Natural Solutions for Seasonal Allergies
Spring is the time when the earth comes back to life; everything gets green again and hundreds of beautiful plants begin to bloom. It is also the time when seasonal allergy sufferers have to stock up on their go-to allergy remedies. Symptoms such as a runny nose, itchy/watery eyes, sneezing, headaches and fatigue can put a real damper on the season and negatively affect quality of life.
The conventional treatment for allergies is antihistamine medications. While these may offer symptomatic relief, they don’t solve the problem. You just have to keep running back to the pharmacy to get more until summer brings a respite! Additionally, some people don’t do well with antihistamine medications as they can cause unpleasant side effects such as brain fog, drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, etc.
The good news is that there are a handful of natural ways to treat seasonal allergy symptoms which I’ve outlined for you below.
LOCAL BEE POLLEN AND RAW HONEY
You can find bee pollen and raw honey at your local farmers market or health food store. Bee pollen has been shown to decrease the IgE mediated activation of mast cells, thereby dampening the allergic response. Local, raw honey acts similarly to a vaccine. By giving yourself a little dose of the local pollen through the honey, you allow your body to begin building a tolerance to the pollen and have a less severe allergic response. It’s best to start consuming honey and/or bee pollen daily at least six weeks before allergy season begins. Try this delicious fat bomb recipe which includes both!
Red ginseng, aka Panax ginseng, is an adaptogenic herb which has been shown to have anti-allergic properties. Studies show red ginseng can be effective in reducing allergy-induced nasal inflammation along with subsequent symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, itching, and even more severe conditions like asthma.
Nettles have been used for centuries to treat allergy symptoms because they reduce the amount of histamine that is produced by the body in response to an allergen. I recommend drinking a cup of nettle tea daily. In my opinion, nettle isn’t the most delicious herb so I drink this tea because the peppermint and vanilla overpower it!
Quercetin is a flavonoid found in foods such as cruciferous veggies, leafy greens, citrus fruits, apples, peppers, etc. It’s also a natural antihistamine that works without the side effects of medications. I recommend taking quercetin regularly as soon as seasonal allergies hit in order to build up levels in the body and then continuing throughout allergy season. Consider starting with 1000 mg of Quercetin, taken twice daily on an empty stomach. In addition to quercetin, there are a few other immune-supporting, natural antihistamine nutrients which work synergistically to keep allergy symptoms in check. Those are vitamin C, bioflavonoids, bromelain and NAC. I like this formula because it combines those nutrients with quercetin and nettle mentioned above.
Considering that ~70% of your immune system resides within your gut, it's no surprise gut problems can trigger or worsen immune-related conditions like seasonal allergies. The driver of your allergy symptoms can be chronic inflammation in the gut, which puts your immune system on high-alert, wreaking havoc on your enjoyment of the spring blooms! Probiotics, fiber and prebiotics are the trifecta for a happy gut. I recommend lots of low-starch veggies, nuts, seeds, fermented veggies and prebiotic-rich foods such as dandelion greens and garlic. I also highly recommend a pharmaceutical-grade spore-form probiotic that has been proven to strengthen the immune system and produce essential nutrients and antioxidants in the gut. Take 2 capsules (undivided) every day with food. To learn more about how to heal your gut, check out this post.
Vitamin D has been shown to naturally support immune system function and strengthen respiratory health, among many other benefits! Low vitamin D levels are associated with an increase in seasonal allergies. I recommend getting out into the sunshine for at least 20 minutes a day and considering a high-quality vitamin D3 supplement. This is the one I recommend which comes in an easy to absorb liquid form. Dosage depends on the degree of deficiency so ask your doctor to test your levels next time you’re getting labs done. Optimal range is between 50 – 70. In the meantime, supplement with a maintenance dose of 4,000 IU / day, taken with food.
GO DAIRY FREE
Dairy foods are mucus-producing for many people and can make allergy season that much worse. To decrease congestion, I recommend a complete elimination of all dairy foods (including milk, cream, cheese, yogurt, etc.) for 30 days. Notice if any of your symptoms improve over that elimination period. After the 30 days, you can reintroduce to see how dairy affects you.
USE A NETI POT
The Neti Pot has its roots in Ayurvedic medicine (which you guys know I love!) as a gentle and effective way to rinse the nasal cavity. By flushing the nasal cavity with a gently warmed saline solution, you clear out allergens and loosen mucus. You can use a Neti Pot two to three times a week.