January 19, 2017 | Categories: Health
If seasonal allergies leave you feeling congested, sneezing, coughing, suffering from headaches, and with itchy eyes, you’re probably either trying everything you can to get relief, or, telling your friends you’re staying in until the pollen counts decrease. “For some people, seasonal allergies are temporary local symptoms, and for others it’s more of a systemic effect where their allergies affect their mood, energy, and sleep,” says naturopathic physician Amy Rothenberg, board member of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, based in Enfield, Conn. “I’m more concerned if I have a patient like the latter because it can affect their lifestyle and their desire to connect socially.” Luckily, there are plenty of solutions you can try that don’t involve a prescription or over-the-counter medications. Practice some of these preventative measures and tactics to relieve allergy symptoms and help cut down on overall allergic load so you’ll be more likely to feel better faster.
1. Reduce your exposure. The first step in relieving allergy symptoms should be decreasing the amount of time you spend being exposed to your triggers. If you suffer from outdoor seasonal allergies, be sure to shower and night and wash your hair to make sure you get any lingering pollen spores out. Try to stay indoors if you can when pollen counts are highest, in the morning, use your air conditioner to prevent pollen from getting in, and never let your clean clothes dry on a line outside as they can become saturated with pollen. If your allergies are made worse by dust mites and other indoor allergens, wash your linens in hot water weekly, keep humidity levels low, and try to vacuum and sweep often, suggests the American Academy of Allergy, Immunology, and Asthma.
2. Try this flavonoid combo. If you’re suffering from a runny nose, itchy eyes, a little cough, and feeling fatigued, that’s due to the release of histamine in the body. You may have taken antihistamines in the past to address these symptoms, but if you find those pills make you feel tired, dried out, or you want a more natural solution, look to a natural supplement that will stabilize the histamine mast cell membranes, called a bioflavonoid. One of the most powerful bioflavonoids is quercetin, and when you use it in conjunction with vitamin C, you’ll increase the efficacy of the bioflavonoid, says Dr. Rothenberg. “This combination of quercetin and vitamin C can reduce the amount of histamines released in the body,” Dr. Rothenberg says. It doesn’t have a side effect profile and is a naturally- occurring substance often found in fruits and vegetables but in order to get it in the therapeutic range for someone with allergies, she recommends taking it in the pill form two to three times a day.
3. Take stinging nettle. This all-natural supplement can decrease local allergy symptoms, including sneezing and itchy eyes, Dr. Rothenberg says. In one study, nettle extract led to slight reductions in reducing allergic reaction and inflammatory response in people who suffered from allergic rhinitis, or hay fever.
4. Use a neti pot. This container can rinse mucus from your nasal cavities and is used for stuffy noses, sinus problems, and colds. If you’re using tap water, make sure it’s been boiled for several minutes and then allowed to cool until it’s lukewarm. Follow the directions that come with your neti pot on how to use it properly. You can use the neti pot preventatively before allergy symptoms arise or you can use this natural remedy at the first sign of congestion to reduce stuffiness. Limit your neti pot practice to three or four times a week so you don’t wash all the good “flora” out of your nasal passages, suggests Dr. Rothenberg.
5. Get your gut healthier. When you have an allergy, the immune system is overreacting to something that’s not dangerous, says Dr. Rothenberg. Since 80 percent of your body’s immune cells are in the gut, it’s important to make sure you have the right flora in your gastrointestinal tract. Eat cultured foods, like yogurt and probiotic beverages, and drink bone broth to help heal your gut, suggests Dr. Rothenberg. Those with food sensitivities might want to be extra careful not to consume the foods they’re allergic to or sensitive to during allergy season since they’ll further strain their already-compromised gut that’s responding to seasonal allergies, Dr. Rothenberg advises after witnessing this in several of her patients. “Improving overall health and gut health with diet changes will help your immune system,” says Lily Pien, MD, Allergy and Clinical Immunology at the Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio. While the definition of a “healthy gut” can vary from individual to individual as well as researchers, the thought is that a “good, healthy gut” is not inflamed, says Dr. Pien. If it’s not inflamed, it can process foods normally and in a healthy manner so there won’t be an immune response and cause further health problems.
6. Rinse your eyes, nose, and mouth with saline. If your local symptoms have been affected by airborne pollen, rinsing with isotonic saline is a good way to clean the mouth and wash out the allergen, says Dr. Pien. She recommends DIY saline rinses for the eyes and mouth that you can find on the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology website. The most important thing is to remember to make sure any water you’re using is as clean as possible by boiling it and allowing it to cool down. To relieve aggravated eyes y, Dr. Rothenberg recommends putting two or three drops of the herb goldenseal into an eye cup then adding hot water so the alcohol burns off and evaporates. Once the solution has completely cooled, do an eye wash (and remove contacts if you wear them). Lean forward against the sink, put the eye cup against the open eye, then tilt head back so liquid goes into open eye. Look all around and get a good rinse, then dump out the solution. “This is very soothing to the eyes,” says Dr. Rothenberg. “It will help them feel refreshed, less itchy, and helps get some of the red out.”
7. Find healthy ways to reduce stress. Stress has a widespread effect on the body in general and can affect and weaken the immune system, according to research. “Stress can affect the way patients think and react to the problems they experience from allergies, and how they follow through with strategies and find solutions,” Dr. Pien says. “My stressed patients who suffer from allergies tend to have exacerbated allergy symptoms when their stress levels are highest,” Dr. Rothenberg says. “I’ll talk with patients to identify their stressors and discuss what they can do to lessen the impact of that stress, like exercise, do yoga, practice mindfulness meditation, or reconnect with hobbies they enjoy,” Dr. Rothenberg says.
8. Get an energy boost. If your allergies leave you feel zapped, Dr. Rothenberg recommends ginseng to help with energy levels or an herb called ashwagandha, which helps support adrenal function. Studies have found it may increase stamina, protect against stress-induced gastric ulcers, and have anti-inflammatory benefits. “We find that in some patients who are stressed and find that stress is affecting their allergies, supporting their adrenal function with this herb seems to make them feel better,” she says.
9. Improve your overall health. Getting more sleep or exercise is a good idea to practice throughout the year and may help you have more energy throughout allergy season. “We feel good health practices in your environment can help with allergies,” Dr. Pien says.
“Many people don’t know that their allergies can get better,” Dr. Rothenberg says. “Even if you’ve had allergies for decades, your symptoms can improve without arduous lifestyle changes or treatments,” says Dr. Rothenberg. “I would encourage people to find a naturopathic physician and get some help for natural ways to cure their allergy symptoms.”
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