The pollen has arrived. I went for an early morning walk today and could see it in the air! The last thing we want to deal with is sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, post-nasal drip, and coughing! To help support you during allergy season, I have researched the BEST ways you can support your respiratory health and decrease your histamine response.
I will also share some nutritional supplements which I have found to be incredibly helpful for my patients and my family. If you have more specific concerns with seasonal allergies, gut health, mental health, PMS, or any other health issue, please reach out! I am open for virtual or telehealth visits!
So what is an allergy?
An allergy is a hypersensitive reaction to a normally harmless substance. In the presence of an allergen, the immune system releases histamines and similar chemicals to fight what it perceives as an invader. These chemicals cause a string of reactions, including the swelling and congestion of nasal passages and increased mucus production.
How are allergy symptoms different from Coronavirus symptoms?
Here’s a breakdown:
- Runny nose
- Dry, tickly cough
- Itchy or watery eyes
- Dry Cough
- Trouble Breathing
- Fatigue that comes on suddenly
- Body aches
- Very sore throat
- Gastrointestinal symptoms, including nausea and diarrhea
So how can you prevent allergy symptoms?
To maintain proper hydration and keep energy up, drink at least 1/3 of your body weight in ounces a day. Water is key for allergy relief because it helps to thin secretions and ease expectoration.
Purify the Environment
Make your bedroom a shrine—wash bedding in hot water on a weekly basis and change sheets weekly, use a 10% bleach solution to remove mildew from window ledges, let your closet breathe, and air out rooms. Consider using an air purifier with a HEPA filter to purify the air at home. Here is an example of a purifier on Amazon:
Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter on carpets at least 1x a week.
Stay indoors in the morning or on windy days
Avoid outdoor activity in the when pollen counts are the highest.
Keep the windows closed
When driving keep the windows up and put the air on recirculation to reduce pollen exposure.
Take a shower
After being outside for an extended period of time, take a shower, change your clothing, or at least use a wet washcloth and remove the pollen from your face and eyes.
Wear a mask
Wear a mask (we’ve made them, might as well use them!) if you go outside to do chores (yardwork, gardening, mowing the lawn).
Rinse your sinuses
Rinsing your nasal passages with saline solution (nasal irrigation) is a quick, inexpensive and effective way to relieve nasal congestion. Rinsing directly flushes out mucus and allergens from your nose. Look for a squeeze bottle or a neti pot — a small container with a spout designed for nasal rinsing — at your pharmacy or grocery store. Use water that’s distilled, sterile, previously boiled and cooled, or filtered using a filter with an absolute pore size of 1 micron or smaller to make up the saline irrigation solution. Also be sure to rinse the irrigation device after each use with similarly distilled, sterile, previously boiled and cooled, or filtered water and leave open to air-dry.
Let’s talk about foods…
- Eat lots of flavonoid rich foods!! Bioflavonoids are anti-oxidants and function as mast cell stabilizers, preventing the release of histamine. These foods include pomegranate juice (2 ounces 2x a day), plums, purple grapes/raisins, and berries. Love berries this time of year! Think blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries (frozen counts too!).
- Greatly reduce and consider removing dairy during the allergy season. This is because dairy is a mucus producer and can make allergy symptoms worse.
- Try some local honey! Raw honey has been consumed for millennia to aid in allergy support amongst many other ailments. The theory is that only raw honey contains the enzymes your body needs to fight histamines. Local honey and bee pollen should be your first choice because they introduce pollen from your everyday environment into your system. That way, when everything is blooming, your system has been “educated” to those species.
Here is a fun recipe to try!
DIY Honey Roasted Almond Butter
2 cups organic almonds
½ cup local honey
1 tablespoon coconut oil
¾ teaspoon sea salt
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat, spread the almonds out and drizzle evenly with the honey, coconut oil and salt. Toss so that they are evenly coated. Roast for 15 minutes and transfer to a food processor. Blend until you reach the desired consistency. You may need to add a touch more coconut oil to thicken the mix, or a little more honey if you’d like it sweeter. Store in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks.
Helpful Supplements for Allergies
Probiotics modify the intestinal flora in your belly, which support the immune system. When they’re working at their best, they can alter the natural course of allergic reactions. Certain foods, such as sauerkraut and kimchi, call upon the fermentation process to create good bacteria that help ward off bad things that can make you feel ill. You can also get a healthy dose of probiotics through oral vitamins, which is particularly great if you’re averse to stinky fermented foods.
A foundational ingredient for a healthy immune system is vitamin C. This makes sense because vitamin C is involved in the metabolism of histamine, prostaglandins, and cysteinyl leukotrienes. As an important antioxidant, vitamin C supports immune redox balance and healthy inflammatory response. Vitamin C has been shown to work synergistically with ingredients like quercetin and nettles.
Quercetin is a bioflavonoid that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It’s found in red wine, grapefruit, black tea, and vitamin supplements. It tends to inhibit the growth of histamines (the things that make you sneeze and have a stuffy nose when allergy season rolls around). Studies have shown that quercetin blocks substances that cause allergic reactions, thereby reducing allergy symptoms.
Stinging nettle is a plant that’s named for the prickly hairs that grow on its leaves and stems. This plant is known to have histamine blockers that keep immune cells from releasing chemicals that trigger allergic reactions and allergy symptoms.
I hope these products help you feel better!