Longevity Articles

The Top 6 Natural Remedies for Environmental Hypersensitivity in the Fall Season

Fall environmental hypersensitivity starts to flare at the end of summer.

When the seasons make their transition from summer to fall, you may experience the irritating onset of sneezing, sniffling, and watery eyes year after year — but it doesn’t have to be this way. Although environmental hypersensitivity is widespread in the fall due to the uptick in pollen and allergens in the air, there are several natural remedies to help you cope with these bothersome symptoms.  

In this article, discover the most common allergens this time of year and the top six medication-free ways you can reduce your risk of sneezing through the fall season. 

Fall Environmental Hypersensitivity Symptoms

Seasonal environmental hypersensitivity is caused by the body overreacting to something in the environment, creating an inflammatory immune response that manifests as allergic symptoms. If you’re affected by this, you may experience just one, several, or all of these characteristics: 

  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy, runny, or congested nose
  • Itchy eyes, nose, and throat
  • Itchy, watery, or puffy eyes
  • Headaches
  • Rashes or hives
  • Postnasal drip 

Top 4 Fall Allergens

1. Pollen

Pollen, the most common seasonal environmental hypersensitivity trigger, is a yellow powder spread by the wind, insects, and birds to fertilize plants. When airborne, pollen can be easily inhaled and cause allergic symptoms. While hundreds of plants produce this powder, the most common plants that cause fall environmental hypersensitivity from their pollen are grasses, weeds, and some trees, including birch, cedar, and oak.

2. Ragweed

Ragweed is a weed that commonly grows in the Eastern and Midwestern areas of the United States, with over 23 million Americans being affected by a response to its pollen. Seventy-five percent of people who are allergic to pollen are also allergic to ragweed. 

Ragweed hypersensitivity is more common in the late summer and fall, with the peak occurring mid-September and ending when the first frost of the year kills the ragweed plant. Allergic symptoms to ragweed happen when the plants release pollen into the air; each plant can produce up to 1 billion pollen grains.

3. Mold and Mildew

Although allergic reactions to mold and mildew can occur year-round, they are more common in the late summer and early fall. Mold and mildew are fungi that produce spores, which then travel through the air. These reactions are seen more often in the fall because mold and mildew thrive in dampness but are dormant with frost. Therefore, the spores commonly grow on fallen leaves, rotting trees, or damp compost piles.

4. Dust Mites

Also a year-round allergen, dust mite hypersensitivity becomes more pronounced in the fall. These microscopic arthropods are often found in the home, especially in air vents, bedding, and carpeting. Many people suffer from their allergens when they first turn on their home’s heaters for the season, as the dust mites release from the air vents. As dust mites cannot live in humidity below 50%, a dehumidifier can help to keep them away. Also, cleaning all air vents often and washing sheets, pillows, and blankets in hot water when the seasons turn from summer to fall can help. 

Pollen is the most common fall allergy trigger.

6 Natural Remedies for Fall Allergen Hypersensitivity

1. Quercetin

Quercetin is an antioxidant that is found naturally in many fruits and vegetables, including onions, apples, and broccoli, as well as in supplemental form. 

In addition to its antioxidant properties, quercetin functions as an anti-allergic by inhibiting histamine, a compound that plays a primary role in allergic reactions. Quercetin also downregulates inflammatory cells and cytokines, which can relieve some of the pain or pressure associated with environmental hypersensitivity

Although you can get quercetin from foods, supplements can help during seasons of high allergen potential. A daily supplement should contain between 500 to 1,000 mg of quercetin.

2. Use a Nasal Rinse

A neti pot or saline irrigator can relieve nasal congestion and allow for easier breathing. These systems stream saltwater into your nasal cavities through one nostril and out the other. Although it can be an uncomfortable task, many people find that nasal irrigation alleviates pain and discomfort after completion. To safely use a neti pot, ensure that your water is sterile by boiling it first.

3. Probiotics

Perhaps surprisingly, the health of your gastrointestinal tract can affect whether or not you get affected by seasonal allergens. The microbiome, which is the community of bacteria living in our large intestines, plays a crucial role in how the immune system functions. 

Certain gut bacteria, including Lactobacillus, suppress inflammatory and allergic responses by upregulating T regulatory cells’ action and inhibiting T-helper 2 cells (Th2). People with overactive Th2 reactions are significantly more likely to have allergic responses. 

Probiotics can also stimulate local immunoglobulin-A (IgA) production, an antibody that serves as the first line of defense in the gut by trapping foreign pathogens in its mucus. 

In a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in May 2014, people with allergic symptoms to grass pollen were randomized to receive the probiotic Lactobacillus paracasei or a placebo. After five weeks, those taking the daily probiotic had significant decreases in their allergic symptoms.

Look for a high-quality probiotic supplement that contains at least 1 billion CFU (colony-forming units) of bacteria per capsule or consume probiotic-rich foods daily, including fermented vegetables, sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, and kefir.

4. Herbal Remedies 

Several herbal remedies or supplements have shown promise for relieving allergic symptoms, including butterbur, stinging nettle, garlic, and bromelain, an anti-inflammatory compound found in pineapple. 

Butterbur, extracted from marsh plants, was found to reduce allergic symptoms comparably to an over-the-counter antihistamine in a randomized controlled trial published in BMJ in January 2002. 

Some essential oils may reduce allergic symptoms when used as aromatherapy. Diffusing peppermint or tea tree oil into the air or creating a facial steam bath have both been found anecdotally to relieve nasal and sinus congestion. To make a facial steam bath, pour hot water into a large bowl, add between five and ten drops of essential oil into the bowl, place your face in front of it, and breathe. For extra benefits, place a towel over your head to trap in the steam. 

As over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines can often induce a sedative effect, these herbal remedies may be a beneficial option to use instead.

5. Manage Stress

It’s well known that chronic stress is detrimental to health—including allergic symptoms.

Recent research has found that mental or emotional stress can also increase the prevalence or severity of environmental hypersensitivity due to the relationship between the immune system and the central nervous system. 

Stress activates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which sets off a cascade of reactions that end with an overactivation of Th2 cells, thereby increasing the inflammatory and allergic response. 

Manage stress with meditation, mindfulness, yoga, deep breathing, regular exercise, and good quality sleep.

Managing stress through meditation can reduce the severity of environmental hypersensitivity.

6. Keep Your Home Clean 

In addition to keeping your home’s surfaces clean, be sure to wash pillows, pillowcases, and bedding weekly in hot water over 130 degrees Fahrenheit. If your allergic symptoms are severe, try covering your mattress and pillows in dust-proof covers, also known as allergen-impermeable covers. 

As mentioned, cleaning air vents and filters can keep allergens from becoming airborne in your home. Lastly, HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters and dehumidifiers can reduce the allergen load and keep mold and mildew out of the house. 

Key Takeaway: 

  • The top fall environmental hypersensitivity symptoms stem from pollen, ragweed, mold and mildew, and dust mites.
  • Natural remedies for allergic symptoms include taking supplemental quercetin, probiotics, butterbur, stinging nettle, garlic, and bromelain, and using peppermint or tea tree oil as aromatherapy. 
  • Lifestyle strategies for coping with fall symptoms include using a neti pot or nasal rinse, managing stress, and keeping your home clean. 


Costa DJ, Marteau P, Amouyal M, et al. Efficacy and safety of the probiotic Lactobacillus paracasei LP-33: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial (GA2LEN Study). Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014;68(5):602-607. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2014.13

Dave ND, Xiang L, Rehm KE, Marshall GD Jr. Stress and allergic diseases. Immunol Allergy Clin North Am. 2011;31(1):55-68. doi:10.1016/j.iac.2010.09.009

Mlcek J, Jurikova T, Skrovankova S, Sochor J. Quercetin and Its Anti-Allergic Immune Response. Molecules. 2016;21(5):623. Published 2016 May 12. doi:10.3390/molecules21050623

Schapowal A; Petasites Study Group.  BMJ. 2002;324(7330):144-146. doi:10.1136/bmj.324.7330.144

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