The warm spring relieves us from the long winter, but it also brings along an unwanted allergen—pollen. In the bodies of allergy sufferers, pollen first enters the nasal passages and latches onto mast cells, which are immune cells located in the mucous membranes lining the nasal passages. These cells respond to the allergen by releasing chemicals, including histamine. Histamine then initiates responses to rid the body of the invading allergen, among them the common allergy symptoms of sneezing and watery eyes. Over 26 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies and, unfortunately, allergy medications provide limited relief. It’s worth considering these natural remedies to reduce or even alleviate your spring allergies if your body is not responding to the medications.
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is an antimicrobial, fermented food that’s full of probiotics. Health experts tout its various benefits, from weight loss to heart health. In addition, ACV is known to reduce mucous production and cleanse the lymphatic system, lessening allergy symptoms and boosting immune system function. Keep in mind that ACV is very strong and must always be diluted. Mix 1tsp with 1 cup of water and drink up to three times daily. To make the drink more appetizing, add 2tbsp of orange juice.
2. Neti Pots
Neti pots are effective tools to clear your sinuses, granting you restful sleep and easy breathing. This treatment involves using a saline solution to rinse your nasal cavity, flushing out allergens and loosening mucus.
3. Local Honey
There is no concrete scientific proof that local honey is a natural remedy for spring allergies, but it is a popular treatment regardless. Local, raw honey is superior to generic honey because it contains traces of local pollen and is also unpasteurized. The traces of local pollen can help your body adapt to the allergens in your local environment, and unpasteurized honey contains the most enzymes and antioxidants, making its antifungal properties very effective.
4. Anti-Inflammatory foods
In addition to honey, there are several foods that can decrease inflammation and combat histamine, alleviating symptoms. Antioxidants (flavonoids in particular) are natural antihistamines found in onions, berries, garlic, and broccoli. Omega-3 rich foods (including salmon, walnuts, and flaxseed oil) are also anti-inflammatory foods, helping to keep sinus irritation under control. Additionally, spicy foods are decongestants and can help clear up sinuses, reducing nasal symptoms.
5. Avoid certain foods
There are also foods that worsen allergy symptoms. Some people feel worse after consuming apples, peaches, cherries, zucchini, tomatoes, and kiwis. These individuals may have oral allergy syndrome, where their immune system is activated by proteins in certain foods that resemble pollen. Consider cutting back on these foods to see if your symptoms reduce.
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6. Vitamin D
Research on vitamin D is limited, but Australian scientists have observed that asthma in children reduces when sun exposure increases. Vitamin D is an immune modulator, and lower levels of vitamin D seem to be associated with increased IgE and eosinophils—two allergy markers. Asthma is often exacerbated by allergies, so keep your vitamin D intake in mind (but be careful to not overdose).
7. Essential oils
Essential oils have antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, and anti-allergenic properties. Rub drops of lavender, eucalyptus, lemon, or peppermint on your neck, chest, and temples for quick relief from congestion or headaches.
Acupuncture needles target specific points in the body, relieving pain or even certain symptoms. The Annals of Internal Medicine, a journal published by the American College of Physicians, published a study of participants who suffered from pollen allergy. The participants were divided into three groups: the first received acupuncture treatment and took antihistamines when needed, the second received “fake” acupuncture treatments (i.e. the needles were placed in non-meaningful points) and took antihistamines when needed, and the third only took antihistamines. After eight weeks, the patients who received the real acupuncture treatments demonstrated improvement in their allergy symptoms and used fewer antihistamines than those in the other groups. Researchers are not definitive about their position on acupuncture, because the placebo effect influenced the outcome of those in the second group. However, acupuncture is a safe method and is worth a try.