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As the weather changes from winter to spring, many people suffer from seasonal allergies. Hay fever is the most common, causing symptoms such as a stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, itchy, red and watery eyes, and a sore or scratchy throat.

Here are some natural ways to prevent allergies:

1. Fortify your immune system by eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially those rich in Vitamin C, such as bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, chilli peppers, guavas, herbs (such as thyme and parsley), kiwis, oranges, papayas and strawberries.

2. Drink a mixture of honey and warm water in the morning; this will help strengthen your immune system.

3. Avoid dairy products, refined flour and sugar; these propagate the formation of mucus in the body which can lead to congestion.

4. Use plenty of garlic and onions; these are natural antihistamines.

5. When outdoors, reduce the amount of pollen you inhale; cover your mouth and nose. Apply a little petroleum jelly or olive oil to your nostrils to keep dust and pollen away from your nose and throat.

If you are suffering from allergies, try these remedies:

1. Inhale chamomile oil (by smearing some on a handkerchief/tissue) or drink chamomile tea three to four times a day.

2. Inhale steam from hot water with a few drops of aromatic oil (e.g. basil, eucalyptus and lavender).

3. Drink peppermint or thyme tea; this helps relieve nasal and respiratory tract congestion. Brew the tea using one teaspoon of the dried herb with one cup of water.

4. Sip a mixture of one-eighth of a cup of apple cider vinegar in two cups of water.

5. Drink a concoction of turmeric powder and water three times a day; make the mixture by adding a teaspoon of turmeric to a glass of water.

– Sadia Tariq

First published in the Health Advertiser Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on April 8, 2012.