How to survive seasonal hay fever: My top 10 drug-free strategies to end your itching and sneezing

If, like me, you’re one of the 20 million adults who are allergic to tree, grass, and/or weed pollen, your eyes may be so watery right now that you’re having trouble reading this article.1

As the summer winds down, pollen can make life miserable for those of us who are prone to seasonal allergic rhinitis—better known as hay fever.

Of course, big pharma wants you to take antihistamines and decongestants to stop your sneezing, runny nose, and itchy, watery eyes. But as I’ve often reported, these drugs have terrible short-term and long-term side effects. Antihistamines can actually induce dementia-like symptoms. Not to mention make you drowsy and dizzy—and disrupt your sleep (which can spark a whole host of additional serious health problems).

The good news is, there are plenty of safe, effective, and completely natural ways to reduce your seasonal allergy symptoms. Here are my top 10.

1) Stay inside. You know I’m a big proponent of getting outdoors as often as possible. But if you’re an allergy sufferer, try to limit your time in Nature to the morning and evening on days when the pollen counts are high. Peak times for pollen dissemination are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Unfortunately, these are also the best times for soaking up the sun your body uses to make vitamin D. So as summer wanes and pollen waxes, make sure to also supplement with 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 a day.

2) Try my “nose jelly” trick. When I have to venture outside on high-pollen days, I put some petroleum jelly on the skin under my nose and on the outside of my nostrils to trap pollen before it gets inside my nasal passages. I also wear sunglasses to keep wind from blowing pollen directly into my eyes. 

When I want to be outside gardening or doing other activities in my yard, I wet a bandana and place it over my nose and mouth, tying it behind my ears, or tucking it under a cap with a visor. Another option is to wear a dust mask, which you can find at your local hardware store for relatively cheap.

I also make sure the rest of my body is covered to keep pollen from collecting on my skin.

3) Crank up the AC. If you have central air conditioning, keep the indoor air pollen-free by closing your windows and doors. Or just install a high-efficiency window unit in your bedroom, and close the door to the rest of the house. This will keep your sleeping area pollen-free and help promote a good night’s rest.

Make sure your air conditioner filters are clean and rated well for high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration, which helps reduce pollen. You should also regularly use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to more effectively remove pollen from carpet, curtains, and furniture.

4) Make every day laundry day. Wash outdoor clothing as soon as you come inside, and don’t hang laundry outdoors to dry. Change your sheets and pillowcases frequently to prevent build-up from any pollen residue on your skin or hair.

5) Step up your daily cleansing routine. Fill a clean sink or bowl with lukewarm water, and add a little sea salt. Then submerge your face, up to your ears, into the water (holding your breath, of course). Blink several times and then blow air out through your nostrils. This will trap and flush pollen away.

On high pollen days, you might also want to shower and wash your hair more than once—depending on how much time you’ve spent outside.

6) Eat a hay fever-banishing diet. Foods with natural antihistamine properties include asparagus, broccoli, cherries, garlic, kiwi, onions, and pineapple.

You should also cut out sugar, which adds to the inflammation your pollen allergy is already creating. And limit dairy, which may contribute to mucus congestion.

7) Drink herbal tea. Ginger, honey, licorice, and nettle tea naturally counter respiratory tract inflammation, reducing congestion and itchiness. Steep the herbs (together or separately) for at least eight minutes, and drink the tea with throat-soothing organic honey. 

Drinking coffee in the morning will also help open your respiratory passages and decongest you. Look for details on the benefits of coffee in the next issue.

8) Use herbal lozenges. Herbal cough drops and lozenges that contain natural extracts of eucalyptus, licorice, or menthol can help clear mucus out of your respiratory tract.

They also stimulate the production of saliva, which can help relieve any symptoms of dry mouth or throat, preventing further irritation.

9) Build an allergy-fighting spa right in your kitchen. Enjoy the symptom-soothing vapors from essential oils.

Add a couple drops of eucalyptus oil (which can be found in most major pharmacies) to a pot of steaming water. Turn off the heat and then carefully lean over the pot with a small towel over the back of your head. This will help to trap the vapors under your handmade “tent.” Then breathe in deeply, hold for a few second seconds, and exhale slowly through your nose and mouth. Repeat this process several times until your respiratory tract feels clearer.

One note of caution: Never ingest essential oils like eucalyptus internally—they’re toxic.

10) Get away. When all else fails, escape to another climate where hay fever allergies aren’t in season. It’s a great reason to take a vacation!

If you’ve ever had the “itch,” so to speak, to visit South America, Southern Africa, or Australia, now’s the time to go. In the Southern Hemisphere, their spring season is only beginning so hay fever pollen isn’t a problem.

(Although, if you’re battling respiratory congestion, be sure to see your doctor before taking off. Flying with this condition can be much more painful and debilitating experience.)

If you’d like a more practical, less expensive option, travel to the nearest mountain range or down to the seashore for a few days. Pick a location with little ragweed or late-summer grasses… your nose will thank you for it.

These ten tips should do the trick to help you breathe a little easier during this change of seasons. I use these natural remedies to allow me to enjoy the sights, tastes, and sounds during this otherwise beautiful time of year.

Have your own go-to allergy remedies? I’d love to hear from you! Email them to: or find me on Facebook.


1Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. “Allergy Facts and Figures.” Retrieved from