There are a few natural remedies that can complement -- or in some cases stand in for -- better-known allergy treatments like antihistamines and nasal sprays. And with increased levels of pollen production caused by global warming, you're going to need these extra defenses against hay fever.
A neti pot resembles a small teapot and is used to rinse pollen and other irritants out of the sinuses. A bit milder than a forceful nasal spray, this device can take some getting used to. It sounds like it might be just as uncomfortable as a spray, you’ll quickly get used to it and love how it soothes your irritated nose.
To use a neti pot, fill it with warm (read: not hot) water and mix in some table salt, no more than half a teaspoon per cup of water. Leaning over a sink, tilt your head to elevate the side of your nose that you're going to put the neti pot to. Next, bring the pot up to your nostril and tilt it, allowing the solution to flow into the sinus cavity. Don't try to hold it in — allow it to flow out the other nostril, and remember to lean forward to keep the fluid from going down your throat. Pour about half of the solution before stopping and repeating on the other side.
And that's it! Oh, and wash the pot very thoroughly when you’re done, of course.
Okay, so you've probably heard of neti pot before, even if you've never used one. But I doubt you've heard of quercetin. It's a naturally occurring compound that works by preventing the release of histamine, the neurotransmitter involved in the body's inflammatory response to germs. For the best results, take a 1,000 mg tablet every day, starting about two months before allergy season sets in. Quercetin is unsafe for those with liver problems, so it's best to ask your doctor before taking any.
Here's another one you might not have heard about. Taking a 300 mg tablet of stinging nettle every day will provide temporary relief of your allergy symptoms. It seems counter-intuitive, given that stinging nettle is notoriously irritating to the touch (hence the name). However, it’s actually a natural antihistamine, keeping the body from producing it rather than preventing its release, as in the case of quercetin.
Another unlikely supplement, butterbur, is a type of weed that works as well as Zyrtec when ingested. There are a couple of catches, though. You have to take a tedious four doses of eight milligrams a day for the best results. And, more importantly, there's a chance that taking it will actually make your symptoms worse. Try it out, but some of the other options might work better for you.
Camila Rueda López/flickr
Eat foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, walnuts, and flax, to reduce the severity of allergies. Also, steer clear of anything you might be even slightly allergic to. The proteins that cause you to react to those foods are similar to the ones responsible for your seasonal allergies, meaning that any reaction you normally get from those foods will be exacerbated.
Hopefully these ideas are helpful in your search for allergy relief. Try out several of them and keep note of what works! Sadly, the tale told to us by our parents that eating local honey will help fight off allergy symptoms is a myth. Feel free to eat honey when you have allergies, but only for the sake of deliciousness.
It's an unpleasant time to be outdoors if you suffer from severe allergies. Pay attention to pollen count forecasts and stay inside when you're able to. Keep the windows shut, try not to use window fans, and purify the air inside with Rabbit Air purifiers. You need a pollen-free sanctuary if you want to get your allergies under control, and Rabbit Air is unmatched in both quality and design.
Dan Powell is a student at Columbia University who comes from a long line of allergy-shot recipients. He somehow won the hereditary lottery and escaped the miserable sniffles of the allergy-afflicted.