Table of Contents
- Treating Allergies Conventionally
- Home Remedies for Allergies
- Understanding Allergies
- Symptoms of Allergies
- Types of Allergens
Are you one of the 50 million Americans who suffer from allergies of some type?
Even if you aren’t, the chances are high that you live, work, or care for someone who is affected by an allergy (1).
If you take medication for your allergies, you should continue reading about how natural remedies can treat your allergies effectively.
Our guide shares with you all the vital information you need to know about what causes allergies, what kinds of conventional treatments are and are not effective, and, most importantly, how to treat your allergies using natural, home remedies with a proven track record of success.
Whether you suffer from seasonal, food, or pet allergies, or another type of allergic reaction, our natural remedies can help you alleviate your allergy symptoms without resorting to the pharmaceuticals that come with adverse side effects.
Treating Allergies Conventionally
Determining the source of your allergies can be difficult, especially if you suffer from them year-round.
Your doctor may recommend allergy testing if your symptoms are severe and persistent.
Allergy testing will help you identify your known allergens; based on this knowledge, you can avoid or minimize exposure to these allergens whenever possible.
The most common type of testing is a skin test, where tiny amounts of various allergens are injected into or placed on top of your skin to see which one(s) cause(s) a reaction.
This type of test is done under the supervision of medical professionals, in case of any severe reaction.
Many people treat allergy symptoms using medications.
Common allergy treatment options include:
- Over-the-counter decongestants, to treat runny and stuffy noses
- Over-the-counter antihistamines, which prevent the release of the histamines that cause your allergic reaction
- Eye drops, to treat itchy, watery eyes
- Skin creams, which treat rashes and other skin reactions; some have antihistamines, while others contain steroid compounds
- Corticosteroids; these control inflammation, especially in the lungs
- Immunotherapy drugs, known as allergy shots, which can, over time, decrease your reaction to certain allergens
- Dietary changes, to eliminate any food-based allergens such as gluten or dairy
One theory is that continually taking medications, such as antihistamines and decongestants, inhibits your body’s ability to respond and adapt to allergens.
Most conventional treatments are meant to mask allergy symptoms, not actually to treat the cause of your allergies.
For those with chronic, severe allergies, traditional treatment may be necessary just to get through the day; if however, your allergies are mild or seasonal, you may consider alternative, natural remedies that allow your body to work through the natural process of responding to allergens, without the unwanted side effects of many of these medications.
Many allergy medicines may cause side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, fatigue, dry eyes, and other uncomfortable symptoms, which may not be much better than the actual allergy symptoms themselves.
If you prefer to treat your allergy symptoms more naturally, we share with you our most effective and popular natural allergy remedies.
Home Remedies for Allergies
Change Your Diet to Reduce Inflammation
Because allergies are an autoimmune response, allergic reactions trigger an increase in inflammation in your body.
When you change your diet to decrease inflammation, you are allowing your body’s cells and tissues the opportunity to repair themselves after an allergic response.
Nutrient-dense foods provide your immune system with the compounds it needs to fight off common allergens and to keep you feeling healthy.
Changing your diet to address inflammation can also treat your allergic response and allergy symptoms.
A natural antibiotic, garlic is an excellent option for reducing inflammation and allergies.
You can choose to eat two cloves per day, drink the juice from two cloves per day, or take daily garlic supplements, depending on your tolerance for the taste and smell of garlic.
The most potent allergy-fighting compounds, though, will be found in raw garlic, so consider this your best option.
The vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and antioxidants found in green, leafy vegetables such as collard greens, kale, spinach, arugula, and Swiss chard reduce inflammation and help your body detoxify.
Eat at least two servings per day of leafy greens to help stave off allergy symptoms and keep your body healthy.
To support a healthy immune system, eat plenty of probiotic-rich foods.
These include yogurt, kimchi, kombucha, miso, sauerkraut, kefir, and raw cheeses.
Probiotics help maintain healthy levels of the helpful bacteria found in your gut that are an essential part of your immune system.
These bacteria help control pathogens, and your immune system depends on them to keep working at its full potential.
Lemons and other citrus fruit are a healthy addition to your diet that can also help you with your allergies.
These fruits are rich in antioxidants and Vitamin C, which are needed to boost your immune system.
When you drink water with lemon, you also help your body detoxify and flush out impurities.
Antioxidants reduce inflammation and promote your body’s natural ability to respond appropriately to allergens.
If you have a peanut allergy, try almond butter, which is generally a safer alternative.
You will enjoy the same healthy, unsaturated fats you benefit from in peanut butter, and almond butter also contains essential minerals, lots of fiber, a healthy amount of protein, and even antioxidants to support your immune system.
Other good nut alternatives include sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and flaxseed.
Other excellent additions to your low-inflammation diet include:
- The proteins, amino acids, and minerals found in bone broth
- Dairy-free kinds of milk, such as almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, and cashew milk
- Whole grains that are gluten-free, to decrease the inflammation caused by gluten
In addition to adding immune-boosting foods to your diet that also reduce inflammation, you possibly should consider eliminating other foods that can contribute to allergy symptoms, cause inflammation, or increase mucus production.
To help treat your allergies, exclude the following from your diet:
- Red meat
- Dairy products
- Food coloring, especially tartrazine
Flush Your Sinuses Regularly
For those with allergies and respiratory problems, a sinus rinse can clear your nasal passages of allergens and relieve congestion.
Neti pots have been used for centuries, dating back to the ancient Hindu practice of Ayurveda.
Known as Jala-neti, this daily practice was performed to cleanse the nose of dirt, mucus, and other irritants.
Today, neti pots are commonly available, as are other nasal irrigation tools.
If you have allergies and a respiratory disorder, sinus irrigation can be an effective treatment that has few and only minor side effects.
If you have pet allergies, seasonal allergies, or year-round allergies to dust mites or mold, regular nasal irrigation can be helpful by removing these from nasal passages, thereby reducing allergy symptoms (4).
Neti pots used to be considered an “alternative” treatment, but now are widely-available and recommended by the medical community.
Research shows that the regular use of a nasal irrigation system, like a neti pot, can prevent and treat upper respiratory disorders, including allergic rhinitis, chronic sinusitis, and acute sinusitis (5).
To reduce the risk of possible side effects, always clean your neti pot before use, and utilize sterile or distilled water.
Tap water can contain many chemicals, including chlorine and fluoride, which may irritate sinus cavities and mucous membranes.
Rinse sinuses with a salt-water rinse that consists of one-half teaspoon of extra fine sea salt and one-quarter teaspoon of baking soda mixed into two cups of warm water.
You can adjust the proportions of this saline mixture to make it more tolerable for your sinus passages.
Change Your Environment and Hygiene Habits
If your allergy triggers are seasonal, such as with pollen allergies or hay fever, you should keep your windows and doors closed at all times during peak pollen days to reduce your exposure.
Use your air-conditioning and install a HEPA filter to remove allergens from your indoor air and protect yourself from exposure.
While it is not always enjoyable to stay inside during nice weather, for the sake of your allergies, you may want to start this practice, at least during heavy pollen days.
Every time you go outside and are exposed to allergens, you bring those contaminants back inside with you.
To prevent these from spreading around your home, take off shoes at the door, take a shower right away after spending a lot of time outside, and put the clothes you were wearing into the laundry immediately.
If you have long hair, wear it pulled back while outside to limit how much pollen can attach to you.
This extra step of limiting your home’s exposure to outside allergens can go a long way toward eliminating your symptoms.
If you have pet allergies but still have an animal in your home, you can at least limit the areas that are exposed to pet dander.
Keep your bedroom door closed at all times, and institute a no-pet-zone in that space.
Do not allow pets to sleep on your bed.
If pets are allowed on furniture, place a sheet or blanket over the seat for them to use, then remove this when you use the same seat.
Vacuum regularly, install a whole-house air filtration system, and always wash your hands after touching any animal.
Eat Local Bee Pollen
If you want to increase your immunity to allergens in your area, try eating local honey every day.
Consuming a tablespoon a day of raw honey containing local pollen can help you build up a tolerance for the allergens in your area, like the bees that make the honey take pollen from plants that may be causing your allergy symptoms.
When you eat raw honey from these bees, you are taking in that pollen and exposing your body to those allergens, providing your immune system with an opportunity to respond properly and develop a tolerance.
Honey also has immune-boosting properties, which means your immune system is getting a double dose of benefits.
Patients who eat local raw honey daily have reported a dramatic reduction in allergy symptoms, fewer days with severe symptoms, and more days without allergy symptoms, which is great news for allergy sufferers.
These same patients also reported taking fewer antihistamines and other conventional allergy medications (6).
To use local raw honey, add one tablespoon per day to your cereal, smoothie, tea, oatmeal, etc., or you can just eat it straight from the spoon.
Drink Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is an excellent natural remedy for treating allergies.
Apple cider vinegar has natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help with allergy symptoms, and you can even add it to other natural remedies, like cayenne pepper, lemon, or garlic, to help with your allergy symptoms and boost your immunity.
Try Herbs Like Butterbur or Stinging Nettle
Butterbur is an herbal remedy that has long been used to treat symptoms such as headaches and nasal allergies.
The active compounds in this herb work similarly to antihistamines (7).
Butterbur works well, and without the side effects common in allergy medications, like drowsiness.
You can take butterbur in tablets, or drink it as tea.
Another powerful herb with allergy-fighting compounds is stinging nettle.
Used since medieval times, stinging nettle can relieve joint pain and, as a natural diuretic, can also help with fluid retention.
And it has been shown to produce positive results when used to treat allergic rhinitis, insect bites, and allergy symptoms, as this plant naturally reduces histamines.
You can use stinging nettle in tea, or as a tincture.
When you cannot get all the nutrition you need from the foods you eat, consider adding nutritional supplements to your routine, especially during times of heightened allergy activity.
One example of an effective supplement that can help with allergies is quercetin.
Naturally found in cruciferous vegetables, onions, citrus fruits, and green tea, quercetin stabilizes the release of histamines, naturally controlling allergies.
As a bioflavonoid, quercetin can calm inflamed airways, as well.
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you should start taking quercetin a few weeks before pollen levels start to rise, and continue taking it throughout the allergy season.
Other supplements you should consider if you suffer from allergies include:
- Bioflavonoids, like catechin and hesperidin – Like quercetin, you should take no more than three grams per day, unless allergies are severe, in which case you can take up to three grams twice per day.
- Flaxseed oil – Take one tablespoon per day.
- Vitamin A – Take up to 25,000 IUs per day.
- Vitamin C – Take one to three grams up to three times per day. If you develop diarrhea, decrease your dosage.
- Vitamin E – Take up to 400 IUs per day.
- Zinc – Take up to 30 milligrams per day.
Try Essential Oils
Essential oils can be used to reduce your inflammation, as well as help detoxify your airways.
Two powerful essential oils known for their allergy-fighting abilities are eucalyptus and frankincense.
Eucalyptus essential oil can eliminate household dust mites, a common allergen.
Include a drop or two of this essential oil in your neti pot when your rinse your sinuses, or place eucalyptus into your household diffuser.
You can also put 25 drops of eucalyptus essential oil into each load of laundry to help get rid of dust mites and other pathogens.
This technique is especially helpful during the high-pollen seasons.
To help with severe allergy symptoms, mix eucalyptus essential oil with coconut oil, then rub behind your ears and onto your chest at bedtime.
Frankincense essential oil is also helpful for fighting allergies because it boosts your immune system.
You can rub frankincense oil directly onto your chest and ears, or diffuse into your room to help your immune system fight back against allergies.
About 20 percent of people in the United States suffer from some type of allergy, but what exactly does it mean to be allergic to something?
Allergies occur when your body’s immune system thinks a particular substance is a foreign invader, and it produces an immunological reaction.
Your immune system is charged with identifying foreign invaders, like parasites or viruses, and sending out attack responses to get rid of the threat.
This system protects your body by preventing the spread of disease, but the adaptive reactions your system has based on environmental triggers can sometimes lead to damaging consequences.
Your immune response mechanism separates substances into categories of normal and abnormal.
This occurs through a process involving millions of different antibodies, each of which is tasked with recognizing various agents in your system, and deciding if it is good or bad for you.
When these antibodies find something that doesn’t belong, an immune response is triggered.
Once a particular antibody becomes activated by an interaction with a foreign protein, it mass-produces immune cells, which then circulate throughout your body, creating an immunological memory that protects you for the rest of your life.
Your immune system is supposed to remove or edit antibodies that attack your healthy cells.
When this mechanism does not work correctly, you may develop an autoimmune disorder.
When your antibodies react to non-threatening proteins like those found in cat dander or grass pollen, you have allergies.
So, you can think of allergies as a type of autoimmune disorder.
Your body doesn’t recognize the proteins in these allergens, but thinks they are a disease; this catalyzes a response that manifests as allergy symptoms.
Symptoms of Allergies
Allergy symptoms result from your body’s natural production of histamines, which are meant to counteract the foreign substances – environmental proteins – detected by your immune system.
These allergic reactions are caused by Immunoglobulin E, also known as IgE, which are antibodies that can evoke a vast array of symptoms.
All allergic reactions can be categorized as one of nine types.
- Perennial allergies, which occur year-round.
- Seasonal allergies. These are usually at their worst during spring and fall, when pollen levels are at their highest; these allergies are also known as hay fever or rhinitis.
- Food allergies, which can range in severity from mild to life-threatening.
- Medication or drug allergies.
- Indoor allergies, including reactions to common allergens like dust and mold.
- Eye or skin allergies.
- Animal allergies.
Allergy symptoms vary widely and depend on the severity of your allergy, the type of allergen, and even other health factors.
The most common symptoms of an allergic reaction include:
- Congestion, and runny and/or itchy nose
- A rash or skin redness, hives, or itching
- Breathing difficulties, including coughing and wheezing; asthma symptoms can be exacerbated by allergies
- Itching or tingling around the mouth and lips
- Swelling of the face, throat, lips, or tongue
- Vomiting or nausea
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
While most allergic reactions are mild, one type of severe reaction to an allergen is known as anaphylaxis.
This life-threatening allergic response can lead to death if not treated quickly; it can occur rapidly and is caused by the release of a flood of chemicals from your immune system in response to an allergen.
Common allergens that may initiate anaphylaxis are bee stings, peanuts, and latex.
In this type of allergic reaction, your immune system releases antibodies in response to the allergen, your blood pressure can drop very suddenly, and your airways can constrict, which blocks breathing.
If someone is having a severe allergic reaction that includes facial swelling, a rapid but weak pulse, nausea, vomiting, loss of consciousness, or any other severe symptom, they may be suffering from anaphylaxis, and you should call 9-1-1 immediately.
Untreated anaphylaxis can be fatal. The reaction requires an immediate injection of epinephrine.
If you have had a severe allergic reaction in the past to something, you should always carry a single-use shot of epinephrine, known as an EpiPen, with you.
If you don’t have an EpiPen, you should get to your nearest emergency room as quickly as possible.
Even if you have an EpiPen and are able to stop the allergic reaction, it is still a good idea to be seen by a doctor quickly.
Types of Allergens
Because there are many types of allergens, it can sometimes be difficult to determine which one is causing your allergy symptoms.
The most common allergens include (3):
- Pollen, which comes from grass, trees, and other plants
- Dust Mites
- Pet dander and fur
- Mold, including indoor and outdoor varieties
- Certain foods, especially eggs, gluten, dairy, tree nuts, soy, and shellfish
- Bites and stings from insects
- Certain medications, including antibiotics
- Latex, which is used to make condoms and protective gloves
Allergies are caused by an immune system response to certain environmental proteins.
Your body considers these proteins, which can come from items like grass, peanuts, or antibiotics, be foreign, hostile invaders, and the immune system sends out antigens in response.
This reaction can range from mild to severe, and the symptoms vary widely.
Most allergies are mild to moderate and require little intervention.
Many people’s allergies are seasonal and resolve when pollen levels drop to normal.
You can have a severe allergic reaction, though, which could necessitate immediate medical attention.
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that could result in the constriction of your airway.
If left untreated, this could result in death.
Most anaphylactic responses are due to bee stings, peanuts, or latex, but other causes are possible.
Anaphylaxis can result in difficulty breathing, changes in blood pressure or heart rate, vomiting, a rash, loss of consciousness, and even death.
If you or someone with you is experiencing these or other signs of a severe allergic reaction, seek immediate medical attention.
Even if you have an EpiPen and treat the reaction quickly, you should still see a doctor very soon.
Most allergies affect the sinuses, eyes, skin, or lungs.
The most common allergens include dust mites, mold, pet dander, pollen, medication, or specific foods.
To treat allergies naturally, you can make changes to your diet, rinse your sinuses regularly, limit your exposure to allergens, consume honey or apple cider vinegar, and use supplements or herbs or essential oils.
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.
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