Author and humorist James Thurber once quipped, “I used to wake up at 4 a.m. and start sneezing, sometimes for five hours. I tried to find out what sort of allergy I had but finally came to the conclusion that it must be an allergy to consciousness.”
Kidding aside, those who suffer with the itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, and runny noses associated with allergies often ask me what they can do to find relief. Rather than turning to prescription and over-the-counter allergy medications, I recommend following this three-step protocol that focuses on safe, effective, and natural allergy remedies.
Step One: Minimize Your Exposure
It seems like a no-brainer, but the first thing you’ll want to do is minimize your exposure to airborne allergens such as the following:
- Dander from household pets
- Strong odors
These are often difficult to avoid entirely, but there are quite a few effective measures you can take to scale back your exposure.
They include the following:
Have your house thoroughly cleaned.
Remove as many carpets, rugs or upholstered pieces of furniture as you can—these are havens for dust and pet dander.
Make your bedroom as allergy-proof as possible: Use a plastic mattress cover, wash sheets, blankets, pillowcases, and mattress pads every week, and consider purchasing bedding made from hypoallergenic materials.
Use an air purifier.
Fill your house with plants. Virtually all indoor plants clean the air and work as natural air purifiers by absorbing impurities and chemicals into their leaves and transporting them into the soil. Once in the soil, these harmful vapors are broken down into plant food by microorganisms. Philodendrons, Peace Lily, Lady or Area Palm, Trichina Margined and Corn Plant are among the best air purifiers, but all leafy plants will help to some degree.
Finally, if you’re a dog lover like me, there are breeds like the poodle and Portuguese water dog that are best suited for people with allergies, as they don’t shed as much dander as other dogs. Talk to your veterinarian about pet breeds that will work best for you.
Step Two: Take Targeted Supplements
Several targeted nutritional supplements are natural allergy remedies, including the following:
Quercetin, a flavonoid that is abundant in apples and onions, is one of the most powerful allergy fighters. Quercetin inhibits the release of histamine, thereby dampening the allergic response. It also reduces production of leukotrienes, inflammatory compounds that stimulate airway constriction. And it’s a natural antioxidant—quercetin helps mop up free radicals generated during the allergic reaction. The suggested dose is 200–400 mg daily.
Bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapple, dramatically enhances quercetin’s absorption. Bromelain also reduces tissue swelling, helps break up mucus and has been shown to produce measurable improvements in respiratory congestion. The suggested dose is 200–400 mg per day.
Vitamin C is another well-studied natural allergy remedy. In one clinical trial, allergy sufferers who took 2,000 mg of Vitamin C daily for two weeks had 40 percent reductions in blood histamine levels. Taking just 500 mg of this vitamin, however, had no significant effect. So be sure to take 2,000 mg in divided doses each day.
N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) is another antioxidant that is highly regarded as a natural allergy remedy. NAC is a precursor to glutathione, one of your body’s premier free-radical scavengers. It is also one of the best expectorants and mucus thinners around. I recommend taking 200–400 mg daily.
Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) extracts are found in many natural allergy remedies because of their potent anti-inflammatory effects. The suggested daily dose is 150–200 mg.
Lactobacillus paracasei, a beneficial strain of bacteria, has been shown to help relieve allergies by supporting the immune system. The recommended dose is 200 mg daily.
Homeopathic remedies are useful because they address specific allergy symptoms. Use as directed.
The natural substances above can be used as natural allergy remedies during allergy season or year-round if you suffer from perennial allergies. They may be purchased singly or in combination products.
Step Three: Wash Allergies Away
Finally, irrigate your nasal passages. This safe and inexpensive procedure gently flushes irritating substances out of the sinuses. The most basic nasal irrigation involves a mixture of salt and lukewarm water (boil water, stir in ¼ teaspoon of salt per eight ounces of water, and cool), held in the cupped palm of your hand and “snorted” up into one nostril while blocking off the other. Tip your head back slightly and allow the solution to flow through the nasal cavity, then out of the other nostril. This may also be done with a bulb syringe, squeeze bottle, or neti pot (a small, teapot-like device). Repeat a few times in both nostrils over the sink or in the shower, as it can get messy.
Speaking of washing allergies away, good ol’ H20 acts as a natural antihistamine making it an easy and therapeutic natural allergy remedy. To keep your body well hydrated, drink two quarts (eight 8-ounce glasses) of water daily and three quarts (twelve 8-ounce glasses) during allergy season. Children eight years and older should drink two quarts a day.