Alternative methods for dealing with Spring seasonal allergies
Fed up with being stuffed up? Are you using tissues endlessly to wipe your watery eyes? It’s that time of year again - Spring. We wait eagerly for the sun to stay in the evening sky just that little bit longer, for the blossoms to form on the trees and to finally start peeling off our numerous winter clothing layers. And then allergies hit. For some people, the thrill of springtime doesn’t last very long, as they start sneezing, sniffling, coughing and get watery eyes. Some people even experience rashes, sinus infections, and their asthma worsens.
When Spring temperatures start to rise, plants start to blossom and release pollen into the air. Pollen is the most common cause of seasonal allergies, also known as allergic rhinitis or hayfever.
While there are some great conventional allergy solutions, there are some natural remedies for springtime allergy relief that are worth trying:
1. Pollen control
Did you know that you can aggravate allergies if you expose yourself unnecessarily to pollen on your clothing, bedding, and in your hair and sinuses?
- Rinse your hair before bed (we collect a multitude of pollen particles in our hair by the end of the day). If you go to bed without rinsing your hair, you risk spreading pollen all over your pillowcase.
- When you remove your clothing for the day, try to keep it in an isolated area (i.e. a laundry room) rather than your bedroom, to keep excess pollen away. Hang wet bedding and clothing inside to dry to reduce the amount of pollen on them rather than letting them be exposed to the pollenated breeze.
- Use skin friendly laundry cleaner on your clothing to soothe sensitive or allergic skin and reduce the risk of irritating your breathing by using fragrance free cleaning options.
- Use a saline nasal rinse morning and nightly to clear the pollen particles from your sinus passages. These are available in many pharmacies.
- Close all windows and doors at times when pollen is at its highest count, from around sunrise until late morning. Let someone else mow the lawn (and you’ve escaped a chore with the excuse of better health!).
- Exercise lightly outdoors. When you run, you tend to breathe more deeply which takes in more pollen.
2. Nourish yourself to support gut health
80% of your immune system stems from your gut health. An overactive immune system plays a part in allergic reactions, so keeping the gut nourished may help to decrease inflammation, which may aggravate it:
Take a probiotic with a minimum of 30 billion healthy bacteria daily, or increase your intake of fermented foods such as kefir, kombucha, organic Greek yogurt, gherkins, kimchi, sauerkraut and miso soup. Just one tablespoon daily of these healthy bacteria-containing foods can really give your gut a boost.
Avoid foods that may make your body react. Grass allergy sufferers may avoid peaches, celery, tomatoes, oranges and melons. Ragweed allergy sufferers could have cross-sensitivity to melons, bananas, tomatoes, zucchini, sunflower seeds, chamomile and echinacea. For those concerned about eliminating certain vitamins by eliminating these foods, try supplementing with 1000mg of vitamin C. Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine (it can reduce the allergic response).
Those with sensitivity to gluten should avoid wheat products.
Nutritional supplements may help to calm the immune system response and reduce inflammation. In addition to Vitamin C, check out a few other ideas here:
- Quercetin- a plant based anti-histamine, taken in supplement form, 200-400mg daily
- Goldenseal- the yellow root of this wildflower may reduce inflammation. Take in capsule form, 400mg up to 3x daily.
- Stinging nettle- this plant may block histamine, which is similar to the action of an over the counter allergy solution. It can last for four hours, and take effect within fifteen minutes. Take 300mg twice daily of the dried leaf in capsule form.
Take care to discuss natural options with your health care provider or pharmacist, particularly if you are on any medications or have any medical conditions, to determine if there are any interactions with your existing therapies.
This Spring, enjoy the longer days and beautiful blossoms, hopefully with a bit more ease, using some of these simple alternative methods to get on top of your allergies.
Be well x
Kathleen Wills is an integrative and holistic medicine specialist. A passionate advocate for whole person health, she regularly speaks at corporate and educational organisations and lends her expertise to wellness retreats around New Zealand. She holds a US doctorate degree in Integrative Medicine (I.MD). She was named as one of New Zealand’s sought-after wellbeing experts by New Zealand Herald’s Viva magazine (September 2014).
This article isn’t intended to substitute for any health advice from your medical professional. Dr Kathleen is not a registered GP in New Zealand and as such does not act as your primary health provider or prescribe pharmaceuticals.