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By Dr. Erin Stefanacci DC CFMP
Are you one of those people that dread the early days of Spring? You may feel like a Scrooge because you love the blossoming flowers and the coming of Summer but you are sneezing, your nose is running and you're feeling miserable. If this is you, you may be one of the millions with seasonal allergies.
Allergies come from when your body mistakenly identifies substances as harmful, creating an immune response. During this immune response, the body releases histamine to fight off the substance that the body has identified as harmful, but in turn gives you the classic symptoms of seasonal allergies - runny nose, sneezing, itchy and watery eyes.
Although we are exposed to allergens throughout the year, there is an influx of pollen that catches our attention each Spring. The most common allergens are pet dander, pollen, dust mites and mold. These are things that most of you are exposed to everyday giving rise to those annoying symptoms mentioned above. It may be common for you to reach for the over the counter (OTC) antihistamines such as Claritin, Zyrtec, Nasacort or Flonase. Yet, these popular allergy medications that have side effects ranging from dry mouth, dizziness, drowsiness, trouble urinating, nervousness and shakiness, just to name a few. How about this year we try something natural?
There are some awesome alternative ways to combat your allergies this Spring, without any nasty side-effects that OTC medications may give you!
1. Go With A Natural Antihistamine Instead
There are some great alternatives to OTC antihistamines that tend to work just as well, if not better! Here are a couple of products that I use in my office -- D-Hist and Histoplex-AB -- that receive great reviews from patients!
D-Hist contains a blend of flavonoids, antioxidants, proteolytic enzymes and botanicals including quercetin and stinging nettle. Quercetin has been shown to decrease pro-inflammatory cytokines and inhibit the release of histamine. Stinging nettle works by inhibiting histamine (H1) receptors as well as decreasing the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines. You can find D-Hist here. There is a kid’s version too and can be found here.
Histoplex-AB contains many traditional Chinese medicinal (TCM) herbs that focus on lung function and clearing congestion caused by phlegm. Some of the included herbs are eyebright, white mulberry, silk tree and European goldenrod. Histoplex AB can be found by clicking here.
2. Drink Tea
Remember the mention of stinging nettle just a few seconds ago? Well, capsule form isn’t the only way to incorporate it into your routine, it also comes in tea form! Stinging nettle is a flowering plant and has been a staple in herbal medicine for quite some time. There are many great herbalists in Asheville that you can buy this from directly. Traditional Medicinals also make this and it can be found here.
There are a number of other beneficial things that can be made into a tea to help decrease symptoms of allergies. If DIY is your thing, here is a recipe that you should definitely give a try --
DIY Tea to Soothe Your Symptoms
In a cup of warm water mix together 1 tablespoon local honey, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger. It’s that easy!
Why these ingredients?
Opt for real local honey made by bees, not table honey which is sugar syrups. Your local farmers market should have honey that is made in our backyard! One way of treating allergies is repeated exposure to small amounts of the allergen (think allergy shots) and honey contains traces of local pollen (one of the common allergens) so if you are sensitive to pollen you are helping your body create healthy immunity to it.
Lemon helps maintain your body's pH levels which sets your immune system up to combat your symptoms while also being high in vitamin C and antioxidants.
Cinnamon has many health benefits and has been used for various ailments for thousands of years. Specifically for allergies, it is immune-boosting and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Ginger helps to reduce inflammation and pain while easing symptoms of allergies and colds.
Bringing them all together can relieve minor and short term allergies symptoms. For those with more severe allergies, you may want to pair this tea with some of the other options in this post.
3. Eat the Right Foods
We’ve all heard it before, let food be thy medicine! Well, when it comes to allergies there are three key things to focus on; Vitamin C, Flavonoids and Omega-3 fatty acids.
Vitamin C is a powerful natural antihistamine. Foods rich in vitamin C are:
Summer Squash...AND THE LIST CAN GO ON!
Flavonoids are pigments that give fruits and vegetables their color. One flavonoid you may be familiar with is quercetin. Quercetin helps to reduce the release of histamine by stabilizing mast cells. Foods rich in flavonoids are:
Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to decrease allergic response due to their anti-inflammatory properties. The big players here are:
If you are not quite sure the best way to combat your unbearable allergies, know that you are always welcome to make an appointment where together we can create a plan of action.
**Reminder: This is an educational article that does not constitute medical advice. It is always recommended to speak with your healthcare provider before implementing any of the above recommendations, especially if you have pre-existing conditions or are taking medications.