Natural Treatments for Seasonal Allergies

August 2, 2016

4 minutes

Reviewed by Michael Kaplan, MD

Seasonal allergies afflict many people with uncomfortable symptoms that interfere with their daily lives, such as coughing, congestion, watery eyes, and nasal drainage. These allergies are usually due to environmental allergens that appear in greater amounts during certain times of the year.

Though over-the-counter medication can help alleviate allergy symptoms, they often wear off too quickly or don’t completely relieve discomfort. Natural remedies provide an alternative to medication or can be supplemental treatment to reduce the amount of medication needed. Here are some natural treatments for seasonal allergies.

Local Honey

Honey acts as a cough suppressant and has anti-inflammatory effects. It also contains small amounts of pollen, a major seasonal allergen. Repeated exposure to small amounts of allergens has been shown to be an effective treatment to reduce the body’s allergic reactions. Getting honey from local beekeepers will guarantee that the results are effective for the allergens in each person’s region.

Herbal Supplements

A few herbal supplements are known to be natural antihistamines, such as stinging nettle, ginko, butterbur, licorice, red clover, milk thistle, yarrow, green tea, and dong quai. Since they have very few side effects, these supplements offer a gentler alternative to over-the-counter medications.

Nasal Rinses

Nasal irrigation systems like Neti Pots use a saline (salt and water) solution to rinse out mucus, debris, and allergens from nasal passages and sinuses. This practice also moistens the mucus membranes of these regions, providing relief to dry, irritated tissue. Nasal rinses ease symptoms and decrease the amount of allergens that cause those symptoms.

Steam with Eucalyptus or Peppermint

Another way to moisten and hydrate tissues suffering from allergic irritation and inflammation is steam treatment. Breathing through a heated washcloth, inhaling steam from an open container full of hot water, or taking a hot shower or bath are all effective methods.

A few eucalyptus or peppermint oil drops in the steaming water will help cleanse and open nasal and sinus passages, though users should be careful not to apply the oils directly to skin, as they might cause further irritation.

Anti-Allergy Foods

Proper nutrition helps the body stay strong. But, there are also many foods that have antihistamine and antioxidant properties, which alleviate allergy symptoms.

Eating fruits such as citrus, apples, red grapes, and vegetables, such as broccoli, sweet potatoes, onions, beets, and other green, leafy vegetables will provide good nutrition and help decrease the symptoms of allergies.

It’s also important to remain hydrated and drink plenty of water, allowing the body to flush out allergens.


Research has shown that the practice of acupuncture is effective in decreasing allergy symptoms. Chinese and Western practitioners differ in their belief of how acupuncture works.

The Chinese believe acupuncture relieves blocks to the energy flow through the body. Western medicine believes acupuncture stimulates blood flow to the area, increasing potential healing.

While the mechanism is still being studied, clinical evidence proves that acupuncture is a valid natural treatment for allergy symptoms.

Avoidance and Removal

Not coming into contact with allergens would be ideal. Those who suffer from seasonal allergies should try to avoid exposing themselves to those allergens by staying indoors.

If spending time outdoors is necessary, remember that allergens can remain on skin, hair, and clothing. Prompt removal of these allergens with showers and laundry will help decrease contact and therefore decrease seasonal allergy symptoms.

No one enjoys seasonal allergies, and often they can cause significant interference in daily lives. Many allergy-sufferers need some form of treatment to function normally. Over-the-counter medications may lose their effectiveness or not provide enough relief. Plus, they might have uncomfortable side effects.

Natural treatments such as honey, herbal supplements, steaming and rinsing, nutrition, and acupuncture are safe, gentle ways to relieve allergy symptoms and help people get back outside again.


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