For much of the US spring allergy is already in full swing. And for a lot of folks that means a miserable few months of sneezing, itchy watery eyes, headaches and general misery. If you’re a springtime allergy sufferer seeking some natural allergy relief you’ve come to the right place.
Most folks with spring allergies are actually allergic to multiple trees and plants. And while tree pollen is a common trigger many plants and even mold spores can cause your symptoms to kick in too.
Arranging your life around pollen counts just isn’t practical, and you can’t just hide indoors for the next couple of months. So what’s an allergy sufferer supposed to do?
I’ll share with you 5 tips for natural allergy relief to stop the sneezing in just a few moments, but first let’s take a closer look at allergies.
How do you get hay fever in the 1’st place?
If you’re the victim of spring allergies, or what are sometimes called hay fever, you’ve probably wondered before, “Why me?”
Well perhaps it would help to know you’re FAR from alone.
In fact it’s estimated that up to 8 percent of the U.S. population1 is suffering with you. Now 8 percent might not sound like a lot, but that’s 8 percent of the ENTIRE U.S. population so were talking about over 25 million folks who could use some natural allergy relief just like you.
Do any of these classis allergy symptoms sound familiar?
- Stuff or runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Itchy eyes
- Itching in your nose
- Itching in your mouth or throat
The first time your body encounters an allergen, your plasma cells release immunoglobulin E (IgE), an antibody specific to that allergen.
IgE attaches to the surface of your mast cells, which are found in great numbers in your surface tissues, such as your skin and nasal mucous membranes, where they help mediate inflammatory responses. Mast cells release a number of important chemical mediators, one of which is histamine.
The second time your body encounters a particular allergen, within a few minutes your mast cells become activated and release a powerful cocktail of histamine, leukotrienes, and prostaglandins, which trigger the entire cascade of symptoms you associate with allergies.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) explained:2
“One of the marvels of the human body is that it can defend itself against harmful invaders such as viruses or bacteria. In some people, the body reacts to harmless substances such as dust, mold or pollen by producing an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE).
When patients with one of the allergic diseases (such as rhinitis or asthma) are exposed to these substances, the immune system then rallies its defenses, launching a host of complex chemical weapons to attack and destroy the supposed enemy.
In the process, some unpleasant and, in extreme cases, life-threatening symptoms may be experienced.
… An allergic reaction may occur anywhere in the body, but usually appears in the skin, eyes, lining of the stomach, nose, sinuses, throat and lungs — places where special immune system cells are stationed to fight off invaders that are inhaled, swallowed or come in contact with the skin.”
5 timely tips for natural allergy relief
If you’re tired of suffering through what should be one of the most pleasant times of the year, here are some of the best survival strategies to add to your allergy-fighting arsenal:
1. Reduce your exposure to pollen:
To minimize your allergy symptoms, the ACAAI has four suggestions for reducing your pollen exposure:3
You may want to consider:
Hot chili peppers, horseradish, and hot mustards work as natural decongestants. In fact, a nasal spray containing capsaicin (derived from hot peppers) significantly reduced nasal allergy symptoms in a 2009 study.4
Quercetin is an antioxidant that belongs to a class of water-soluble plant substances called flavonoids.
Quercetin-rich foods (such as apples, berries, red grapes, red onions, capers and black tea) prevent histamine release — so they are “natural antihistamines.”
Quercetin is also available in supplement form — a typical dose for hay fever is between 200 and 400 milligrams (mg) per day.
Butterbur (Petasites hybridus):
Another natural antihistamine, butterbur was used to treat coughs and asthma as far back as the 17th century. Researchers have since identified the compounds in butterbur that help reduce symptoms in asthma by inhibiting leukotrienes and histamines, which are responsible for symptom aggravation in asthma.5
In a German study, 40 percent of patients taking butterbur root extract were able to reduce their intake of traditional asthma medications.6
A word of caution is needed, however. Butterbur is a member of the ragweed family, so if you are allergic to ragweed, marigold, daisy, or chrysanthemum, you should not use butterbur.
Also, the raw herb should not be used because it contains substances called pyrrolizidine alkaloids that can be toxic to your liver and kidneys and may cause cancer. Commercial butterbur products have had a lot of these alkaloids removed.
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis):
Goldenseal may be helpful for seasonal allergies. Laboratory studies suggest that berberine, the active ingredient in goldenseal, has antibacterial and immune-enhancing properties.
This pure essential oil can be healing to mucus membranes. You can apply a drop on a cotton ball and sniff it several times a day, add a few drops to water (or to a nebulizer, if you own one) for a steam treatment, or use a few drops in your bath water.
Vitamin C is another natural antihistamine. Naturopathic doctor Dr. Doni Wilson told the Huffington Post, “ … [Y]ou need to take 500 to 1,000 mg., three times a day to reduce symptoms.”7
If you have cedar pollen allergies, you should know about a type of slightly fermented, organic Japanese green tea called “Benifuuki.”
The tea has been shown to strongly inhibit mast cell activation and histamine release, as well as relieve symptoms of runny nose and eye itching in people with cedar pollen allergy.8
3. Irrigate your irritated nose:
Using a neti pot (a small, teapot-like pot) is a simple technique to safely cleanse your sinuses of irritants, including allergens. It involves pouring water into one nostril and allowing it to flow out the other.
If you’ve never used a neti pot before here are some handy instructions:
|How to Use a Neti Pot|
|Using a neti pot (a small, teapot-like pot) is a simple technique to safely cleanse your sinuses of irritants. It may help with nasal congestion and may also be useful for relieving cold symptoms. The technique itself is very simple.
Supplies you’ll need:
• Locate a workable container. The neti pot is specially designed with a spout that fits comfortably in one nostril. Alternatives you can use include a bulb syringe, a small flower watering pot, a turkey baster, or just a teacup (though the latter will be messier).
Be sure to avoid using tap water, as it could potentially be contaminated with brain-eating amoeba or other contaminants. Only use water that is distilled, sterilized, previously boiled or filtered using a filter with an absolute pore size of 1 micron or smaller.
4. Consider homeopathy:
Homeopathic solutions contain minuscule doses of plants, minerals, animal products, or other compounds that cause symptoms similar to what you are already experiencing.
The remedies have been diluted many times over, and the idea is that the substance will stimulate your body’s own healing process. While research on homeopathy is limited, anecdotally many have found relief from allergy symptoms using homeopathic remedies.
5. Diet, exercise and stress relief:
Many people aren’t aware that lifestyle habits may influence your allergy symptoms. “Healing and sealing” your gut has been shown to help alleviate allergy symptoms, and the key to this is eliminating inflammatory foods like grains and processed foods and introducing healthier foods, including fermented foods, that will support a proper balance of bacteria in your gut.
Eating a wholesome diet based on unprocessed, ideally organic and/or locally grown foods, including fermented foods, along with optimizing your vitamin D levels and correcting your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, will form the foundation upon which your immune system can function in an optimal manner.
Interestingly, while we’re on the topic of diet, if you have tree pollen allergies, you should avoid avocados when the trees are pollinating to avoid exacerbating your symptoms. In the Huffington Post, Mike Tringale, senior vice president of External Affairs for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), further explained the importance of a healthy lifestyle for fighting allergies:9
“An allergic disorder means you have a chronic disease of your immune system … Exercise can bolster your immune system, which means it can be a helpful strategy when you’re fighting your allergies. Immunotherapy [like allergy shots] increase your tolerance to a trigger, but your body will still produce antibodies to those allergens.”
When you’re healthy, your body will be able to tolerate more of the trigger before a reaction occurs. Even stress relief is important, as chronic stress weakens your immune system. Research shows that people with persistent emotional stress have more frequent allergy flare-ups, so be sure you’re tending to your emotional health.
Permanent allergy relief may be possible
Provocation neutralization (PN), which is taught by the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM), can be very effective for allergy relief. I was a member of the AAEM and administered this treatment in my office when I was practicing. PN offers many allergy sufferers permanent relief without adverse side effects. The success rate for this approach is about 80 to 90 percent, and you can receive the treatment at home.
The provocation refers to “provoking a change” and neutralization refers to “neutralizing the reaction caused by provocation.” During provocation neutralization, a small amount of allergen is injected under your skin to produce a small bump called a “wheal” on the top layers of your skin, and then it is monitored for a reaction.
If you have a positive reaction, such as fatigue, headache, or a growth in the size of the wheal, then the allergen is neutralized with diluted injections or with drops of the same allergen that go in your mouth.
If you are interested in pursuing PN, AAEM has a list of physicians and offices that are trained in this highly effective and recommended technique.11 It is important to remember that the PN program is in addition to, not a replacement for, a comprehensive allergy recovery program and healthy lifestyle.
1 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, Allergy Statistics
2 American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, FAQs
3 American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, Pollen Allergy
4 Reuters February 17, 2009
5 International Archives of Allergy and Immunology 2002 Oct;129(2):108-12.
6 Alternative Medicine Review 2004 Mar;9(1):54-62
7, 9 Huffington Post April 23, 2014
8 Curr Pharm Des. 2013;19(34):6148-55.
10 Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Spring Allergy Capitals 2016
11 American Academy of Environmental Medicine
New York Times bestselling author Dr. Mercola graduated from the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1982. And while osteopaths or D.O.s are licensed to prescribe medication and perform surgery just like medical doctors (M.D.s), they bring something extra to the practice of medicine.
Osteopathic physicians practice a "whole person" approach to medicine, treating the entire person — rather than just the symptoms. Focusing on preventive health care, D.O.s help patients develop attitudes and lifestyles that don't just fight illness, but help prevent it too.
Dr. Mercola is passionate about natural medicine and strongly believes that the current medical system is largely manipulated and controlled by large corporations whose primary focus is profit. His website, Mercola.com, which started as a small hobby interest in 1997, has now grown to today’s number one natural health website educating and empowering millions to take back the control over their own health.
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