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Seasonal allergies are the worst – the sneezing, the sniffling, the itching – it literally feels like the universe is against you. What’s worse, allergy meds not only make you groggy, they drain your wallet in the process. While you can’t reduce the pollen in the air, there are natural allergy remedies you can use to ease your symptoms now, as well as prevent them in the future.

There are plenty of natural allergy remedies that may provide all the relief you need – inexpensively, and with very little hassle. Here are 15 you can start using almost immediately:

1. Drink more water

“Water acts as a natural antihistamine, making it an easy and therapeutic natural allergy remedy,” says Dr. Julian Whitaker, founder of the Whitaker Wellness Institute. Drink three quarts (12 8-ounce glasses) daily during allergy season.

2. Eat local raw honey

While there’s not a lot of scientific evidence to back this up, many naturopathic doctors have seen a difference with this method–a little hair of the dog trick by ingesting local honey that’s likely to contain some of the same pollen you’re allergic to. It can boost your immunity.  “Honey really does work, but you need to find local raw honey and eat it for several months leading up to allergy season,” says Sara Jean Barrett, ND, who recommends it as a preventative measure for next year.

3. Try probiotics

According to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, people who ate seven ounces of yogurt every day for a year reported fewer allergy symptoms than non-yogurt eaters. “I have my patients either take probiotics or eat fermented foods,” says Barrett.

4. Increase your Vitamin C intake

According to Whitaker, 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 less, however, had no significant effect, so be sure to take 2,000 mg in divided doses daily.

5. Block allergens out

During the summer months, you end up in a lose/lose situation: Either you leave your windows open and allow uninvited allergens into your home, or you leave them shut and spend your time living in a pressure-cooker. PollenTEC has created window and door screens that filter out up to 100 percent of grass allergens and 90 percent of ragweed. Cha-ching!

6. Drink peppermint tea

The menthol in peppermint tea acts as a decongestant, which helps break up that icky mucus.

7. 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,” says Whitaker. “Once in the soil, these harmful vapors are broken down into plant food by microorganisms.” The best air purifiers are philodendrons, peace lilies, lady or area palm and corn plants; but all leafy plants will help in some way.

8. Use a neti pot / nasal spray

Neti pots are becoming one of the most popular natural allergy remedies. It’s a treatment that involves rinsing your nasal cavity with a saline solution to flush out the allergens. Or, if you’d rather use a straight-up nasal spray, nurse practitioner Sandra Miceli recommends Xlear Nasal Spray.

9. Increase Vitamin D intake

Studies have shown a link between low levels of vitamin D and allergies, suggesting the vitamin stops your body from producing allergy-causing molecules. It’s best to consult with your doctor as to the right amount of vitamin D for you.

10. Clean smarter

Start by changing your clothes when you come home from outings so you don’t track pollen throughout your house. Taking note of where allergies tend to hide in your home is also key, and creating a cleaning schedule based around it.

Jotham Hatch, National Technical Director of Chem-Dry, the world’s largest carpet and upholstery cleaning service, suggests you arm yourself with natural allergy remedies that involve a little elbow grease:

  • Focus primarily on your bedroom. “We spend on average 6-8 hours in bed per day, so you can’t overemphasize the care that should be taken to keep allergen triggers away from this area,” says Hatch. Try to vacuum every other day, including the mattress and under the bed. Change your pillows every six months, wash your bedding weekly, and vacuum your carpeting twice a week.
  • Vacuum upholstery weekly. Leather upholstery will harbor less allergens than fabric, but you should still wipe it down with a damp cloth weekly.
  • Carpets are the third most important area to maintain. In addition to vacuuming regularly, allergy sufferers should have their carpets cleaned about every four to six months, depending on allergy severity.

11. Make steam your BFF

If the thought of taking seven steamy showers a day doesn’t strike your fancy, pour boiling water into a bowl, drape a towel over your head, and inhale deeply through your nose for five to 10 minutes. It’s one of the most convenient natural allergy remedies to relieve general stuffiness.

12. Wear sunglasses often

Okay, there are times when you’ll look like you’re undercover, but it’s one of the most efficient ways of ensuring pollen doesn’t blow into your eyes.

13. Leave outdoor exercise to nighttime

Most allergy sufferers experience more sneezing and itching in the a.m., as many trees release their pollen first thing, while ragweed pollen seems to attack midday. Try and stay indoors from mid-morning to mid-afternoon, when pollen is at its peak, and stick to spending time outdoors in the evenings.

14. Eat more salmon

A study published in the journal Allergy found that a diet high in omega-3s equals a lower risk of developing hay fever.

15. Clear the air

HEPA filters ease allergy symptoms by trapping allergens, pet dander and dust. You can purchase portable air purifiers, but air conditioners and dehumidifiers also do the trick – they remove moisture from the air, which curbs mold and mildew growth. Make sure there’s a HEPA filter in your vacuum cleaner too: Without one, you might be making your symptoms worse by stirring up pollen that’s made a home for itself on your floors and furniture.

Which natural allergy remedies work best for you?

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Image: Johnmatthewphotography