It looks like we’re in for an early Spring! The trees have started blooming, which will be followed by weeds and grasses and, for many of us, allergies! Sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes and ears are all signs that allergies may be affecting you.
For those who would like to avoid conventional allergy medications there are a number of natural options to help keep your symptoms to a minimum. Quercitin, a compound found in many common fruits and vegetables, has long been used to reduce the symptoms of allergies. It exerts its effects by reducing histamine levels in the tissues. Nettles is an herb that is also commonly used to reduce the symptoms of allergies.
In our clinic, we commonly use a formula called AllerDHQ that contains quercitin, nettles and several other compounds and is very effective for symptomatic relief of allergy symptoms and can support gut health as well. A dose of 1 capsule once or twice a day should be enough for most people, though some may need to take up to 2 caps twice a day for short periods.
If you have allergies more than a couple of weeks every year, consider coming into the clinic for a homeopathic allergy shot: this helps to lessen the need for other supplements or medications for the season and will help you become less allergic over time. We have some patients who come in for this every year and their allergies become less and less severe over time. Also, if you have chronic or severe allergies, be sure to let your naturopathic doctor know, as there are underlying causes that lead to allergy susceptibility. Once the underlying conditions are addressed your allergies will lessen and continue to improve. It IS possible to completely eliminate them over time. Yes, even CAT allergies! We have seen it many times.
- Your hair is a pollen mop. Consider wearing a hat outdoors (you may want to braid long hair to decrease “surface area”) and wash your face and hair after being outside for long periods, especially if it is windy.
- If you get very exposed from being outdoors, also consider a quick shower and change of clothes. The clothes may hang on to pollen particles, which can trigger allergy symptoms every time you inadvertently touch your clothes and then touch your face.
- Think about your pets, especially long-haired dogs. They can spread pollen and particles all over your house. If your pet spends a lot of time outside, it may help to wipe her fur with a damp cloth before allowing her back into the house – this would preferably done by someone without allergies, as it can transfer from your pet right back to you.
- Rinse off your car. Our cars get covered in pollen and if it gets on your hands when you enter or exit, you can touch your face or eyes and set off symptoms.
- Consider using an air filter in your bedroom or house. Breathing pure air all night long can go a long way to reducing allergy misery. We have a discount program with EnviroKlenz, the best air filter we have found. You can see a video of some very thorough independent comparison testing done here.
- Neti pot treatments (nasal lavage) are a saving grace for many people. This is a little porcelain “Aladdin’s lamp” looking thing that you fill with rinsing solution and use to rinse out your sinuses. It clears out dust, mold and pollen particles that would otherwise keep you sneezing. Some have found that the squeeze bottle varieties work fine for them, though I tend to feel that you can achieve a more thorough cleansing with the neti pot. You don’t have to buy saline packets – you can make it yourself!
- For each 1 cup warm water, preferably filtered, add 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (less harsh on mucous membranes than table salt). The water does not have to be boiled or sterilized. The water should be as close to body temperature as possible or slightly warmer. When you place a finger in it, it should feel neither hot nor cool.
- Fill neti pot, stand over sink with head tipped over horizontally parallel with the floor (you don’t want your head tipped up to prevent the solution going down your throat). Insert the nozzle of the neti pot in the upper nostril, block off your throat with your tongue and pour through until the water is running out of the other side for as long as you can stand. Then switch to the other side. Repeat. Twice on each side should be enough to use up all the solution. Then, keeping your head leaned over the sink, gently blow out any remaining water. This removes particles that would otherwise be stimulating a histamine response all day long. Once or twice per day should be enough for most people.
If you have nasal or sinus polyps, have had surgery there or have otherwise had problems with blockages in the sinus area (you will know), you should talk to your doctor before attempting the neti pot or other nasal rinse if you don’t have experience with it. You want to make sure that all the solution that goes in comes back out. Fluid that stays stuck in the sinuses can add to pressure and discomfort. If you try it once and feel that there is still solution stuck in your sinuses or experience an increase of discomfort, discontinue and see your doctor. Don’t worry, the solution will work its way out and the salt will prevent bacterial infection, but you don’t want to keep adding to it.
Most people with mild to moderate allergies will be able to manage their symptoms very well with these therapies. If you have particularly severe allergies it is best to work directly with your naturopathic doctor.