Spring in the air, trees budding and lawns turning green are one of those good news/bad news things. Move over cold and flu season and enter all that miserable sniffling and sneezing triggered by trees and grasses that come back to life when the weather turns milder.
Seasonal allergies — hay fever, allergic asthma and allergic conjunctivitis — are faced by more than 35 million Americans each year. The culprit – pollens, which are tiny, egg-shaped powdery grains released from flowering plants and carried by the wind or insects. When pollen is present in the air, it can land in a person’s eyes, nose, lungs, and skin to set up an allergic reaction.
But that is only a part of the allergy equation. About 20% of Americans have some kind of allergic reaction to food, water or even air year-round. There are many theories as to why we suffer from allergies. Some scientists believe if one of your parents has an allergy, there is an increased chance that you will have an allergy. If both of your parents have allergies, there is an even higher chance that you will develop allergies.
And some believe that exposure to allergens when your body’s defense is weakened may also contribute to the development of allergies. So, whether it is genetics or environmental, let’s take a closer look at allergies.
What is an allergy?
An allergy is an overreaction of your immune system to something that is foreign to your body, called an allergen. It could be something you eat, inhale into your lungs, inject into your body or touch. The allergen you are reacting to may not affect other healthy individuals.
People can be allergic to pollen, mold, antibiotics, food such as peanuts or shellfish, or any number of other things in the environment. When exposed to an allergen, your immune system generates an inflammatory response, giving you symptoms like coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes, a runny nose, scratchy throat, hives or rash.
Scratching and sneezing might be uncomfortable, however, in other situations, an allergic reaction can be life-threatening. Individuals with severe allergies can develop an “anaphylactic” reaction after exposure to an allergen, which can cause trouble breathing, bring on an asthma attack, or cause a sudden drop in blood pressure, which can often require immediate medical attention.
What Causes Allergies
Some people experience seasonal allergies during climate changes such as during the spring, summer, fall or winter seasons. Other people experience more long-term or consistent allergy symptoms independent of the season.
Here are some of the common contributors to allergy symptoms:
- Pollen from trees, plants, and grass
- Dust, including the kinds found around your home
- Insect bites and stings from bees
- Animal fur and pet dander
- Certain medications such as antibiotics
- Chemicals such as chlorine and household items like paints, carpets
- Topical skin creams and sunscreens
- Latex, such as the kind used to make latex gloves or condoms
Certain foods, especially those known to cause the most food allergies, including gluten, dairy, tree nuts (especially peanuts), eggs, soy, and shellfish. Food allergies differ from seasonal allergies and the treatment plan may differ as well.
Although there are some common causes of allergies, it still may not be easy to pinpoint the cause for everyone.
The Allergy Hygiene Hypothesis
While our immune systems have evolved to help us fight off pathogens, interestingly, living in cleaner home environments where we are exposed to fewer disease-causing organisms can cause the immune system to overreact to harmless things in our environment, like that peanut butter you just snacked on, or your friend’s cat.
So, inside our environment might be healthy, but outside – air pollution has been associated with an increase in allergic diseases. In urban communities, where we live closer to diesel exhaust and traffic, exposure means you’re more likely to develop allergies, while those who are already allergic are more likely to have a response.
An Integrative Look at Allergies
An integrative, holistic approach to allergy treatment is usually sufficient to totally resolve allergy problems. In the process, a comprehensive approach seeks to also identify root causes by looking further at possible sources of toxicity.
Most allergy symptoms are instigated by histamine released from white blood cells. The allergy trigger, whether food, dust or pollen, hits the white blood cells and activates a reaction that leads to the release of histamine. Histamine causes the characteristic symptoms of allergies.
Some people have allergies and might not even know it especially since these allergies tend to be milder. But they still serve as a clue to an underlying imbalance in the immune system.
Your Nose Knows
A stuffy nose can be a valuable diagnostic tool. Waking up congested is very common, but that does not make it normal.
Knowing the difference between seasonal allergies vs food allergies can be confusing. Consider the following differences:
You might have seasonal allergies
- If you wake up congested only certain months of the year, you probably have a seasonal allergy and are reacting to some pollen, plant, or mold.
- If you wake up congested at home, but not on vacation, you are likely reacting to something in your home environment, such as animal dander, dust mites, or mold.
You might have food allergies
- If you wake up only occasionally with a stuffy nose, it is likely due to what you ate the night before.
- If you wake up congested every morning, despite whether you are at home or traveling, it is very likely you may have a food sensitivity.
Seasonal Allergies Symptoms
There is a seemingly endless list of allergy symptoms, but American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology has created this list of common symptoms:
- Runny/Stuffy nose
- Wheezing/Shortness of breath
- Excess mucus
- Watery/Itchy eyes Itchy
- Scratchy Throat
- Shortness of breath
Seasonal Allergies Treatment
The classic allergy symptoms are sneezes, runny nose, hives, itchy and watery eyes, and itchy throat but in fact, allergies may cause a vast range of symptoms from fatigue and depression to constipation, joint pain, facial swelling, headaches and chronic sinusitis.
Due to stress on the immune system, allergies can negatively affect every major system of the body. When looking to resolve allergy issues, it is important to use an effective and safe approach that helps reduce reactions to allergen triggers such as food, environmental offenders, or inhalants.
7 Power Foods That Naturally Relieve Allergy Symptoms
The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians provides an extensive list of anti-allergic foods to help relieve your allergy symptoms.
Here are some foods that help allergy sufferers:
1. Foods high in Vitamin E
Add vitamin E rich foods such as whole grains, dark leafy vegetables, and egg yolks, cold-pressed flax oil or evening primrose oil.
Consider drizzling 1 tablespoon of flax oil on your salad every day.
2. Foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids, also known as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
You can get your omega-3 fatty acids from oily fish such as cod, herring, mackerel, salmon, menhaden, and sardines, or Spirulina (an alga often used in “green drinks”).
If making a breakfast smoothie, simply add a scoop of powdered Spirulina.
3. Foods that contain anti-inflammatory enzyme papain (or bromelain)
You can easily get this enzyme from foods like fresh pineapple or papaya.
Add these foods to your salad or eat them alone as a snack.
4. Foods with anti-inflammatory bioflavonoids known as quercetin
Found in turmeric (a rich spice often used in Indian and Far Eastern dishes), and citrus fruits and vegetables.
Make a batch of golden milk (turmeric milk) and reap the health benefits. Get the recipe here.
5. Foods with antihistamines
Garlic has natural antihistamines and antibiotic properties that boost your immunity and helps to expel allergens from the body. As a remedy for allergy symptoms, raw garlic provides the best results.
Luckily, we also have honey! Consider mixing fresh garlic with honey and warm water as a tea.
6. Foods with acetic and malic
Apple cider vinegar is a great natural remedy for allergy sufferers due to its high acetic and malic compounds.
Boost your immune system every day with 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar plus 1 teaspoon of honey in 8 ounces of warm water.
7. Foods with immune boosting properties
Get soothing relief with bone broth and boost your immune system if you are an allergy sufferer. Drinking bone broth helps to break up and release excess nasal mucus and it is also known to reduce inflammation in the body.
Here is a great recipe to make your own homemade bone broth.
Don’t worry, these foods are easy to find at your local grocery store and can simply be added to many recipes or eaten alone.
Treating Seasonal Allergy Symptoms Naturally
Reducing the time you spend outdoors may provide some relief, but it is not a long-term or realistic solution.
Sometimes we just need that immediate relief when dealing with seasonal allergy symptoms.
Here are a few ideas to keep your allergy symptoms in check:
When suffering from allergies, the last thing you may think to do is get out for a little exercise, but exercise can actually help with allergy symptoms.
Regular physical activity helps to decrease allergy symptoms by improving blood flow in your body, which promotes the removal of allergens. Working out regularly can help to minimize your symptoms because the improved blood flow that results from exercise helps to prevent the delicate tissues surrounding your nose, mouth, and lungs from being inflamed. You don’t have to overdo it with an intense or challenging workout – all you need to do is just get your blood pumping! It is not necessary to overexert yourself, because that may actually aggravate your symptoms anyway.
So, get your gym gear ready for some stretching and jumping jacks!
Sinus Relief the Neti Pot Way
Rinsing your nasal passages with salt water and a neti-pot may help clear the nasal cavity of allergens, loosens mucus and increases nasal airflow. A neti pot is a small ceramic pot that looks like a teapot and can be purchased at your local health food store. Instructions on how to properly use a neti pot for the best results is simple.
First, it is important to note that you must use purified water and a fine granular pickling salt to fill your neti pot.
You should fill the neti pot with the warm solution and then raise it to your slightly tilted head.
Point the sprout of the neti pot into the top nostril and pour into it slowly.
Allow the solution to flow through your sinus cavity and out your bottom nostril. Make sure that you don’t make any significant facial movements and don’t inhale through your nose or else you will choke.
Some water will drip down your throat and this will tell you to make an adjustment so that the solution will all flow out your nose.
Relax and adjust your position until your nasal pathways are completely cleared.
After proper use, you should experience sinus relief.
Essential Oils for Seasonal Allergy Relief
Essential oils have numerous health benefits for many conditions and it’s no wonder there are essential oils targeted for seasonal allergies. Here are a few of them:
Has anti-inflammatory properties and can help to quickly clear blocked sinuses and ease nasal congestion caused by allergies.
Works as a natural antihistamine and will help to reduce inflammatory allergic reactions in your body.
Is a soothing herb that is known for its relaxing properties. If you have itchy, red skin rashes or hives caused by allergies, then use chamomile oil for fast relief.
Tea Tree oil
Can help to remedy allergic skin reactions by reducing inflammation and preventing infections. The antibacterial properties of tea tree oil can also be useful in destroying mold, fungi, and bacteria particles in the air, thus reducing symptoms of allergies at home.
Is used to treat respiratory problems associated with allergic reactions. Lemon is a natural antioxidant agent that can help cleanse toxins and reduce the body’s response to allergens.
Supporting the long-term gut issues
A detoxification program may help the rehabilitation of the bowel and is essential to all healing as it restores balance in the gastrointestinal system. The gastrointestinal system, “the gut,” is our first line of defense in our immune system.
If you are prone to seasonal allergies, you may want to be proactive and start a few weeks or months before allergy season with a detoxification program. Read more about how treating your symptoms with better gut function can boost your immune system.
Get started on your 14-Day Detox program and heal your gut.
Supplements for Allergies
Conventional medical treatment for allergies is antihistamines such as Claritin or Zyrtec. These antihistamines can have adverse side effects such as elevated blood pressure, drowsiness, headaches, or a worsening of symptoms. These medications do not address the cause of allergies. A proper more holistic, naturopathic approach strengthens the white blood cells, so they do not readily release the allergy-causing histamine.
As a long-term strategy, I prefer to recommend some unique formulations that are effective without the side effects of drugs.
Aside from diet, vitamins are another way to naturally decrease allergy symptoms. Here are some suggestions helpful for allergy sufferers:
Vitamin C – prevents the formation of histamine.
Quercetin – the bioflavonoid treats watery or itchy eyes.
Nettle – used as a mild antihistamine which relieves sneezing and itching.
Berberine – helps to fight infections, including sinus infections.
Vitamin D – strengthens the immune system and respiratory health.
Probiotics – provides support in balancing the gut and immune system.
EGCG – epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) fights sneezing and watery eyes.
EPA fish oils – reduces hay fever symptoms and are high in anti-inflammatory omega-3’s.
Sneezing, watery eyes, congested sinus passages require not only immune support but also something to help maintain histamine levels.
HistaEze™ is a synergistic blend of nutrients like quercetin, nettle leaf, and vitamin C, all of which have long histories of use in helping to support immune balance during the allergy season and also, bicarbonate salts which have a role in maintaining normal histamine metabolism.
Want to read more articles like this? Sign up for my FREE newsletter
Bonus: Download my ‘12-Key Tips for Healthy Digestion’ Guide
Get Control Over Your Allergies
Contact me today and let me guide you towards what you may need to help keep your body’s allergic response at bay without drowsiness or other side effects. The key to supplementing is to start early – specifically before the transition into warmer weather for seasonal allergy sufferers. Now is not too soon.
With the right information, there is a lot you can do to reduce your allergy symptoms. Hopefully, these natural tools are just what you needed to get started, and gradually increase your fighting power!
Let me know in the comments section how you did this allergy season.