Updated: Apr 3
Seasonal allergies affect more than 50 million Americans annually, resulting in the country's sixth-leading cause of chronic illness (1). Typically, seasonal allergies are treated using oral histamines, decongestants, nasal sprays, and prescription medications, all posing their own set of side effects and health concerns, but that is not the only option.
Seasonal allergies, sometimes called hay fever or allergic rhinitis, typically cause various symptoms that primarily affect the nose, respiratory tract, and sometimes the eyes. Allergy symptoms occur when your body’s immune system responds to foreign objects by releasing histamines, causing inflammation and attracting white blood cells to isolate the culprit and fight it off (2). Histamines are a natural chemical your immune system makes that helps your body eliminate something triggering you, such as an allergen. This is why your body sneezes, tears up, or itches when you’re subjected to an allergen and how your body protects itself from the allergen (3).
The most common allergens, especially seasonal are:
Sagebrush and mugwort
Tumbleweed and Russian thistle (4)
Fun Fact: Symptoms from allergies are often mistaken as cold symptoms such as cough, itchy throat, sneezing, sinus drainage, exhaustion, and more (5).
Although seasonal allergies are typically treated using oral histamines, decongestants, nasal sprays, and prescription medications, each of these treatments poses its own set of side effects and health concerns. The VerywellFamily composed a list of the ten best OTC Allergy Medicines of 2022, but what they didn't compose was a list of the toxins these medications are filled with or their side effects. Still, no worries, The Holistic Hipppie got this covered; if you'd like to skip to how I deal with seasonal allergies naturally, click here.
The 10 Best OTC Allergy Medicines of 2022
Ingredients: 180 mg Fexofenadine HCl, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, iron oxide blends, polyethylene glycol, povidone, silicone dioxide, and titanium dioxide.
Side Effects: Nausea, diarrhea, upset stomach, vomiting, back pain, body aches/pains, chills, coughing, difficulty with moving, dizziness, ear congestion, earache, fever, headache, joint pain, loss of voice, muscle aching or cramping, muscle pains or stiffness, nasal congestion, nausea, pain in arms or legs, pain or tenderness around eyes or cheekbones, painful menstrual bleeding, redness or swelling in ear, ringing or buzzing in ears, runny or stuffy nose, sleepiness or unusual drowsiness, sneezing, sore throat, swollen joints, an unusual feeling of tiredness or weakness, viral infection (such as cold and flu), menstrual cramps, chest tightness, feeling of warmth, redness of the face, neck, arms and upper chest, large, hive-like swelling on face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet, or sex organs, and shortness of breath, difficult or labored breathing, nervousness, sleeplessness, terrifying dreams, and trouble sleeping (6).
Ingredients: 10 mg Cetirizine HCl, colloidal silicon dioxide, croscarmellose sodium, hypromellose, lactose, monohydrate, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, polyethylene glycol, and titanium dioxide.
Side Effects: Drowsiness, fatigue, tired feeling, dizziness, dry mouth, sore throat, cough, nausea, constipation, headache, stomach pain, vomiting, feeling light-headed, feeling hot, sweating, numbness, tingling, burning pain, decreased sense of taste, upset stomach, and nausea (7).
Ingredients: 5 mg Cetirizine HCl, anhydrous citric acid, flavors, propylene glycol, purified water, sodium benzoate, sorbitol solution, and sucralose.
Side Effects: Headache, sore throat, abdominal pain, coughing, drowsiness, diarrhea, nosebleeds, wheezing, nausea, and vomiting (8).
Ingredients: 10 mg Loratadine, anhydrous citric acid, gelatin, mannitol, and mint flavor.
Side Effects: Drowsiness, headache, somnolence nervousness, fatigue, dizziness, convulsions, syncope, paresthesia, insomnia, depression, paroniria, dry mouth, fever, viral infection, tinnitus, malaise, nausea, gastritis, dyspepsia, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal/gastric pain, altered taste, increased saliva, increased appetite, angioedema, rash, alopecia, pruritus, rash on face, increased frequency of urination, urine discoloration, menstruation delay, tachycardia, palpitation, hypertension, hypotension, chest pain, hypersensitivity reactions, anaphylaxis, abnormal hepatic function, epistaxis, nasal dryness, pharyngitis, coughing, and myalgia (9).
Ingredients: 55 mcg Triamcinolone Acetonide, benzalkonium chloride, carboxymethylcellulose sodium, dextrose, edetate disodium, hydrochloric acid or sodium hydroxide, microcrystalline cellulose, polysorbate 80, and purified water.
Side Effects: Nose/throat dryness or irritation, cough, sneezing, nosebleeds, unpleasant taste/smell, loss of taste or smell, pain/sores in your nose, unusual/extreme tiredness, weight loss, headache, swelling ankles/feet, increased thirst/urination, vision problems, ear pain, persistent sore throat, fever, chills, white patches inside the nose or on the back of the throat, and more (10).
Ingredients: 10 mg Cetirizine HCI, corn starch, FD&C blue no. 1 aluminum lake, hypromellose, lactose monohydrate, magnesium stearate, polydextrose, polyethylene glycol, povidone, titanium dioxide, and triacetin.
Side Effects: Fast, pounding, or uneven heartbeat, weakness, tremors, severe restless feeling, hyperactivity, extreme feeling of fear or confusion, problems with vision, little or no urinating, high blood pressure, severe headache, buzzing in your ears, chest pain, shortness of breath, uneven heartbeats, dizziness, drowsiness, tired feeling, sleep problems, insomnia, dry mouth, nausea, stomach pain, constipation, and trouble concentrating (11).
Ingredients: 0.025% Naphazoline Hydrochloride, 0.3% Pheniramine Maleate, benzalkonium chloride, boric acid, edetate disodium, purified water, sodium borate, sodium chloride, sodium hydroxide, and/or hydrochloric acid.
Side Effects: Ongoing or worsening eye redness, eye pain, changes in vision, mild burning or stinging of the eye, dilated pupils, blurred vision, eyes being more sensitive to light, and tingling (12).
Ingredients: Organic homeopathic blend (allium cepa, ambrosia artemisiifolia, arundo mauritanica, dulcamara, euphrasia officinalis, nux vomica, pulsatilla, ranunculus bulbosus, sabadilla, sinapis nigra, sticta pulmonaria, wyethia helenioides), organic carnauba wax, organic compliant natural flavor, organic maltodextrin, organic rice bran extract, and organic dextrose.
No known side effects or drug interactions.
Ingredients: 25 mg Diphenhydramine HCl, carnauba wax, croscarmellose sodium, D&C red no. 27 aluminum lake, dibasic calcium phosphate, hypromellose, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, polyethylene glycol, polysorbate 80, and titanium dioxide.
Side Effects: Very bad dizziness or passing out, change in balance, feeling less alert, feeling sleepy, dizziness, thickening of mucus in nose or throat, feeling nervous and excitable, upset stomach or throwing up, and more (13).
Ingredients: 5 mg Levocetirizine Dihydrochloride, colloidal anhydrous silica, hypromellose, lactose monohydrate, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, polyethylene glycol 400, titanium dioxide.
Side Effects: Drowsiness, fatigue, weakness, tired feeling, stuffy nose, sinus pain, sore throat, cough, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, dry mouth, weight gain, lightheadedness, nosebleeds, pain or fullness in your ear, hearing problems, depression, agitation, aggression, hallucinations, numbness or tingling around the lips or mouth, yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice), painful or difficult urination, dark-colored urine, foul-smelling stools, fever, stomach pain, and loss of appetite (14).
How I Deal with Seasonal Allergies Naturally
In 2020, I completely stopped taking all medications; this included several prescribed and over-the-counter medications for controlling my seasonal allergies. My seasonal allergy symptoms left me so stuffed up I couldn't breathe, and as an asthmatic, that was not an ideal situation and often required the use of my asthma inhaler. After conducting a lot of research, I prepared myself with a few products that have kept my symptoms well-controlled despite the insane weather changes that occur in North Carolina.
Earthley's Sinus Saver is an herbal tincture that provides natural support during allergy season. I take Sinus Saver typically once a day and on days that I need extra support, two times or as needed. Sinus Saver uses the power of herbs to assist the body in removing excess histamines and calm allergic reactions. Sinus Saver combines nettle leaf, which has anti-inflammatory properties that just so happens to be rich in vitamins and minerals (15), with turmeric root for the anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and antioxidant properties (16). Sinus Saver also contains elderberry to help reduce symptoms like stuffy noses (17) while modulating inflammation (18) and dandelion root for its antioxidant properties (19). Finally, Sinus Saver contains black pepper for better absorption and the anti-inflammatory effects that helps with pain relief (20).
Earthley's Elderberry Elixir is a liquid supplement, not a syrup, that combines elderberries and other immune-supporting herbs for everyday wellness. I take Elderberry Elixir once per day. Elderberry Elixir combines the anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties of elderberry (21) and cloves to promote overall wellness (22) along with the anti-inflammatory effects of cinnamon (23) and astragalus root to help protect the body from stress (24). Elderberry Elixir also contains calendula for its anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties (25), mullein for anti-bacterial properties (26), and orange peel for its richness in vitamin C and anti-inflammatory effect (27).
Earthley's Breathe Well Salve is an herbal salve that helps provide relief from chest congestion, coughs, and stuffy noses. This natural vapor rub is a healthy alternative to traditional OTC medications that aren't safe for little ones and have potentially harmful side effects. This salve combines lemon essential oil, which has anti-bacterial properties (28), with Rosalina essential oil to support the upper respiratory system and allergy symptoms (29), and balm mint bush essential oil for its menthol properties (30) to help give you that breath of refreshing, fresh air. This salve also has clary sage essential oil for a natural anti-inflammatory effect. All these ingredients in a base of apricot oil and candelilla wax help promote a healthy respiratory system during the Spring season.
Xlear Natural Saline Nasal Spray with Xylitol is the industry-leading formula for alleviating congestion and preventing bacteria and other pollutants from sticking to the nasal tissues. Typically, I take this nasal spray as needed at night when I need a little extra assistance. This nasal spray combines xylitol, an ingredient that cleanses with saline and grapefruit seed extract to open up, moisturize and soothe your sinus naturally and nasal passages without leaving them more irritated and susceptible to external contaminants. In one study, researchers found saline with xylitol increased the participants’ peak airflow by 36% compared to saline alone; frankly, saline alone worsened the participants’ condition and airflow over time (31).
Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifiers are quiet and usually easy to clean, working better in larger and warmer climates. This type of humidifier rapidly vibrates the water into small particles. A fan projects these particles into the air as mist, which then evaporates to add moisture to the air and improve the air quality. Humidifiers relieve discomforts, such as nasal congestion and skin and eye dryness (32).
Essential oils for congestion, like sweet orange or eucalyptus, are great for seasonal allergy relief, especially if you get congested like I do. Essential oils in the form of aromatherapy are a big part of my sinus infection recovery. Aromatherapy uses natural plant extracts, also known as essential oils, to promote health and well-being while improving the health of the body, mind, and spirit (33). When using essential oils, be sure you’re practicing essential oil safety.
Herbs to Manage Seasonal Allergy Symptoms
There are many natural ways to deal with seasonal allergies without the use of harmful over-the-counter medications; from herbs to homeopathy and even natural remedies, there's is something for everyone but let's focus on herbs for now.
Dandelion is widely acknowledged for the vast array of medicinal properties it beholds in traditional herbal medicine. Aside from many benefits of dandelion, including being highly nutritious and rich in antioxidants, dandelion can provide potential benefits such as healthy digestion, promoting a healthy liver, boosting your immune system, fighting inflammation, controlling blood sugar, reducing cholesterol, lowering blood pressure, and helping fight cancer (34). Additionally, compounds in dandelion leaf and root can help reduce swelling in the sinus cavities and thin the mucus, so pollen doesn’t ‘stick,’ while also working as liver and kidney support, which aids in detox for our bodies (35).
Elderberry is in reference to several varieties of the Sambucus tree, which is a flowering plant that belongs to the Adoxaceae family. Aside from the many benefits of elderberry, including being rich in antioxidants and supporting the immune system, elderberry can also provide potential benefits such as improving cold and flu symptoms, health benefits, fighting cancer, and lowering blood sugar levels and insulin dependence (36). Additionally, since allergies involve an overreaction of the immune system and inflammation, elderberry’s ability to improve the immune system and calm inflammation can help provide allergy relief (37).
Nettle, also known as stinging nettle or by its botanical name Urtica Dioica has been a staple in herbal medicine dating back to ancient times in Egypt as well as Greek. Aside from the many benefits of nettle, including being rich in antioxidants and reducing inflammation, nettle can also provide benefits such as lowering blood pressure, controlling blood sugar levels, supporting wound healing, and reducing bleeding (38). Additionally, nettle can inhibit inflammation that triggers seasonal allergies as nettle blocks the histamine receptors and stops immune cells that release these chemicals that can trigger allergy symptoms (39). To learn more about The Benefits of Nettle, click here.
⚠️ Warning: The Holistic Hipppie is not a functional medicine practitioner. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This content is not medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure, or replace medical guidance. The Holistic Hipppie assumes no liability for the application of the information discussed.