Allergy season can be a real sneeze. We should be enjoying the beauty of this time of year, not living in misery! Of the approximately 50 million allergy sufferers, the large majority of those will reach for medication to treat their symptoms. I wonder if they know that their overall health dictates the severity of seasonal allergies in a major way?
Natural remedies are best. Whether a kick up of dust triggers your allergy attack or that beautiful blooming bush of pollen in your backyard, diet goes a long way. As we are all unique, so are the treatments and individual responses to natural treatments.
- Acupuncture and Massage Therapy
Massage works to alleviate allergy symptoms by improving circulation and lowering stress levels, both which help to diminish allergy symptoms. For more intense allergy symptoms, Acupuncture is a researched modality that spells relief. The European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology published a study where allergy sufferers under-went acupuncture 3x week for 4 weeks and showed significant reductions in allergy symptoms. Individuals who either had sham acupuncture (improper placement of needles) or no treatment at all, experienced no such relief. Researchers aren’t 100% sure why acupuncture can alleviate symptoms, but they suspect it may help regulate immune responses.
- Apple Cider Vinegar
Have you seen the many uses for apple cider vinegar? From cleaning your windows to easing digestion, it’s a bit of a wonder cure. In my office, I dole out shots of ACV to anyone that comes around sneezing and wheezing. ACV is helps break up mucus in the body and is cleansing for the lymph nodes. It’s ability to reduce mucus and nasal decongest is a big help, it can also help to prevent sinus infections and the related symptoms of headaches and scratchy throat. Simply mix 1 T. ACV into a cup of filtered water 2-3 times per day.
Allergies are the product of an immune imbalance, that which causes the body to react against a perceived threat (aka stimuli). Research indicates that the amount of beneficial bacteria in the gut is associated with reduced risk of allergies. Even your gut bacteria balance while pregnant can impact your child’s likelihood of suffering from allegies. Balancing microflora and adding beneficial bacteria are preventative ways that can taken in pill or food forms. You can have a daily serving of fermented foods, such as raw sauerkraut and kimchi or drink a low sugar kombucha or coconut water kefir. I always recommend a daily high quality probiotic capsule, RENEW LIFE 100 Billion or more is a good one.
- Upgrade Your Diet
Your diet is a major way you can impact allergies, in upgrading the foods you eat, you may just find you suffer from less allergies all around, not just seasonal ones. A healthy diet will boost your immunity to allergies, immune suppressing and inflammatory foods, such as processed foods, fast foods, and high sugar foods (sodas, sweets, white carbs, etc) should be eliminated. Studies show that diets high in essential fatty acids help to regulate the inflammatory response to allergies (and allergies is a symptom of a diet low in essential fatty acids). Flax seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, wild salmon, trout, dark leafy greens, and olive oil are good additions. The GAPS Diet is another popular option for allergy sufferers, this program eliminates foods that are difficult to digest and damaging to gut health, GAPS diet is nutrient rich and is said to support in healing the gut. You can find out more here.
You may feel more inclined to shy away from exercise during allergy season, it’s understandable that a workout with sniffles and sneezes doesn’t sound appealing, but working out could be just what you need! Breaking a sweat has been shown to reduce allergy symptoms, a moderate intensity workout for as little as a half hour is enough to decrease itching, sneezing, and congestion. This benefit is attributed to the anti-inflammatory effect moderate exercise provides.
- Neti Pot with Saline
If you’ve braved the neti pot you know, it can be a intimidating the first time you use this nasal “irrigation” device, but many people report relief from use and conventional and alternative doctors alike agree on the benefit. Fill the pot with sterile saline and then flush the sinuses of mucus and allergens by slowly pouring through one nostril and draining out the other. It’s important to only use a premade saline rinse or make your own by dissolving 1 tsp. sea salt into a quart of distilled water.
- Take a Quercetin and Bromelain Supplement
Quercetin is a bioflavanoid that can keep cells from releasing histamine, the response to stimuli. Quercetin is also an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory. You would need to start your Quercetin regimen before allergy season, as it takes between 4-6 weeks to really prevent allergy symptoms. Most studies have found little to no side effects in people taking 500 mgs. twice daily for 12 weeks. Some of the best food sources of quercetin are red wine, blueberries, apples, red onion and even green tea. Check with your doctor before using, not suggested for pregnant or nursing women. Source Naturals makes a high quality Quercetic Supplement with Bromelain (Bromelain boosts immune support).
8. Oregano Oil
Oregano oil is a perfect supplement to alleviate typical allergy symptoms as it reduces the amount of histamines in the blood, is a strong antioxidant, and provides a soothing effect. It’s not a long term cure, but definitely can come in handy during an allergy attack or if you’re looking to avoid harsh medications with drowsy side effects. You can use oregano oil and dilute with water and place under the tongue or you can take oregano oil capsules as an easier method. Gaia Oregano Capsules are my favorites!
There is one natural “remedy” I’m not completely sold on. We’ve often heard the wife’s tale that local honey can treat allergy symptoms by acquainting your body to the pollen common in your area, however, honey does not contain enough pollen to do so. As much as I love honey as a mineral and nutrient rich part of my diet and an alternative to sugar as a sweetener, I’m not recommending it for allergy relief.