Itchy eyes, sneezing, runny noses… It’s springtime, and the allergies are in full swing. According to Dr. Mercola (mercola.com), “airborne pollen is the most common cause of seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis. Add to that you may be an asthma sufferer whose symptoms are even worse during allergy season, even life threatening.”
Dr. Mercola also reports that allergy-driven asthma affects 10 million Americans, rates that have doubled since 1980.
Climate changes are being linked to longer and more severe allergy seasons, so what to do? I happen to be one of those who suffer from spring allergies, tree and grass pollen really get to me. I have had great success with some non-toxic remedies for getting through the season without the over-the-counter medications that can leave us feeling groggy with dry mouths.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, asthma is a lung disease (acute or chronic) that causes great difficulty in breathing and is marked by wheezing. When there is an obstruction of airflow, asthma attacks can take place, sending people to the hospital. Steroid inhalers are miracle workers for someone having an asthma attack. Steroids do the trick but the side effects are pretty nasty, including difficulty sleeping, increased appetite, weight gain and mood changes. Unfortunately, sometimes that’s the only thing that can help someone in an acute situation.
Triggers to asthma are allergies, air pollution, emotions, weather conditions, sulfites in foods and certain medications and respiratory infections.
Non-toxic Easy Remedies
Here are some of my favorite, non toxic, easy, remedies for reducing allergy symptoms:
Probiotics – According to Wellness Mama, “allergies are a result of an imbalance in the immune system that causes the body to react too strongly to a stimuli. New research links notes the reduction in allergies to the consistent presence of beneficial bacteria in the gut. There is also evidence linking reduced allergies to children born to mothers with good gut bacteria during pregnancy and those who also nursed.”
- Neti Pots and Saline Rinses – Flushing allergens and irritants from the nasal cavity help tremendously with allergies (I’m a huge fan!)
- Adding HEPA Filters to Your Home – Traps airborne pollutants and irritants such as dust and pet dander as well
- Adding Air Conditioners and Dehumidifiers – Removes moisture from the air, greatly reducing the growth of mold and mildew which can make allergies worse when indoors
- Add Plants – Works to clean the air. See my recent post on The ABCs of VOCs in the home for a list of the top air cleaning plants
- Boiron’s Sedalia – Tablets that dissolve on the tongue several times a day. I keep them in my bag, too. (Again, a huge fan) No side-effects or weird taste. Available online or at many natural food stores
- BioAllers Homeopathic Tincture – Drops under the tongue several times a day. There are bottles that are specific to trees in our gardening zones which targets the primary allergens in our residential regions. Works brilliantly for our 4-year-old grandson without any drug side effects
Daily Food Remedies for Reducing Allergy Symptoms
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Reduces mucous production, which helps hugely with congestion and drainage
Supplemental Quercitin – Eat more foods like apples, citrus and broccoli to aid in stabilizing histamine in our systems. Start these foods a good 4-6 weeks before allergy season for maximum benefit. Quercitin is also a terrific antioxidant
- Vitamin E – Dark, leafy vegetables and egg yolks are high in Vitamin E
- Omega-3s – found in oily fish like salmon and cod, and grass fed meat
- Pineapple – Contains an anti-inflammatory called bromelain
- Tumeric and Ginger – Beneficial anti-inflammatory effects
- Local Honey – Contains pollen spores picked up by the bees in your local plants. Introducing small amounts here and there can provide you natural immunity over time
- Vitamin D – Very few foods contain Vitamin D so supplements are recommended: low levels of Vitamin D have been linked to more severe allergies and asthma in children. Click here to see my recent blog post on Vitamin D.
Click here for Easy Home-Made Food Remedies for Seasonal Allergies
And, if you are an Asthma sufferer, click here for a link to some home remedies that may help.
Foods to Avoid
From Dr. Andrew Weil:
- Decrease your animal protein intake to 10 percent daily caloric intake and replace with plant protein
- Eliminate milk and milk products replacing with other sources of calcium
- Eliminate polyunsaturated vegetable oils, (corn, soy and sunflower) margarine, vegetable shortening, and deep fried foods cooked in trans-fatty acids
- Try eliminating sugar, wheat, corn, soy for 6-8 weeks to see if your symptoms improve
Dietary Supplements for Allergies
- Vitamin C – Up to 10 grams/day is a natural anti-histamine
- Vitamin B5 – Up to 800 mg/day
- Zinc Picolinate – Up to 150 mg/day
- Cod Liver Oil or other cold-water fish oil – 1000-2000 mg/day
Other Significant Allergy and Asthma Triggers
- Air drying your clothes outside as they also pick up the offending pollens
- Opening windows wide during encourages allergens coming inside
- Hair and skin picking up pollens; try rinsing at the end of the day
- Try leaving shoes at the door to reduce bringing pollen indoors, wearing “outside” shoes indoors can bring in a variety of allergens
Places where there is smoke, dust, mold, mildew and volatile chemicals
- Chlorinated pools can irritate the airways of swimmers, exerting a strong additive effect on the development of asthma and respiratory allergies such as hay fever and allergic rhinitis. The impact of chlorinated pools on the respiratory health of children and adolescents appears to be much more important—at least by a factor of five—than that associated with secondhand smoke. (Dr. Mercola)
- Perfumes and other synthetic fragrances
Alternative Therapies for Allergies
Meditation – A practice of concentrated focus upon a sound, object, visualization, the breath, movement, or attention itself in order to increase awareness of the present moment, promote relaxation, and enhance personal and spiritual growth. Breath control exercises have been found to greatly reduce the emotional triggers of asthma attacks
- Acupuncture – A healthcare practice that started in China going back 2500 years. Tiny needles are used to restore imbalances at identifiable points close to the skin.
- Chiropractic Medicine – Focuses on the practice of a drug-free, hands-on approach to health care that includes patient examination, diagnosis and treatment. Chiropractors have broad diagnostic skills and are also trained to recommend therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises, as well as to provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counseling.
- Ayurvedic Medicine – A system of healing that originated in ancient India. Ayurvedic medicine utilizes diet, detoxification and purification techniques, herbal and mineral remedies, yoga, breathing exercises, meditation, and massage therapy as holistic healing methods. Ayurvedic medicine is widely practiced in modern India and has been steadily gaining followers in the West.
I have had great experiences and successes with each of these alternative therapies and will be talking more about these in the coming months.
As you can see, there are lots of options available to those of us affected by allergies and asthma. While we can’t control the weather and the seasonal changes around us with trees and grasses, we do have the ability to be proactive in minimizing our respective allergies. I find it remarkable that with awareness to diet, our inside and outside home environments, the availability of supplements, and resources such as alternative therapy practitioners, we really have the opportunities to lead healthy, happy lives.
And most of these are simple, everyday habit changes. Let’s be proactive and embrace the sources available to us this allergy season!
Wishing you less sneezy and wheezy!
American Chiropractic Association
Food Matters (July 2012)
Medical Dictionary/Free Dictionary
Mercola.Com (August 2011)
Naturopathic Physicians-Jeanne Galloway, ND
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