Are you finding yourself congested with headaches, brain fog, and watery or itchy eyes? It’s that time of the year again! Along with this nicer weather, comes allergy season. Allergens from pollen, plants, grass, mold and insect bites can lead to dreaded and unwanted symptoms that many face. Fortunately, there is no need to constantly grab for the Kleenex or Benadryl, as there is many nutritional, supplemental, and lifestyle changes that can dramatically reduce your symptoms, or even make you allergy free!
What Causes Allergies?
Allergies occur when the immune system hyper-reacts to a foreign particle, also known as an allergen. When your body encounters an allergen, your plasma cells release a specific antibody to that allergen. That antibody attaches to the surface of your mast cells, releasing chemicals such as histamine, leukotrienes and prostaglandins to try and counteract the allergen. These chemicals cause an inflammatory cascade in your body. This leads to itchy and watery eyes, congestion, sneezing, coughing, dizziness, brain fog, fatigue, skin rashes, or swelling.
It’s no wonder that many turn to prescribed or over-the-counter medications to counter their allergy symptoms. However, these medications can interrupt your natural immune system function, and have other deleterious side effects. Prescription and over-the-counter medications do help to alleviate and hide allergic symptoms, but they don’t help with addressing the root cause. By watching what you eat, regenerating your immune system, staying hydrated, and improving your home environment, you can improve your allergies naturally.
Nutrition and Allergies
The more you can control inflammation through your diet, the better your allergy symptoms will be. Focus on eating anti-inflammatory foods such as vegetables, fruit, fresh herbs & spices, pastured animal products, and wild-caught fish. Avoid eating foods such as sugar, processed carbohydrates, vegetable oils, and conventional dairy. Replace sugar with raw, local honey, which can be very effective at helping with seasonal allergies. Add honey to: green tea (which can also combat allergies), plain, grass-fed yogurt, or take a spoonful every morning. Along with honey, bee pollen can be quite helpful in reducing histamine reactions. Consider sprinkling bee pollen on your smoothie, salad or over yogurt. Bee pollen can cause serious allergic reactions in some people, so be cautious if you’ve never consumed it before.
You may also want to consider sipping on stinging nettle tea throughout the day, as stinging nettle reduces inflammation and allergy symptoms. Last, consume quercetin-rich foods such as onions, apples, grapes, berries, green peppers, asparagus, broccoli and tomatoes. Quercetin is an anti-oxidant that reduces inflammation and allergies.
Supplements and Allergies
Along with watching your diet, consider supplementing with the following nutrients proven to improve allergies (all of which can be found at Total Health in Menomonee Falls and New Berlin):
- Butterbur extract
- Vitamin C
- Antronex by Standard Process
- Histo-X by Apex
- Allerplex by Standard Process
Lifestyle Changes for Allergies
By making lifestyle changes in your home environment, you can greatly reduce or eliminate allergy symptoms. Consider using a neti-pot, which is a small container with a spout used to rinse your nasal cavity to reduce congestion and sinus headaches. Adding eucalyptus or frankincense essential oil to your neti-pot can enhance your relief as well.
You may want to consider purchasing a HEPA air filter for the rooms you spend the most time in. It will filter allergen particles in the air. If you have pets, do your best to keep them out of your bedroom. Since they carry pollen in their fur, they can bring it into the bedroom and disrupt your sleep. Pollen can also collect on carpet and furniture. So vacuum frequently, and consider using throw rugs on wooden floors rather than carpeting.
For those that like to garden, consider wearing a mask and gloves, and once done, shower and wash your clothes. You may also want to avoid synthetic fibers, which allow pollen to stick to you. Instead, use natural fibers such as cotton. Lastly, exercise indoors, or make sure to exercise outdoors before dawn. Late afternoon or early evening is when pollen counts are the lowest.
Do you have any specific questions on natural approaches to seasonal allergies? Please give the clinic at Total Health a call at 262-251-2929 for a complementary phone consult with one of the practitioners.