Although spring and summer have all been delayed, summer is finally here and that means so is allergy season! Yes, it’s that time of year to soak up the sun, pools and BBQ’s. But it is also allergy season, time for sneezing, runny/itchy eyes and nose. It is important to know that there are a few alternative and natural allergy remedies that will help you with seasonal allergies and help you get out enjoy nature.
Of the millions of people suffering from seasonal allergies, many still opt for the pharmaceutical treatments. These can be found over the counter or prescribed by our medical doctor for relief, with mixed results. Many people are also under the impression that these allergy medications not only do not work but are expensive and usually come with many unwanted side effects, such as drowsiness, cognitive issues and irritations .
Seasonal bouts with allergies, be it pollen, ragweed or anything else take a toll on our moral, and wellbeing. It also affects our ability to function at an optimal level. Many of the common complaints felt by allergy sufferers include mental fatigue – feeling sad and unmotivated. It is also a known fact that allergy sufferers are more prone to migraine headaches than non-allergy sufferers. As if the allergy symptoms weren’t enough!
Learning these facts is not something that makes you want to go out and play outside on a beautiful day. In fact, it makes you want to stay indoors, in the comfort of your own home and avoid any triggers. Maybe this is a significant reason why so many people have elected to stay indoors and children don’t spend as much time outdoors. Not to mention the prevalence of social media, television, game consoles and well the list goes on, but I digress.
Let’s stick to the topic at hand and get back to alternative and natural allergy remedies, so that those who do want to get out and play, have the option to do so without all the side effects of conventional antihistamines.
Without getting too technical or scientific, I would like to give you a little explanation as to how allergies manifest. Imagine a prickly invader entering your nasal passages and attaching itself onto your soft mucous membranes. Your mucous membranes pretty much line your entire body, including your bronchial and nasal passages. These passages contain immune cells, called mast cells, which are loaded with histamines. Now all these mast cells have receptors attached to them. When one of these allergens (pollen, ragweed, peanuts, mold, pet dander, etc.) land on these receptors they trigger the mast cells, which in turn respond by releasing histamine and other chemicals. Histamine is responsible for initiating a series of defence mechanisms that are designed to help the body get rid of the intruder. These reactions consist of sneezing, watery eyes and itching. For those suffering from the additional burden of asthma, the reaction will include swelling of the bronchial tubes, thus inducing the difficulty of breath.
When one of these allergens: pollen, ragweed, mold, pet dander, etc. land on these receptors, they trigger the mast cells. This, in turn, responds by releasing histamine and other chemicals. Histamines are responsible for initiating a series of defence mechanisms that are designed to help the body get rid of the intruder. These reactions consist of sneezing, watery eyes and itching. For those suffering from the additional burden of asthma, the reaction will include swelling of the bronchial tubes, thus inducing the difficulty of breath.
Alternative and Natural Allergy Remedies
As with all allopathic medicine, they aim to treat the symptom and not the cause – not that there is anything wrong with that if you are ok with that. For me, I am more about the holistic approach. I would rather equip my body with the resources and defences it needs to defeat and fight off whatever invader is present, rather than merely masking the symptom while my body is under attack – but that’s just me!
Below is a list of a few alternative and natural approaches to help you ward off allergies. This is not for everyone, and just like medications and vitamins, certain methods may work for some and not for others. Keep in mind we are all individuals, with different makeups and genetics, so we all react differently – but it doesn’t hurt to try.
The beauty of natural remedies and using what Gaia (Mother Earth for the newbies!) has provided us with is that we can be assured that we are getting non-adulterated, non-synthetic remedies. Additionally, those remedies may not help what we are looking to rectify but may offer us other benefits – again the beauty of the holistic approach. Everything Gaia offers us has more than one advantage and is good for more than one thing.
Here are some drug-free alternative and natural allergy remedies – hope one of these works for you.
Use a Neti Pot for Allergies
A Neti pot is a small vessel-like pot shaped like Aladdin’s lamp. The Net Pot has been used in India for thousands of years (Ayurveda). Its primary purpose is that of the modern-day saline rinse (think Hydrasense), which is used for flushing out the sinuses/nasal irrigation and keep them clear. It is an excellent technique for flushing out and reducing inflammation in the sinuses, which is usually the main culprit after an attack from an allergen on the mucosal lining.
Although Neti Pots are inexpensive, you could settle for your cupped hand instead. Flushing your sinuses is a relatively straight forward and is at the top of our list of remedies for allergies.
How to Use A Neti Pot
Simply mix a quarter to a half teaspoon of non-iodized table salt (or Himalayan) into a cup of lukewarm water and pour it into the pot. (Some of us are more sensitive, so you be the judge of the salinity – more or less is a personal thing.)
-Simply mix a quarter to a half teaspoon of non-iodized table salt (or Himalayan) into a cup of lukewarm water and pour it into the pot. (Some of us are more sensitive, so you be the judge of the salinity – more or less is a personal thing.)
-Put your head over a sink and tilt it to the right. Place the spout of the Neti Pot into your left nostril and pour half the solution into your sinuses. This will be uncomfortable at first, but you will get used to it. Once done, repeat the process on the other side with the other half of the solution.
We recommend using your pot about twice a day during allergy season – morning and after spending time outdoors. Using your Neti Pot before bed is also a good idea. Here is a little secret – it is also good to prevent snoring and promote optimal breathing. Ever wonder you never suffer from congestion or sinus issues when are on vacation and in the ocean. If not, take note of it next time you are.
Quercetin is a bioflavonoid, which is a compound that is derived from plants. It is a mast cell stabilizer, which simply means it strengthens them and makes them more resilient so that they do not release histamine at first contact with an allergen. Quercetin is also a well-known antioxidant, which helps clean up free radicals, which are molecules in your body that cause oxidation and cell damage.
Common plants and fruits known to contain high levels of quercetin include:
-Omega-3s (cold-water fish, walnuts and flaxseed oil, as well as grass-fed meat and eggs)
-Citrus fruits, apples
-Broccoli, onions, tomatoes, parsley
Now don’t go to your local market and back up the truck just yet. People with allergies will need to supplement, at least initially. There is no way to eat enough of these fruits and veggies to get the required quercetin. The recommended dose for supplementation is 1,000 milligrams a day, taken between meals. It would be wise to start supplementation at least 30-60 days before you expect allergies, this way your bloodstream and body will have a good supply of quercetin floating around.
CAUTION: Those with liver issues should consult their doctor before supplementing with quercetin.
One of the most common natural antihistamines out there is known as Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica). This weed works in similar ways as most of the common over the counter antihistamines we have all been using to treat allergies. The bright side is that it has none of the unwanted side effects of dry mouth and drowsiness. Nettle actually inhibits the body’s ability to produce histamine. It’s a common weed in many parts of the United States. The most practical medicinal form is a freeze-dried extract of the leaves sold in capsules. Taking about 300 milligrams daily will offer relief for most people, although the effects may last only a few hours.
Butterbur (Petasites hybridus), a weed, is another alternative to antihistamines. Butterbur has its origin in Western Europe, but not nearly as available in North America. During the times of no refrigeration, broad leaves were used to wrap butter during warm spells, thus adopting the name butterbur.
CAUTION: Butterbur is in the same family as ragweed, so it could worsen allergy symptoms in some cases. Taking butterbur over a long period has not been verified nor tested. Other alternatives you could research would include: Echinacea, Eyebright and Golden Seal.
These are known as allergy shots and have been used widely to inject patients with diluted doses of common allergens to help build immunity over time. The problem with this is that these shots can take three to five years to be effective. Also, there has been a small percentage of people who have reported suffering severe reactions to this method.
This method is only being mentioned due to its popularity and prevalence in North America but has been banned in several countries around the world. Although I am not a fan of synthetic or invasive remedies, this one is the least detrimental.
Whether you suffer from seasonal or chronic allergies, these alternative and natural allergy remedies should help you get out into nature and at least endure the allergens.
Please comment if you like this post or if you have had any experience with the remedies mentioned above.
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