Its that time of year again. When no matter how many times you wash that beautiful car that you have, there is an never ending supply of pollen that seems to gravitate towards it.
In addition, this is the time of year that many of us find ourselves going through boxes of Kleenex trying to stop the constant flow of snot that streams from our noses.
According to The World Health Organization approximately 30% of the population are affected by allergies, making it difficult for them to enjoy the outdoors leaving them grabbing for allergy drugs and other relieving mechanisms.
What are Allergies?
Allergies are your body’s reaction to allergens (particles your body considers foreign), a sign that your immune system is working overtime. The first time your body encounters an allergen, your plasma cells release IgE (immunoglobulin E), an antibody specific to that allergen. IgE attaches to the surface of your mast cells. Mast cells are found in great numbers in your surface tissues (i.e., those with close proximity to the external environment, such as in your skin and in the mucous membranes of your nose), where they help mediate inflammatory responses.
Mast cells release a number of important chemical mediators, one of which is histamine.
So, the second time your body encounters a particular allergen, within a few minutes the 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: sneezing, runny nose, sore throat, hacky cough, itchy eyes, etc.
Histamine can cause your airways to constrict, like with asthma, or cause blood vessels to become more permeable, leading to fluid leakage or hives. Leukotrienes cause hypersecretion of mucus, which you commonly experience as a runny nose or increased phlegm.
Pollen is an extremely common mast cell activator, but other agents can trigger these processes as well. Mold spores, dust, airborne contaminants, dust mites, pet dander, cockroaches, environmental chemicals, cleaning products, personal care products and foods can all cause allergic reactions.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, the annual cost of allergies is a whopping 14.5 billion dollars with over 11 billion dollars spent annually on medications!
Unfortunately, these medications seem to offer limited relief and are associated with a myriad of side effects including drowsiness, dizziness,constipation, upset stomach, blurry vision, a dry mouth/nose and throat, and difficulty urinating.
As a result, many allergy suffers turn to Natural approaches to dealing with their allergies.
1. Neti Pot
One of the best devices that I have found for clearing the nasal passageways is the Neti Pot. My family picked one up several years ago and it has proven to extremely effective.
In fact, clearing the nasal passages of allergens and irritants with the use of sinus irrigation has been a Ayurvedic medical tradition that people in India have been using for centuries.
Thanks to David Rabago, MD, who has conducted several studies on the subject and has proven clinically that using a neti pot is effective to prevent and treat several upper respiratory conditions including chronic and acute sinusitis, the common cold and seasonal allergies, it has become more main stream.
Quick note: When you use a Neti pot, make sure that the water is distilled and as sterile as possible. Tap water is full of chlorine and fluoride and can actually aggravate your sinuses.
If you don’t want to use a neti pot you can do a salt water sinus rinse by mixing sea salt with warm water and sucking it up one nostril.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar is the best and you can now find it almost everywhere! It’s USDA & Kosher certified organic, GMO-free, unfiltered, raw (not pasteurized!), and contains the amazing “Mother” of vinegar.
Drinking a glass of water with a teaspoon of Apple Cider in your water with some fresh lemon juice is the best way to wake up every morning. At the first sign of an allergy attack, put 1 teaspoon of Apple Cider in your Neti Pot solution for a fantastic sinus flush.
Naturally found in cruciferous vegetables, onions/shallots, green teas and citrus fruit, quercetin is a bioflavonoid that stabilizes the release of histamine and helps to naturally control allergy symptoms.
A recent study out of Slovakia has shown that quercetin is so effective that it can help calm down allergic asthma by reducing the hyperactivity of airways. It is so powerful that Iranian researchers have proven that quercetin can help control peanut allergies, the leading cause of life-threatening/fatal allergy attacks.
Various sources suggest that it is best to use quercetin as a long-term remedy and people prone to seasonal allergies should start to take them a few weeks before spring arrives and plants start to bloom.
4. Local Raw Honey (Bee Pollen)
Who knew that something so delicious and sweet could be so good for you? Taking a tablespoon of local, raw (local) honey every day will help your body build a tolerance to the local pollen that is irritating your sinuses.
The International Archives of Allergy and Immunology published an article in 2011 that tested how pre-seasonal use of birch pollen honey affected people with birch pollen allergies and discovered that patients taking the honey “reported a 60% lower total symptom score, twice as many asymptomatic days, and 70% fewer days with severe symptoms, and they used 50% less antihistamines compared to the control group” that took conventional meds.
I recommend taking 1 tbsp of raw local honey daily.
5. Omega-3 fatty acids
According to Mother Earth News, a German study published in the journal Allergy found people who have diets rich in of omega-3 fatty acids suffer from fewer allergy symptoms. A second study in Sweden found that children who regularly ate fish prior to age one had much lower allergies by age four.
My favorite sources of omega-3 fatty acids are grass fed meat and eggs, and krill oil. In addition, finding a very pure fish oil supplement is a very effective way of getting large amounts of omega-3 into your diet.
It is becoming common knowledge that your gut is the “home” of your immune system. When your gut is populated with healthy bacteria your immune system works much more efficiently. So it is no surprise to learn that adding “good” bacteria to your gut is a great way to combat allergies.
In fact, in a 2008 study, researchers discovered that people who took probiotics throughout allergy season had lower levels of an antibody that triggered allergy symptoms. They also had higher levels of a different antibody (IgG), thought to play a protective role against allergic reactions. Other researchers found evidence that giving probiotics to newborns and mothers-to-be may help prevent childhood allergies.
7. Avoid Sugar
Because how your body reacts to allergies is dependent on the strength of your immune system making it as strong as possible is a great strategy to combat allergies. On the the most immune suppressant substances know is sugar. Sugar is actually know as a “anti-nutrient” meaning that it robs nutrients already present in your body leaving you less healthy after consuming it.
Sugar is found everywhere and eliminating it can significantly improve your overall health. Learn to read labels and look for anything that has -ose at the end of it. Sugar is often hidden and can be very confusing to identify. A great resource you can use is this helpful guide that will show you 40 different names for sugar so you are able to successfully avoid it.
It you know of others who are suffering with seasonal allergies do them a favor and send them this article. Also be sure to share it or tweet it so that others can get the relief they are looking for! Thanks!