Fight allergies the alternative way…
By Deborah Dittner
During the spring, many begin to experience sneezing, itchy, watery eyes and nasal congestion.
Spring starts with tree pollen allergies moving then into grass pollen in late spring to mid-summer. Spring can also contribute to mold growth and mold allergies due to the dampness from increased rainfall.
Seasonal allergies (also known as allergic rhinitis) are the hyper-activity of the body’s immune systems. Uncomfortable inflammation and irritation in the nasal passages can cause harm. Some react more forcefully than others as the immune system is being compromised causing the production of antibodies to defend from the attackers on the body.
Approximately 70%-80% of your immune system is located in the gut. When the gut is weakened, the immune system is weakened. What weakens the gut? Poor nutrition, increased exposure to toxins, and stress cause inflammation and the imbalance between good bacteria and bad bacteria.
What is the best way to support the gut and the immune system?
Prevention is first and foremost. There are many ways to treat seasonal allergy symptoms and the root cause of inflammation.
Seasonal allergies can be uncomfortable, but they are treatable.
Avoiding the allergens causing your symptoms should be encouraged. Discussing your symptoms with your health care provider can help determine the cause of your symptoms and help in planning the necessary steps to decrease or eliminate the symptoms.
So, what are you going to do?
• Have a mocktail! A blend of apple, one quarter cup pineapple, add six ounces water and a drizzle of local raw honey not only tastes fantastic but helps to support your immune system to keep allergies at bay. The apple is anti-inflammatory as it contains quercetin. Pineapple contains bromeliad which is a naturally occurring antihistamine. Yum!
• Apple cider vinegar has many uses but this time of year it helps to fight allergies. One ounce a day added to water will help maintain your alkaline pH, improve inflammation, and stabilize digestive health.
• Eliminate dairy from your diet. Dairy can aggravate the immune response of the body and increase inflammation causing an increase in mucous production. By going dairy-free, your symptoms may improve.
• Using a Neti pot a minimum of once daily. Irrigation of your sinus passages will remove pollen and decrease the thickness of mucus leading to lessen congestion. It is important to wash your Neti pot regularly with a mixture of vinegar and water to eliminate increased bacteria and/or mold from forming inside the chamber and entering your nasal passages.
• A combination of therapeutic grade essential oils can help with allergy symptoms. I recommend a mixture of lemon, peppermint and lavender oils diffused into your home, bedroom or office. You can also inhale a few drops of each placed under your nose or on your temples avoiding the eye area. This combination may act as a natural antihistamine while decreasing the overall inflammatory response of allergens.
• Acupuncture has been shown to decrease allergy symptoms. Acupressure can also be helpful by holding pressure to the sides of your nose, between your eyebrows, and between your thumb and finger.
• For itchy, watery eyes with clear nasal discharge, consider Eyebright tea. Drinking a cup twice daily can help with allergy symptoms.
• Raw, local honey contains local pollen to sensitize you creating fewer allergy symptoms. The exposure to the pollens in the honey helps to stimulate the immune system creating a protective response.
• The homeopathic remedy, Allium cepa, is acquired from allium (otherwise also known as onions) decreasing allergy symptoms. The micro doses of allium in homeopathic remedies act as an antihistamine.
• “All disease begins in the gut” said Hippocrates.
To improve gut health, consider taking a probiotic. Without proper digestive health, the other systems of the body become imbalanced.
Probiotics as a supplement or through food can help to lower your histamine response decreasing allergy symptoms. Boosting the health of the gut is essential as it can take between 12 and 24 months for the adult gut to heal whether it be from types of food or drink, medications or stress. The bacteria in your gut can be thrown off by poor digestion, travel, diets high in sugar and artificial ingredients, environmental toxins, certain medications from antacids to pain medications and the use of antibiotics. Make sure you incorporate prebiotic and probiotic-rich foods. Prebiotics consist of wheat, walnuts, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, bananas, legumes, onions, and garlic. When you eat these foods, your good gut flora feast on the prebiotics and multiply crowding out bad bacteria making the good bacteria produce substances to boost immunity. Probiotics consist of sauerkraut (example: eat a couple tablespoons about 15-30 minutes before a meal), kimchi, kefir, pickled ginger, organic miso, fermented vegetables, apple cider vinegar and coconut yogurt. Always try to incorporate food first but you can consider adding a probiotic supplement if you need added support when working to improve a compromised gut. There are many probiotic supplements to pick from which can lead to confusion. A dose of anywhere from a billion to 10 billion CFUs (colony-forming-units) per day should be sufficient. Consider speaking with your health care provider for guidance. Also adding bone broth, rich in nutrients, can also calm a healing gut.
• Avoiding fragrance in perfumes, dish soap, body wash, laundry detergent, cleaning products and more causes a buildup of toxins in the body causing not only allergy symptoms but other conditions.
• Water…water…water! Hydration is very important for many bodily systems. Water will thin out mucus and help to eliminate toxins from the body.
• Some herbal remedies to consider:
1. Butterbur is a plant extract used for medicinal purposes. It is most commonly used to treat migraines and hay fever.
2. Stinging nettle may squelch allergy symptoms according to some research by inhibiting the body’s histamine production and therefore decreasing inflammation. Stinging nettle can be taken as a tea or in capsule form to decrease allergy symptoms and inflammation as the plant contains chlorophyll and vitamin C providing support to the immune system.
3. Quercitin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and may reduce allergy symptoms. Quercitin can be found in fruits, vegetables and grains.
Such remedies need to be started four to six weeks before you anticipate allergy symptoms to begin.
Incorporate any of these allergy fighting remedies into your daily routine and enjoy warm weather ahead.