Surprising Drug-Free Ways to Beat Your Allergies

hot sauce
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Allergy season rapidly approaches, and for sufferers, that means dealing with a running nose and itchy eyes, or loading up on medicine and battling through each day. If neither of those seems like a great option to you, consider some of these proven treatments:

Get a neti pot (and use it)

Yes, rinsing out your nose and sinuses sounds weird. But shooting mildly salty water into one nostril and allowing it to drain out the other (use your sink!) has benefits for those suffering from seasonal allergies -- it can loosen and clear mucus as well as allergens. Note: don't use tap water, because in very rare cases, you could send brain-eating amoebas into your nose and head that can, well, eat your brain. And you could die. Instead, use distilled or boiled water (let it cool before sending it through your nostrils, of course).

Drink tea

Love tea? You're in luck. There is a neat little flavonoid present in tea leaves called epigallocatechin gallate that can actually work to inhibit allergic reactions. It's present in black and white teas, but you'll find the best source of it in green tea.

Stress less

Yeah, yeah, yeah, everyone could use this, but reducing the stress in your life can have a positive impact on your body's reaction to allergens, including seasonal ones. Getting more exercise, meditating, and even doing something as simple as practicing deep breathing when you feel frazzled can greatly impact your stress levels, which, in turn, can help keep your allergies at bay (or at least keep them from taking over your whole life).

Get better air filters

Swapping out conventional air filters in your home for HEPA filters can significantly reduce the number of allergens floating around in your air trying to ruin your quality of life. Studies show that adding HEPA filters to work on your whole house are more effective than ones that only work in one zone of your home, and it's a pretty quick, simple fix (though you'll have to bust open your wallet to do it).

Check your home for mold

Mold is gross. It's also bad for your health, and can wreak havoc on your allergies, particularly during warmer months. Inside the home, mold can spring up from water condensation, even in areas you never think about, such as the corner in your bedroom that's hidden by your dresser. Exhaust fans in the bathroom, dehumidifiers (especially on lower levels), running your central air conditioner earlier in the season, and fixing any leaks promptly will help prevent mold from taking hold in your home in the first place. HEPA filters can also trap mold spores, but cleaning mold with a damp cloth and a cleaning agent as soon as you find it is your best bet (for large-scale mold problems, you might want to consult a professional).

showerhead, shower

Shower at the right time

If you've been hanging around outside or doing yard work, your morning shower isn't going to do you any good when it comes to allergies. Instead, immediately strip when you come inside, toss your dirty clothes in the wash, hop in the shower -- and leave your gardening gear outside. Keep those gross bits of pollen where they belong (outside and down the drain), and clear your body of grime while you're at it. It can also keep allergens off your pillow at night, which is always a good idea.

Eat spicy food

If you're looking for temporary relief from a plugged-up nose, dive into some wasabi, chili peppers, or garlic. As you've probably found out from firsthand experience, these foods can clear up your nose, at least for a little bit -- this effect is called gustatory rhinitis, a fancy term that means the food you're eating makes your nose run. Yes, this is disgusting, but it may serve you well if you're clogged up and nothing else works.

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Monica Beyer is a health writer who already showers all the time, thanks. Follow her: @monicabeyer