Spring time, when the flowers start to blossom, trees start to get their leaves back, and a variety of other plants come back to life. Life is in full bloom, you go to take a big inhale to embrace the fresh air and… Ah-Choooo!!!! You find yourself sneezing, blowing your nose, and itching your watery eyes. Yep, it’s that time of year again. It is allergy season. If you suffer from seasonal allergies you know the pain. You want to enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature, but you feel miserable instead. You can take some over the counter allergy pills or a prescription from you doctor. Sometimes they help and sometimes they just make you feel drowsy and off balance. Personally I am not a fan of putting some man-made created chemical in my body to counter the allergies caused by everyday natural life.
Like many people, I, too, deal with mild seasonal allergies, but I also deal with year-round allergies due to dust mites. My allergies became so overwhelming that I started to get frequent and sometimes severe nose bleeds. I went to an allergist to discover that I am highly allergic to dust mites and a few seasonal allergies from grass, trees, and other forms of pollen found in the Portland-Metro area that I live in. He gave me some tips on how to reduce my exposure to dust mites, but that was about as far as his advice went to help combat my allergies. Granted, frequently dusting and vacuuming my carpeted apartment and making sure to throw my pillows in the dryer every other week, has helped, but it still was not enough, especially in the Spring and Fall when outdoor pollens are at their highest.
About a year after I saw the allergist, I went to an Acupuncturist for a pain related issue. In talking with her, we discussed my allergy issues and nose bleeds. Like many acupuncturists, their goal is not only to treat your current symptoms, but to help provide immediate relief by addressing the underlying immune system imbalances that may be the real cause of the allergy. Treatments may include acupuncture, revising your diet, and including the addition of herbal formulas and supplements. She suggested trying a xylitol-based saline nasal spray and some herbal supplements (Quercetin with Bromelain capsules) to help combat my allergies. So I gave them a try. Now, they are not 100% cures, but I have found them to be helpful with my allergies and in reducing my symptoms, in combination with my cleaning/dusting routines. At least, I do not have the side effects of the over-the-counter allergy medications that I have tried in the past.
So, what are some other helpful and more holistic approaches to battling allergy season? I did some research for you:
Foods that you might try to avoid – Foods that are full-fat and dairy products like cheese, milk, and milk chocolate can create more mucus in the body and should be avoided. As well as sugar and soy heavy foods. Reducing your intake of white flours and pastas, dried fruit and wine which often contain sulfates can help reduce your symptoms as well. General rule of thumb, try to avoid/reduce alcohol, caffeine, dairy products, bananas and citrus fruits, food coloring, peanuts, red meats, and wheat.
Foods to include - Curry is said to be rich in turmeric, which helps calm the inflammation. Also, garlic, onions, horseradish and root ginger are all great anti-inflammatories. Adding dark green, leafy vegetables, deep yellow and orange vegetables, and even adding nettles, bamboo shoots, cabbage, beet tops, carrots, and yams into your diet can help reduce your symptoms as well.
Herbal supplements and vitamins to take – Taking Bioflavonoids, such as Queretin, Catechin, or Hesperidin, are natural anti-histamines and are strongly anti-allergenic. I have read that flaxseed or fish oil, probiotics, and multivitamins (of high potency) can help with allergies. Taking Vitamin A, C, E and Zinc daily can also help. (For dosages, please consult with your healthcare professional; doctor or nutritionist.) I have even read several articles that reference the plant extract butterbur, which is thought to reduce airway inflammation.
Some articles that you may find more in depth information on my findings are:
I have also found that using an air purifier, with a HEPA filter, has helped my allergies while inside too. Reducing the pollen, dust, and mold inside the home will help you breathe better. If you do not already own one, or more, then you may want to looking into investing in one. Make sure that you purchase an air purifier for the size of the room you plan on using it in for best results.
I hope some of these tips you will find helpful in your battles with allergy season. Let’s push away the tissue box, take a big breath in, and enjoy the beauty of spring time! Now go outside and play!