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Natural Remedies for Allergies: Do They Really Work?

In the UK, allergies pose a significant health challenge, impacting millions and manifesting through symptoms such as sneezing, itchy eyes, and nasal congestion. While conventional medications offer relief, many people are turning to natural remedies as either an alternative or a complementary approach. This shift is driven by a desire for holistic treatments and fewer side effects. Below is an in-depth exploration of various natural remedies for allergy relief, evaluating their effectiveness and providing evidence-based recommendations.

Saline Nasal Irrigation

Saline nasal irrigation involves using a saline solution to flush out allergens from the nasal passages, reducing congestion and irritation. Devices like neti pots and squeeze bottles are commonly used for this purpose. Regular use of saline nasal irrigation has been shown to significantly improve symptoms of allergic rhinitis.

ENT UK also supports the use of saline nasal irrigation as an effective method for reducing nasal symptoms, such as congestion and irritation, by flushing out allergens and inflammatory mediators from the nasal passages​

Essential Oils

Essential oils, such as eucalyptus, frankincense, peppermint, basil, lemon, and tea tree oils, are renowned for their anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. Eucalyptus oil, for example, can be used in a diffuser or applied topically with a carrier oil to reduce congestion and respiratory issues. Frankincense oil has been shown to enhance immune function, while peppermint oil can soothe inflamed airways. These oils can be inhaled or applied topically to help manage allergy symptoms.

Essential Oils


Probiotics play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy gut microbiome, which is essential for a robust immune system. Incorporating probiotic-rich foods like yoghourt, kefir, and fermented vegetables, or taking probiotic supplements, can help reduce the severity of allergy symptoms. Research indicates that a balanced gut microbiome can improve immune response and reduce inflammation, thereby alleviating allergy symptoms.

A systematic review and meta-analysis published in Frontiers in Immunology examined the effects of probiotics on allergic rhinitis. The study included 28 trials and found that probiotics significantly relieved allergic rhinitis symptoms and improved the quality of life for sufferers. The results showed a standardised mean difference (SMD) of -0.29 in symptom relief and -0.64 in quality-of-life scores compared to control groups​ (Frontiers)​.

Additionally, a study highlighted in Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology reported that probiotics could help modulate the immune response by restoring gut microbiota balance. This modulation can lead to a reduction in typical nasal allergy symptoms and an improvement in the local mucosal environment. The findings suggest that probiotics play a significant role in enhancing immune function by promoting a healthy gut microbiota balance, thereby alleviating allergy symptoms​.

Vitamins and Supplements

Certain vitamins and supplements can support the immune system and reduce inflammation. Key supplements include:

  • Vitamin D: Enhances immune function and may reduce the risk of respiratory infections.
  • Vitamin C: Acts as a natural antihistamine, reducing the severity of allergic reactions.
  • Vitamin A: Supports mucosal immunity, helping to protect the respiratory tract from allergens.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Found in fish oil, these reduce inflammatory responses in the body.
  • Stinging Nettle: Known for its natural antihistamine properties, it can help alleviate allergy symptoms.
  • Quercetin: A flavonoid found in apples and onions, quercetin stabilises mast cells and prevents the release of histamine.


Acupuncture, an ancient Chinese practice, involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to balance energy flow. This practice has been supported by research for its effectiveness in treating allergic rhinitis and sinus disorders. Acupuncture can enhance the body’s immune response and reduce the severity of allergy symptoms, offering significant relief.

Mindfulness and Stress Reduction

Stress can exacerbate allergic reactions, making mindfulness and stress reduction techniques essential. Practices like meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises can help lower stress levels, thereby reducing the severity of allergy symptoms. Regular mindfulness practice can improve overall well-being and resilience to allergens.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is believed to reduce mucus production and cleanse the lymphatic system. Drinking a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water daily may help decrease the body’s histamine response, thereby reducing allergy symptoms. While more research is needed to fully understand its effects, many people report significant relief from using apple cider vinegar.

Cleaning Your Home

Minimising exposure to allergens at home is crucial for reducing allergy symptoms. Effective strategies include:

Regularly vacuuming with a HEPA filter to remove dust and pollen.
Using hypoallergenic and fragrance-free cleaning and personal care products.
Keeping windows closed during high pollen seasons to prevent outdoor allergens from entering the home.
Washing bedding frequently to remove allergens like dust mites.
Using a humidifier to maintain optimal indoor humidity levels, which can reduce the presence of dust mites and mould.

Local Honey

Consuming local honey is thought to help the body build a tolerance to local pollen, potentially reducing allergy symptoms over time. Although the evidence is mostly anecdotal, some people report significant relief after incorporating local honey into their diets. The theory is that small exposures to local pollen in honey can help the immune system become less sensitive to these allergens.

Natural remedies can offer effective relief for allergy sufferers, particularly when combined with lifestyle changes and stress management techniques. However, these remedies should not replace medical treatment in severe cases. Consulting a healthcare professional before starting any new treatment is always recommended.

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