August is here — the month when summer grasses and early-blooming ragweed collide to make allergies flare. If you’re one of the 60 million of us who can’t stray too far from the tissue box this time of year, you’re in luck: The latest research offers plenty of home remedies for allergies that will give you fast, reliable relief.
Fight flare-ups with eucalyptus oil.
Clearing your nasal passages with a neti pot twice daily — using a saline solution mixed with one drop of eucalyptus essential oil — eases even severe allergy symptoms for 75 percent of women in one week, research shows. Regular sinus rinsing helps flush away pollen, mold and the like before your immune system can react to them. Eucalyptus oil boosts that benefit by tamping down any inflammation those irritants might have triggered. Find easy-to-use neti pot kits at your pharmacy. Tip: Always use distilled water to rinse your nasal passages to avoid irritants like chlorine.
Calm immune cells with yogurt.
Eating at least 1/2 cup of yogurt daily — the kind containing good-for-you live bacteria — can cut the severity and length of your allergy flareups 20 percent, Asian research shows. The yogurt’s healthy bacteria produce proteins that calm your immune cells, making them less likely to react badly when pollen sticks to them, say University of Kansas researchers.
Tame inflammation with OJ.
Citrus is packed with a powerful nutrient duo — bioflavonoids and vitamin C — which can cut your allergy symptoms 40 percent if you consume three cups weekly year-round, say Arizona State scientists. Together, those nutrients rev your production of glutathione, an antioxidant that tames airway inflammation, helping you breathe deeply without symptoms like tickling, coughing or wheezing.
Clear your sinuses with ginger.
The active ingredient in ginger — 6-gingerol — calms immune cells, making them less likely to produce symptom-triggering histamines in response to irritants. No wonder Japanese researchers say consuming 1/2 tsp. of this zingy spice daily can cut your congestion, itching and sneezing by as much as half. Tip: Minced or grated fresh ginger root is delicious added to fruit cocktail, smoothies, sprinkled atop ice cream or mixed into ground beef before grilling. Or you can take a ginger supplement, following the package instructions carefully.
Soothe symptoms with quercetin.
A daily 1,000-mg. dose of the plant pigment quercetin reduces allergy symptoms as much as 38 percent in two weeks, reports the journal Molecules. Quercetin soothes your immune system, reining in its release of symptom-triggering prostaglandins and histamine when it encounters pollen, says study coauthor Jiri Sochor, Ph.D. Important: Always check with your doctor before starting a new supplement.
Block histamine release with NasalCrom.
If your symptoms are still making you miserable, ask your doctor about trying NasalCrom. This over-the-counter sinus spray contains cromolyn, a compound that coats and soothes the immune cells in your nose, stopping them from reacting to airborne irritants. According to a study in the journal Clinical Therapeutics, just four spritzes daily cuts symptoms in half or more for nine in 10 women. Bonus: NasalCrom is steroid-free and doesn’t cause drowsiness or rebound congestion.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.