Do you suffer from seasonal allergies, aka hayfever?
If so, you know how miserable and unrelenting the symptoms can be.
Help is on the way!
I’m here to tell you the top 7 tips to not only get quick relief from those symptoms (without all the down sides of allopathic allergy medications), but also begin to heal the underlying, root causes of your allergies, to help you get true and lasting relief, long term.
This article is Part 5 in my 5-part series on seasonal allergies – if you’re just jumping in now, here’s a quick review of what came before:
- Part 1: What is it and what are the symptoms?
- Part 2: Top 7 Triggers of Seasonal Allergies
- Part 3: The Root Causes of Seasonal Allergies
- Part 4: How to Use Basic Bloodwork to Determine the Root Causes of Your Allergies
So, first up, let’s work on getting you some immediate relief, yes? Because when you’re suffering from bad allergies, it’s hard to function, let alone think about anything beyond those unpleasant symptoms. Once you’re feeling a bit better, then you can start to think about doing something to fix those allergies once and for all.
Quick side note: As always with any information I share here, you should check with your doc or other healthcare provider before taking any herbs or supplements, or making big changes to your diet or lifestyle, just to make sure there’s no contra-indications with other things you’re taking or doing or experiencing, health-wise.
Quercetin is #1
The absolute best thing, IMO, to calm the symptoms of hayfever naturally, is Quercetin. A food- and plant-derived anti-histamine, Quercetin significantly reduces allergy symptoms for most people within minutes.
The typical dosing for Quercetin is 1,000mg at a time, taken up to several times per day.
Two things to be aware of with Quercetin:
- If you are needing to take a large amount (ex. several 1,000mg doses per day) to keep your allergy symptoms at bay, then you should take a break from it now and then, since large doses over long periods can be a bit taxing for the liver. But since the periods of intense suffering from hayfever are usually – hopefully! – only a few weeks long, this usually sorts itself out automatically.
- It can, for some, raise blood pressure (though the effect is usually subtle), so if you tend towards hypertension (blood pressure of >130/90), keep an eye on that.
#2 – Sinus Sprays
Providing instant relief from sinus symptoms for many, sinus sprays rinse out some of the pollen and other airborne particles in the sinuses, reducing the load on and irritation of the sinuses and the immune system.
I like to see people take this a step further, and use a sinus spray that contains either a probiotic boost, or anti-microbial herbs (and rotating between these two is ideal), as these not only give more relief for many than plain saline spray, they also help improve the overall health of the sinuses over time by boosting the healthy flora (“good bugs”) and helping clear out bad actors like bacteria, viruses, and fungi/mold.
- ION* Sinus Support Nasal Spray – contains a soil-based probiotic, humic extract, in its saline
- OregaSpray – contains anti-microbial, immune boosting herbs oregano, bay leaf, and lavender
#3 – Boost Your Digestive Juices
When your digestion works as it should, then food particles are more fully broken down (ie. better digested) and aren’t as likely to set off an immune reaction (which is what sets off your hayfever symptoms), and, nutrients are better absorbed, which makes your whole system work better.
But lots of factors can conspire to impair digestive functioning, including stress, inadequate sleep, aging, hormonal imbalances, medications, and inflammatory and allergy-aggravating foods. And part of what happens when the digestion is “impaired” is that the amount of stomach acid, digestive enzymes, and beneficial microbes (the “gut flora” or “gut microbiome”) are not ideal.
To give your digestive juices a boost and help your digestion break down foods properly to minimize immune reactivity and thus hayfever symptoms, many people find some or all of the following to be very helpful:
- Have lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, in water or straight, shortly before or with meals
- Eat more bitter foods – check out this list of the Top 20 Bitter Foods for boosting digestion
- Take digestive bitters – my favorites are Mountain Rose Herb’s varieties, in Chai, Botanical, or Classic, or, make your own!
- Take Betaine and/or digestive enzymes
- Take a good quality probiotic regularly, and rotate the types to provide for greater microbial diversity – see below, in the Infections section, for my favorites
Ok, now that you’ve hopefully started to find some relief, and started to improve things a bit at the root, let’s go deeper and really start working on those root causes.
Quick refresher from my article The Root Causes of Seasonal Allergies, the main root causes of allergies are:
- Allergy-Aggravating Diet
- Intestinal Hyperpermability (aka Leaky Gut)
- Infections (Pathogens)
#4 – Clean Up Your Diet
If you have hayfever, then chances are very good that you are eating foods that are exacerbating your allergies. What you eat can be a huge aggravator of seasonal allergies, or not, depending on what you choose to consume. And the allergy-aggravating effects of many foods can last for days and even weeks after consumption… So, since we all eat pretty much every day, and usually multiple times a day, you’ve got a lot of potential influence there, for bad, or for good.
To avoid increasing your allergy symptoms with your diet, focus on eating anti-inflammatory, organic, Paleo foods (meaning, wild or pastured meats, low carb fruits and veggies, and plenty of healthy fats), and avoid alcohol, especially beer and low quality wine. For more details on what to eat to help reduce your allergy symptoms once and for all, and achieve optimal health for now and for the years ahead, check out my guide What to Eat for Optimal Health.
And if you love wine and want to keep enjoying it without aggravating your allergies, try the super delicious, clean and healthy wines from Dry Farm Wines.
#5 – Heal Leaky Gut (Intestinal Hyperpermeability)
In my 25 years of clinical experience, what I have seen, consistently, is that people who have seasonal allergies pretty much always have leaky gut. And since the hyper-reactivity of the immune system – which is what leads to the symptoms of hayfever – is triggered by intestinal hyperpermeability, this correlation makes sense.
So, what do we do about it?
First, avoiding inflammatory, allergy-aggravating foods is essential, so you don’t continue to worsen the gut inflammation and damage that are part and parcel of the leaky gut that is setting off your hayfever. Again, for that, follow my guide What to Eat for Optimal Health.
Second, we need to heal the existing gut inflammation and permeability. This includes:
- Closing up the gaps in the intestinal lining that allow allergy-aggravating substances to get through into the bloodstream and set off allergies; and
- Enhancing the mucosal lining of the intestines, which sooths digestive inflammation and acts as a protective barrier against allergy-inducing particles.
And how do we best do that?
Here are my top 4 recommendations to heal gut inflammation and hyperpermeability and enhance your mucosal linings with foods, beverages and activities, to heal your seasonal allergies once and for all:
- Reduce stress with square nasal breathing
- Eat bone-in animal proteins
- Consume bone broth or take collagen powder
- Drink demulcents
a) Reduce Stress with Square Nasal Breathing
As important as your food choices are, reducing chronic elevated stress is also a key factor in improving your gut (and overall) health and reducing your seasonal allergies, since stress can both cause and exacerbate leaky gut (1).
One quick and easy way to help reduce stress while at the same time improving sinus health is to do a few rounds a day of what I call “square nasal breathing”:
- Breathe in through your nose, breathing deep into your belly (not your upper chest), for a count of 5
- Hold your breath for a count of 5
- Release your breath slowly through your nose for a count of 5
- Hold your breath for a count of 5
Do a few rounds of this, and you will find yourself feeling much calmer right away. And, as an added benefit, nasal breathing helps to exercise and stimulate the sinuses, which over time can lead to more open sinus airways and easier breathing, which helps counteract congestion from allergies. In addition, this way of breathing confers a whole host of other health benefits, including improved energy, mood and sleep.
b) Eat Bone-In Animal Proteins
Traditional cultures throughout human history have cooked their animal proteins bone-in, and it turns out that this practice confers great health benefits, including vastly improved gut health. This is, in part, because of the increased intake of compounds such as collagen and gelatin.
[For a lot more great info on this topic, check out Dr. Cate Shanahan’s excellent book, Deep Nutrition.]
So go for that whole baked rotisserie chicken, or bone-in roasts, short ribs, and chops, or long-simmered oxtail soup. Yum! 😛
c) Consume Bone Broth (or Take Collagen Powder)
You’ve probably heard all about bone broth at this point, so I’ll just chime in here to say yes, the hype is real, this stuff really is the bomb – for your gut, your immune system, your skin, hair and nails, and so much more. If you want to simplify things and buy it ready made, look for bone broth that uses only bones from pastured animals, and that is long-simmered. I like Kettle & Fire brand, as their bone broth is the real deal.
If you want to save a bunch of bucks on your bone broth, you can easily make your own – just check out my recipe Easy Bone Broth.
When working on healing gut issues and improving allergies, aim to have at least 1 cup (8oz) of bone broth daily, and up to several cups. More, in this case, is better. In fact, if you are experienced and comfortable with intermittent fasting, you can make wonderfully fast progress healing your leaky gut and allergies by making bone broth the bulk of your diet for up to several days and even weeks in a row. For more on this, check out Dr. Kellyann Petrucci’s book The Bone Broth Diet.
Note: If you find that long-simmered bone broth does not agree with you, this is usually due to the higher glutamate content. In that case, then either buy a ready-made bone broth that is not long-simmered, or make your own, and include some meat with the bones, and don’t simmer it for more than a few hours.
If you don’t wish to or can’t have bone broth, then take collagen powder daily instead, as this will give you many of the healing properties in bone broth.
d) Drink Demulcents
Demulcent beverages are great for soothing the lining of the digestive tract from top to bottom, and restoring a healthy, protective mucosal lining. Most demulcents are very mild tasting, so give them a try and find which ones you like best (or try combinations of them!) and then have at least a cup (8oz) – and up to several cups – every day.
- Marshmallow root or leaf tea
- Slippery elm tea
- Licorice root tea (note: do not use if you have high blood pressure!)
- Licorice mint/anise hyssop (Agastache)
- Holy basil tea (Tulsi)
- Fennel seeds
- Aloe vera gel
- Plantain leaf
- Raspberry leaf
- Gotu kola
Tip: If you are an intermittent-faster, most of these will not break your fast (except licorice, licorice mint and fennel, since they are mildly sweet), so they can be consumed all day long – I recommend using them in place of water for your primary hydration, if you are so inclined. 😊
#6 – Clear Infections
One of the main underlying causes and aggravators of seasonal allergies and leaky gut, low grade chronic infections from bacteria, viruses and fungi/mold are surprisingly commonplace. If you read my article on using your basic bloodwork to illuminate the root causes of your seasonal allergies, and you then looked at your bloodwork and found that infection is a likely issue for you, then supporting your immune system and clearing that infectious burden from your body will go a long way towards helping you improve and even eliminate your seasonal allergies (not to mention improving your overall health!)
My favorite method for clearing infections is to do a probiotic rotation + an anti-microbial regimen for 1-2 months, preceded or followed by several days of high dose Vitamin C (as long as you don’t have gout or other contraindications for such). Mind you, this path is not inexpensive! But it is powerful, so if you can swing it, it’s usually well worth it. And if you’re on a budget, high dose Vitamin C will help a lot by itself.
My favorite probiotics:
- OrthoMolecular’s OrthoBiotic – gets you 3 families of probiotics in one supplement – lactobacillus, bifido, and saccharomyces
- Designs for Health ProbioSpore – 5-strain mix of spore-based probiotics
- Ion Biome Gut Support – humic acid, a soil-based probiotic
My favorite antimicrobials:
- Goldenseal tincture
- Oil of Oregano
- Olive Leaf
- Huang Lian Jie Du Tang
- Pau d’arco
My favorite Vitamin C:
- Nutrivein Liposomal Vitamin C – clean (no flavors, sweeteners or other unhealthy additives), inexpensive, and strong, with 825mg per gelcap
#7 – Detoxify
These days, toxins really are the elephant in the room. They are everywhere, affecting everyone, all the time:
But we’re not really talking about them, at least not like we should be!
And it is my mission to fix that, so we can all have a better understanding of why our collective health is not great, and what to do about it.
Toxins add significantly to our bodily burden of invaders that are coming in and aggravating our immune systems, weighing them down and making them less effective and more reactive. And this contributes to making allergies worse.
I mean, think about it – if you constantly had unwanted junk coming into your home through all the openings large and small, and you were having to clean up the mess 24/7, you’d get tired and aggravated too, right? And you’d have a hard time keeping up with it all after a while. Well, that’s what’s happening in your body when you add together all the airborne irritants that are setting off your allergies, plus all the toxins that you’re being exposed to all the time through your air, water and food.
So, effectively getting toxins out – ie. detoxifying your body – is a crucial part of reducing seasonal allergies (and improving overall health – always my overarching goal for you!), and you’ve got to give your body some extra – and ongoing – help nowadays to get this job done properly.
To help you understand more about how toxins affect you and what to do about them, I have created an online course, Dr. Emily’s 10 Day Detox, that you can do at your own pace, in your own time. In this course, you will learn the what, the why, and the how of detoxing – what toxins are, why you need to help your body detox – why our natural detoxification processes are no longer enough to keep up with what you’re being exposed to – and how to properly support your body in detoxifying effectively, using foods, beverages, and activities.
Here’s a testimonial from one of our Detox Course students, Janet Russell:
“This course is seriously a game-changer. I went into it feeling open-minded, but honestly, very skeptical (I mean, what difference can 10 days really make, right?), and came out the other side feeling amazed. My belly shrank by 3 inches, I have so much more energy, I’m sleeping better, and I’m a lot less grumpy (hubby says thanks!) And the recipes were easy and delicious – they’ve all become regulars on our menu since. I highly recommend this course to anyone wanting to learn how to significantly improve how they feel pretty quickly and easily.”
Ok, I know, that was a lot to digest! (pun intended 😜)
So, quick review to wrap up – the top 7 things to do to feel better from allergies, short and long term, are:
- Take Quercitin
- Use probiotic and anti-microbial nasal sprays
- Boost your digestive juices
- Lemon juice/vinegar
- Bitter flavor
- Digestive enzymes/Betaine
- Clean up your diet
- Heal leaky gut
- Reduce stress
- Bone-in animal proteins
- Bone broth or collagen
- Clear infections
- Vitamin C
- and Detoxify
In the next article in this series, we take a deeper dive into #3, boosting your digestion. See you there! 😊
Disclosure: I receive a small commission for qualifying purchases made using some of the links provided in this article.