Spring and summer is the worst time of the year for hay fever sufferers and naturally, many people will search for the best remedies that will improve their symptoms. While hay fever tablets that you buy in pharmacies work to some extent, they are not always effective and may not work for severe hay fever symptoms. Besides, they come with side effects so no wonder more and more people are now researching alternative options and the popularity of natural hay fever remedies is increasing.
In this post, we list some of the best natural remedies for hay fever that you could try and we explain their properties and how they can help you get better. But first, let’s look at how the typical hay fever tablets work to reduce the symptoms and why choosing a natural hay fever remedy may be a better option for you.
How antihistamine tablets work
Antihistamine tablets relieve symptoms of hay fever by reducing or blocking histamines which your body release when it comes in contact with an allergen such as pollen or ragweed. Histamines are chemicals which make your nose stuffy and runny and also cause runny eyes and itchiness.
There are different types of antihistamine tablets available and not all types will work for everybody. What’s more, these tablets won’t be able to treat every hay fever symptom you may have, for example, nasal congestion. So you will still have to look for other solutions.
Antihistamine tablets for hay fever come with side effects
Synthetic antihistamines are unfortunately all associated with side effects.
Here are some of the common side effects you may experience:
- feeling sleepy (if you take older forms of antihistamines)
- dry mouth
- feeling sick
- blurred vision
On the other hand, natural antihistamines which are found in plants and foods come with no or very few side effects.
How natural remedies can help to treat hay fever
There are several different types of natural remedies you can try to prevent or treat your hay fever symptoms.
Natural hay fever remedies can help in the following ways:
- they help to reduce inflammation in the body
- they help to reduce mucus production
- they soothe the irritation in the mouth and eye area
- they prevent further allergic reactions
- they help to boost the immune system so that you can fight off the allergens more easily
And here are some of the best natural hay fever remedies for you to consider:
Garlic is a natural antibiotic that helps to boost your immune system and it’s a natural remedy that is beneficial to consume when hayfever is affecting your body – your immune system certainly needs a little bit of help when your body has an allergic reaction to pollen!
When your immune system is stronger, this helps your body fight off histamines (which cause all the hayfever symptoms) better. As a result, the severity of allergy symptoms is reduced.
Furthermore, garlic also contains something called Quercetin, which is a natural antihistamine that provides allergy relief.
Last but not least, garlic also acts as a decongestant and helps to reduce sinus pressure.
If you’d rather not eat tons of garlic every day, supplements are equally effective, just choose the best quality.
Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and it’s a natural anti-histamine (since it contains quercetin). This makes it a perfect natural remedy for treating hay fever.
Some studies have shown that nettle has a positive effect on reducing the symptoms of hay fever but more studies are needed to confirm this. At the moment we mostly rely on anecdotal evidence of its effectiveness but since nettle products offer some relief in some people with hay fever, it may be worth trying. One study has found that freeze-dried nettles helped to relieve symptoms in 58% of participants.
Nettles can be eaten as food and put in soups, risottos and omelettes but don’t try and put nettles into a salad as they will sting! They need to be cooked to destroy the stinging formic acid.
Alternatively, make a delicious nettle tea by steeping dry nettle leaves in a hot water for about 10 minutes (make sure you cover the tea so that the beneficial compounds don’t escape with steam). Nettle tea bags are also available for your convenience. Drink this tea 3 times a day for greater benefit. You could also take nettle supplements which contain a powdered form of nettle leaves.
Honey and honey products
Honey has some amazing healing properties and its proportions of pollen and plant compounds help to produce a natural immunity in the body.
Bee pollen, royal jelly, honeycomb and unfiltered, raw honey are all believed to help.
It’s best to start honey treatment early though, at least a month before the season begins (or even two months before if you can) – take a dessertspoonful of honey with honeycomb with each meal for a month before the season. Continue throughout the spring and summer. For this to be the most effective try and use local honey which means that you will be ingesting small quantities of local pollen. The idea is that over time you will become less sensitive to this pollen and although you may still get some allergy symptoms, they won’t be as bad.
There are more studies needed to confirm that honey indeed helps with hay fever. So far one study has shown that when honey is ingested in high doses, this can significantly improve hay fever symptoms.
If the season has already started you can still try the honey treatment but since you already have the allergic reactions, combine this treatment with other natural remedies such as elderflower, chamomile and essential oils (continue reading to find out more about them).
Essential oils are not going to cure you of hayfever but they will help to reduce your symptoms and lessen the inflammation.
The best way of using essential oils to treat hay fever symptoms is by adding them to a steam inhalation.
First, boil the water (1 litre) and pour into a big bowl. Then add a drop of each of lavender, eucalyptus and chamomile essential oils. Place a large towel over your head and the bowl and inhale the steam for about 10 minutes (keep your eyes closed). This treatment will help to soothe breathing and reduce swelling and inflammation of the nose and throat.
Inhalation of lavender essential oil has been proven to prevent allergic inflammation as well as the enlargement of mucous cells. Eucalyptus oil has anti-inflammatory properties while chamomile has a soothing effect and may help to calm itchy, irritated and sensitive sinuses.
Another blend you may want to try is sandalwood, frankincense, and Ravensara oil. One study found that this blend helped to relieve hay fever symptoms as well as reduce fatigue and improve quality of life.
Elderberry flowers have anticatarrhal and anti-inflammatory properties and help to reduce the build-up of mucus in your body.
Ideally, you would start drinking an infusion of elderflowers daily in late winter (before the spring begins) and then continue throughout the hayfever season. But it’s never too late to start drinking elderflower tea although if you start earlier, it should be more effective.
Try and pick some fresh elderberry flowers in the late spring or early summer but if you cannot get hold of them you can use dried flowers instead. Just make sure you buy good quality or alternatively try organic elderflower cordial instead.
Chamomile acts as a natural antihistamine which is anti-inflammatory and soothing at the same time. It’s a well-known sedative for the nervous system that also has an anti-allergenic quality.
The best is to drink chamomile tea daily (one or two cups) but you could also make use of the tea bags which you can apply straight on your eyes (when cooled) to soothe the irritation.
Keep in mind that they are two types of chamomile: Roman or garden chamomile and German or wild chamomile. German chamomile is better for fighting hay fever since it contains higher levels of azulene, a natural antihistamine.
Be aware that chamomile may cause an allergic reaction in some people and if that happens to you, you should stop the treatment immediately.
Bi Yan Pian
Bi Yan Pian is an excellent Chinese herbal remedy which consists of a combination of herbs that help to clear the nose, stop sneezing, cool and soothe the eyes, and remove heat caused by the inflammation of the mucous membranes.
You can buy this herb blend online but you need to make sure you buy the best quality to avoid exposure to lead and other toxins which may leach into the herbs during the growth period.
Rose hips provide one of the best natural and freely available sources of vitamin C. They are great to use when your body requires more vitamin C, for example when suffering from hay fever. They are highly anti-inflammatory and they will support your immune system when it needs it most.
Rosehips are rich in flavonoid Quercetin which is well known to reduce the symptoms of hay fever.
However, concentrations of vitamin C and quercetin in rose hips vary, depending on the type of rose hip species, where they’ve been grown and in what conditions.
Fresh rose hips have more vitamin C than dried ones but since they are collected in autumn, you will have to resort to dried rose hips or rosehip powder for your hay fever which still have many beneficial compounds.
With dried rose hips you can prepare a floral tea with one teaspoon of rose hips per cup (use more for stronger and more potent tea). Leave it to steep in a hot water and covered for at least 10 minutes before drinking.
When buying dried rose hips make sure you buy organic to avoid any pesticide residue.
Turmeric has strong anti-inflammatory properties and it’s well known for its pain-killing and antioxidant properties. It has a long list of health benefits and it has long been used in Indian and Chinese medicine for a variety of diseases and ailments.
The active component of turmeric is curcumin which has antiallergic properties helping to block mast cells from releasing histamine.
At the same time, turmeric helps to reduce inflammation in the sinuses and respiratory tract and it’s highly beneficial not only for hay fever sufferers but also for those suffering from asthma, bronchitis and other allergies.
Use plenty of turmeric in curry dishes, soups and smoothies. Make sure you add some pepper to your dishes as well for better absorption of curcumin into your body. You can also take turmeric supplements, just make sure they are organic and have an addition of piperine (extracted from black pepper).
Thyme is a herb that has long been used in herbal medicine for chest and respiratory complaints, including coughs, bronchitis and chest congestion. It is a good source of vitamin C and a powerful antioxidant that helps the body fight infection.
Thyme does not only help to fight infections, but it also helps to dry mucous membranes and relaxes spasms of the bronchial passages.
Due to its drying effect, thyme is good to use when your eyes and nose are watering as a result of hay fever and other allergies.
What else you can do to improve your hay fever symptoms
In addition to the natural remedies mentioned in this post you should also try the following:
- Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. These contain plenty of vitamin C which is also a natural antihistamine.
- Avoid dairy products which are mucus producing.
- Have a shower and wash your hair in the evening to remove any pollen and reduce your symptoms overnight.
- Get a pollen filter for your house and car (check RIGOGLIOSO Air Purifier which is really affordable and removes pollen from your home).
This article is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Before taking any supplements or herbal remedies you should consult your doctor or other qualified health care provider especially if you suffer from existing health issues and take any medication. We take no responsibility for any consequences from any treatments you may start as a result of reading this article. Some of these remedies may interact with prescription medication and give you some adverse effects.
Britton, J. (2013) The Herbal Healing Bible. Discover traditional herbal remedies to treat everyday ailments and common conditions the natural way. Quantum Publishing Ltd.
Shealy, C. N. (2014) The Illustrated Food Remedies Sourcebook. An A-Z of the foods that can be used as natural remedies to prevent & cure common ailments. HarperCollinsPublishers.
Hoffman, D. (2013) The Complete Herbs Sourcebook. An A-to-Z Guide of Herbs to Cure Your Everyday Ailments. HarperCollinsPublishers.