The Pollen Vortex Is Coming: 7 Benadryl-Free Ways to Ease Allergy Symptoms

woman sneezing

Allergy season is the worst. And in case you haven’t heard, this year’s allergy season is going to be the worst of the worst, with a “pollen vortex” set to torture us all for a full two weeks straight. A pollen VORTEX, people — this is no joke.

I’ll be honest: I’m probably going to lock myself in the house for those two terrible weeks with all six seasons of The Wire and a gigantic bucket of guacamole. But if you have to leave your house (Because, life.) and you’d rather not put yourself into a Benadryl-induced stupor to avoid the torture that is allergy season— the itchy eyes, the runny nose, the scratchy throat — try these totally natural tricks for easing allergy symptoms, instead. Good luck, folks!

1. Close your windows

I know: This is the cruelest advice I could ever give, considering you’ve probably just now begun to open your windows and enjoy the beauty that is fresh air in your house. But to keep your spring allergies in check, you’ve got to keep pollen and other allergens out of your house, and this means closing the windows. I’m sorry.

2. Rinse off

When I get home, the first thing I do is change into pajamas (Don’t judge me). But during allergy season, the first thing I do when I get home is take a nice long shower. Because after a day spent walking around the city, I am completely covered in allergens. So before you hop into bed for your nightly Netflix marathon, make sure to rinse off.

3. Try a Neti pot

There are two camps of people: Folks who are totally freaked out by Neti pots, and die-hard Neti-pot fans. Trust me, the second camp is the way to go. Neti pots are a great way to clear up congestion, medicine-free. In fact, some even say Neti pots work better than the common over-the-counter medications when it comes to fighting nasal allergies.

4. Eat local honey every day

This sounds totally wacky and weird, but it makes sense when you think about it: Bees transfer pollen from flower blossoms to honey, so when you eat bit of local honey every day, you are also putting a little bit of pollen into your body. Over time, your body becomes accustomed to the pollen and, essentially, becomes immunized against it. Neat, huh?

5. Whip up some salmon

Omega-3 fatty acids are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, and some studies have shown that consuming these fatty acids can reduce allergy symptoms. So load up your diet with foods rich in Omega-3s, like flaxseeds, edamame and walnuts.

6. Steam with Eucalyptus Oil

Talk about a relaxing way to fend off allergies, huh? Adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil to the floor of your shower before you step in will help to open your sinuses and nasal passages. Plus, you’ll feel like you’re at a spa. And if you aren’t anywhere near a shower, no worries: If you feel your allergies getting really bad at work, just add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil to a bowl of steaming water and inhale, for a bit of midday allergy relief.

7. Drink peppermint tea

The menthol in peppermint tea works as both a decongestant and an expectorant, helping to break down mucus and clear out your nasal passages for allergy relief. So instead of running to Starbucks for your daily 2 p.m. latte, opt for a cup of peppermint tea, instead. Or, if giving up your afternoon caffeine fix is too horrible a thought to bear, have both.

Peppermint tea bags also work to combat itchy eyes: Just steap a tea bag for 30 seconds and let it cool until it’s warm enough to place over your eyelids, then leave it on your eyelids for five to 10 minutes.

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