If you're a seasonal allergy sufferer, you know that few things can drain the joy out of your day like the misery of seasonal allergy symptoms. Seasonal allergy symptoms are mainly reactions to pollens from trees, weeds and grasses. The small molecule histamine is the body’s response mechanism to allergies from pollens. Histamine production from an allergic reaction causes many of the symptoms associated with seasonal allergies. Common symptoms can include:
· Sneezing, Runny nose,
· Watering eyes,
· Tired or irritable,
· Nasal congestion,
· Itchy eyes or throat,
· Coughing, wheezing, or difficulty breathing,
· Sinus pain, headaches,
· Skin rashes and itching.
There are many over-the-counter drugs available to help with seasonal allergy symptoms. These allergy medications can bring relief, but like any conventional drugs, they are not without drawbacks and frustrating side effects. Thankfully there are many natural remedies, which are just as effective and have fewer side effects. These remedies can be used in combination or separately depending on what you find works best for you.
Boosting your immune system or, in Chinese medicine terminology, “strengthening the constitution” is a good place to start with supporting your body naturally through allergy season. Along with boosting the immune system, blocking your histamine response is important for helping you not suffer through annoying allergy symptoms. Natural antihistamine supplements can help you control your allergies. Good immune system boosters and natural anti-histamines to choose include:
Probiotics: Most people associate probiotics—a.k.a. “good” bacteria, with supporting digestion, but they also play a role in keeping your immune system well balanced. Strains of probiotics that are beneficial for helping support the immune system include Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, Bifidobacterium lactis and Acidophilus. Look for these strains to be included when purchasing a probiotic.
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis): Goldenseal may be helpful for seasonal allergies due to berberine, the active ingredient in goldenseal. Berberine has antibacterial and immune-enhancing properties that can reduce your seasonal allergy symptoms.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, immune system booster, and antihistamine. It works to decrease your body’s histamine response, which helps decrease common allergy symptoms. Vitamin C works well in combination with Quercetin, a powerful flavonoid that enhances the effects of vitamin C.
Quercetin: Is a natural antihistamine that can be found in onions, apples, and berries. Quercetin has been shown to inhibit certain compounds that typically affect sinus and respiratory health. However, Quercetin is not soluble in water causing it to be a poorly absorbed nutrient. Because of this, quercetin should also be taken in combination with Bromelain. Bromelain is a protein-digesting enzyme from pineapples, and increases the absorption of Quercetin.
Bromelain: is an enzyme found in pineapple and has proven mucolytic properties. As such, bromelain supports normal mucousal tissue function. It helps lessen mucus production in your nasal passages and also reduces sinus inflammation and swelling associated with hay fever and other allergic disorders.
Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica): Is another natural antihistamine, however it usually does not cause the drowsiness and dry mouth associated with many pharmacological antihistamines. Nettle inhibits your body’s ability to produce histamines. The recommended dose is about 300 mg nettle extract (freeze-dried) daily.
Finally, no one wants to be friends with the Kleenex box. Therefore finding natural ways to reduce sinus congestion and runny noses is a must. Good Kleenex reducers, I mean sinus draining support supplements include:
Eucalyptus oil: This pure essential oil can be healing to mucus membranes and relieve occasional sinus congestion by helping to maintain healthy sinus drainage.
N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC): An amino acid that is a natural mucolytic, NAC reduces and thins out mucus. Less mucus equals decreased Kleenex use!
A great natural product we sell in our apothecary is, Natural D-Hist. This product is great way to get the recommended combination of vitamin C, Quercetin, stinging nettle leaf, bromelein, and N-acetyl cysteine all in one place.
Lastly, a simple, inexpensive and very beneficial practice you can do at home is flushing out your nasal passages with a neti pot or a large squeeze bottle if you do not have a neti pot. A neti pot helps to flush out allergens and irritants from your sinuses using a saltwater solution. The saltwater solution can be purchased at drugstores or you can very easily make your own solution. To mix it yourself, combine 1 quart of distilled or boiled (then cooled) water; 2 to 3 tsp non-iodized salt (Celtic sea salt); and 1 tsp baking soda. Put about 8 oz at a time in the Neti Pot or squeeze bottle and tilt your head forward over the sink while you pour/squeeze the solution in one nostril and let it drain out the other. Tip: Pant like a puppy, which lifts the palate and closes off the back of the nose so you don’t get that drowning sensation.
You do not have to suffer through allergy season, but it is up to you to find which products work the best for you. Do not get discouraged if the first product you try does not work for you. Each person will respond differently to each one of these natural products. Keep trying until you find the right combination that works for you.
Note: Do not take any of these supplements if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. In addition, each may interact with certain prescription medications, including blood thinners, steroids, chemotherapy drugs and blood pressure medicines. Talk to your doctor before consuming one or more of these herbal remedies.
Food recommendations to help with natural allergy relief:
Omega-3 fatty acids: Research has found that people who have diets rich in of omega-3 fatty acids suffer from fewer allergy symptoms. Besides taking fish oil, some goods sources of omega-3 fatty acids are wild caught salmon, grass fed meat, and eggs.
Hot peppers: Feeling stuffed up? Hot chili peppers, horseradish, and hot mustards work as natural decongestants.
Locally produced honey: Many believe that consuming locally produced honey, which contains pollen spores picked up by the bees from your local plants, can act as a natural “allergy vaccine.” By introducing a small amount of allergen into your system (from eating the honey), your immune system is activated and over time can build up your natural immunity against it. Just be careful to consume honey moderately as it’s high in fructose.
Allergy-soothing tea: Warm liquids soothe the throat and nasal passages. So brew a pot of herbal tea for yourself (Sweeten, if necessary, with a natural sweetener such as stevia or raw honey). Good teas to choose from are licorice, rose hips, nettle, and red clover to help calm inflammation and provide symptom relief.
Avoid dairy, sugar, wheat and food additives: These can cause your body to produce excess mucus, which causes congestion and nasal irritation. Reducing the amount you eat will help make you less sensitive to pollens and other irritants.
Drink water: Fluids help clear airways by hydrating mucous membranes: The wetter the membrane, the thinner the mucus and the more easily it can drain.