Expert Advice

How Can I Ease Allergy Symptoms without Drugs?

Simple changes can help your itchy eyes and stuffy nose.

How Can I Ease Allergy Symptoms without Drugs?
Pin it

You can’t control pollen, but you can control your diet. Simple changes in the foods you eat can help your itchy eyes and stuffy nose.  

Use food to stay in balance Allergies are immune system reactions run amok. Think about balancing your immune system rather than boosting it, as stimulation may inadvertently create a stronger allergic reaction. A helpful way to balance your immune system is to eliminate the dietary factors that may be compromising your immunity. Avoid foods that you may have sensitivities to, such as citrus, eggs, wheat and dairy, for a month before allergy season starts.

Avoid inflammatory foods It’s also important to eat a clean diet: Limit inflammation-causing processed foods, avoid white flours and sugars, and opt for lean protein, leafy greens and colorful vegetables. Skip fried foods and focus on healthy fats, such as nuts and avocado, as well as flax and fish oils. Five portions of vegetables and fruits a day also help your body better handle allergies by supplying it with nutrients such as quercetin—which prevents the release of histamines, the chemicals in the cells that trigger allergies— and resveratrol, which fights inflammation.

Cure like with like Eating local bee pollen, available from health food stores and local beekeepers, is another way to improve your pollen tolerance. Start slowly (ideally during winter) with a few granules of pollen a day to make sure you have no strong allergic response, and then increase the amount to one or two teaspoons. Choose bee pollen with variable color strands—a range of color indicates a variety of plants—thus increasing the exposure your body can handle. (Local honeycomb works along the same lines; make sure you are not allergic to the comb itself by eating just a little bit in the beginning.)

Keep your nose clean Using a nasal rinse daily a month before and throughout allergy season can help clear pollen from your nasal passages. (Dissolve 1∕8 teaspoon salt and 1∕16 teaspoon of baking soda in 8 ounces of water.) When allergy season is in full swing, eating horseradish is also an easy way to clear your sinuses. Just a half teaspoon a day of the radish—some people prefer it mixed with lemon juice—can help eliminate mucus and fight infection. — Jody Shevins, N.D., a naturopathic physician in Boulder, Colo.