When hay fever strikes, many people instinctively reach for antihistamine medications to tame their unruly symptoms. But amidst the familiar routine, a thought lingers in the air: Are there natural antihistamines that can truly offer relief?
There are a lot of touted "natural" solutions to those pesky allergy symptoms, but not all of them work as advertised. So where do natural antihistamines fall into this equation?
Before we talk about sources of natural antihistamines, we need to talk about histamines themselves first.
What are Antihistamines?
Antihistamines are drugs designed to treat allergy symptoms. As the name implies, antihistamines block histamines, chemicals created by your immune system in response to allergic reactions. These reduce allergic symptoms caused by those chemicals. 
Histamines cause familiar allergy symptoms including:
- Nasal congestion
- Itchy or scratchy throat
- Watery or itchy eyes
Histamines cause these symptoms by essentially causing your immune response to overreact to allergens that enter your body. Your allergy symptoms are your body's attempts to expel those irritants, with uncomfortable results.
Antihistamines aren't without their own side effects either. Some of these may include:
Natural vs. Conventional Antihistamines: What's the Difference?
Conventional antihistamines are mass-produced medications available over-the-counter (OTC) at grocery stores, pharmacies, et cetera. One antihistamine subtype, H-1 blockers, are used to treat allergy symptoms while H-2 blockers treat gastrointestinal issues.
In addition to that, there are 1st and 2nd generation antihistamines that work differently. 1st generation antihistamines work on your histamine receptors located in your brain and spinal cord. 2nd generation antihistamines, however, do not cross the blood-brain barrier like the latter do; because of this, they're considered to be a safer alternative to the first generation. (Both are safe to take though.)
Natural antihistamines are thankfully, a little simpler. These allergy-fighting chemicals are naturally occurring, and can be found in many plants, as well as many foods you likely already eat!
Do Natural Antihistamines Work? Here’s What the Science Says
If you're hoping to use any natural antihistamines for your allergies, you may want to hold off. While natural antihistamines can have a positive effect in relieving your symptoms, more research is needed to determine their efficacy in treating your allergies overall. 
More research is also needed to determine whether or not natural antihistamines are as effective compared to their OTC counterparts. However, as of this writing, natural antihistamines aren't as effective as traditional medications, despite anecdotal claims to the contrary.
This is especially true if you have allergies to any of the foods or herbs that contain these allergy-fighting compounds. If that's the case, then it's safe to say that natural antihistamines would be rather counter-productive for those allergies.
However, as long as it's safe for you to consume their sources, there's no harm in putting natural antihistamines into your body. They’re also safe to have alongside more proven treatments for allergy symptoms and nasal congestion.
However, it’s important to consider that natural antihistamines aren’t regulated like their OTC counterparts, and this has its own potential for problems.
Why Regulations are Important for Antihistamines
Products regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been comprehensively tested for safety and efficacy. This ranges from determining safe dosage levels for adults and children on medications, as well as indicating that when used correctly, that these products generally work as advertised.
Natural antihistamines are not regulated by the FDA, so their safety and efficacy have not been tested like prescription or OTC medications have been. By extension, this means that the efficacy of these natural remedies has not been confirmed. It also means that safe dosage levels have not been established. As with any prescription, supplement, or medical device, knowing how to safely use them helps protect you from the dangers of overusing and even underusing products as instructed.
If you’re looking for natural remedies for what ails you, it’s important to keep in mind that many natural products are not FDA-regulated. This does not mean that they are unsafe or ineffective by default, but it does mean that you should be mindful that they haven’t been as thoroughly tested as other options, and to take extra care if you choose to use them.
5 Natural Solutions for Allergies That Work
If you're looking for natural ways to fight your allergy symptoms, here are 5 solutions you can try that actually work.
When it comes to naturally relieving nasal congestion, SinuSonic is a great option. In just two minutes, SinuSonic can help you breathe more easily, all without drugs or messy treatments.
SinuSonic uses a combination of gentle pressure and acoustic vibration to work with your nasal passages to clear them out.
The positive expiratory pressure (PEP) created by the device can help increase your lung volume and motility in your nose, meaning it helps you breathe more deeply and more efficiently. It also naturally increase nitric oxide levels— Nitric oxide is a natural muscle relaxant that has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties.
2. Nasal Irrigation
Using a saline solution or a neti pot to rinse your sinuses can help relieve your allergy symptoms naturally. Rinsing your sinuses moisturizes your nasal passages, washes irritants out, thins down mucus, and clears away debris.
Saline solution and neti pots can be found in most pharmacies and grocery stores. Be warned though, these can be potentially messy options with a learning curve (unlike SinuSonic).
3. Gustatory Rhinitis
Gustatory rhinitis is essentially the runny nose you get after you eat hot or spicy food. This can be helpful in clearing your sinuses if you're feeling sniffly or stuffed up, but there is a downside. Spicy foods can potentially cause your body to make more mucus, which means more congestion.
4. Essential Oils
For years, essential oils have been a popular natural solution to everything from household cleaners to home remedies. Some essential oils may even be effective in treating your allergy symptoms. These include:
- Tea tree oil
- Eucalyptus oil
- Pine oil
- Clary sage oil
Want to learn more? Check out our article about essential oils for congestion!
5. Air Filters
One of the best ways to prevent your allergies are to remove as many irritants from your home as possible. One way to do this is filtering allergens out of the air inside your home.
You'll want to look for a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter, because those are most effective for filtering allergens like dust and pet dander out of the air. You can find these filters for your HVAC system, in tabletop or room-sized purifiers, or even in your vacuum cleaner bags!
- Keep doors and windows closed on high-pollen or smokey days
- Use fans or run the AC to cool your home during allergy season
Vacuum regularly— especially if yours has a HEPA filter— to reduce allergens throughout your home
Do Histamines Have You in Hysterics?
Your allergy symptoms are caused by chemicals called histamines, which kick your immune system into overdrive to get you feeling back to normal. Antihistamines are a popular and effective way to address these symptoms, but those wanting a natural solution are likely looking for a holistic alternative to the OTC options.
While the jury's still out on natural antihistamines, there are still plenty of natural solutions for your allergy symptoms. Solutions like SinuSonic are easy, mess-free, and drug-free ways to relieve those pesky allergy symptoms. In SinuSonic’s case, it helps you breathe even better the longer you use the device.
Give it a try next time you're feeling sniffly or stuffed up— you may be surprised at how much better you feel!
Are allergies making you miserable? Banish nasal congestion with SinuSonic!
- “Antihistamines: Definition, Types & Side Effects.” Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/drugs/21223-antihistamines.
- Lim, Suhyun, et al. “The Natural Products Targeting on Allergic Rhinitis: From Traditional Medicine to Modern Drug Discovery.” Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland), U.S. National Library of Medicine, 26 Sept. 2021, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8532887/.