5 Natural Treatments for Seasonal Allergies
The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and the flowers and trees have started to bloom. To most, spring is a beautiful and renewing time of year, but for those with seasonal allergies it can be the worst! For sensitized individuals, pollen released in the spring triggers a cascade of immunological events, leading to those annoying allergy symptoms such as sneezing, watering eyes, runny nose, nasal congestion, and headache. Luckily, there are many natural therapies that can dampen this unwanted immune response and help you enjoy the beauty of any season!
Optimize gut function
The gut is quite a powerful organ. Not only is it involved in digestion, it also plays a major role in the immune system. By optimizing gut function, reducing inflammation at the gut lining, and improving it’s microbial content, seasonal allergies can become much more bearable. Here are a few places to start:
Eliminate food sensitivities
Food sensitivities not only exacerbate seasonal allergies by causing a burden on the immune system, but many foods are known to evoke allergy cross-reactivity, creating symptoms similar to those of seasonal allergies. Dairy, wheat, eggs, and soy are some common triggers. It takes time and patience, but finding your food triggers through food elimination and reintroduction can be very beneficial in the long term.
Especially when there is a history of antibiotic use, probiotics can be used to colonize the gut with a healthy flora, which favours optimal immune responses.
Eat a clean diet
Avoid inflammatory foods such as refined sugar, processed food, and food additives. Try fermented foods for some delicious gut health benefits!
Histamine, that troublesome compound causing your allergy symptoms, has also been found to play a role in water regulation. When dehydrated, histamine is released to help signal water conservation and thirst. Therefore, by drinking water before you become dehydrated, you can theoretically reduce the overall body burden of histamine.
The immune system has long been known to respond to signals of stress. In acute stress this relationship is adaptive and beneficial, however, when stress is chronic, it can be detrimental. A recent study showed that those with persistent emotional stress and those with a greater negative mood tend to have more frequent allergy flares.
Manage stress and elevate your mood
- Practice mindfulness, deep breathing exercises, or meditation
- Exercising daily
- Start a gratitude journal
- Recognize when you are overwhelmed and asking family or friends for help
- Prioritize time for fun and relaxation
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night
Use herbs as medicine
There are many gentle and soothing herbs you can grow yourself that can be used for symptomatic relief of allergies. Consider using peppermint, lemon balm, and stinging nettle as an anti-allergic tea.
All of these herbs have anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, peppermint and lemon balm contain rosmarinic acid, a potent antioxidant, and stinging nettle is great for drying up excess mucous.
Lastly, of course, you want to reduce your exposure to allergens where possible. You can do this by using HEPA filters in your house and work place, showering after spending time outdoors, vacuuming frequently, and washing your sheets and pillowcases regularly. Additionally, to keep the nasal passage clear of allergens, a neti pot or nasal lavage can be used daily.
*Originally published April 21, 2016