I know exactly what it's like to suffer from seasonal allergies. My symptoms creep up on me as soon as Spring is upon us when the trees start to wake up and continue right through the summer with the dreaded ragweed (my most severe reaction)! Oh and did I also mention grass really gets to me too!
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So, trust me when I say - I feel ya!
Why on earth do we react this way??
Allergies are an abnormal immune response with a very wide range of symptoms. Our immune systems mistakenly perceive a typically nontoxic substance such as pollen, grass, or mold as a harmful invader - a threat to our system that needs to be dealt with. It responds by releasing histamines, now these bad boys are responsible for all the lovely symptoms we experience. We can thank histamines for our sneezing, nasal & respiratory congestion, itchy eyes & increased mucous production. Our immune systems work overtime to rid our bodies of this perceived threat but in the meantime we're left suffering.
For me, I know I get itchy, watery eyes, stuffy/runny (sometimes bloody) nose. I also suffer from violent sneezing, scratchy throat, chills and headaches. Let's just say, not the most fun I've ever had!
So what can we do? How do we deal with seasonal allergies?
I used to think that my only answer was over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines and eventually I even went as far as getting allergy shots. BUT - here's what I've learned since becoming a nutritionist and using alternative methods of health care. OTC antihistamines & even allergy shots offer only symptomatic relief - they don't solve the problem & they sure as heck are not a cure. I can tell you that I still had brutal days suffering from my allergies even with the OTC drugs and shots. My allergies were so bad at one point that they could literally wipe me out for an entire day.
If you are nodding your head, relating to my story, then keep reading! I promise you that these tips will offer you more relief and are longer lasting than anything you're currently trying.
Things To Avoid
Now it's important to eliminate these items from your diet - I'm not talking forever, although that wouldn't be the worst idea! But if you want to prevent flare ups and keep symptoms at bay then it's a good idea to avoid these things before symptoms kick in.
- Dairy (thickens mucous secretions & aggravates inflammation)
- Gluten & wheat (huge culprit in inflammation)
- Coffee (acidic and ultimately adds to inflammation)
- Sugar (major immune suppressor)
Things To Include
Here are my top tips for a more holistic approach to managing & preventing seasonal allergies. Implement these BEFORE symptoms start & continue until the first frost.
- Apple Cider Vinegar - 1 tbsp in a cup of water first thing in the morning and before bed. ACV has some major healing properties and is primarily indicated for allergy symptoms in both humans & animals! Is it going to taste like candy - nope! But it works and that's what matters!
- WATER! How simple is that? Water is helpful in thinning out secretions and flushing toxins out of our system. Make sure you're aiming for 8 cups of water each day.
- Stinging Nettle is an herbal treatment for allergies that won't make you drowsy. It helps remove metabolic wastes and is both gentle and stimulating on the lymph system. It's available as dried leaves, ointments, tinctures, homeopathic remedies and herbal extracts. I would recommend the tea leaves, tinctures or the homeopathic remedies as a natural antihistamine.
- Peppermint Tea is very anti-inflammatory and acts as a decongestant plus it's just so darn soothing!
- Quercetin - take 500mg a day (adults) to help inflammation and boost immunity. Foods that are naturally high in quercetin are onions, capers, broccoli, leafy greens, cranberries, apples & raspberries.
- Buffered Ascorbic Acid - 2,000mg per day will also help inflammation and act as an antioxidant
- Liquid Chlorophyll - 2-3tsp in your water everyday to help rid the body of toxins, give you energy & stimulates liver function
- Foods rich in zinc! Cremini mushrooms, spinach, asparagus, chard, scallops, green peas, oats, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds & miso
Other Things To Include
- Digestive Enzymes
- Probiotic (I think everyone should be taking a good quality probiotic each and everyday regardless)
- Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs): Flaxseed oil, hempseed oil, borage oil, evening primrose oil - to help reduce inflammation
- More raw foods which are enzyme rich
- Smoothies/Juices (I'm talking juicing & not commercial fruit juices) because they are easier on the digestive system & deliver mega nutrients!
- Get regular chiropractic adjustments! I get adjusted at least once a week and this has definitely made a huge impact in my health especially with my allergies.
- Find yourself a homeopath to work closely with. They can suggest particular remedies suited to your symptoms to offer you relief.
- Lastly, find yourself a nutritionist! Work one-on-one to determine your health & wellness goals. Get a customized meal plan tailored to your specific needs and receive on-going support.
Implement these tips starting now & you'll get the relief from your allergies that you've been looking for - naturally!