“Oh, you poor thing…are you sick again?”

For those suffering from seasonal allergies, this is an all too common phrase asked while you’re wearily blowing your nose into the 50th tissue of the day. More often than not, if you see several people with runny noses and watery eyes in spring and early summer, those miserable folk are more likely suffering from an allergy than a cold.

A recent University of British Columbia study found that Vancouver ranked higher in sensitivity to airborne allergens than any other city in Canada. And while our genetic structure has stayed relatively the same over the past few decades, our stress and air pollution levels have not, with a heavy increase over the last generation. Experts are suggesting that these two variables are the reason for our increase in allergies.

So what can be done? Well, I’ll leave the air pollution crisis up to the environmental scientists to figure out. For now, I can offer you 5 natural remedies for allergy relief:

1. Butterbur herb

Weird name, amazing results. In a study published in the British Medical Journal, butterbur was proven to be just as effective as an antihistamine drug in providing allergy relief. The herb can help ease lack of energy commonly associated with allergies as well as reduce sneezing, itching, watery eyes and a runny nose. You can pick up butterbur in both capsule and extract form at a local vitamin or Whole Foods store.

2. Fish oil supplement

Daily fish oil consumption was proven to lower production of leukotrienes, a group of chemicals in your body that contribute to an allergic reaction. It also helps in balancing out the immune system and reducing inflammation that occurs in your respiratory tract during an allergic reaction. Fish oil can be found in nearly every drugstore today but opt for picking them up at a natural foods store to ensure product quality.

3. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a great long term remedy for fighting allergies. A 2013 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine revealed that 71% of patients that received acupuncture in the two month testing period saw improvement in their symptoms and reported less use of antihistamines.The American Academy of Medical Acupuncture (the official organization for doctors who practice acupuncture) further state that acupuncture is an “excellent complement to routine care for moderate allergic sinusitis, often minimizing or altogether eliminating the need for medications, releasing the patient from continuous exacerbation-remission cycles.” Acupuncture clinics are very common in Vancouver and the lower mainland so explore available clinics in your area to discover the best options for you.

4. HEPA Filters

High-efficiency particulate air filters work by sucking air into a mesh and trapping particles like pollen, dust and pet dander. These filters can be placed in air purifiers and vacuum cleaners and aid in cleaning the air, thus providing allergy relief for those sensitive to airborne pollutants. HEPA filters can be found in home improvement stores such as Bed Bath & Beyond, Home Depot and RONA.

5. Spices

Cayenne pepper, horseradish, hot ginger and turmeric are great examples of spices that help in clearing up the sinuses. Turmeric is especially effective as it contains the compound curcumin which boasts anti-inflammatory properties that aid in de-congestion. Turmeric is commonly found in Indian cuisine but can also be consumed in capsule form to take for long term benefits. The super spice has been clinically proven to boost the body’s immune system and strengthen its resistance to allergies so it is a wonderful remedy to try out when you’re feeling bogged down with allergies.

There are many ways to help ease the burden of seasonal allergies but the five listed are great starting points for allergy relief. The key thing is to plan for allergy season in advance; preparation can help in prevention and will make allergy season half as difficult to deal with.