Natural Allergy Remedies: Put down the antihistamine medications and dive into today’s article, all about seasonal allergies. Let’s explore how you can address these pesky symptoms without all the pharmaceutical drugs.
This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Charles Penick, MD
What Are Seasonal Allergies?
Allergies are essentially the body’s immune system overreacting to a foreign substance. In the case of seasonal allergies (also called Hay Fever or seasonal allergic rhinitis), this reaction is generally caused by the pollen released by trees, grass, and weeds or the spores released into the air by outdoor molds.
Although these airborne particles are harmless to most people, about 8 percent of Americans exhibit seasonal allergy symptoms.1 They include sneezing, nasal and ear congestion, watery or itchy eyes, itchy and runny sinuses, headache, wheezing and coughing.
At the root of seasonal allergies are immune dysfunction and inflammation, which is great news! Many people assume that allergies are the bad luck of the draw when, in fact, there are many natural ways to bolster the immune system and quell inflammation.
Natural Allergy Remedies
One of the most profound ways to heal from so many different types of ailments is to fast. During a water fast, the body is forced to break down weak and damaged cells (including damaged organelles, misfolded proteins, and pathogens) for fuel, a process called autophagy.2 This self-cleaning process is followed by a surge of new stem cells to replace the old ones. This gives the body healthy building blocks to step in and do the job properly.
A breakthrough study highlights that the immune system can regenerate in as little as a three-day fast.3 The University of Southern California study explains that fasting “flips the regenerative switch,” which prompts the breakdown of old and damaged cells in favor of brand-new stem cells. The body uses these stem cells to create new white blood cells, which essentially regenerate a large proportion of the immune system. 3,4
Stress comes in three forms: physical, emotional, and chemical. Keeping stress levels from getting too elevated is a key aspect of mitigating seasonal allergies because stress and inflammation are stress responses.5
When stress is acute (a short burst), inflammation is a useful tool to protect the body. The problem in modern times is that low levels of underlying stress are chronic. In time, the stress from a combination of the three categories (emotional, physical, and chemical) compounds to the point where the body can no longer manage.
Eventually, the body starts to exhibit an array of chronic stress symptoms due to the lowered immunity and overall imbalance of the body’s systems. Chronic stress can lead to various ailments, including seasonal allergies, atherosclerosis, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, depression, and more.5-7
Regarding allergies and stress response, the problem is not actually stressing but rather your body’s inability to cope with the increase of histamine in the bloodstream. The effects are compounded when allergies impact sleep quality (sniffly all night), increasing physical stress and decreasing your resilience even more.8
Managing stress as a natural allergy remedy may require a major life overhaul. But don’t let that stress you out! Take out a notepad and paper and list all the areas in your life that may need to be addressed. Little by little, aim to replace habits and products that are causing you stress.
Your diet is one of the major ways of addressing inflammation in the body. Since food is one of the main building blocks of our health, it has the capacity to heal or harming you. An anti-inflammatory diet has some key principles, including:
- Opt for chemical-free (organically grown) food whenever possible
- Avoid GMOs
- Avoid rancid and inflammatory processed flours, sugars, and oils.
- Avoid foods that create an allergic or intolerant response in your individual body (symptoms may include brain fog, bloating, nausea, and gas)
- Drink clean water (properly filtered or spring water)
Besides your food quality, timing is also important to keep inflammation at bay. Food timing is often referred to as intermittent fasting and is the daily fasting period between dinner and breakfast.
A fasting window should be at least 12 hours daily, but better results are generally seen with larger fasting windows (16-18 hours +).9 Note that everybody is different and that fasting is a form of stress. Most studies have been performed on men or post-menopausal women since women are very susceptible to stress in their reproductive years. Always listen to your body, and know that no two healing paths are alike.
Acupuncture is the Traditional Chinese Medicine healing technique and natural allergy remedy that uses small needles in the skin along the body’s energy lines called meridians. These points are targeted in a mind-body approach to help balance the body, supporting the cultivating life force energy called Chi.
Various studies highlight acupuncture’s ability to improve the symptoms of various kinds of allergic reactions, including that seasonal allergies.10-11 One large study with over 400 participants followed subjects through three groups: one receiving acupuncture, one receiving placebo acupuncture, and the third receiving anti-histamine medications. The group receiving real acupuncture reported greater relief of symptoms than the other two groups.10
Your body’s microbiome is a key immune regulator, for your immune cells have a symbiotic relationship with the bacteria that comprise your microbiome.12 Supporting this internal biome ecosystem is a multi-faceted natural allergy remedy, including regular exposure to good bacteria and avoiding environments that can kill off the microbiome.
Exposure to good bacteria can be done in many ways, and all avenues should be pursued regularly. They include being out in nature (getting barefoot, breathing in the air in various natural and clean places), and eating probiotic-rich foods. Probiotic-rich foods are ideally slow-fermented old-school styles and include kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, and miso.13
Although taking a probiotic can provide a short-term boost, it can also lead to a narrowing of the biome over time. Since a healthy gut should contain 20,000 to 30,000 species of bacteria, consuming 5-10 strains in a capsule over a long period can actually cause the opposite of its intended effect.14
Raw Local Honey
The last and possibly most delicious natural allergy remedy is the consumption of local bee products like honey and bee pollen. Bees pick up the same pollen contributing to seasonal allergies. So consuming small regular quantities of local, raw bee products introduces microdoses of the pollens that may desensitize the body to these allergens over time.  The concept is similar to an ‘allergy shot’ given at a doctor’s office but without the more aggressive, invasive, and expensive injection.
Recommended doses generally start at around ¼ teaspoon of raw honey per day, increasing gradually to build up tolerance up to 1 g/kg body weight of honey daily.15 Keeping the honey raw is important because it preserves its medicinal nature, and having it local is even more important so that you are introducing local pollens into your system.
Natural Allergy Remedies: Summary
Although seasonal allergies are often considered normal and even anticipated by many, they are, in fact, generally avoidable. Allergies are essentially the results of immune dysfunction and inflammation and can be fought naturally without pharmaceutical antihistamines. Some key ways to fight allergies naturally include fasting, stress management, acupuncture, an anti-inflammatory diet, and the consumption of probiotic-rich foods and raw local honey.
- Schiller, Jeannine S, et al. “Summary health statistics for U.S. adults: National Health Interview Survey, 2010.” Vital and health statistics. Series 10, Data from the National Health Survey,252 (2012): 1-207.
- Bagherniya, Mohammad, et al. “The Effect of Fasting or Calorie Restriction on Autophagy Induction: A Review of the Literature.” Ageing Research Reviews, vol. 47, 2018, pp. 183–197., doi:10.1016/j.arr.2018.08.004.
- Cheng, Chia-Wei et al. “Prolonged fasting reduces IGF-1/PKA to promote hematopoietic-stem-cell-based regeneration and reverse immunosuppression.” Cell stem cell vol. 14,6 (2014): 810-23. doi:10.1016/j.stem.2014.04.01
- Derkins, Susie. The Immune System. Rosen Pub. Group, 2001.
- Liu, Yun-Zi et al. “Inflammation: The Common Pathway of Stress-Related Diseases.” Frontiers in human neuroscience vol. 11 316. 20 Jun. 2017, doi:10.3389/fnhum.2017.00316
- Dave, Ninabahen D et al. “Stress and allergic diseases.” Immunology and allergy clinics of North America vol. 31,1 (2011): 55-68. doi:10.1016/j.iac.2010.09.009
- Hammen, Constance et al. “Chronic and acute stress and the prediction of major depression in women.” Depression and anxiety vol. 26,8 (2009): 718-23. doi:10.1002/da.2057
- Besedovsky, Luciana et al. “Sleep and immune function.” Pflugers Archive: European journal of physiology vol. 463,1 (2012): 121-37. doi:10.1007/s00424-011-1044-
- Cabo, Rafael De, and Mark P. Mattson. “Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Health, Aging, and Disease.” New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 381, no. 26, 2019, pp. 2541–2551., doi:10.1056/nejmra1905136.
- Brinkhaus, Benno et al. “Acupuncture in patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis: a randomized trial.” Annals of internal medicine vol. 158,4 (2013): 225-34. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-158-4-201302190-00
- Pfab, F et al. “Acupuncture compared with oral antihistamine for type I hypersensitivity itch and skin response in adults with atopic dermatitis: a patient- and examiner-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover trial.” Allergy vol. 67,4 (2012): 566-73. doi:10.1111/j.1398-9995.2012.02789.x
- Belkaid, Yasmine, and Timothy W Hand. “Role of the microbiota in immunity and inflammation.” Cell vol. 157,1 (2014): 121-41. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2014.03.011
- Grumezescu, Alexandru Mihai, and Alina Maria Holban. Diet, Microbiome and Health. Academic Press, 2018.
- Bush, Zach. “Why Probiotics Don’t Always Work.” Zach Bush MD, Apr. 2017, zachbushmd.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Why-Probiotics-Dont-Always-Work-EG-BB-edit.pdf.
- Asha’ari, Zamzil Amin et al. “Ingestion of honey improves the symptoms of allergic rhinitis: evidence from a randomized placebo-controlled trial in the East coast of Peninsular Malaysia.” Annals of Saudi medicine vol. 33,5 (2013): 469-75. doi:10.5144/0256-4947.2013.469
Medical Disclaimer: This article is based on the opinions of The Cell Health team. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended to share knowledge and information from the research and experience of the Cell Health team. This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Charles Penick, MD, for the accuracy of the information provided. Still, we encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and in partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.