Allergy season has arrived, and this year, it seems to be particularly bad in the Washington DC area – unfortunately, for many, this is the downside of the wonderful spring weather we’ve been enjoying. For many allergy sufferers, relief comes in the form of prescription or over-the-counter drugs, but there are a number of natural remedies that provide equal, if not better, and safer relief. Here are some natural remedies that may help:
Saline Nasal Rinse
This is the single most effective thing you can do to help prevent seasonal allergies. Using a Neti Pot regularly to rinse out nasal passages helps get rid of irritants and prevents them from settling long enough to cause a reaction. For more information on how using a saline rinse can help you during allergy season, click here.
Strengthen Your Immune System
Allergies are a disorder of the immune system – they occur when the immune system responds inappropriately, excessively, or not at all. People with healthy immune systems tend to not suffer from allergies.
“Using nature-based products can be a very useful way to handle mild allergies and a useful adjunct for more significant allergies, and there are many types of treatments you can safely try,” says Mary Hardy, MD, director of integrative medicine at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Among those generating the loudest buzz right now is the European herb butterbur (Petasites hybridus), which, says Hardy, “has had some very impressive clinical trial results.” *
Many naturopathic doctors also believe that certain nutrients can help soothe seasonal allergies. In particular, grape seed extract and a flavanoid compound called quercetin, can be helpful in reducing allergy symptoms, especially when combined with vitamin C. All of these occur naturally in certain foods, but supplementation may be more effective.
Hot, spicy foods
Hot, spicy foods help thin mucous secretions, which can help clear nasal passages. The most frequently recommended spices for this purpose include cayenne pepper, hot ginger, and fenugreek, as well as the traditional onion and garlic.
Food allergies and food intolerances may be more closely linked to seasonal allergies than we realize. Food sensitivities that lead to upset stomach or allergic reactions present a load on the immune system, reducing its ability to cope with the challenges seasonal allergies present. If you suffer from food allergies, be especially conscious this time of year of what you eat and avoid your trigger foods.
If you’re sensitive to pollen, keep the windows closed on days when the pollen count is high. Wash clothes you’ve worn outside before hanging back in your closet. Take a shower to wash pollen out of your hair before going to bed. If you are highly susceptible, you may want to consider wearing a facial mask while you’re outdoors.
Be aware that even natural remedies can be toxic if not used properly, and especially when used in conjunction with conventional allergy medications. If you have moderate to severe allergies, you may want to seek the advice of a physician before self-treating.
* Source: WebMD.com