1. Local honey
While scientific evidence to date has not been compelling, proponents swear by this natural remedy. The theory is that consuming local honey (honey made by bees living in your local region) can help build up resistance to local allergens. It certainly is worth trying—plus, honey tastes great!
- What to do: You can either eat a teaspoon per day (morning is best) of raw, local honey, or you can stir it into your tea, yogurt, or drizzle it over a muffin. Yum!
- Cost to you: Prices can vary—local farmer's markets or Whole Foods are your best bet to find the cheapest local honey.
2. Yogurt with active cultures
Probiotics are the miracle agent found in yogurt that contains active yogurt cultures. While probiotics are now packaged under this name, you can find them in any active culture yogurt. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has determined that the probiotics in yogurt can boost healthy bacteria in your digestive system. This healthy bacteria has greater power to ward off allergic reactions.
- What to do: Eat some yogurt every day.
- Cost to you: Less than $1 for a container at most stores.
3. Apple cider vinegar
When I used to perform a lot as a singer, I would drink apple cider vinegar to heal up a sore throat fast before a performance. While it didn't taste fabulous, it would clear out the mucous and congestion quickly, which was all that mattered to me.
- What to do: Mix a teaspoon or two of apple cider vinegar into some distilled water and drink. Do this three times a day (morning, noon, evening).
- Cost to you: $3.79 for Bragg's organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar, 16 oz (Walmart).
4. Salt + water
Salt is a natural anti-infection agent that can work wonders in two ways.
- What to do: First, you can gargle with warm salt water to ease a sore throat and neutralize germs and bacteria. Second, you can put salt water into a small spray bottle and spray it into your nasal passages directly (if you have a Neti pot, you can use it too).
- Cost to you: A pinch of table salt and some warm water.
Lemon is full of antioxidants, which help your body fight off germs and irritants. It also comes power-packed with Vitamin C, a known immune system booster.
- What to do: Squeeze lemon into your tea, make lemonade (for sweetener, use local honey instead of sugar), drink lemon water, or eat a raw lemon.
- Cost to you: $0.33 for one fresh lemon.
Steam is an amazingly effective remedy to clear blocked sinuses, ease headache, loosen up chest congestion, and just feel better (oh, and as a bonus, steam is great to clear pores too!) I've been using steam since I was a little girl and I swear by it.
- What to do: You can either inhale the steam during your daily shower, or you can heat some water in a pot on the stove until it’s boiling. Then cover your head with a towel and breathe in and out deeply to loosen congestion.
- Cost to you: Free!
Note: If you happen to have some essential oil of eucalyptus or peppermint on hand, you can add a drop or two to the steaming water for even more relief (eucalyptus has a similar effect as menthol).
Every Easter, my (crazy) dad and (equally crazy) brother do something called the "test of manhood." They halve a hard boiled egg, then fill the "empty side" with horseradish—the hottest they can find. Then they place the horseradish side tongue-down and chew. They swear by it to clear out their sinuses (both have terrible spring allergies). If you’re congested, spices help—no questions asked.
- What to do: Break out the cayenne, horseradish, chili peppers, wasabi, or onions. When your eyes, nose, and, well, everything else starts to water, you’ll know it’s working!
- Cost to you: $3.18 for 1 oz ground cayenne pepper, McCormick (Walmart).
8. Green tea
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), green tea contains allergy-inhibiting properties. And peppermint tea contains menthol, which is a popular OTC remedy for easing congestion.
- What to do: Drink a steaming mug of either to feel better right away.
- Cost to you: $3.98 for Tazo brand green tea, 20 ct or $0.20/tea bag (Walmart).
Garlic is one of nature's finest natural antibiotic agents. Plus, it doesn't have all the unpleasant side effects of the antibiotics your doctor prescribes. Eating garlic in any form can help, but raw is definitely best when you’re fighting off allergies.
- What to do: Juice raw garlic and add the juice to olive oil-based salad dressing or make a vegetable smoothie and include the raw garlic juice.
- Cost to you: A few pennies for a clove from a garlic pod.