Spring is in full swing and many of us are tormented by allergies. But we also don’t want to exist on Benadryl 24/7, either.
One very simple way to help cut the allergic effect is to keep your windows closed at night, especially in the early morning hours. That is the time when plants and trees are pollinating at maximum output. Also keep your car’s air vents on recirculating, and change clothes and take a shower when you get home to get rid of any outdoor allergens clinging to you. A home HEPA air filter is also helpful.
Here are some other methods to try:
1. Neti Pot with Saline Rinse
Jala-neti, which means to cleanse the nose with water, is an old yogic technique from India in which one pours a salt water solution into one nostril and lets it run out through the other nostril. The mouth is kept open to breathe, using gravity as an aid. The water is poured from a special vessel called a Neti Pot.
Nasal irrigation promotes good sinus and nasal health. Patients with allergies and chronic sinusitis including facial pain, headache, cough, anterior rhinorrhea (watery discharge), and nasal congestion often find that nasal irrigation provides relief. In published studies, “daily hypertonic saline nasal irrigation improves sinus-related quality of life, decreases symptoms, and decreases medication use in patients with frequent sinusitis, and irrigation is recommended as an adjunctive treatment for chronic sinonasal symptoms.”
To use, fill a Neti Pot with a sterile saline solution. Pour through one nostril and let it drain out the other to flush the sinuses of allergens and irritants.
Allergies can come from an imbalance in the immune system that causes the body to overreact to a stimulus, creating way more misery-causing histamine than we need. New research links the presence of beneficial bacteria in the gut, called probiotics, with reduced incidence of allergies. Evidence shows that a mother’s gut bacteria during pregnancy and nursing can impact her child’s likelihood of developing allergies.
Balancing gut bacteria and consuming enough beneficial bacteria can have a positive effect on allergies. Fermented foods and drinks like kimchi or kombucha can help boost gut bacteria, as can a high-quality probiotic supplement. Don’t forget to include prebiotics, too, as they help feed those beneficial gut bacteria.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar’s ability to reduce mucous production and cleanse the lymphatic system makes it useful for allergies. It is also said to help digestion. Mix a teaspoon of organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar (Bragg’s is the best – it contains the “Mother,” enzymes and minerals that other vinegars lack due to overprocessing, filtration, and overheating) into a glass of water and drink three times daily. It’ll help you stay hydrated, which is also important, and can relieve acute allergy symptoms and help prevent allergy attacks.
Quercetin is a natural bioflavonoid that can stabilize mast cells to prevent them from releasing histamine. It is also a potent antioxidant and can reduce inflammation. Quercetin is best used as a long-term remedy; in fact, many people start taking it about 4 to 6 weeks before allergy season begins.
Quercetin occurs naturally in foods like citrus and broccoli, but it’s difficult to get enough to relieve allergies. A quercetin supplement can be helpful for preventing allergies or helping acute symptoms.
5. Nettle Leaf
Nettle leaf is another natural antihistamine. It grows wild in many climates and can be made into a tincture or tea, but for allergy relief, capsules made from dried nettle leaves are the easiest and most effective option. Nettle leaf can also be used in combination with other herbs like peppermint leaf or red raspberry leaf to make a soothing herbal tea for allergy relief.
6. Local Honey
In theory, consuming local honey from where you live can help your body adapt to the allergens in your specific environment. It’s supposed to work like a natural allergy “shot” by exposing you to tiny amounts of pollen, thus desensitizing you to it.
Local, unprocessed honey does contain small amounts of pollen from the environment. The pollen in honey is mostly from the flowers bees frequent and, to a lesser degree, from allergenic, airborne pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds.
There are scores of anecdotal testimonials from people who swear that eating local honey has helped improve their seasonal allergies, but there is no scientific proof that it does. One study, published in 2002 in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, showed no difference among allergy sufferers who ate local honey, commercially processed honey, or a honey-flavored placebo.
If you want to try it, though, eating unfiltered local honey certainly can’t hurt. Find honey from hives as close as possible to where you actually live. Stir a teaspoon into a glass of warm water one or more times a day to help relieve symptoms. It can be incorporated into the apple cider vinegar water, too. Works best if you start 4 to 6 weeks before allergy season begins.
7. Steam Bath
A simple way to clear your sinuses of irritants is to take a steam bath. Pour boiling water into a heat-proof bowl and add a few drops of essential eucalyptus or peppermint oil. Cover your head with a towel, lean over the bowl and breathe deeply for at least 10 minutes.
8. Spicy Foods
When I have a cold, I head for the hottest Thai food I can find. It definitely helps clear the junk out of my head. For the same reason, many people swear by the sinus-clearing effects of spicy foods containing chili peppers, wasabi, mustard, fresh garlic, and horseradish. In fact, an active ingredient in garlic (allyl thiosulfinate) and a similar compound in wasabi (isothiocyanates) do appear to have a temporary decongestant effect. Foods with a hot kick can start your eyes watering and nose running, opening your nasal passages and flushing out irritants.
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