As the warm weather winds down, ragweed or “hay fever” season ramps up—with all of its itchy, stuffy, and sneezy symptoms.
It’s estimated that as many as 60 million Americans are affected by allergic rhinitis, otherwise known as hay fever.1 But that doesn’t mean you have to suffer silently—or resort to dangerous drugs like antihistamines.
As I’ve often reported, antihistamines can actually induce dementia-like symptoms. They can also make you drowsy, dizzy, and disrupt your sleep (which can spark a whole host of serious health problems).
Fortunately, there are plenty of simple, effective, and completely natural strategies to avoid or alleviate late-summer, early-fall seasonal allergies.
I’ll start with the most effective one…
Stay inside when pollen counts are highest
As much as I advise getting outdoors in Nature (where sunlight kills microbes), one of the best ways to keep allergies in check is to stay indoors as much as possible when pollen disseminates the most—typically from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
When you’re inside, you can help keep the air pollen-free by closing your windows and doors and relying on high-efficiency air conditioning. Just make sure to clean or change your air conditioner filter regularly, and consider adding a dehumidifier to keep allergy-inducing mold spores out of your household environment.
Of course, as I noted above, this advice temporarily conflicts with one of my top health recommendations: to spend at least 15 to 20 minutes in the sunshine each day to trigger natural vitamin D production in your skin. (Not to mention, spending all of your days like a hermit inside your home has its own health consequences, as I discuss on pages 5 and 6.)
So when you do go outside during peak pollen times, I recommend the following allergy-busting solutions:
- Rub a small amount of petroleum jelly under your nose to trap pollen before it enters.
- Wear sunglasses to keep wind from blowing pollen directly into your eyes.
- Wet a bandana and place it over your nose and mouth, tying it behind your ears to prevent breathing in pollen. You can also wear a cloth mask, a hospital-grade filter mask, or a dust mask from your local hardware store. (You’ll also be following coronavirus-related mask regulations!)
- Cover up as much of your body as possible to keep pollen from collecting on your skin. Then, change your clothing when you come inside.
- Don’t hang your laundry outside to dry.
- Change your sheets and pillowcases frequently.
- Wash your hands and face regularly throughout the day—especially after you return inside. You’ll not only protect yourself from pollen, but a whole host of viruses and disease microbes, too (potentially including coronavirus).
- Fill your sink or a small basin with lukewarm water and add some sea salt. Submerge your face, up to your ears, in the sink. Blink several times and then blow air out through your nostrils. This will flush pollen from your sinus cavity.
Your allergies are what you eat
There’s also a lot you can do from a dietary standpoint to keep your allergies in check.
As with most health conditions, following a balanced diet—with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables—is key. In fact, some types of fresh produce even have natural antihistamine properties, including:
I also recommend the following foods and beverages to help relieve or even prevent seasonal allergies…
Local honey. Not only is this natural sweetener better for your health than sugar, but studies show eating locally produced honey (within 50 miles of your home) helps lessen your reaction to local pollens. Plus, you’ll support local farmers and beekeepers.
Herbal teas and lozenges. Ginger or licorice teas counter respiratory-tract inflammation, soothing the congestion and itchiness that is so common for allergy sufferers. Make sure to steep the teas for at least eight minutes.
If you can’t take a hot infusion with you, carry herbal cough drops or lozenges containing natural extracts of eucalyptus, licorice, menthol, and other soothing herbs.
Spices. Some common spices, such as capsaicin (found in hot red peppers), turmeric, coriander, cumin, horseradish, and Japanese wasabi, are all great for clearing sinuses—in addition to all of their other health benefits.
Chinese hot and sour soup (black pepper with vinegar) and Chinese hot mustard have the same effects.
Finally, a key way to fight allergies is to keep your immune system healthy and balanced year-round. Make sure to take a high-quality B vitamin complex (with at least 55 mg of B6), 10,000 IU of vitamin D3, and up to 5 to 6 grams of fish oil every day.