Spring is in the air. And if you’re a part of the estimated 40 million people who suffer from allergies, symptoms like runny nose, itchy, watery eyes and congestion may have come along with it. Since spring allergy season typically spans from March to May, when the trees begin to pollinate, it’s the perfect time to talk about allergies.

While traditional over-the-counter or prescription drugs can provide allergy relief, some people prefer a natural solution. In fact, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), nearly 40 percent of Americans try some form of alternative medicine. While there are many options available, below are a few natural choices for allergy relief.

40% of Americans try some form of alternative medicine for allergy relief

Nasal Rinsing

It might sound simplistic, but many allergy sufferers have found relief from rinsing the nasal passages with a saltwater nasal wash. According to National Jewish Health, rinsing may help clear the nasal passages of allergens and irritants, decrease swelling in the nose and increase nasal airflow. And findings published in the International Archives of Allergy and Immunology suggest that nasal rinsing may be an inexpensive and effective method of helping reduce seasonal allergies.

The most efficient way to rinse the nasal passages is using a neti pota small, ceramic pot that looks like an elongated teapot and a mixture of warm, filtered water and unionized salt. Neti pots can be found at most pharmacies; see the instructions included with your neti pot for exact usage guidelines, including saline-water ratio.

Stinging Nettle

A plant known for fine, thin hairs that inject irritants when touched, stinging nettle has been used for hundreds of years in ancient Chinese medicine. While touching a stinging nettle plant can hurt, it has the opposite effect when it comes into contact with a painful area of the body, often resulting in decreased pain. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the root, stem and leaves of the plant have been used to assist in treating a variety of conditions. Preliminary human studies suggest that nettle capsules may help relieve sneezing and itching due to seasonalconditions.

Stinging nettle can be used in several forms, including tea, fluid extract, cream or freeze-dried leaf capsule, although there are no established dosage guidelines. The supplement may interfere with some medications, so be sure to talk to your doctor before starting a supplementation regimen.

Whatever method you choose, be consistent. After an allergic reaction occurs, the body has to recover before its able to prevent future attacks. If one option doesn’t

Clean regularly. Dust surfaces, wash bedding and vacuum often to help control dust mites, which can trigger allergies. Since cleaning can cause allergic reactions, consider wearing a mask and leaving the house for a few hours after cleaning to avoid breathing in any allergens in the air.work, try another until you find something that does. With the many natural and medicinal options available, you’re bound to find at least some relief.

  • Keep pollen out. Keeping the doors and windows closed is one way to keep this common allergen out. Using an air filter or running the air conditioning can also help.
  • Limit houseplants. Damp areas of the homelike the bathroom or kitchen can harbor mold, which often triggers allergies. But houseplants can carry pollen and mold, too. Limiting the number of plants in your home may help avoid an allergic reaction.
  • Know the pollen count. Watch your local weather report to know the pollen count in your area. When the count is high, consider staying inside during peak pollen times, which are usually from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you do go outside, shower afterwards to wash the pollen off of your skin and hair.

BUTTERBUR

A shrub with large, soft leaves that were once used to wrap butter, butterbur supplement has proven an effective option for seasonal nasal symptoms. A study in the British Medical Journal found that, in tablet form, butterbur has comparable effects to commonly used over-the-counter and prescription allergy medicines. Researchers further suggest that butterbur supplement should be considered for use with nasal symptoms by those who wish to avoid the sedative effects of traditional antihistamines.

The leaves, underground stems and roots of butterbur are typically used to make butterbur supplement. Since butterbur can contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs), which can cause liver damage, be sure that anysupplements you purchase are labeled or certified PA-free. Since there are no established dosage guidelines for butterbur, again consult with your doctor before beginning a regimen.

HEALTHY EATING

A balanced diet is key to many areas of health. But did you know that eating well may help ease allergy symptoms? A study published in the British Medical Journal suggests that adherence to aMediterranean diet during childhood high in fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, fish and olive oil may reduce allergy symptoms. The key? The omega-3s and antioxidants found in these foods help reduce inflammation in the nose and throat, areas commonly affected by seasonal allergies.

Other research suggests that vitamin C may help normalize our bodies inflammatory response, although results are inconclusive, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Foods rich in vitamin C including green, leafy vegetables, papayas, bell peppers and strawberries have natural antihistamine properties that may help fight the impacts of allergens. To support immune health and promote respiratory health, 500 to 1,000 milligrams per day is recommended.