The flowers are starting to bloom…and the birds are singing once again, finally! Slowly, as the temperatures rise, we transition into the new season with recurrent optimism of a long winter’s end.
Aaaah-aaaah-CHOO…that’s the common sound we hear of springtime allergies interrupting our enjoyment of the warming season. Allergies are commonly associated with hayfever with its typical symptoms including cough, fatigue, headache, itchy eyes, nose, throat, skin, runny nose, sneezing, congestion, watery eyes. In addition, allergies include chronic afflictions such as sinusitis, food allergies, eczema, post-nasal drip, asthma and the list goes on.
Though antihistamines like Benadryl or Claritin, can offer some short term relief, but have their own side effects such as drowsiness, changes in blood pressure, and can affect your liver or kidneys if used long-term. They also do nothing to address the underlying allergic response, so are only helpful for symptom management.
An allergy is your immune system’s way of letting you know it is overloaded and not coping well. If you think about it, it doesn’t really make sense for us to be allergic to our environment. Very often, simple changes of diet, nutritional supplements, and homeopathic remedies can relieve this extreme reaction and the resulting inflammation that triggers most allergy symptoms.
While a comprehensive list of options would demand a small book, here are some of the solutions that naturopathic doctors recommend.
Lifestyle & Diet Tips
1. Drink 6-8 glasses H20 per day: Thins mucus secretions and promotes elimination and detoxification. .
2. Reduce or eliminate foods that are known to be inflammatory. Also known as “mucus forming foods,” the list includes dairy, fried foods, trans fats, processed foods, foods high in sugar, wheat, tomatoes, potatoes, corn, eggs, factory-farmed meats, or any foods to which you know you react.
3. Increase consumption of anti-inflammatory foods: fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, dark leafy greens, almonds, berries, pineapple, papaya, ginger & turmeric and whole grains.
4. Use a Neti Pot: Give your nasomucal passages a daily (or twice daily) rinse with saline solution to mechanically cleanse your mucous membranes of debris, dust, chemicals
5. Exercise: Increases circulation to expel toxins, support immune system and decrease stress response
6. Manage Stress: Allergies are a sign that the immune system is in overdrive, which is further aggravated by increased stress levels.
7. Reduce Exposure to Allergens: Keep house clean and dry; clean air ducts; use HEPA air filters; feather-free pillows comforters; dust-collecting rugs/curtains
Supplements to consider:
1. Quercetin: “Nature’s antihistamine” is a bioflavonoid found in apples/onions
2. Vitamin C + Bioflavonoids: Enhances immunity and antihistamine effect.
3. B vitamin Complex with a high dose of vitamin B5 to help manage your stress levels and nourish your adrenal glands.
3. Homeopathics: Combination or individualized allergy remedies
4. Fish Oils: Enhance anti-inflammatory prostaglandin production
5. Stinging Nettles: either as a dried herb or as a tea, is an herbal allergy mediator
6. Bee Pollen/Raw, Unprocessed Honey: one tsp/day, 6-weeks prior to allergy season, and daily throughout (caution with allergies to these)
Solutions for Long-Term Health, Not Fast Temporary Relief
While none of these solutions provide the relief-within-minutes that over-the-counter drugs promise, you gain two important benefits when you choose healthy natural solutions for your allergies.
Not only will you avoid the immediate side effects and long-term chemical impact of over-the-counter or prescription drugs, you may also re-balance your immune system over time to eliminate any allergic response at all.
Imagine – warmer weather, flowers blooming and no tissues! Wouldn’t that be nice?