high in antioxidants called polyphenols. Pregnant women who eat apples regularly reduce the risk of their children experiencing allergies and asthma. Walnuts are high in magnesium and vitamin E – magnesium protects against wheezing and coughing, and vitamin E acts as an antioxidant immunity booster.
Making a quick simple apple walnut snack is an easy way to reduce allergy symptoms.
Raw apple cider vinegar works quickly to ease itching, sneezing, and coughing. It blocks histamines and reduces inflammation. Additionally, long-term use of apple cider vinegar supports the immune system and may reduce the severity of future allergy attacks.
When allergies are in full bloom, 1/8 cup of apple cider vinegar can be added to a glass of water. It can be taken as a daily tonic, a shot in water first thing in the morning, or mixed with lemonade, cayenne, or honey.
Related: Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
5. Nettle Leaf and Mint
Nettle leaf and mint may not be in your kitchen right now, but they are both easy to grow in a variety of climates, and they can be made into a tincture or tea. Nettle leaf can also be consumed in capsule form. Nettle and mint are both natural antihistamines, and can be combined together into a nourishing tea.
Brew 1 tsp nettle leaves and 1 tsp mint leaves together, and add honey or lemon to taste.