9 Natural Strategies for Seasonal Allergy Relief
This time of year, many struggle with symptoms of seasonal allergies. We have all been there with the nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, postnasal drip, nasal inflammation, groggy, headache. It can be annoying for some, and miserable for others. In this article, we discuss why allergies occur, the long term fix, and provide 9 natural remedies that you can try right now to help alleviate the severity of symptoms.
Why do allergies occur?
Seasonal allergies occur from exposure to spores and pollen released into the air by fungi, grasses, trees, and other plants. Our immune system mistakes these plant compounds as foreign invaders, leading to the production of chemicals like histamine. One of histamine’s jobs is to vasodilate vessels to allow for increased flow of blood and immune cells to and from the areas under attack. In the case of allergies, the threatened area is the ear, nose, throat and head and results in fluids leaking from your face all day long.
Gut Health: The Long Term Fix To Allergies
The National Institutes of Health study found that a lack of diversity in the gut microbiota was associated with all types of allergies, especially seasonal and/or nut allergies. The GAPS Diet is great therapeutic diet using the power of food to correct your digestion and microbial diversity over the long term. Read the book so you can educate yourself and purchase a cookbook to follow along and help you get started.
In the meantime, here are some strategies for you to try to help alleviate symptoms. The goal with these strategies is to remove/reduce pollen exposure and also support your body with natural antihistamines and immune support.
1. Clean your nostrils and sinuses
A 2012 review of 10 studies revealed that sterile saline nasal irrigation, which work to flush the sinuses of mucus and trapped allergens, had beneficial effects for both children and adults with allergic rhinitis.
LifeMod Action Step: Use a Neti pot or saline nasal spray once daily before bed. May be used again in the morning if needed for symptoms. It is easy to make your own homemade saline solution rinse too! Always spit out your mucus, and blow your nose. Goal is out, not in!
2. Don’t Rewear Clothes Once Outside
That powdery pollen is everywhere! When you are outside or spend extended time outdoors, pollen will get onto your clothes that you then track through your house, furniture and bed.
LifeMod Action Step: When you come inside, immediately change your clothes to fresh options and set your worn ones into the laundry.
3. Keep Windows Closed
As tempting as it may be, keep windows and doors shut in your home and your car for majority of the day.
LifeMod Action Step: Opening windows in your home each day is always recommend to change the indoor air, but only for a minutes during this time of year if you have symptoms.
4. Dust and Vacuum More Often
Whatever you are currently doing, considerably increasing frequency to keep your space allergen free.
LifeMod Action Step: For some, that may mean cleaning daily. For others, it’s every other day. The more you do this the better.
5. Use HEPA Air Filters
The AirDoctor captures 100% of airborne particles as small as 0.003 microns in size, as well as the vast majority of VOCs, and other air pollutants. Most other medical-grade HEPA filters only filter down to 0.3 microns, making the Air Doctor a much better choice.
LifeMod Action Step: Place stand alone HEPA air filters in your bedroom, which is where you spend a 1/3rd of your life. Considering placing another in your next main living space.
6. Try a Low-Histamine Diet
Reduce or avoid foods that are high in histamine: fermented foods, aged cheese, citrus fruits, fish, shellfish, avocados, spinach, cocoa, and leftover meat. See a list of foods here.
LifeMod Action Step: Review the list of foods. Is there something that you are eating every single day? Start by removing those, and replacing with lower histamine options.
7. Take Probiotic Supplements
In this review, seventeen out of 23 studies showed probiotic supplementation had significant improvements in rhinitis symptoms when compared to placebo.
LifeMod Action Step: Use a spore based probiotic every day. Also add a bifidobacterium/lactobacillus product, the more strains and higher quantity in billions, the better. Bonus if these products also contain prebiotics like FOS, GOS, inulin or 2’FL. Best taken on an empty stomach, either first thing in the morning or right before bed. Create an account under my Fullscript dispensary and I can help you select the right products for you.
8. Take Bee Pollen Supplement
Short term support: While there are more anecdotal stories of bee pollen helping with allergies, there is research showing that the flavonoid components in bee pollen have anti-allergic, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, suggesting that it be further studied in treating allergic and immunological disorders. In animal studies, bee pollen significantly reduced IgE-mediated histamine release, an immunoglobulin that when elevated is associated with allergies and asthma.
Long term support: Bees carry plant pollens on their legs and bodies and take it back to the hive and thus bee pollen contains plant pollens, and flower nectar. By ingesting *local* bee pollen, we administer to ourselves small doses of the local plant pollen so our immune system can gradually become accustomed to the allergens that may be causing your allergies. This is a form of immunotherapy, like allergy shots.
LifeMod Action Step: Find a *local* raw source of bee pollen, sold as granules. Take a spoonful daily and mix it into foods or smoothies. Consider taking bee pollen as early as one month prior to symptoms each year to begin to prepare your immune system.
Quercetin is a naturally occurring medicinal plant compound that is rich in antioxidants. It has anti-allergic functions including inhibiting histamine production and pro-inflammatory mediators. It can be purchased as a supplement and effectiveness shown at doses ranging from 500mg-1000mg a day.
LifeMod Action Step: In addition to supplementation, eat more fruits and vegetables that contain quercetin: Onions, capers, apples, berries, tea, tomatoes, grapes, cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, brussel sprouts, kale), shallots, nuts, and seeds.
What about Over-the-Counter Allergy Medications
These products provide short term relief by shutting down parts of your immune system so you experience less symptoms. I much prefer the natural remedies described here. For those who need more support, I prefer anti-histamines over steroid nasal sprays, although both can be used together. Unlike the natural remedies, these medications have side effects that are concerning. Steroids have many more serious side effects including oral fungal infection and voice hoarseness. Antihistamines side effects include:
- Dry mouth, dry eyes
- Blurred or double vision
- Low or high blood pressure
- Mucous thickening in the airways
- Rapid heart rate
- Difficulty urinating and constipation
To conclude, the most effective short term natural allergy remedy is reducing exposure to the allergens and supporting your immune system with food and lifestyle. If seasonal allergies are your thing year after year, correcting gut health should become your next health focus.