It is that time of season, and the warmth came too soon in my area so I unfortunately have my allergies acting up. It has been a struggle this time more than last year and I wondered if there was a way to have avoided this mess?
Maybe part of my lack of prevention might have been when I ran out of Spirulina, which is a super food. This super food is one of several foods that help adjust your body when allergies strike.
So I have been coughing, wheezing, and sneezing and some nights waking up with clogged sinuses or draining sinuses. At one point I almost contacted my Doctor thinking I might need antibiotic due to feeling like I might be getting a bronchial infection? Thankfully the symptoms subsided when I applied certain alternative treatments.
What are allergies and why do they make us so miserable? Allergies are hypersensitive immune responses to substances that either enter or come in contact with the body, such as pet dander, pollen or bee venom. A substance that causes an allergic reaction is called an “allergen”. Allergens can be found in food, drinks or the environment.
Most allergens are harmless. The majority of people are not affected by allergens. If you are allergic to a substance, such as pollen, your immune system reacts to it as if it was a pathogen! A pathogen is a foreign harmful substance, and your body tries to destroy it.
What are allergens that bring us down during the springtime? The most common are pollen, dust mites, mold, and insect stings. My allergen issues are really bad during springtime and also in the fall.
If it’s hard to tell what’s causing them, or if the allergens become too hard for you to handle on your own, see a doctor about getting allergy tests. The tests will help pinpoint exactly what your triggers are. Then make sure you do your research and find the right alternative treatment.
Here are things you need to know about the most common allergen culprits during springtime
Pollen – Many people call it “hay fever,” but pollen from many different plants can trigger an allergy. Symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, and itchy and watery eyes.
Treatments in that can be used are, Salt water nose rinses, Steroid nasal sprays, Antihistamines, Decongestants that you either take by mouth or as a nasal spray, Allergy shots or tablets which is immunotherapy.
During an attack you might want to stay indoors on windy days or when pollen counts are high, and make sure to keep windows closed. Use an air conditioner if you need to. Don’t hang clothes out to dry when pollen fills air.
Dust Mites – These critters are so tiny you can’t see them without a microscope. Symptoms are similar to those caused by pollen allergy, but often happen year round instead of just during certain seasons.
To prevent dust mites you might want to put dust mite covers over mattresses, pillows, and box springs, Use hypoallergenic pillows, Wash sheets weekly in hot water, Keep all areas of your home, especially the bedroom, free of stuff that collects dust such as stuffed animals, curtains, and carpet.
Mold – Molds are tiny fungi with spores that float in the air like pollen. They thrive in damp areas such as basements or bathrooms and in piles of leaves or grass. The symptoms of mold are similar to those of pollen and dust mite allergies and include sneezing, congestion, itchy and watery eyes, runny nose, and coughing,
Treatment is similar to that for dust mite and pollen allergies. During an attack you might want to avoid mold and get rid of things that encourage its growth. Repair any water damage or leaks in your home, you may not want to keep plants inside because their soil can hold mold. If you rake leaves in the fall, wear a mask.
Insect Sting – Insects that cause allergic reactions include various bees, fire ants, yellow jackets, hornets, and wasps. If an insect stings you, you can expect pain, swelling, and redness and heat around the sting site. Those symptoms can last for a few days.
It’s rare, but some people get a dangerous, full-body reaction called anaphylaxis, which needs emergency treatment. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include, Trouble breathing, Becoming hoarse, Wheezing, Swelling especially around the face, eyelids, ears, mouth, hands, or feet, Belly cramps, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, Feeling dizzy or passing out.
To avoid getting stung you might want to make yourself unattractive to insects. Don’t wear brightly colored clothes and avoid scented lotions or cosmetics. Keep insecticide handy, wear shoes outdoors, and stay away from outdoor garbage. Talk to your doctor about allergy shots. They can help prevent anaphylaxis.
When an insect stings you, then try to remove the stinger safely. You can take an antihistamine by mouth to reduce itching, swelling, and hives by mouth to reduce itching, swelling, and hives.
Try a pain reliever and use an ice pack to dull pain caused by the sting. In some cases, people get corticosteroids to curb swelling and inflammation. If you have symptoms of anaphylaxis, you need to use an epinephrine auto injector and call 911.
Here is a list of natural remedies that may help with allergies.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is an age-old remedy that is often suggested for a variety of health conditions. I’ve personally used it for allergy relief with great success. The theory behind this remedy is that it has the ability to reduce mucous production and cleanse the lymphatic system making it useful for allergies. It is also said to helpful for many other health issues!
What I do with this natural remedy? I mix a teaspoon of organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar with “The Mother” into a tablespoon and follow it with raw honey three times a day. This helped me with relief of acute allergy symptoms and seemed to help prevent allergy attacks as well.
Neti Pot and Saline Rinse
I have not tried the Neti pot because I do not like water up my nose, however I have friends who swear by it! The basic theory is that you use a Neti Pot filled with a sterile saline solution to flush out the sinuses of allergens and irritations. I recently had this recommended to me by conventional and alternative doctors, and it seems that it doesn’t really have any negative side effects.
How do you use this? Either use a pre-made saline rinse or make your own by dissolving 1 teaspoon of Himalayan or sea salt in a quart of boiled distilled water. Cool completely and put in the Neti Pot. Pour through one nostril and let it drain out the other.
Quercetin is a natural bioflavonoid that is said to help stabilize mast cells to keep them from releasing histamine. It is also a potent antioxidant that is said to help reduce inflammation. It is best used as a long-term remedy and many people start taking it about four to six weeks before allergy season to help prevent allergy symptoms.
As with any herb, you should check with your doctor before using, especially if you have a liver problem, are pregnant, or are on hormonal contraceptives.
How do you use this? Though Quercetin is naturally found in foods like citrus and broccoli, it is very difficult to get the amount needed to relieve allergies from food alone. A supplemental dose can be helpful for preventing allergies or helping acute symptoms. Not recommended during pregnancy or nursing though some practitioners feel it is safe after the first trimester.
Nettle leaf is another natural antihistamine that can be very effective as it naturally blocks the body’s ability to produce histamine. It grows in many places and can be made in to a tincture or tea, but for allergy relief, capsules made from dried nettle leaves are the easiest and most effective option.
Nettle leaf can also be used in combination with other herbs to make a soothing herbal tea for allergy relief. It is often mixed with peppermint leaf, and at times red raspberry leaf to make a refreshing allergy relief tea.
How do you use this? Either brew a tea or use capsules for acute relief of allergy symptoms.
Allergies are the result of an imbalance in the immune system that causes the body to react too strongly to stimuli. New research links the presence of beneficial bacteria in the gut with reduced incidence of allergies. Evidence is found that a mother’s gut bacteria during pregnancy and nursing can impact a child’s likelihood of getting allergies throughout life.
While we can’t do much about our mothers’ diets while they were pregnant, balancing gut bacteria now and consuming enough beneficial bacteria can have a positive effect on allergies now. Fermented foods and drinks like Kombucha or Kefir can help boost gut bacteria, as can a high quality probiotic capsule.
Local Raw Honey
Raw honey use, is very popular in my area, and though we cannot say that it treats, diagnoses or cures one from allergies, the theory is that consuming local raw 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 have a downside.
How do you use this? Consume a teaspoon or more of raw, unprocessed local honey from as close to where you live as possible. Do this one or more times a day to help relieve symptoms. Again I use this along with Apple Cider vinegar and have felt a lot of relief. It is often suggested to start this a month or so before allergy season.
Dietary changes can be the answer to allergy problems. I have been told to lay off diary products while suffering allergies. Those in need of gut healing or rebalancing of their body may benefit from these changes.
One such study found that the staples of a heart-healthy Mediterranean diet, such as nuts, grapes, oranges, apples, and fresh tomatoes, could provide allergy relief. Researchers focused on Grecian children who followed the particular diet and were less likely to show allergic nasal symptoms or asthma.
Going back to local raw honey. Eating honey produced by bees in your region can help relieve allergies. The bees transfer pollen from flower blossoms to honey, so if you eat a little honey every day you’ll gradually become inoculated against the irritating effects of pollen.
A small 2011 study from Finland that compared regular honey and pollen-laced honey did report modestly encouraging results, an earlier study in the United States found that unaltered local honey had no impact on allergy symptoms.
“Magnesium-rich foods, such as almonds, cashews, wheat bran, and kelp, are excellent foods for allergy relief because magnesium is a bronchodilator and an antihistamine.” Magnesium also has a calming effect on the muscles of the bronchial tubes and the whole body, which can provide allergy relief, too.
One study out of Brigham Young University showed that animals deficient in magnesium had higher levels of histamine in their blood when exposed to allergens than did animals with adequate magnesium levels. However I would not recommend this diet change to those who are allergic to nuts.
High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters ease symptoms by trapping allergens and other airborne irritants, such as pet dander and dust. Portable air cleaners equipped with HEPA filters can purify the air in bedrooms and other confined spaces, but whole-house systems that incorporate HEPA filters into your home’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system are generally more effective.
Air conditioners and dehumidifiers also can help clean air. They remove moisture from the air and floor, which will curb the growth of the mold and mildew that can worsen allergies.
Herbs and supplements
Several herbs and supplements—including Spirulina, eyebright, and goldenseal have been studied for allergy relief. The plant extract butterbur, which is thought to reduce airway inflammation, has produced what are perhaps the strongest results. In a pair of clinical trials led by a Swiss research team, butterbur tablets eased symptoms just as much as the over-the-counter antihistamines fexofenadine and cetirizine, respectively.
One doctor suggests that his patients first try bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapple that is sometimes used to curb inflammation after sinus surgery. “It reduces swelling and improves breathing,” he says. “It’s a safe first step.”
Anyone who has even been stuffed-up knows the impressive ability of a steaming hot shower to soothe sinuses and clear nasal passages, if only temporarily. But showers offer an added benefit for springtime allergy sufferers. A quick rinse after spending time outdoors can help remove allergens from your skin and hair and prevent allergens from spreading to clothes, furniture, pillowcases, and other surfaces where they’re likely to bother you.
This is especially true if you’ve been gardening. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology recommends stripping off your shoes and clothes and showering immediately if you’ve been weeding, pruning, or planting.
Don’t feel like getting soaked and toweling off every time your sinuses get clogged? Other methods of inhaling steam are store bought vaporizers. These devices can flush out mucus and moisten dry nasal passages nearly as well as a shower.
The easiest method is simply to pour boiling water into a bowl or other container, drape a towel over your head to form a tent, and inhale deeply through your nose for five to 10 minutes. If you find yourself really clogged up, this may be more convenient than taking several showers a day.
The strong, piney aroma of eucalyptus oil can supercharge steam inhalation, helping to open your sinuses and nasal passages further. Some research suggests the essential oil, extracted from the leaves of the eucalyptus tree, has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, but if nothing else the vapor provides a bracing, menthol-like sensation that can make breathing seem easier.
Try adding a few drops of oil to a bowl of steaming water, or to the floor of the shower before you step in. Just don’t swallow the oil or apply it directly to your skin; it’s toxic in concentrated amounts.
Many people swear by the sinus-clearing effects of spicy foods like chili peppers, wasabi, Dijon mustard, fresh garlic, and horseradish. There is an active ingredient in garlic (allyl thiosulfinate) and a similar ingredient in wasabi (isothiocyanates) that does have a temporary decongestant effect.
Foods with a kick can definitely start your eyes watering and open your nasal passages, but it’s unclear whether they provide anything more than fleeting relief.
Holding your face over a hot cup of tea may open your nasal passages, but the steam isn’t the only thing that’s beneficial. The menthol in peppermint tea, for instance, seems to work as a decongestant and expectorant, meaning it can break up mucus and help clear it out of your nose and throat.
Green tea contains a compound (methylated epigallocatechin gallate) that has been shown in lab tests to have antioxidant properties that inhibit allergic reactions. These results may not necessarily translate into noticeable symptom relief for spring allergy sufferers, however. If you do have spring allergies, you’ll probably want to stay away from chamomile, as it can cause reactions in people allergic to ragweed.
This is a lot of information to consider, however I hope that you find one or more of these natural remedies to assist you during our Spring time season. I know I have learned a lot in this research and found natural remedies that I will apply going forward.
Thank you for reading!
Neil Saint Angeland
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