Allergy season is in full swing for both my Portland and New York patients. You may experience sneezing, runny nose, itchy throat, itchy red eyes, itchy or irritated skin. Other symptoms that can be related to allergies but are often overlooked are headaches, fuzzy thinking, low energy, body aches and congested ears.
Some over-the-counter medications are available and can be effective, but they only treat the symptoms, not the root cause. When you stop taking them, they can cause a rebound effect where symptoms are worse than when they started. For my patients that have followed a consistent natural approach to allergies, I notice a much diminished or resolved allergy response.
Here is my list of favorite natural remedies and self care in the hopes they might prove helpful for you!
Reduce Seasonal Pollen Exposure
Keeping pollen off your clothes, skin, and mucous membranes can reduce your reaction to them. If you are outside or playing in your garden, wear a mask or moist bandana. Rinse your face with cool water often. You may be surprised how simply rinsing your face with cool water helps to not only prevent an allergy attack, but quell it once it starts. When you come inside, consider removing your clothing immediately, rinsing off in the shower, and putting on fresh clothes. Another suggestion is to use a neti pot with saline solution to clean the sinuses and flush out any pollen and dust. You might neti 1-3 times a day during allergy season. If you are not sure how to neti pot ask your natural health care provider.
Stabilize your Mast Cells
In your body, mast cells are responsible for generating histamine, which can cause allergy symptoms. In some people, their mast cells are more sensitive to irritants (like pollen). This is one reason some people suffer greatly with allergies and others not at all. When we stabilize the mast cells, they are not as reactive to allergen irritants.
Quercetin is a supplement often used when someone is experiencing allergies. A typical dose for an adult is 400-500mg twice a day. It may work better if taken before allergy season as a preventative (300-400mg twice a day). You will also see quercetin in many herbal allergy formulas. Food sources of quercetin include: capers, onions, apples & pears with skin, green & black tea, citrus fruits, berries, Ginkgo, Eyebright, Stinging Nettles.
Cleanse your Liver to Remove Histamines
Reducing the amount of histamines released and getting those histamines out of the body is key to reducing/eliminating your individual symptoms. Your liver is the main organ that filters histamines out of the body so supporting your liver will help with managing allergies.
Here are some of my favorite things that help the liver: cooked dark green leafy vegetables daily (kale, swiss chard, dandelion greens, mustard greens, beet greens, etc), proper water intake, nettles tea, daily movement, and not for the feint of heart… wheatgrass juice (1-4 oz per day). And here are some common items that hinder the liver: artificial foods, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, sedentary lifestyle, frustration and repressed emotions.
Avoid these Foods for Allergy Relief
These foods contribute to the histamine response causing more watery eyes, scratchy throat, sneezing and runny nose: milk & cheese, refined sugars, alcohol, wheat, orange juice, and concentrated tomato products. Some of these may be hard to eliminate completely initially, but it might be a good experiment to try if you are really suffering with seasonal allergies as it can be a key to eliminating your allergy suffering. See if you can eliminate these foods for a week or so to determine for yourself if these foods are contributing you’re your allergies.
Strengthen your Lungs
From a Chinese Medicine point of view, the lungs play a big role in the functioning of the immune system. The best way to strengthen the lungs is through regular movement. You do not need to be an Olympic athlete training 4 hours a day to positively affect the lungs. Any consistent daily movement that increases your heart rate for even 5-15 min is an asset to your lungs. Another friend to the lungs are breathing exercises.
These breathing practices work best when you do them year round and not just during allergy season. Do your best throughout the year to follow these protocols and then around April (just before allergy season), get more regular and consistent with them.
This is by no means a complete list of everything you can do to relieve seasonal allergies. There are many supplements, herbs, foods, self care practices that can all be helpful. A Heart Spring Health provider will assess you as an individual and help you navigate what would work best for you.
Michael Guida is a Licensed Massage Therapist and Certified Amma Therapist , formally trained at The New York College for Wholistic Health Education & Research and practicing at Heart Spring Health, a holistic health clinic in Southeast Portland, Oregon. Using a variety of bodywork techniques and layering in nutrition and self care practices, he provides a wide range of care for many health concerns, including a focus in acute or chronic pain, nutritional and digestive needs, and strengthening the lungs and immune system. Learn more about Michael
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