Help for Seasonal Allergies
After a long and messy winter, spring is finally here! For many, that means spring seasonal allergies are on the rise. Thankfully there are many effective ways to reduce or eliminate allergy symptoms without reaching for an anti-histamine medication.
Things you can do at home
Clean up: Launder bedding and other fabrics in your home regularly to wash away pet dander and any pollen that may drift in through open windows. Vacuum and dust your home regularly and use a HEPA filter to reduce the airborne allergens in your home. Take a shower at night before bed to wash away pollen and mold spores that may have landed on your skin and clothes over the course of the day.
Neti-pot or saline nasal spray: Neti-pots are great for physically washing pollens, mold spores, and pet dander from the nasal passages, decreasing allergy symptoms. Saline sprays can also do this job and they’re easier to take with you on the go. Some nasal sprays include ingredients like quercetin or cromolyn sodium as natural anti-histamines and these can be helpful as well.
Local honey: Consuming local honey exposes your immune system to local pollens and theoretically promotes desensitization to them. A 2011 small Finnish study found that consuming honey laced with local pollens resulted in a modest improvement in seasonal allergy symptoms and less use of antihistamines. (Don’t feed honey to children under age 1.)
Strategies to balance immune system health and prevent seasonal allergies
Acupuncture: A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that a series of 12 acupuncture treatments led to improvement in allergy symptoms and less use of antihistamine medications.
Fix your digestion: About 70% of your immune system resides in your digestive tract, so keeping your gut healthy is an important way to modulate the activity of your immune system. Food allergies, imbalances in gut bacteria, infections in the digestive tract, and inadequate production of digestive juices can lead to inflammation in your body that can worsen respiratory and skin allergies.
Detoxify/Cleanse: Environmental toxin exposure can send your immune system into overdrive and lead to increased seasonal allergy symptoms. Since we’re all exposed to toxins in our air, food, and water supplies and some of us are more sensitive to them than others detoxification is an important strategy to improve allergy symptoms.
Herbal and nutritional medicines that reduce allergy symptoms
Nettle and Butterbur: Certain herbal medicines like stinging nettle and butterbur have traditionally been used to relieve allergy symptoms. One preliminary study in humans suggested that stinging nettle reduces sneezing and itching in those with seasonal allergies. In Swiss clinical trials butterbur was found to be as effective against seasonal allergy symptoms as the antihistamine drugs fexofenadine and cetirizine.
Quercetin and bioflavonoids: Quercetin and other bioflavonoid compounds are frequently used as natural anti-histamines as they have anti-inflammatory effects and decrease the release of histamine during an allergic reaction.
Fish oil: Essential fatty acids, particularly those found in fish oil, have been associated with a decrease in allergy symptoms. A study of people with allergic asthma found lower levels of the pro-inflammatory chemicals leukotrienes which contribute to allergic reactions in those who took a daily fish oil supplement for one month.
Naturopathic care and acupuncture can help you to treat both the symptoms and the underlying causes of your seasonal allergies without antihistamine medications that may be drying and cause drowsiness. Allergy season doesn’t have to leave you sneezing and miserable!