Seasonal allergies can be difficult to manage. Common treatments typically include over-the-counter drugs, but natural antihistamines can also be a great option. Examples include butterbur, vitamin C, and quercetin.

If you have seasonal allergies, you know they can be challenging. Symptoms like sneezing, itchy eyes, nasal congestion, and sinus pressure can become hard to deal with.

Whether your symptoms are due to hay fever, allergic rhinitis (hay fever), or seasonal allergies, numerous medications can help combat them. But some of these medications have their own lengthy list of side effects.

You’ve likely already tried many of these over-the-counter (OTC) solutions to attempt to lessen your seasonal symptoms. Now you may want to try something else.

Some evidence suggests that completely natural solutions may help ease your symptoms.

Understanding how antihistamines work can help you better determine whether natural antihistamines can help your symptoms during allergy season.

Allergies are an immune response to an otherwise harmless substance. This substance — whether it’s pollen, animal dander, or dust — comes into contact with cells in the mucous membranes of your nose, mouth, throat, and lungs.

In a person with allergies, this ends up triggering the release of a chemical called histamine. Histamine is a part of the immune system that causes all the symptoms associated with allergies, such as sneezing, itching, and cold-like symptoms.

Antihistamines work by blocking histamine activity to stop the allergic reaction.

Many allergy medications on the shelves of your local drugstore work as antihistamines. Certain foods and plant extracts may similarly block the effects of histamine.

Examples include:

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin found in plant foods such as citrus, leafy greens, and berries. It has several functions, such as being able to heal wounds and manage infections.

A 2023 research review found that it can also help improve symptoms of allergic rhinitis, such as itching and sneezing.

Vitamin C can also be found in supplement form. A doctor may suggest taking this if you have a vitamin C deficiency and are not getting enough through your diet.

Probiotics are microorganisms that can help maintain or improve your gut’s good bacteria levels. They can be found in several food sources, such as:

  • sauerkraut
  • yogurt
  • tempeh
  • sour cream
  • kombucha

A 2021 review suggests that probiotics may also help reduce and prevent allergy symptoms. The review also suggests that probiotics may help reduce symptoms of asthma and atopic dermatitis.

If you regularly experience seasonal allergies, you may want to consider adding more probiotic foods to your diet.

Stinging nettle is a flowering plant that originates from Asia and Western Northern Africa. It can also be a natural antihistamine. An older 2009 study found that stinging nettle may lead to a decrease in allergy symptoms.

However, a 2017 study found that stinging nettle has a similar effect to a placebo pill. Researchers note that further research is still needed to understand whether the plant is effective.

You can purchase stinging nettle as a supplement or as loose tea at health food stores.

Quercetin is an antioxidant found naturally in onions, apples, grapefruit, okra, and other produce.

A 2022 study found that it may also work as an antihistamine and be able to effectively reduce allergy symptoms.

You can purchase quercetin as a supplement, or simply add more quercetin-rich foods to your diet (the better choice of these two options).

Bromelain is a compound most commonly found in pineapples, but you can also find it in supplement form. It’s known to be effective at treating respiratory distress and inflammation associated with allergies.

A 2023 analysis found that bromelain may be effective against sinusitis, a type of inflammation of the nasal passage caused by allergies or a cold.

Experts recommended getting bromelain by eating pineapple rather than by taking supplements.

Butterbur is a marsh plant that’s part of the daisy family. It’s found throughout Europe and in regions of Asia and North America.

Older 2012 research suggests it might be effective in reducing the intensity and frequency of migraine attacks.

But it may also be helpful in treating nasal allergies. A 2023 study found that butterbur was a safe and effective natural treatment option for people with seasonal allergic rhinitis.

Butterbur is available as an oil extract or as a supplement.

Several medication options, both OTC and prescription, are also available to help manage allergy symptoms.

Common OTC medication options for allergies include Benadryl and Chlor-Trimeton.

Common prescription medication options for allergies include:

  • corticosteroids, such as prednisolone (Prelone)
  • leukotriene receptor antagonists, such as montelukast (Singulair) and zafirlukast (Accolate)
  • decongestant nasal sprays, such as oxymetazoline hydrochloride (Dristan) and phenylephrine hydrochloride (Neo-Synephrine)

If you regularly experience allergy symptoms that affect your day-to-day life, consider speaking with a doctor. They can put together an effective treatment plan that can help you find relief.

What is the most effective natural antihistamine?

While researchers have not found the most effective natural antihistamine, studies suggest that quercetin, vitamin C, and probiotics may all help reduce symptoms.

How do you calm a histamine flare-up?

You may be able to calm a histamine flare-up by taking an OTC antihistamine, as well as drinking plenty of water to flush out any histamine from your body.

Is lemon juice an antihistamine?

Lemon juice may be an effective antihistamine. This is because lemons contain vitamin C, which research from 2023 suggests may help reduce allergic rhinitis symptoms.

When you have allergies, relief can seem just out of reach. By combining natural remedies with proper self-care and allergen avoidance (when possible), you can find allergy symptom relief.

It can also be helpful to remember that while food sources of these antihistamines are natural and safe, supplements aren’t regulated in the United States. Be sure to get them from quality sources, and check with a doctor prior to using any supplements.