Natural Allergy Remedies That Really Work

Photographed by Megan Madden.
Struggling with seasonal allergies isn't exactly a walk in the park. They're especially annoying this year, when all we want to do is savor what little time we get outdoors. All that itchiness, sneezing, and sniffling keeping up from enjoying the crisp fall air and beautiful changing leaves? Not fair.
While there are over-the-counter medications that can help combat allergies, some people prefer to supplement or replace those with options that provide natural allergy relief. We looked into several popular drug-free cures to find the most effective natural remedies.

Probiotics

A combo of two types of the beneficial bacteria — lactobacilli and bifidobacteria — may ease mild allergy symptoms, according to research from the University of Florida. (It may not work so great against severe allergies, though.) These good-for-you bugs may influence your immune system to reduce symptoms. To cop the benefit, pick up a supplement that contains Lactobacillus gasseri, Bifidobacterium bifidum and Bifidobacterium longum, the exact strains the researchers studied.
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Water

Sounds simple, but it's a great starting place. Drinking enough water can help thin out the mucus in your nose, making it easier to breathe. Staying hydrated can also help drain your sinuses and keep you from feeling congested, which is a major plus. What's more, if you're taking antihistamines, you may find that they seriously dry you out. Chugging water throughout the day will help relieve that annoying side effect.

Hot showers

Besides the fact that taking a hot shower feels good when you're stuffy and achy, it's also a great way to open up your airways and clear out congestion. The steam can help moisten and soften any mucus in your nasal passages, according to the Allergy & Asthma Network. If you don't want to hop in the shower, Harvard Health says that inhaling steam is a good alternative. Wet a washcloth with warm water and drape it over your face.

Sex

No, seriously. Getting down and dirty might just help clear up those pesky allergies. "The relationship between sexual arousal, genitalia, and the nose are intimately linked," Michael Benninger, MD, an ear, nose, and throat otolaryngologist at Cleveland Clinic, previously told Refinery29.
The adrenaline that's produced during sex reduces blood flow, which causes air-filtering structures in your nasal passages (called turbinates) to shrink, allowing in more air, he explained. "Since your nose is getting less blood flow, there’s less inflammation," Dr. Benninger said. "That means your nose can open up and it’s easier to breathe." I'll take it.
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No alcohol

Yes, certain things you put into your body can make your seasonal allergies worse. Take alcohol, for example. A study published in Clinical & Experimental Allergy found that women who had over 14 drinks a week were 78% more likely to develop a perpetually stuffy nose than those who drank less. Cut back — it's only temporary.

Green tea

A compound found in green tea, called methylated epigallocatechin gallate, blocks a key cell receptor involved in producing an allergic response, according to 2002 research published in American Chemical Study. "Green tea appears to be a promising source for effective anti-allergenic agents," Hirofumi Tachibana, the study's chief investigator and an associate professor of chemistry at Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan, told ScienceDaily. "If you have allergies, you should consider drinking it."
The research is nearly 20 years old, so it should be taken with a grain of salt. Plus, the study authors didn't know exactly how much green tea is needed, or which green tea varieties are most effective. Still, anecdotally, some people find that warm drinks like tea temporarily ease congestion or a scratchy throat. Dribble in a little honey and sip away.

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