Spring is typically the season for allergies. But rising temperatures are leading to more pollen production and causing pollen season—aka, allergy season—to last well into summer.
When airborne agents such as pollen, ragweed, grass or mold are breathed in, they can wreak havoc on your body. The immune system mistakenly sees these allergens as a danger and releases antibodies to attack them. This in turn causes the release of a chemical named histamine into the eyes, nose and lungs. Histamine attacks allergens and pathogens and removes them from the body, but it can cause inflammation. The good news is there are many natural remedies you can try to ease summer allergy symptoms.
When the respiratory system is dehydrated, the immune system will trigger a rebound effect that causes congestion, sneezing, runny nose and coughing. To combat these symptoms, a person should drink half of their body weight in ounces a day. For a person weighing 150 pounds, they should drink at least 75 ounces of water daily.
Quercetin is a flavonoid or plant pigment found in foods such as onions, apples, berries, broccoli and green, leafy vegetables. It helps moderate your body’s histamine production and has been shown to reduce irritation of the airways. In concentrated doses it can help control anaphylactic reactions to foods like peanuts. Quercetin can take a while to build up in your system, so it is suggested for people prone to seasonal allergies to begin taking it, along with quercetin-heavy foods like leafy greens, several weeks ahead of allergy season.
Vitamin C is well-known for its immune benefits, and it can also help prevent allergy symptoms. Consuming foods such as oranges, grapefruits, bell peppers and especially lemons can help fight off seasonal allergy. When adding vitamin C into your diet, it is best to stay clear of juices as they are higher in sugar, which can cause inflammation. Instead, consider eating a small orange or making a salad dressing with apple cider vinegar and lemon.
The use of butterbur to treat ailments is traced back to the Middle Ages. Over the centuries, it has been used to treat a variety of conditions including asthma. Today Butterbur is commonly used in treating allergies, headaches and upset stomachs. It contains two chemicals, petasin and isopetasin, that help reduce inflammation.
Bromelain is a compound found in pineapples but can also be found in pill form as a supplement. It is effective in treating respiratory distress and inflammation associated with allergies.
Other ways to manage allergy season:
Use a neti pot. A neti pot looks like a small teapot that is used to irrigate the sinuses. Mix warm sterile water with salt in the pot. Tilt your head to the side, placing the spout in your top nostril and let the water drain through your bottom nostril. The water will clean your nasal cavity of any pollen or other allergens that can cause allergies. It is important to use only sterile water such as distilled water that can be purchased at most grocery stores.
Clean your home. Regularly cleaning your home can reduce many allergens and reduce allergy symptoms. Cleaning your air filters regularly—ideally, every three months—will reduce dust and allergens from spreading through the air in your home. Clean bookshelves, air vents and other places dust and pollen can collect. Vacuuming at least twice a week and changing your sheets at least once every two weeks can also help prevent allergens from building up in your home.
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, these tips can help you alleviate your symptoms. If you are experiencing extreme allergies, it is always best to consult with your personal care provider.
Stephanie Seitz MT (ASCP), ND, MPH is a licensed naturopathic doctor at Natural Kid Doc in Scottsdale, Arizona who specializes in women’s health and fertility. Seitz has spent the last 10 years at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine teaching medical students and treating patients