Natural Allergy Remedies

by Almira on May 19, 2011 · 1 comment

All-Natural Allergy Remedies

[image: Healthy Republic]

Seasonal allergies were never an issue for me until I moved to Atlanta. Although spring in the south is gorgeous with fragrant flora showing off new buds and greenery, it also happens to be the time when pollen is at its highest. During the month of April, Pine trees coat everything in a fine yellow-green film—most people don’t even bother washing their cars, knowing that it will only be re-coated with pollen hours later. I was quite unprepared for the seasonal allergies I would experience when I awoke one lovely spring morn with swollen, red, puffy eyes and sinuses. Delightful.

As wonderful as allergy symptoms are (sniffles, migraines, sneezing, itching, and fatigue), I wanted to feel like a human again, but I didn’t want to have to resort to over the counter antihistamine drugs due to their negative side-effects including: dry nasal cavities (which further exacerbates the problem), drowsiness and other undesirable conditions. So, through some online research, I learned why our bodies react so violently to allergens and found some natural, side-effect-free sources to remedy my poor itchy eyes and nose.

Why Do We have Allergies?

 

According to the National Institute of Health:

An allergy is an exaggerated immune response or reaction to substances that are generally not harmful…In a person with allergies, the immune response is oversensitive. When it recognizes an allergen, it releases chemicals such as histamines which fight off the allergen. This causes itching, swelling, mucus production, muscle spasms, hives, rashes, and other symptoms, which vary from person to person…Allergies may make certain medical conditions such as sinus problems, eczema, and asthma worse.

Natural Allergy Remedies

[image: Healthy Republic]

Preventative, Natural Remedies For Allergies:

Quercetin:

In the bioflavonoid family and has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It is able to fight allergies by limiting the release of histamines in the body by stabilizing mast cells. It is found naturally in fruits and vegetables—particularly in the skin of red apples and the outer layers of onion. Eat them raw for highest potency.

  • Quercetin works best if you begin taking it as a supplement (this is the kind I buy) two to three weeks before allergy season to build up nutrient levels in the body and increase its tolerance to histamines and allergens. Take quercetin with Vitamin C and bromelain for best results. Continue to include raw sources of quercetin in your diet as well.

Vitamin C:

Also known as ascorbic acid, is a natural antihistamine that both prevents the release of histamines and increases the detoxification of histamines. It also strengthens our other antioxidants such as vitamins A and E.

  • As a general rule of thumb, adults may take 1000 mg of vitamin C each day, throughout the year to fight allergies or 3000 mg for a limited time to combat serious allergies, colds and flu.

In the chart below, notice that oranges and lemons are not the highest sources of Vit. C, which are always top of mind when we think about that nutrient, they just happened to be the most shelf-stable for long sea voyages and have since become an icon for the Vit C market.

Vitamin C Sources

[image: Wikipedia]

Bromelain:

An enzyme found in pineapples that helps the body to absorb nutrients optimally.

  • Take with Quercetin and Vitamin C to increase their absorption.

Neti Pot:

Used for hundreds of year to prevent allergies and relieve allergy suffering, neti pots can most easily be described as a nose bidet in which you flush the allergens out of your nose with water. See video below for instructions:

  • Flush once or twice per day.

Stinging Nettle:

If you need a quick antihistamine burst, try taking stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), which acts similarly to a prescription antihistamine without the negative side effects.*

  • The best way to take stinging nettle is in the form of a strong tea brewed for at least 10 minutes, but you could also take a freeze-dried extract of the leaves instead as a convenient supplement. The recommended dosage would be about 300 mg freeze dried leaves 2 or 3 times daily during allergy season.

* The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, can trigger side effects and can interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs with care, under the supervision of a health care provider. Stinging nettle is generally considered safe when used as directed. Occasional side effects include mild stomach upset, fluid retention, and hives or rash (mainly from topical use). It is important to be careful when handling the nettle plant because touching it can cause an allergic rash. Stinging nettle should never be applied to an open wound. Because nettle can alter the menstrual cycle and may contribute to miscarriage, pregnant women should not use nettle.

Local, Raw Honey:

You know the story…bees carry pollen from different local flowers, bring it back to their hive and make it into honey. When you ingest honey from your local area, it exposes you in little increments to the plants your allergic to and helps your body to build up immunity to those allergens—similar to getting an allergy shot or doing sublingual immunotherapy.

The only problem with this remedy is: what if you’re allergic to ragweed and your honey bees are collecting pollen from local blooming flowers instead? Seems like you’re out of luck. There’s no way of knowing how much pollen from each type of plant will be in your local honey for that particular season. While this is a nice addition to your allergy-fighting regime, its certainly shouldn’t be the only preventative action you take for allergy relief.

  • Take 2-3 spoonfuls of local, raw honey each day for several months prior to pollen season.

Other Drug-Free Remedies:

Acupressure:

I need to do an entire post on the benefits of acupressure. Its fast, easy and you don’t have to go pay a massage therapist for relief. Simply apply pressure—on your own or with a friend—to the pressure point for about 3 minutes and you have relief! See a quick how-to here or study the subject a bit more in depth with Acupressure’s Potent Points: A Guide to Self-Care for Common Ailments (I absolutely LOVE this book—easy to use and understand) or here.

Butterbur:

Isn’t easily found in the U.S. but is a common weed in Europe. It got its name from the days before refrigeration when its leaves were used to to wrap and keep butter during the hot months. Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) is another alternative to using antihistamine drugs. It has been shown to be as effective as the drug cetirizine, which is the active ingredient in Zyrtec; however Butterbur does not cause drowsiness like cetirizine does. Butterbur is in the same family as Ragweed so it could possibly worsen allergies in some cases.

  • Take 32 mg per day, divided into 4 doses.

Sublingual Immunotherapy:

Different from specific immunotherapy (allergy shots). Rather than giving patients shots over a period of 3-5 years, sublingual immunotherapy is a gentler, shot-free, daily therapy that begins right before peak pollen season and is performed by putting drops of a small dose of allergen under the patient’s tongue for 2 minutes before it is swallowed.

Lifestyle Changes:

  • Use that A/C — don’t use window fans to cool your house as they bring in more allergens from outside.
  • Keep car windows closed when driving to reduce allergens in your car.
  • Clean your home using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter or switch to hardwoods flooring if you can afford it.
  • Limit your time spent outdoors when pollen counts are at their highest. Check your Local & National Allergy Forecast to see when those times are. Ragweed tends to highest from mid-August until the first frost.

Have any of these natural allergy remedies helped you?

I am not a physician and cannot give medical advice. This information is purely that—informational and one should always speak to their doctor before making any changes to their health regime.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Anastasia May 19, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Thank you so much for this post! I’m definitely going to use these for a certain very important man in my life. Poor guy has a touch of the sniffles this season… Hopefully these will help! Thank you!

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