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Ahhh, spring is in the air! The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, and the grass and trees are enjoying their post-winter thaw. But as you stop to smell the roses, you immediately start sneezing. Then, your eyes begin to itch and your nose becomes congested or runny. Oh yeah, you almost forgot: Spring is synonymous with allergy season. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year.
“Allergies occur when our immune systems become hypersensitive to something like pollen or dust,” says says Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, CNS, DC, founder of DrAxe.com and best-selling author of Eat Dirt. “Our bodies react to these allergens by producing histamines in order to fight the allergen. Some of the most common allergens are substances that are most prevalent during springtime, like pollen or ragweed.”
If you’re prone to seasonal allergies, or have moved to a new climate with foreign plant life, then it’s wise to have an allergy survival kit on hand to help ease the annoying symptoms.
7 Natural Remedies for Your Allergy Survival Kit
1. Raw, Local Honey
Not only is raw, local honey tasty, but it’s great for fighting allergy symptoms. “Raw honey contains bee pollen, so when you purchase local varieties, you’re eating the same pollen that’s causing you to suffer,” explains Dr. Axe. “Over time, it helps you become less sensitive to the pollen in your area. It has also been proven to boost your immune system.” Try adding one tablespoon of raw, local honey to your tea, yogurt, or smoothie daily.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Dr. Axe says this pantry staple helps boost the immune system, breaks up mucus and supports lymphatic drainage thanks to the bacteria found in it. Add a tablespoon of an organic, unfiltered variety of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water each morning.
A strong immune system starts with a healthy gut, which is why probiotics — the good bacteria that reside in your gut and help protect you against disease and allergies — should be part of your daily routine. “Boosting your immune system with probiotics can lessen or even prevent allergy symptoms,” says Dr. Axe, who recommends taking a probiotic supplement daily that totals 50 billion colony forming units (CFUs). Eating probiotic-rich foods like kefir, yogurt and sauerkraut is also a great idea.
4. Stinging nettle
This plant with a funny name is fantastic for those suffering from hay fever, due to its anti-inflammatory qualities. “There’s evidence that the plant also naturally controls histamines in the body,” says Dr. Axe. “During allergy season, I recommend 300–500 milligrams of stinging nettle supplements daily.” Be advised that if you are taking lithium, sedatives, blood thinners, or medication for diabetes or high blood pressure, stinging nettle can cause an adverse interaction; check with your physician before taking this supplement.
5. Neti Pot
During allergy season, a Neti pot should be your new best friend. The device, which looks similar to a teapot, allows you to pour a nasal rinse into your nostrils to flush out irritants like pollen and dust and thin out mucus. When using a Neti pot, the FDA recommends using distilled or sterile water or tap water that’s been boiled for three to five minutes and then cooled. Dr. Axe says you can either use a premade sinus rinse or make your own solution, using purified water with a quarter teaspoon to half a teaspoon of non-iodized salt.
“This natural compound, found in broccoli, onions and citrus fruits, slows down the production and release of histamine by the body, which helps naturally control allergy symptoms,” says Dr. Axe. “Eating a range of colorful fruits is a good way to get your quercetin in, but if you’re struggling with allergies, try supplementing with 1,000 milligrams daily.”
7. Essential Oils
When you need an immediate fix, essential oils can help clear your nose, reduce
inflammation, and provide some immediate relief. Dr. Axe names eucalyptus oil, frankincense oil, and peppermint oil as his top picks, and suggests adding them to a Neti pot or inhaling them from a diffuser.
How to limit exposure to spring allergens
Looking for a few additional ways to reduce allergy symptoms? Dr. Axe says these lifestyle changes will bring extra relief this season:
- Limit your exposure on days with super high pollen counts (use your phone’s weather app for these details).
- Keep windows shut to limit pollen drifting indoors.
- Shower before bed to remove pollen on your skin and hair.
- Wipe your pets down after they’ve been outdoors.
- Wash clothes and bedding frequently. For extra relief, add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to your detergent.
More essential reading about allergies: