Nature’s Got You

Natural Recipes to Combat Allergy Season


Photo by Ruchi Sankolli

As allergy season hits hard, taking care of yourself is of the utmost importance. There are many homemade and natural recipes, such as pepper soup, are just the remedies we need to keep warm and happy this season. In addition to over-the-counter medication, these natural remedies work just as effectively and are recommended for a fast recovery.

Ruchi Sankolli, Assistant Editor

Autumn is in full swing, and so is allergy season. Levels of pollen, mold, ragweed and juniper fluctuate along with the climate and breezy temperatures. However, it is the peak time for colds, coughs, the fever and the flu. Luckily, a variety of natural remedies, sometimes affectionately known as “Grandma’s recipes,” are available to try, and below are some of my favorite remedies  to counter seasonal allergies. 

Green Tea with Ginger and Honey: This is great for relieving cough, cold and flu symptoms. However,  it is not just for allergies, and benefits everything from digestion to blood pressure. The recipe is simple and can be made anytime and any day with a few simple ingredients. 

Vicks VapoRub ointment – This is a popular product and remedy in Asian and Latin cultures that works effectively in cooling and opening up nasal passages when congested. It is usually applied on the throat and chest area, but my mother used to put it on my nose to help me breathe. It is best to apply it before sleeping. Vicks VapoRub is available on Amazon, and you can also purchase it on their website.

Avoiding and eating certain foods also helps reduce allergy symptoms. Allergies cause your body’s systems to become weaker, as they are busy fighting bacteria and viruses. To help keep your body healthy and support it in fighting sickness, eating foods helpful to the digestive tract are important. On the other hand, there are food groups best to avoid when sick, such as:

Oily foods: Fried foods, such as french fries, chips and onion rings, are the first thing to avoid. These foods aggravate the body and cause inflammation, which suppresses the immune system and can even delay recovery. 

Dairy products: While there is debate over whether or not to consume dairy while sick, the general consensus is that dairy products increase mucus production during a cold or flu. Some studies, however, have shown that there is no correlation between increased mucus production and dairy products. However, in my experience, consuming dairy products, such as milk or cheese, on a cold has really worsened my throat and made it dry and scratchy. 

Cold food and drinks: Cold foods can irritate a sore throat and make a cold worse. When suffering from a cold, the general advice is to stay as warm as possible by wearing warm clothing and eating and drinking warm foods. Instead, consume warm food and drinks such as soup and tea. Gravitating toward warmer foods will heal a cold faster. Ice cream, specifically, is the worst for a cold as it worsens swelling in the throat, causes thicker mucus, and actually prevents you from healing. My family adheres by the no-cold-foods rule, and it’s for a good reason in the end. 

Steaming –  This is  a simple process that my family uses that involves a pot of steaming water. Grab a big pot, fill it with water, and put it to boil. Make sure it is very hot and steaming, and once it is hot enough, take it off the stove and place it on a table. Then, lean over it so that your face is close enough to the water so you can feel the steam in your face. Use a towel as a curtain around your face and the pot in order to trap the steam so it doesn’t escape. Slowly inhale and exhale, so the warmth reaches your nostrils and relieves the congestion. The goal of this method is to loosen the mucus and get as much out of your system as possible. This method works the best for me because it immediately relieves congestion for several hours. Caution: be careful not to burn yourself! I recommend taking the pot off the stove before leaning over it.

Pepper soup – This is a traditional Indian method to clear congestion. It is called black pepper rasam soup, and is very popular in Indian cuisine. It is served very hot and spicy, and it is believed that the spiciness of the dish is what clears up congestion by making your nose water. Eating it several days in a row is great for a cold, as it warms up the throat and removes congestion. Be ready with a box of tissues and a glass of water, though. 

While avoiding certain foods and keeping warm are great ways to heal a cold, there are some additional peculiar remedies, according to eHome remedies (a site specifically geared towards selling home remedies for allergies) that can work effectively as well.

Red onion: The magic in this treatment, however odd it sounds, lies in the chemistry. Onions produce quercetin, a chemical that reduces the amount of histamine in your body (histamine is associated with allergic reactions and symptoms), therefore reducing inflammation altogether. The recipe requires you to add thin strips of onion in water. After leaving it for ten hours, drinking it before meals twice a day for four days and storing it in the fridge would eventually help in reducing the intensity of your allergic symptoms. 

Local pollen: This seems like the last thing anyone would resort to, especially if pollen is one of the main allergens. However, this is meant to be a preventive treatment only, as it is meant to help strengthen immunity to the specific pollen in your area. The website recommends that it be taken in granular form, as that is the best way to develop tolerance to local pollen. The website also recommends that it be taken months in advance before allergies act up. At first, start off with two granules and keep them under your tongue, but gradually increase the amount. Stop this immediately if you see any other reaction, but otherwise, take up to a tablespoon the whole allergy season. I would recommend speaking to a doctor or nutritionist before trying this out, however. 

Citrus fruit juice: This is also another recommended remedy, but it is also the last thing you would think of, since it goes against the warm food and drink advice. But, this drink actually strengthens the immune system and therefore effectively will aide in allergy relief. The juice is generally made with orange and lemon, but any citrus fruit will work. The twist here is to add honey to make the treatment more effective, and you should drink this everyday. I have actually tried this, and it really helps in speeding up the healing process. In my experience, this juice helps in getting the right nutrients, and digestion as well, and not just allergies. 

Having allergies, a cold or a flu is a nuisance in general. Nobody likes having them, and recovery feels a long way away at times. However, there are many natural and healthy ways to take care of yourself and assure an efficient and effective recovery. When sick, the biggest thing to keep in mind is to take care of yourself, no matter how long it takes.