Do you suffer from seasonal allergies? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, over 50 million Americans experience seasonal allergies — every year. From itchy eyes to excessive sneezing, seasonal allergies can make spring unbearable. Thankfully, in addition to over-the-counter medications, there are also homeopathic and natural remedies. While certain culprits can make allergies worse, a few simple lifestyle adjustments can protect against both indoor and outdoor allergies.
What Causes Seasonal Allergies?
Seasonal allergies result from exposure to airborne substances. Think: pollen. The most common allergens are trees, grasses, weeds, mold, and chemicals. When we breathe in these pollens, our immune system reacts. In turn, the body triggers an allergic response, releasing a chemical called histamine. Histamines start the process of hustling those allergens out of your body (or off your skin). They can make you sneeze, tear up, or itch. Luckily, there are a variety of natural allergy remedies to help lessen your symptoms.
Symptoms of seasonal allergies
Symptoms range from mild to severe, and common triggers vary throughout the year. Typically, though, symptoms include: nasal congestion, sneezing, itchy / watery eyes, ear congestion, postnasal drainage, and ear congestion. Other adverse effects (although less common) include: headaches, shortness of breath, and coughing. See here, if you’re not sure whether your symptoms indicate allergies, a cold, flu, or COVID-19. As always, check with your primary care physician before diagnosing your symptoms.
PURIFY THE AIR
Last spring, I wrote about 10 simple ways to detox your home. Regular house cleaning purifies the air. In turn, this removes allergy triggers like pollen and mold, relieving your symptoms. Clean or change your air filters every season. Also, don’t forget your shelves, vents, and other places where pollen can collect. Vacuuming, steaming your floors, and change pillowcases are key (for example, allergens can transfer from your hair to your pillow on a nightly basis).
While there is no need to eliminate certain foods from your plate — as I don’t advocate for any type of dieting — it is helpful to be aware of ingredients that can cause flare-ups: conventional dairy, refined sugar, alcohol, and coffee. Instead of removing these foods, simply be mindful of any changes in your allergies when you consume them. Often, allergies are worsened by toxins within the body, forcing the liver to work in overdrive. Allergies can flare up when the liver is having to metabolize everything from stress to antibiotics to processed foods. Try liver supportive foods and herbs such as turmeric, artichoke, citrus fruits, and raw nuts.
CONSUME WHOLE, UNPROCESSED FOODS
As mentioned, certain foods can make allergies worse. Rather than worrying what you should remove your fridge and pantry, think about what you can add. Here are a few examples: spicy foods — like cayenne, garlic, and ginger — can act as sinus decongestants, colorful veggies (carrots, beets, and swiss chard) contain natural compounds to help fight inflammation, vitamin C — from citrus fruits and bell peppers — can reduce histamine levels, and nourishing liquids, like bone broth and tea, can support gut health, boost immunity, and reduce inflammation. I love Cusa’s immune boost tea. Use Edie20 at checkout for a discount.
Furthermore, probiotic-rich foods, like sauerkraut, kombucha, and kimchi, are known to improve digestion, add a variety of good bacteria to the body, and support the immune system. In essence, allergies can be the result of an imbalance in the immune system, causing the body to react too strongly to stimuli. Many studies link the presence of beneficial gut bacteria with reduced allergies.
Because pollen can adhere to mucus membranes, try cleansing your nasal passages with a neti pot. Aim for using your neti pot a few times per day.
Stress hormones wreak havoc in the body. From poor sleep, to spiking cortisol and contributing to high blood pressure, chronic stress causes both a physiological and psychological response. Stress can also weaken the immune system, making seasonal allergies worse. Incorporating stress management can be helpful, such as meditation, moderate exercise, and avoiding an overcommitted schedule.
A nervous system without chronic stress functions more efficiently. One way to release stress on the nervous system is via body work. Think: massage, chiropractic care, or acupuncture. Body work supports the immune system, blood flow, and energy. In fact, studies show that acupuncture can reduce nasal symptoms, providing allergy relief. Because allergy medications do have side effects, acupuncture is a non-drug alternative (or complementary treatment). Keep in mind that chiropractic care and acupuncture are not a substitution for medication as they don’t treat an acute allergic asthmatic event.
Advocates of natural healing suggest using various essential oils to provide allergy relief. Scientifically speaking, high-quality peppermint oil has shown enough anti-inflammatory effects to warrant clinical trials. Another study indicates that frankincense oil can help fight perennial allergic rhinitis. Eucalyptus is another powerful essential oil, which can act as an antimicrobial agent when washing clothes. At any rate, essential oils can be diffused into the air but should be diluted in a carrier oil (like coconut, jojoba, or rosehip) if applied topically.
Image courtesy of Daiga Ellaby.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. This article is not intended to treat, diagnose any illness, or act as a substitute for medical advice. Please speak with your medical provider before altering your lifestyle or begin taking over-the-counter medications for allergies.