Whether the weather is warming up in the spring or cooling down in the fall, a welcome season change can bring unwelcome allergy flare-ups complete with sneezing, itching, runny nose, watery eyes, even some wheezing.
While plenty of people line up at the doctor’s office or start browsing drugstore aisles, seeking out the best remedy, more and more allergy sufferers are turning to Mother Nature. Studies show these remedies actually can help, and without side effects.
Here are six simple ways to do it.
Plan around it.
The simplest place to start is to stay away from your most offensive allergens. Certain times of the day, like early morning and late evening, are high-pollen count times. Dry, hot, windy days kick it up an extra notch. Avoid the great outdoors, even for a little yardwork, at those times. If you have to go out, wear a mask—it might feel weird, but you’ll thank yourself later.
And a shower and some fresh clothes when you come back inside ensures all the allergens are away from you.
Make your kitchen cabinet the new medicine cabinet.
Natural herbal allergy remedies abound, and one of the most studied is quercetin, a plant pigment (flavonoid) with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. It’s found in common foods including onions, green tea, apples, berries, Ginkgo biloba, St. John’s wort, and American elder, red wine, and buckwheat tea, and it’s also available in supplement form.
The way it works is by stabilizing mast cells, which release histamine and other inflammatory signals that trigger sinus congestion and sneezing and all the miseries that come along with it. Quercetin stabilizes mast cells in a way that helps reduce the release of inflammatory, allergy-symptom-producing chemicals.
Change your menu.
There’s power in what eat and what you don’t.
Spicy foods do, in fact, clear your head. The spicier the dish, the more it can thin mucus and clear up your nasal passages. Keep that good old onion and garlic handy, and break out the cayenne pepper, hot ginger, and fenugreek as well.
Food intolerance is more related to seasonal allergies than you might think. Even foods that cause mild sensitivity like itchy throat add a burden to your immune system and make you less able to deal with the real offenders.
Try something ancient.
If you’ve never tried acupuncture, Chinese medicine may be worth checking out. The philosophy is that stimulating certain points on the body can cause changes within. One study published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine showed 26 hayfever-suffering participants ALL experiencing reduced allergy symptoms after only two acupuncture treatments.
Stay ahead of the curve.
If you’re turning to a natural solution, start supplementing your diet with it several weeks before allergy season hits. You’ll need three to six weeks for a head start. Quercetin, for example, can strengthen the cell membrane of mast cells, but that process takes time, so get nice and fortified before symptoms have a chance to kick in.
And one final word to the wise: don’t mix your methods. Try one remedy at a time so you’ll know exactly how you’re responding. But the more important reason is that alternative treatments can be very effective, and if you’re also using traditional over-the-counter or prescription drugs along with that, you may get too much effect. Do not mix your methods without talking to a doctor or allergist.