Environmental allergens include pollen and mold as well as dust mites, mice and pets. Allergens constitute not only a nuisance, but also a serious health issue. Life-threatening allergic reactions called anaphylaxis can result from exposure to everything from foods and insect venoms to drugs and latex and require serious medical interventions. Symptoms vary by allergy and individual. Seasonal or environmental allergies can cause coughing, itching, runny noses, sneezing and watery eyes.
Conventional treatments for allergies include allergen immunotherapy, medications and nasal sprays and washes. Because of the side effects of many medications, though, you might find natural approaches more effective. Here are 10 natural solutions to try:
Manage stress: Stress hormones affect your immune system and worsen seasonal allergies. Meditation, self-care and managing your schedule offer great ways to alleviate stress. Regular exercise is a great stress reducer, too.
Keep your nose clean: Cleanse your nasal passages with a neti pot or sinus irrigator. Because pollens stick to mucus membranes, this could offer almost instant relief.
Take herbal remedies: Certain herbs function like antihistamines in blocking the release of histamines. One of the best is alfalfa. The roots of the alfalfa plant burrow deep to reach minerals inaccessible to other plants. The taproot reaches down as deep as 20 feet, searching out nutrients and minerals from deposits in the soil, while the leaves contain chlorophyll, an essential component of photosynthesis. Choose a brand of alfalfa free of bacteriocides, fungicides, growth regulators or synthetic hormones.
Try acupuncture: A treatment plan can be developed to relieve the acute symptoms of allergies while also addressing underlying imbalances within the body.
Visit a chiropractor: Chiropractic care permits the immune system to function more effectively — something all allergy sufferers need — by releasing stress on the nervous system. A nervous system free of stress functions more efficiently.
Do a healthy cleanse: The liver is a great mediator of inflammation in the body. When the liver works overtime metabolizing alcohol, medications, processed foods and stress, allergies can flare up. A healthy seven-day cleanse two or three times a year can address not only allergies, but also cravings, focus, sleep and weight. A good combination of herbs in a cleanse include milk thistle; extracts of artichoke, dandelion, schisandra, reshi mushroom and tumeric; and powders of alfalfa, anise seed, blue malva flower, buckthorn bark, fennel seed and rhubarb root. There are products that contain all of these in one tablet.
Take probiotics: Many studies link the presence of beneficial bacteria in the gut to reduced incidence of allergies. Probiotics can stimulate the production of immune enhancing substances. A good probiotic should be tested to survive harsh stomach acids and deliver live bacteria to the lower intestine. Choose a brand that delivers 10 billion CFUs with four bacterial strains, including the powerhouse bifidobacterium lactis HN019, which has been proven in clinical studies to support both digestive and immune health.
Clean the house: I can’t stress this step enough. I addressed in a previous column the adverse effects of using chemical cleaners. A clean house is imperative to reducing allergy symptoms, but not at the expense of your health. Find cleaners that are non-toxic and safe. Vacuum regularly, change air filters, change pillowcases twice a week, clean bookshelves and such other dust collectors as vents.
Address pet problems: If your allergies are severe, this could force a hard choice if you also love pets. Animal dander and saliva are common allergens for many people. If you decide to keep your pets inside, don’t let them in your bedroom. Bathe them often.
Inhale some steam: This simple trick can unstuff a stuffy nose and help you breathe easier. Hold your head over a warm — but not too hot — bowl or sink full of water and place a towel over your head to trap the steam. You also can sit in the bathroom with a hot shower running.
These are a few of the ways to reduce or eliminate your allergy symptoms and keep you feeling better during allergy season.