Natural Allergy Relief
in 3 Steps
Smell that spring Portland air. Did you sneeze just thinking about that? Are your eyes watering at the mere suggestion? Did you reach for your Benadryl? Many popular allergy medications (including Benadryl) are now being implicated in memory loss and possible onset of Alzheimer’s (click here to see if your makes the list of medications to avoid). Surely there must be natural allergy relief: a way to minimize symptoms without compromising your long-term health. Of course there is! I want you to make a different choice this spring and summer — choose to breathe easy without relying on all of those allergy medications that make you feel foggy and sleepy. It takes a little more consciousness, but you can do a few basic things to take control of your allergies at home that will make a big difference.
Eat an anti-inflammatory diet
I talk about this all the time, but that is only because it it so important, and because eating inflammatory foods can aggravate all inflammatory health issues. The symptoms you get with seasonal allergies are caused by your immune system over-reacting to substances that are innocuous. Your body mistakes them for invaders and attacks. To really avoid allergies, you need to avoid allergens. But if you are allergic to grass, tree pollen, and dust — how are you going to avoid that? You could stay inside, but what if you love the outdoors? I hear the sunshine calling to you.
Since you can’t totally avoid your allergens, the next best thing is to minimize your overall inflammatory levels so that you won’t be triggered as easily by the pollen. The less your immune system is already fighting other things, the more it can handle normal amounts of allergens without over-the-top reactions. One of the best ways to minimize your inflammatory levels is by following a classic anti-inflammatory diet. Click here for an infographic I created that give guidelines for anti-inflammatory eating.
Use a neti-pot or sinus rinse daily
This may not sound like fun, but it can be a game changer for allergy sufferers. I prefer the squeeze bottle sinus rinse, but others prefer a neti-pot. Use one of these daily, preferably at the end of the day, to wash away the allergens instead of letting them collect in your sinuses and stir up inflammation while you sleep.
Nettles can be a great weapon in the natural allergy fight. They are a natural antihistamine, so they keep your body from reacting whole-heartedly to all of those pesky allergens. You can find nettle in tea, tincture, or capsule form — choose according to which you’d be more diligent about taking. Note that nettles may need to be avoided if you are allergic to plants in the ragweed family.
Bonus: Get some acupuncture
The Academy of Otolaryngology (study of diseases of the nose and throat) now recommends acupuncture as a part of treating seasonal allergies. This, from their new guidelines: Acupuncture may help relieve symptoms and improve quality of life for people with perennial allergic rhinitis, and may help with seasonal allergies, too, according to several studies. Thus it could be an option for people looking for non-pharmaceutical treatments. Dr. Sandra Lin, Johns Hopkins associate professor of otolaryngology and one of the guideline offers says (in response to the seemingly surprising recommendation of acupuncture),”I’m telling you there is some evidence base for it.”
There you go, the 3 things you can do on your own to get your allergies under control so you can enjoy these lovely Portland spring and summer months. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet, use a neti-pot, and try some nettles. And if you need more help, you can always get some acupuncture.