Does the springtime air send you running for cover, reaching for tissues and constantly sneezing? You could be one of 3.1 million Australians who suffer from hay fever.
And just like your sniffling, itchy-eyed compadres, prescription meds can give you a nose drier than a desert and a super fuzzy brain.
Luckily for you, we've rounded up some of our favourite alternative hay fever treatments that can be just as effective, without those uncomfortable side effects.
Try Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT)
How it works: Sometimes the best cure is the thing that ails you (we're not kidding!). SLIT is an alternative treatment in which an allegist gives you small doses of an allergen to boost your tolerance and reduce your symptoms. It sounds scary but it has been proven to possibly decrease the reliance on traditional meds needed by up to 42% in just 6 weeks.
Our Recommendation: Once an allergist workouts out your needs you take the drops or tablets daily for 3 to 5 years, about the same as allergy shots. Visit allergy.org.au to find a prescribing allergist or immunologist.
Try Stinging Nettle
How it works: Stinging nettle contains histamine, the chemical that your body makes during an allergic reaction, so actually taking it as a supplement helps you become tolerant. In a study by the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, nettle significantly improved symptoms for 64% of patients.
Our Recommendation: Two capsules every 3 to 4 hours during allergy season. Try Nature's Way, Nettle Leaf ($8.40 for 100 capsules, iHerb).
Try Local Honey
How it works: Honey isn't only good for making your porridge sweeter. It also contains pollen which helps your body acclimatise (the tolerance concept again we were talking about earlier). Plus, "honey straight from the hive contains enzymes that reduce inflammation and antibiotic properties that stimulate your immune system," says Dr John Heinerman, a medical anthropologist.
Our Recommendation: Sweeten your morning cup of tea with locally grown honey or add it to your smoothies and salad dressings.
Try Using An Air Purifier
How it works: Did you know that hay fever is often triggered by the presence of pollen spores in the air? But don't be fooled into thinking that staying inside will safeguard your sinuses, as these pesky spores aren't only found in the great outdoors.
In fact, pollution can sometimes be up to five times worse inside your home, and often you can't even see it. Think everyday odours, domestic fumes and pet dander. No thanks!
The good news? Air purifiers can be an effective way to remove indoor pollution including pollen, bacteria and mould from the air.
Our Recommendation: The Dyson purifier range which captures 99.95% of fine particles such as allergens and pollutants.
How it works: Acupuncture is another great alternative method for treating your hayfever symptoms. Applying needles to the body strengthens your immune system, says Dr Kathy Bishop, an anesthesiologist and acupuncturist in the US. A study by the World Health Organization, found that about a dozen half-hour acupuncture sessions relieved allergy symptoms for more than 60% of patients.
Our Recommendation: One or two sessions per week for 6 to 8 weeks during allergy season. Cost: $50 to $150 per session. To find an acupuncturist near you see AACMA: Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association.