Spring is Allergy Season

It’s officially spring and you’re still standing, which means you made it through flu season and can finally breathe a huge sigh of germ-free relief!

Or can you?

Actually breathe, that is?

Because the thing about spring is that while it’s finally warmer and sunnier and the flowers and trees are starting to bloom, spring is, well, warmer and sunnier and the flowers and trees are starting to bloom. For seasonal allergy sufferers like you and me, that means itchy watery eyes, runny stuffy nose, sinus headaches, and non-stop sneezing, and not just for a few days like a winter cold or flu. Seasonal allergies cause suffering for an entire season, sometimes two.

While there’s technically no single “cure” for seasonal allergies, there are ways to treat the sneezing, watery eyes, itchy throat, and nasal congestion, all characteristic symptoms of seasonal allergies, and we’re not just limited to over-the-counter and prescription pharmaceuticals. My first line of defense in the fight for good health is nutrition, and after that, natural remedies. When allergies or illness aren’t responding to those, then I turn to pharmaceuticals.

But first, a quickie lesson on how seasonal allergies work to understand the best way to treat the symptoms!

What is a Seasonal Allergy?

Seasonal allergies, like all other types of allergies, are part of the body’s immune function. When an allergy-susceptible person inhales or comes into contact with an otherwise harmless compound like pollen, their immune system overreacts by setting off chemical reactions to “fight” what it thinks is a harmful foreign substance. The chemical reactions physically manifest as those tell-tale seasonal allergy symptoms.

Seasonal allergy treatments, whether over-the-counter and doctor-prescribed medications, or natural treatments in the form of vitamins, supplements, and other non-traditional methods, work by inhibiting those chemical reactions.

The most obvious and immediate solution for seasonal allergies is an over-the-counter allergy medicine like Allegra, Benadryl, Claritin, and Zyrtec. There are many types of allergy medicines, which differ in both the way they chemically work to treat similar symptoms, as well as how the medicine is delivered to your body. Antihistamines, decongestants, and steroids all work on different types of cells in the body; pills, liquids, nasal sprays, and eye drops are the various ways these medicines can be delivered to your body. Antihistamines block the compounds in your body that cause common seasonal allergy symptoms. Sometimes, antihistamines are paired with decongestants like Sudafed, which work to temporarily “unstuff” a stuffy nose. Natural solutions to seasonal allergies work on many of the same symptom-causing mechanisms as medicines.


If you just want the straight up “what” and don’t need to know the “why,” reference the following list of seasonal allergy remedies. Full descriptions follow in the post.

  1. Vitamin C
  2. Green Tea and EGCG Extract
  3. Probiotics
  4. Butterbur
  5. Quercetin
  6. Bromelein
  7. Fish Oil
  8. Spirulina
  9. Stinging Nettle
  10. Bee Pollen and Honey
  11. Neti Pot and Nasal Irrigation
  12. Over-the-Counter and Prescription Medications

Top Natural Treatments for Seasonal Allergies

1. Vitamin C

Immune-boosting vitamin C isn’t just for helping your body fight the cold and flu in the fall and winter. The potent antioxidant lowers blood-levels of histamine, which is what triggers the usual seasonal allergy symptoms. Studies have shown that 2,000 milligrams of vitamin C a day can reduce histamine levels in the bloodstream by up to 40%.

2. Green Tea and EGCG

Like vitamin C, green tea is one of those natural remedies that crosses over from fighting the cold/flu in the winter to staving off seasonal allergy symptoms in the spring. Green tea has a high concentration of the phytonutrient known as epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, that has been shown in laboratory studies to block the allergy symptom-causing compounds histamine and immunoglobulin E. Drinking green tea every day as part of your overall wellness strategy is a good idea, and during allergy season, you can power up with green tea supplements in pill form.

3. Probiotics

Is there anything probiotics can’t do? From regulating your immune system to maintaining your mental health, the “good bacteria” that lives in your gastrointestinal tract is now believed to contribute to the body’s tolerance for allergens. One study published in the journal Pediatrics found that children whose mothers regularly took probiotics during pregnancy were at a significantly reduced risk of developing allergies. Another study, in the Journal of Nutrition, found that people who ate seven ounces of yogurt daily for one year reported fewer allergy symptoms than those who didn’t; probiotics in the yogurt are responsible for the decreased allergy symptoms.

4. Butterbur

Butterbur is an herbal plant (petasites hybridus) that may relieve seasonal allergy symptoms by acting as an antihistamine. Butterbur can improve nasal airflow by working the same way some prescription medications work: inhibiting leukotriene, a compound produced by the immune system that initiates many allergic reactions, including inflammation and swelling of the nasal passages. In fact, one doctor has called butterbur “the Singulair of the herbal world.” A Swiss study, published in British Journal of Medicine, found that butterbur was as effective as the drug cetirizine, the active ingredient in Zyrtec. If you try the natural remedy butterbur, look for a product that has been labeled or certified as “PA-free,” which indicates it’s had potentially toxic substances called pyrrolizidine alkaloids removed.

5. Quercetin

If butterbur is the Singulair and Zyrtec of the herbal world, then quercetin is the natural equivalent of a NasalCrom, which works as an antihistamine by stabilizing mast cells in the body. Quercetin is a bioflavonoid that is found naturally in wine and foods like apples, broccoli, citrus fruits, lettuces, onions, parsley, and black tea. However, the amount of quercetin needed to effectively relieve seasonal allergy symptoms is much higher than what can be consumed and digested daily with just food. According to some experts, quercetin works well for prevention, so it’s best to start taking the supplement a few weeks before allergy season starts.

6. Bromelain

Bromelain is a naturally-occurring enzyme in pineapple juice and in the pineapple stem. The compound is often taken for its general anti-inflammatory properties, and there has been some promising evidence that bromelain is helpful specifically for fighting seasonal allergy symptoms by reducing nasal swelling and inflammation and thinning mucus, both of which makes it easier for people to breathe. If you’re taking quercetin, taking bromelain in tandem increases the body’s absoprtion of quercetin. In fact, there are supplements that combine both bromelain and quercetin in a single pill.

7. Fish Oil

We already know taking a fish oil supplement for the omega-3s is important just because it is, but a study in the European journal Allergy found that higher dietary intake of fatty acids is associated with a lower risk of developing hay fever allergy symptoms. Like quercetin and bromelain above, fish oil is a natural allergy remedy that works over time with your body’s health, so start taking it now before allergy season kicks into high gear, and not just when you start sneezing.

8. Spirulina

If you’ve ever seen those trendy “unicorn foods” that feature a light, bright shade of baby blue, then you’ve probably seen the work of spirulina. But spirulina isn’t just a plant-based food coloring; it is a blue-green algae that has anti-inflammatory properties, making it a potentially effective treatment for seasonal allergy symptoms as an antihistamine, significantly improving nasal discharge, sneezing, nasal congestion and itching. It appears that significant reduction in seasonal allergy symptoms occurs over a period of six months, with the positive effect growing stronger over time, so as with other supplements, it’s best to start taking spirulina before the allergy season begins.

9. Stinging Nettle

The stinging nettle plant (urtica dioica), has carotene, vitamin K, and quercetin, which we’ve already mentioned has natural antihistamine properties. Ironically, the leaves of the stinging nettle plant also contain histamine, which might seem counter-intuitive: using the very thing that causes the allergy response to treat your allergy, but sometimes you fight fire with fire. Extract from the leaves has been shown to alleviate seasonal allergy symptoms in much the same way over-the-counter antihistamine medications work. Stinging nettle, sometimes labeled as “nettle leaf,” is available in a few formats. Dried leaves can be brewed into tea, and extracts are available as pills.

10. Bee Pollen and Honey

Bee pollen is known for its ability to fight infections and support your body’s immune system, which helps with allergy symptoms. Taking small amounts of bee pollen over time may help your body develop a type of immunity to it.

11. Neti Pot and Nasal Irrigation

While most of the seasonal allergy relief recommendations here are vitamins, supplements, and medications that you swallow (or inhale) for them to work biochemically at your body’s molecular level, a neti pot works by physically rinsing away allergen particles from your nasal passages with a stream of distilled, sterile saline water. Neti pots are small, gravy boat-shaped containers with a spout that sends the salt solution through your nasal passages, which flushes out mucus and allergens from your nose, thereby relieving nasal congestion. When treating with a neti pot, use distilled, sterile water. Neti pots, bottled distilled water, and salt are available in grocery stores and pharmacies.

12. Over-the-Counter and Prescription Medications

There are prescription allergy medications like Singulair, stronger versions of nasal corticosteroid sprays similar to Flonase, and other prescriptions medicines that your medical doctor can recommend to treat your seasonal allergies.

After consulting with your doctor for your seasonal allergies, you can head to Kroger, which has a comprehensive set of tools and services to help make your wellness needs and medication adherence more convenient. Tools like MyPrescription, available online at Kroger.com/myprescription or in the mobile app, allows you to manage your whole family’s prescriptions in one place and sign up for auto-refill. You can also get a comprehensive medication review in-store with a Kroger pharmacist or learn how to convert to a 90-day prescription and how to sign up for MedSync where you can coordinate pick up for all prescriptions each month.

This post generously sponsored by Kroger, who is a comprehensive resource for seasonal allergy relief, with everything from prescription and over-the-counter allergy medications in the pharmacy to natural solutions in their wellness department.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your physician or other qualified health provider with questions about your medical condition and before taking any medicines, vitamins and/or supplements.

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bourbon maple glazed easter ham plate

Bourbon Maple-Glazed Ham {recipe}

makes 1 ham, about 8-10 servings


for Ham:
1 8-10 pound bone-in ham
Bourbon Maple Glaze (see just below)

for Bourbon Maple Glaze:
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup maple syrup
½ cup Bourbon
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
juice from half a lemon, approximately 2-4 tablespoons
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest


Start Roasting Ham:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Trim outer layer of fat on ham down to about ¼-inch thick. Using a sharp paring knife, make shallow criss-cross cuts across the surface of the ham creating a “diamond” pattern.

Place the ham in a roasting pan with sides high enough to catch juices and drippings. Cover with foil and place in oven. Roast for about 1½ to 2 hours before adding glaze. The ham will roast in total for about 2 to 2½ hours, or until the internal temperature of the ham is 140°F.

While Ham is Roasting, Make Bourbon Maple Glaze:

Whisk all of the ingredients for the Bourbon Maple Glaze in a bowl until the brown sugar is mostly dissolved (it may not dissolve all the way).

Complete Roasting the Ham:

Remove ham from oven, remove foil and save it, and brush the ham with all but about 2 tablespoons of the glaze. If you do not have a brush (I don’t), use a spoon and carefully drizzle the glaze and spread over the ham.

Continue roasting, uncovered, for another 30 minutes to an hour, or until the internal temperature of the ham is 140°F. If the glaze on the ham starts to turn too dark, cover with foil.

Remove ham from oven and let rest uncovered about 15 minutes.


bourbon maple glazed easter ham dinner table


I don’t generally drink orange juice unless it’s in a mimosa, in which case I generally request my mimosa “hold the orange juice.”

But when it comes time “to juice,” the January verb, I still don’t drink straight up orange juice, but I do use very-in-season citrus and other vegetables to sneak huge, healing doses of fresh turmeric into my system.

Turmeric is one of what I call the “Super Spices,” which include cinnamon, cloves, and ginger (basically, pumpkin spice latte). The active compound in turmeric, curcumin, is what gives turmeric its yellow orange color and is what gives the spice such potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Some people drink pure fresh turmeric shots, saying it has an “earthy” flavor, but you know what else has an earthy flavor? The earth, which is made of dirt, and turmeric tastes like straight dirty dirt to me and I can’t stand it by itself. So, I have to bury turmeric’s flavor deep inside citrus juice or carrot juice or both.

Or curry.

Or, I just don’t eat turmeric at all and powerdose it in pill form.

(Ginger, on the other hand, has an intense heat, but tastes “sweet” to me.)

Recipe for my favorite “orange” juice with turmeric, below, followed by an easy visual if you’re punching out a quick juice for one.
tangerine juice and carrot clementine turmeric juice

tangerines in bowl

fresh turmeric

Ultimate Anti-Inflammatory Carrot Tangerine Turmeric Juice

makes about 16 ounces of juice


4-6 large carrots, scrubbed (no need to peel)
2 whole peeled tangerines
2-inch piece of fresh turmeric
optional: 1-inch piece of french ginger, whole peeled lemon, spear of fresh pineapple


Wash everything and make sure they’re all dry. It’s great if the fruit and vegetables come straight out of the fridge so the juice is cold.

Send everything through the juicer one by one. I have no idea if this is important to the mechanics of the juicer, but I start with the “softest” vegetables like tangerines (and lemons) first, and end with the turmeric.

Stick your juice in the freezer for 10 minutes to chill it down before drinking it.

carrot tangerine turmeric anti-inflammatory juice

carrot tangerine turmeric anti-inflammatory juice

citrus roasted salmon
Recipe first, my personal notes and shopping resources after.
{ click for CITRUS-ROASTED SALMON with HERBS recipe }

ginger miso broth soba noodles shiitake mushrooms
The most important part of this recipe is the Ginger Miso Broth, which you will make and sip and eat all the time in so many different ways. Because it’s January, because it’s the new year, because the weather is beyond ice cold (even here in LA, where it’s not literally freezing, but for us, it’s kinda freezing), the Ginger Miso Broth is the base for a health-supporting bowl of green tea soba noodles, grilled shiitake mushrooms, broccolini, and soft-boiled eggs. { click for GINGER MISO BROTH with SOBA and SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS recipe }

green shakshuka with chard kale zucchini { click for GREEN SHAKSHUKA with CHARD, KALE, and ZUCCHINI recipe }

Jacques Torres Three Day NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies { click for JACQUES TORRES’S THREE-DAY CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES recipe }