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Stifling Sniffles: Natural Allergy Relief

By Heather O'Neill
May 25, 2010
File under: Health


If you suffer from seasonal allergies the way I do you know how miserable this time of year can be. But for those of us who are pursuing a more natural lifestyle, popping an allergy pill every morning for months on end isn’t an appealing option.

With this allergy season being the worst in recent years, relief has been difficult to come by for many of us, even with wonderful homeopathic remedies from companies like Boiron, Heel and Bio Allers on the market. So in addition to using these, I have been experimenting with a respite from sneezing and wheezing that doesn’t come from a bottle.

Check out these natural ways to reduce spring’s trademark sniffles.

Netti Pot


Before you reach for an antihistamine – or even a homeopathic remedy – try nasal irrigation using a netti pot.

Nasal irrigation has been practiced for ages in India where it is used to flush out excess mucus and debris from the nasal cavities. For the treatment of allergies it is a simple way to clear irritants out of your nose, thereby reducing sneezing and sniffling.

To use a netti pot, which can be purchased at most drug stores, fill the pot with warm water and a pinch of salt. Let the salt dissolve. Over the sink – and if you are like me it would be wise to fashion a bib out of a towel — put the end of the netti pot in one nostril, tilt your head to the side and let the solution run up the nsotril and then out through the other, while breathing through the mouth.

Gravity does most of the work, and the sensation is no more uncomfortable than getting water up your nose while swimming.

Aromatic oils


Remember when your mom would rub Vicks VapoRub on your chest when you had a cold? Essential oils of eucalyptus and peppermint can achieve the same results when dropped into a hot bath.If you don’t have time to lounge in the tub, put a few drops on a tissue and inhale deeply. (Never put essential oils directly on the skin as they can burn.) Pop the tissue in your pocket and your relief becomes portable.

Ease up on dairy


Dairy products like milk, cheese and butter – or in my case, ice cream – can wreak havoc during allergy season by increasing mucus production in the upper respiratory tract. This spring I have cut dairy out of my diet completely and have noticed a significant improvement in my congestion despite high levels of pollen in the environment.

Try almond or rice milk in your cereal and oatmeal, or So Delicious coconut milk creamer (which, to me, tastes the most like real milk) in your morning coffee; Earth Balance natural spreads instead of butter and any of the bevy of dairy-free desserts on the market. My personal favorite is Coconut Bliss, which is soy-, dairy- and gluten-free.

Give these solutions a shot for 30 days and your allergies should feel much more under control. Cheers to a sniffle-less spring.

Heather O’Neill is the managing editor of the ecomii simple living blog and the founder of Eco to the People. Email her with questions and comments at

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