Well, there’s no denying it: the pollen has arrived. If you feel like you just recovered from cold and flu season, it’s because you probably just did. Let’s keep your immunity up and learn what allergies are, how to prevent them and how to best combat them. Since there’s some overlap this year: how do you know if it’s a cold or allergies? If you’re feeling blood shot and teary eyed, sniffling, and stuffy, you’re likely one of the 35 million Americans that suffer from seasonal allergies. Allergies can be very debilitating to day-to-day activities and the medications (often anti-histamines) can be sedative. In my practice, I offer people natural solutions to carry them through the spring and help them actually enjoy the season of renewal.
Natural therapies for seasonal allergies are geared towards three basic goals:
- Enhancing the liver’s ability to detoxify
- Reducing inflammation
- Reducing histamine levels
Our solutions are chemical-free, are non-sedative and address the underlying cause of the liver’s inability to properly detoxify.
Our liver is our body’s filtration system that traps and processes toxins as they enter our bodies through our respiratory system, digestive system, and skin. It is arguably the hardest working organ, as it’s constantly converting hazardous material into safer compounds to be excreted (especially in the day and age of modified foods and loads of environmental toxins).
Our liver filters two quarts of blood per minute, extracting 99% of viruses, bacteria, environmental toxins, and more before recirculating it through the rest of the body. Pollen is considered an external offender by the body, so the liver processes it to be excreted as well.
Once they’re filtered, these toxins need a way out. Our body’s exit strategies include the skin, urinary tract and digestive tract. If these areas are functioning at less than 100%, they will recirculate back to the liver. Seasonal allergy symptoms are a result of the liver’s inability to keep up with the workload it is dealt.
5 Tips for Allergy Recovery
1. Get some relief – There are a variety of herbs and supplements that can provide some allergy relief. Most natural remedies are cumulative in nature, so keep that in mind. My all around favorite is Allerplex by Standard Process. A whole foods supplement by Standard Process, it offers year round benefits and can literally eradicate seasonal allergies altogether. For added liver support, Antronex is a powerful adjunct. Pulmaco provides additional support with opening airways and managing asthma symptoms. For sinus pressure and congestion, Nazanol by Metagenics is our favorite choice.
*If you have a known history of prior seasonal problems, it’s best to start supplementation two weeks before they are expected to begin.
2. Use a Neti Pot/Saline Spray – A neti pot is a device that cleanses and refreshes the nasal passages. Neti pots are usually plastic or ceramic and they resemble a small teapot. The neti pot has its origins in Ayurvedic medicine, with “neti” being Sanskrit for “nasal cleansing.”
How do neti pots work? By design, a neti pot enables its user to pour a nasal rinse into the nostrils in such a way that it flushes out irritants and thins out mucus. This typically leads to less congestion and easier breathing through the nose. A neti pot acts as somewhat of a booster for your body’s own natural operations. Microscopic, hair-like structures called cilia line your nasal cavity and the surrounding sinuses. Cilia help to usher mucus out of your nose. Nasal irrigation with a saline solution is said to help the cilia work better at getting rid of mucus and unwanted particles (like dust, pollen, etc.) that often lead to sinus issues. A neti pot is filled with purified water (not bacteria-filled tap water!) and salt or salt-based mixture. Adding salt to purified water permits the water to travel through the sensitive membranes of the nasal passages with very little to no burning sensations.
There are also Neti Sprays and Neti Stiks. Neti saline sprays are premixed and easier for travel, and Neti Stiks use aromatherapy to aid nasal congestion (typically using peppermint and/or eucalyptus). Stop by AWC to check out our selection.
3. Up Your Fiber
The average American gets a total of 15 grams of fiber per day, where primal predecessors were getting upwards of 120 grams of fiber per day. Fiber assists in regular bowel movements and also binds to toxins for excretion. Increasing your daily intake of vegetables, seeds, and whole grains improves detoxification and chronic disease in the long term. If you have reason to believe that your detoxification pathways are compromised, a 3 or 10 day cleanse will also help (and another good reason to do so in the transition seasons – spring and fall).
4. Adequate Hydration
By drinking plenty of caffeine-free fluids, your body is better able to flush toxins from your system. To determine hydration repletion, the general rule is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day. Herbal teas an count towards your daily water goal. For every cup of caffeinated beverage you consume, it’s best to add an extra cup of water to compensate for dehydration.
5. Break a Sweat Daily
This can be a double-edged sword for allergy sufferers. You may want to exercise outside, but you have a flare up every time you try. Consider exercising indoors until you have a handle on your allergies. Our skin is our largest organ and sweat is a great vehicle for excreting toxins. Aside from exercise, infrared saunas are another tool for enhancing detoxification if you have the access.
Finally, know your triggers. You may think you know that pollen is causing your suffering, but other substances may be involved as well. More than two-thirds of spring allergy sufferers actually have year-round symptoms. Monitor pollen and mold counts.
Tips for Limiting Your Allergen Exposure
1. Keep windows and doors shut at home and in your car during allergy season.
2. Know which pollens you are sensitive to and then check pollen counts. In spring and summer, during tree and grass pollen season, levels are highest in the evening. In late summer and early fall, during ragweed pollen season, levels are highest in the morning.
3. Take a shower, wash your hair and change your clothes after you’ve been working or playing outdoors.
4. Wear a NIOSH-rated 95 filter mask when mowing the lawn or doing other chores outdoors.
Finally, while the term “seasonal allergies” generally refers to grass, pollen and mold, there are other different groups of triggers that are closely tied to particular seasons. Among them:
- Smoke (campfires in summer, fireplaces in winter)
- Insect bites and stings (usually in spring and summer)
- Chlorine in indoor and outdoor swimming pools
- Candy ingredients (Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter)
- Pine trees and wreaths (Thanksgiving to Christmas)
Have questions? Let us know! Call us at 843-416-8218 or email us here.
- Sources: http://acaai.org/allergies/seasonal-allergies, www.draxe.com