The best natural hay fever remedies and relief

If over-the-counter hay fever medicines leave you drowsy and miserable, try one of our top 10 natural hay fever remedies to keep you feeling fine and hay fever free all summer long!

Natural hay fever remedies are an essential in the spring and summer, as the weather gets warmer and the pollen count grows. 

While many people seek out over-the-counter medications (check out our tips on how to save on hay fever tablets (opens in new tab)) for seasonal allergies, hay fever is equally as easy to treat with natural remedies. With more of us experiencing classic hay fever symptoms (opens in new tab) than ever before as the climate changes around us and pollen season hits early (opens in new tab) now, it's important to have go-tos in your back pocket.

“As the climate changes so does the make-up of plant pollens." Pharmacist Stuart Gale from Oxford Online Pharmacy (opens in new tab) explains, "So, although you were previously exposed to pollens throughout your life which did not affect you, you may suddenly find you're sensitive to a particular pollen strain.

"Pollen counts are on the increase, combined with warmer summers. This exacerbates the impact of pollution on the body.”

Best natural hay fever remedies

There are plenty of unwanted side effects associated with over-the-counter hay fever medications, such as drowsiness, which can affect your focus and make you feel tired all the time. Eye drops can cause eyes to sting, and nasal decongestants can lead to an itchy rash around the nose. There's also a debate over hay fever medication during pregnancy (opens in new tab) and how safe antihistamines are for certain people - including babies, who can also get hay fever (opens in new tab).

“Hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, is a common allergic reaction to pollen and spores and can cause rapid onset or irritating and uncomfortable symptoms, including itchy, watering eyes, stuffy nose, sneezing and headaches,” explains Naturopath Ben Brown, expert advisor to the HFMA (Health Food Manufacturers Association (opens in new tab)).

There's no need to turn to medications as “there are several vitamins and minerals found in foods that can help to manage hay fever symptoms for sufferers."

1. Natural hay fever remedies: Honey

Honey is said to be a natural remedy for hay fever because the bee pollen in honey can desensitise your body to other pollens. Increasing honey in your daily dietary intake should reduce hay fever symptoms significantly. Make sure you use local honey to your area to see the best results.

When to take: daily before hay fever season starts.

Honey, a natural hay fever remedies

Credit: Getty images

2. Hayfever remedies: Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a known natural antihistamine and can be found in oranges, lemons and grapefruit. Also present are bioflavonoids, which have powerful anti-allergy effects. The combination of vitamin C and bioflavonoids together provide a natural decongestant and antihistamine for sufferers and help alleviate symptoms.

“Vitamin C acts as a natural antihistamine,” says Nutritional Therapist Alison Cullen from A.Vogel. “Your body can’t make or store vitamin C, so it has to be available in low, consistent doses to support your nasal lining.”

Oranges are a good source of vitamin C or you can take a supplement.

What to take: 1,000mg of vitamin C a day.

3. Natural hay fever remedies: Hot peppers

Red and chilli peppers contain an active component called capsaicin. When eaten, capsaicin opens the nasal passages, helping to reduce congestion.

Peppers, which are natural hay fever remedies

Credit: Getty Images

What to take: Add red and chilli peppers to your daily diet, on salads or cooked with your evening meal.

4. Natural hay fever remedies: Carotenoids

Naturally occurring pigments in plants, carotenoids act as powerful antioxidants to help reduce inflammation in your airways and improve your immune system (opens in new tab). A good source of carotenoids can be found in foods such as carrots, apricots, pumpkin, sweet potato and spinach - natural remedies for hay fever can actually be pretty tasty!

When to take: One to two servings of carotenoid-rich food per day.

5. Hayfever remedies: Chamomile tea

An antioxidant and antihistamine, chamomile tea contains flavonoids that act as an anti-inflammatory agent. While best taken as a cuppa during the day, chamomile tea can also be used as an eye compress to cool swollen, red eyes.

Chamomile tea, one of the natural hay fever remedies

Credit: Getty Images

What to take: Daily as a cuppa or as an eye compress. Make sure to use a fresh compress for each eye to avoid infection.

Making and using a compress:

1. Submerge an instant chamomile teabag in water. Leave it there for at least 3 mins.

2. Dump out the water and gently squeeze the excess water from the teabag.

3. Refrigerate the chamomile tea bag for 15 to 30 mins and remove from the fridge once cool.

4. Hold the cool tea bag against the swollen eye for up to 5 mins at a time.

5. Allow your inflamed eye to breathe for an hour before attempting to re-apply a new compress.

6. Hay fever remedies: Garlic

Increasing your dietary intake of garlic can help boost your body's immune system, while also acting as a decongestant and helping to alleviate minor hay fever symptoms. It's also an anti-inflammatory and a good source of quercetin, a natural antihistamine.

Garlic, one of the many natural hay fever remedies

Credit: Getty Images

When to take: With meals, one or two months before the hay season starts, but most effective when eaten crushed or raw. If you can't stomach that, try garlic capsules from your local pharmacy.

7. Hayfever remedies: Acupuncture

Research has found that the ancient Chinese medicine of acupuncture can be a natural hay fever remedy, helping to reduce hay fever symptoms, such as a runny nose and itchy eyes, dramatically. Using sterile needles, acupuncture pinpoints specific areas of the body and helps relieve any symptoms caused by current ailments. Studies have shown that acupuncture has a positive effect on alleviating hay fever symptoms.

When to try: Sufferers should have four to six acupuncture sessions before hay fever season starts to see the best results.

8. Hayfever remedies: Self-hypnosis

Recent studies have shown that sufferers trained to use self-hypnosis saw a dramatic reduction in their hay fever symptoms, such as a runny nose and irritated throat. They were taught a special self-relaxation technique and soon noticed less discomfort when the first symptoms of hay fever appeared.

When to try: Prior to hay fever season.

9. Hayfever remedies: Vaseline

Hay fever sufferers praise Vaseline for being a vital hay fever remedy as soon as the weather begins to warm up. Spreading a thin layer of Vaseline inside the lower nostrils can help combat hay fever and reduce symptoms significantly, as the Vaseline traps pollen entering the nostrils. It effectively blocking the pollen from entering the nasal passages and stops hay fever symptoms from worsening.

Person using vaseline as a suitable natural hay fever remedy

Credit: Getty

When to take: Daily during hay fever season, before leaving the house.

10. Hay fever remedies: Onions

Onion skins are a good source of quercetin, a natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory proven to reduce symptoms in hay fever sufferers. Onions contain three times as much quercetin as kale and 10 times as much as broccoli and can be eaten throughout the day in a variety of meals, so they're one of the easier hay fever remedies to try.

When to take: Daily with meals, although one option suggests you chew raw onions as an alternative - we only recommend this if you're staying in.

11. Hayfever remedies: Reflexology

Would you ever consider trying reflexology for your hay fever symptoms? That's exactly what Facebook user Luke Ireland recommends, who posted this picture of just how you can target pesky hay fever using the pressure reflexology.

He posted the snap with the caption: 'For all you hay fever sufferers out there. Find the same area on your hand as the x is on mine. Then apply pressure several times, it will help as it will stimulate the body's own anti-histamine. x Please share. #Reflexology'

Hay fever symptoms occur because when pollen enters the body, your immune system can think it's under attack and release the chemical histamine - the symptoms of which are just like a cold.

It's thought that by applying pressure through reflexology, you can help reduce inflammation and therefore start to breathe more easily. Not sure where to start? "Stimulating the Qu-chi acupuncture point on your elbow can improve the natural energy level so your body doesn’t react when it comes into contact with pollen," says Acupuncture expert Andrew Broch. You can also do this yourself, using The Hay-Band (£11.99, hay-band.co.uk). It works by applying pressure to the acupressure point on either arm, called the LI-11 point, which can be found at the end of the crease at the elbow.

12. Have a shower

While showering, washing your clothes and bedsheets (opens in new tab) won't help to prevent hayfever, it's one of the best way to sooth your symptoms. Pollen gets caught up in our hair and the fibres of our clothes when we leave the house - and especially when we spend time in the outdoors - so washing it all away can stop the sniffles in an instant.

Why is the pollen count so high today?

This year the pollen count is set to be one of the highest since records began in 1951. With the current health crisis, this is causing many people to wonder what the difference is between hay fever and coronavirus symptoms.

Over the last couple of days, hay fever sufferers have seen a huge spike in symptoms - from watery eyes to runny noses and sore throats. While many people believed that this year wouldn't be so bad as most people were spending lots of time inside, it seems that the early Spring has caused a early spike in the pollen count.

As Dr Apelles Econs MRCS, LRCP Medical Director of the Burghwood Clinic in London told the Telegraph, "A lot of people have started suffering from tree pollen from March onwards and probably earlier - the grass pollen season, which normally starts in late May to early August, has now started in early May because it’s been a warm and dry month. That’s quite a big issue."

If you've been suffering, be sure to follow these handy hay fever remedies to make your symptoms more bearable.

Faye M Smith
Faye M Smith

Faye M Smith is a Senior Health And Lifestyle writer working across Woman & Home, Feel Good You, Woman’s Own and Woman magazine.  Having gained an NCTJ postgraduate diploma, Faye has worked for 15 years in journalism, covering a range of lifestyle topics for companies including the BBC, Press Association, News UK and Hachette.