By LaTricia Morris, Author, Illustrator, Integrative Wellness Counselor and Founder of See Kids Thrive & Eden Life Ministries
Sleeves. Snot. Wipe. Wipe. Wipe…
As much as well all love the Spring (and Fall) and can’t wait to get outdoors to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine there is just nothing fun about the congestion and snotzy mess that comes along with those seasonal allergies.
With all of the side effects that come with most pharmaceutical OTC’s, what is a parent to do?
Well, if you’re as bent on keeping it all natural as I tend to be, you just might hop in the car and hit your local market or health food store to nab some of these helpful remedies.
Natural Spring Allergy Remedies
There’s nothing like the sight of plants bursting back into life as the weather finally warms up enough for us all to get out and enjoy it. Some of us, though, don’t get to enjoy it so much because of all those stupid allergies flaring up, making Spring (and Fall) the most dreaded time of the year.
If this is you, fear not, there are things you can do to naturally relieve the symptoms of seasonal allergies without the side effects common to most OTC’s. Here are some of our favorites:
Quercetin is a bioflavanoid with proven benefits that demand to be explored further. On top of it’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and on top of helping the body in fighting off cancer, quercetin has been shown to be of great help in relieving allergies by blocking substances involved in allergies, inhibiting mast cell secretion, decreasing the release of tryptase and working with your body to reduce the blow inflicted by pollen and other irritants.
“Citrus fruits, onions, apples, parsley, tea, tomatoes, broccoli, lettuce and wine are naturally high in quercetin, but allergy sufferers will most likely need to use supplements to build up enough of this compound to prevent attacks. The recommended dosage is about 1,000 milligrams a day, taken between meals. It’s best to start treatment six weeks before allergy season. Those with liver disease shouldn’t use quercetin, so please consult your doctor before using this or any other supplement — especially if you are pregnant or nursing.”
Bromelain is an allergy fighter most people aren’t familiar with. Bromelain is a mixture of enzymes found naturally in the juice and stems of pineapples and is helpful in reducing nasal swelling and thinning mucus, making it easier for you to breathe. Bromelain has proven mucolytic properties. As such, Bromelain supports normal mucosal tissue function and enhances the absorption of Quercetin, making the two a power-packed duo.
Suggested uses for allergy sufferers is between 500 mg and 2,000 mg a day, divided into two doses. When used for inflammatory conditions, practitioners typically recommend taking Bromelain between meals on an empty stomach to maximize absorption. Bromelain is often marketed as a natural anti-inflammatory for conditions such as arthritis. It’s one of the most popular supplements in Germany, where it is approved by the Commission E for the treatment of inflammation and swelling of the nose and sinuses due to surgery or injury.
You may have heard of the importance of using probiotics to help restore a healthy balance of microflora in the intestinal tract. You may have even heard of all the many ways this can benefits this can have for relieving digestive woes and improving energy but did you know that boosting your gut health can serve as a great defense in staving off allergies?
I appears, according to research, that allergies are more likely to be prevalent in those who struggle in their gut health. For nearly all allergies, especially those to foods, probiotics have many positive effects on your body, including:
Improved function of mucosal lining of the intestines;
Hindered growth of pathogenic (bad) bacteria;
Stimulated production of immune enhancing substances; and
Direct influence on immune response.
When I say probiotics, I know many of you immediately think “oh, we eat plenty of yogurt…” Aside from the fact that dairy is known to worsen allergies and aside from the fact that some companies process and pasteurized right out of it, there are a number of places to get your good gut flora and your best health just may be in getting them from as many different sources as possible, as each has their own strain of bacteria that contributes to the cause in your gut.
Try: Water, coconut, or fruit juice kefir; sauerkraut; kimchi; beet kvass; or kombucha. You can also get connected with your local health food store to find a good, broad-spectrum probiotic from their coolers.
First off, I am not arguing on the issue of whether or not your family should consume dairy at all. That much, I suppose, is for another time. I will tell you that, if allergies are already an issue, you may want to put the cheese down and walk away.
Now, I know in some households, such a suggestion is nigh sacrilegious. Still, it is worth noting that over half of the world’s population is (even mildly) allergic to dairy products.
This is quite often seen in the way dairy has a tendency to increase mucous production. For those fighting congestion, this be a total case of near-death by dairy. Even if you normally eat it on a regular basis, be sure to lay off the milk, yogurt, cheese and sour cream when allergies in swing.
Specific immunotherapy, otherwise known as allergy shots, has been used widely to inject patients with diluted doses of certain allergens to help build immunity over time. However, allergy shots can take three to five years to be effective, and a small percentage of people suffer severe reactions to this treatment. Though it remains popular in North America, the practice fell out of favor in the United Kingdom during the late 1980s, when strict limitations were imposed after several adverse reactions occurred.
New studies have found a gentler way to acclimate the body to pollen and other allergens. The latest form of this therapy is called sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), which has been used for the past 20 years in Europe. In SLIT treatments, patients put drops of a very small dose of the allergen (initially a 1:1,000 dilution) under the tongue for two minutes, then swallow. The daily therapy begins before peak pollen season for seasonal allergy sufferers, but also can be used to treat year-round allergies, though treatment must be specific to the type of allergen.
A recent study in the United Kingdom found that patients who used SLIT for two years were nearly seven times less likely to suffer runny noses, and almost three times less likely to experience sneezing, than those who took a placebo. Because an allergy extract has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States, check with your doctor and insurance provider before considering SLIT therapy.
Many who’ve struggled long-term with allergies, are quite familiar with the term “histamine” as the villain in our little spring time nightmares but it appears the histamines found in Nettle are found to actually help the body in combatting allergies.
Stinging Nettle has anti-inflammatory properties that affect a number of receptors and enzymes in allergic reactions, preventing hay fever symptoms if taken when they first appear. Local health food stores are usually more than happy to help you get your hands on this herb.
A German study, published in the journal Allergy, found that participants who ate foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids were less likely to suffer allergy symptoms than those who don’t regularly eat these foods.
To help keep airways clear when pollen counts are high, add a dash of horseradish, chili peppers or hot mustard to your food — all act as natural, temporary decongestants. It’s also a good idea to avoid foods that you’re slightly allergic to until the air clears. Fighting off allergies can render the body hypersensitive to those foods, causing more severe reactions than usual.
There isn’t much scientific evidence to back this one, but there seems to be a lot of anecdotal evidence from people who have tried it. (Even Mark Sisson weighed in on the subject here).
The theory is that consuming local honey from where you live will help your body adapt to the allergens in the environment there. This is supposed to work like a natural allergy “shot” and doesn’t seem to have a downside. (DO NOT use this one for babies under 1 year old.)
To try for yourself: Consume a teaspoon or more of raw, unprocessed local honey from as close to where you actually live as possible. Do this one or more times a day to help relieve symptoms. It is often suggested to start this a month or so before allergy season.
A few minor lifestyle changes also can go a long way toward keeping symptoms under control:
- Avoid using window fans to cool rooms, because they can pull pollen indoors.
- Keep windows closed when driving, using the air conditioner if necessary, to avoid allergens.
- You may also opt to have your HVAC checked/cleaned as irritants can get caught up in these systems, keeping a steady stream of allergens circulating through your home.
We look forward to seeing you at the store so we can help you find seasonal allergy relief to suit you! We’re always happy to help!