It’s May and spring is in full bloom with leaves on trees, warmer temperatures, short sleeves and last but not least, allergies! Yes, everyone’s favorite time of year for shedding the extra layers and catching some rays is also responsible for itchy eyes, runny noses, sinus headaches and drowsiness. If you suffer from spring allergies, then keep reading...we’ve got some short term fixes for natural relief and long term answers to help eliminate allergies all together.
Now I know what you are thinking. There is no possible way to get rid of my allergies! I’ve had them since I was a kid or I had an allergy test and I am definitely allergic to pollen or ragweed or my whole family has allergies. Well, take me as an example. I could show you the pictures of my red, blotchy eyes from last year but I’ll spare you the details. I was a mess and I took Allegra every single day. I still suffered but I got some temporary relief. Over the course of the last year, I took some big steps towards repairing my immune, gut and overall health. I also supplement with an all natural supplement called D-Hist made by Orthomolecular. I am proud to say that in a year where so many people are complaining about allergy season, my allergies are about 10% of what they were previously. I still get some itchy eyes every now and again but nothing compared to previous years.
So how did I do it? Well, our digestive tract houses around 80% of the immune system so that’s the best place to start. I spent the last year removing dietary stressors like gluten and most dairy from my diet as well as cutting down on sugar. I also added probiotics to increase the amount of good bacteria in my gut and to help seal up my gut lining. Maintaining high quality gut flora is important because they help kill the foreign invaders before they can ever make their way through the gut barrier into the bloodstream where they can cause an immune response.
When foreign invaders do make their way into the bloodstream, watch out - allergy symptoms will appear, as our immune system responds to what it perceives as a threat - some foreign particle in the blood that shouldn’t be there. Your immune system will often fight back with a substance called histamine. Histamine is essentially a chemical that causes the body to inflame. For example, if you get stung by a bee and you swell up, that’s a histamine response. When you think of your typical allergy meds like Allegra and Claritin, they are all classified as anti-histamines because they shut down a histamine pathway, thereby reducing symptoms such as puffy eyes and sinus headaches.
The most important thing you can do to fix seasonal allergies is to fix your leaky gut. That means re-populating your gut with good bacteria and allowing your intestinal tract to seal up any gaps that allow the bad guys to get through to the bloodstream. You can start to do this by engaging in an elimination diet or by working with a Nutritional Therapist. Eliminating the irritants is the first step in giving your immune system a rest and allowing your gut to heal.
You will also want to stay away from inflammatory foods like alcohol, conventional dairy and sugar during allergy season, as these items are likely to activate your histamine response. Instead opt for anti-inflammatory foods rich in Vitamin C, including oranges, red peppers and kale. Also raw honey is an excellent super food because of its antimicrobial and antiseptic properties.
Here are some great short-term fixes for allergy season:
Supportive Supplements – D-Hist is a supplement from Orthomolecular Products. It is full of quercetin which helps block the release of histamines that trigger the response. It also contains stinging nettles which helps with inflammation in the respiratory tract, including that stuffy nose! This product is also available for kids in chewable form.
Neti Pot – This is one of the oldest tricks in the book. With roots in Ayurvedic Medicine, saline nasal irrigation has grown in popularity in recent years. A stainless steel neti pot like this one is most sanitary. It is really important to boil your water first and then let it cool off before using it. You DO NOT want to use tap water straight from the sink for this. It is equally as important to engage in a thorough breathing technique to dry out the nasal passages. This part is often times skipped but is absolutely essential. For more information on how to properly use a neti pot, send us a message or read this article.
Local Raw Honey & Bee Pollen – If you want a tasty way to ease your allergies, here’s your solution! While not clinically proven, eating small amounts of raw honey and/or bee pollen that is harvested from local bees can help your body adapt to the pollen that is in your area.
Anti-Inflammatory Diet – The Standard American Diet is highly pro-inflammatory. Systemic inflammation causes a whole host of problems and allergies are one of them. Consuming lots of organic vegetables, wild caught fish and healthy oils like cold pressed olive oil can reduce inflammation. Also, minimizing the use of grains and most sugars in your diet will help support your immune system.