Allergy Treatments

The Allergy Home Remedies That Actually Work

A person lying in the grass holding their head while a lawnmower goes by in the background.

You dread your allergy season every year. The itching, sneezing, runny nose, and congestion are obnoxious at their best, and absolutely miserable at their worst.

You want relief and you want it fast. And, even if you already have a great treatment plan, it’s not always enough to keep your allergy symptoms at bay.

The good news is that there are a ton of home remedies and natural treatments out there that can help make your seasonal and perennial allergies at least a little more manageable. Not all of them are created equal, so let’s talk about which ones are worth trying—and which ones you should skip.

Nasal irrigation

What you need:

  • Neti pot or squeeze bottle
  • Saline solution

How it works:

Nasal irrigation involves using a neti pot or squeeze bottle to rinse your sinuses with a saline solution. It’s been shown to be effective for allergic rhinitis (that’s a fancy term for allergies), by flushing allergens out of your nasal passages.

Acupuncture

What you need:

  • An appointment with a licensed acupuncturist

How it works:

Alright, this one isn’t a home remedy—we don’t recommend sticking yourself with needles on your own. However, it’s one of the most popular natural remedies for treating seasonal allergies. There isn’t a ton of evidence to support it, but one study did find that it could be a great complement to traditional medications and treatments. Additionally, there hasn’t been any adverse side effects discovered, so it might be worth a try.

Dehumidifiers

What you need:

  • Just one dehumidifier

How it works:

Seasonal allergies are bad enough. They’re even worse if you’re struggling with indoor allergens on top of them. Indoor allergy triggers like dust mites and mold thrive in moist environments. A dehumidifier will remove excess dampness and keep those allergens to a minimum. In addition to a dehumidifier, even simple changes like turning on the bathroom fan when you shower can help reduce moisture in your home.

Probiotics and vitamins

What you need:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus (a probiotic that’s available over the counter)

How it works:

In one study, this specific probiotic was found to help with allergies by altering your immune system to reduce the severity and duration of your allergy symptoms. A different study shows that Vitamin C can also help with your allergies. However, in that study, the vitamin was given intravenously—meaning an oral probiotic is a safer bet for a home remedy.

Essential oils

What you need:

  • Ravensara essential oil
  • Frankincense essential oil
  • Sandalwood essential oil

How it works:

There’s a lot of debate about whether or not essential oils are effective treatments. But, when it comes to your allergies, they certainly can’t hurt. One study found that a blend of these three essential oils alleviated symptoms when they were inhaled. They also reduced fatigue in study participants.

Air conditioning

What you need:

  • Central air conditioning

How it works:

Don’t worry—we aren’t recommending that you go install an expensive central air unit in your home. This tip is for the people who already have access to central air, but don’t reliably use it during the warmer months. We know it’s nice to open the windows and let fresh air in. But, you’re also letting in a bunch of outdoor allergens at that same time. The Mayo Clinic says that relying on air conditioning is helpful, especially during months when pollen counts are high.

Cleaning

What you need:

  • Bleach solution (for moldy surfaces)
  • Vacuum
  • Washing machine
  • Laundry detergent

How it works:

Let’s all let out a collective groan, because we know cleaning isn’t exactly a home remedy—plus it’s not really anybody’s idea of a good time. But, if you deal with perennial allergies, it can help cut down on your indoor allergy triggers. Use a bleach solution for areas where there’s visible mold. Vacuum carpets frequently and wash soft surfaces (like curtains, sheets, and towels) in warm water to cut down on dust mites and pet dander.

Masks

What you need:

  • A mask that covers your nose and mouth

How it works:

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve all become pretty accustomed to face masks. The good news is that this face covering might help with your seasonal allergies. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shares, it can prevent you from inhaling pollen particles that will trigger an allergic reaction. Just make sure you wash your mask frequently—ideally, after every use.

Changing clothes

What you need:

  • A change of clothes
  • Access to a washing machine (or laundry detergent and water)

How it works:

Pollen and other outdoor allergens stick to everything—including your clothes. After you’ve spent some time outdoors, it’s smart to remove the clothes you wore outside and wash them right away. You might even want to take a shower to wash the allergens off your skin and hair.

Hydration

What you need:

  • Water (and plenty of it)

How it works:

Staying properly hydrated is good for you all of the time, but especially during allergy season. Some experts state that your body produces higher histamine levels (that’s the chemical that causes your allergy symptoms) when it’s dehydrated. So, plenty of fluids might help to reduce the severity of your runny nose, sneezing, and itching.

Butterbur

What you need:

  • Butterbur tablets (look for ones that are marked as PA-free)

How it works:

Haven’t heard of butterbur? It’s a specific type of shrub that’s been proven to help with a variety of ailments—from migraine to seasonal allergies. In one study, butterbur was found to have similar effects as cetirizine (an antihistamine commonly used to treat hay fever).

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But beware of these natural remedies

The above natural remedies are backed by experts and studies. However, there are some remedies that some allergy sufferers swear by—but have never been proven to be effective. Those include:

Spicy foods:

Sure, they might temporarily relieve nasal congestion by making your nose run. But, they can have adverse effects when it comes to addressing your seasonal allergies by inspiring your body to create more histamine. When that’s added to the histamine your body is producing in response to your seasonal allergy triggers, it means bad news.

Local honey:

Have you heard that local, raw honey will expose you to pollen and reduce your allergy symptoms? That’s total fiction. As the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology says, unprocessed honey does include pollen—but it’s such a small amount that it doesn’t make a difference. One study showed zero difference among allergy suffers who tried local honey, commercially-processed honey, or a placebo.

Apple cider vinegar:

People love to assign all sorts of healing properties to apple cider vinegar. And, while it probably won’t hurt you, don’t rely on it to solve your seasonal allergies. After all, the The American Sinus Institute says it won’t address your allergy symptoms.

Show your seasonal allergies who’s boss

Allergies can be debilitating, and we certainly can’t blame you for looking for relief wherever you can get it.

Keep in mind that not all natural and home remedies are effective, and you might have to do some trial and error to find the options that help your symptoms the most.

Regardless of which one you land on, they’re usually most effective when used as a supplement to more traditional treatments like antihistamines and steroid nasal sprays. After all, the more options you have at hand, the better you’ll be able to treat your symptoms. Still feeling skeptical? Check out our tips for getting the most out of your allergy medication.

ARTICLE REVIEWED BY
Amina H. Abdeldaim, MD MPH
Picnic Medical Director
View medical disclaimer
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