Even though there is still snow on the ground, allergy season will be here before we know it. Some people are already coming in with the sniffles and itchy eyes, so I thought I'd share a few tips to get you through without having to resort to those anti-histamines that can leave you feeling cloudy.
- Try a neti pot, saline spray or xylitol spray if sneezing is your battle - neti pots are small ceramic pots or cups made specifically to rinse out your nasal passages with warm salt water (about 1/2 tsp salt per pot depending on size - follow directions that come with your pot) which literally flushes out the pollen and debris from your nose and sinuses. Most people who try it feel awkward at first, but then LOVE using the neti pot throughout allergy season. If it's not for you, don't worry. Another option (though less effective) is simply using a saline or xylitol nasal spray to help wash away pollen and debris. Xylitol can help keep your nasal passages slippery so that pollen and dust cannot hang on and cause irritation.
- Eat natural anti-inflammatory foods like pineapple (which contains the anti-inflammatory and mucus-busting compound, bromelain) and tumeric (a naturally anti-inflammatory spice commonly found in other spice blends such as curry) all while avoiding immune system-supressors like sugar (soda, candy, etc) and mucus-producers (like dairy).
- Dose yourself with local pollen! I know this sounds weird, but hear me out...this is based on the same principles as homeopathy - the idea that "like cures like." So if you take local honey daily, or local bee pollen in a smoothie or oatmeal, technically you are helping your immune system by waving a huge red flag and helping it realize it needs to fight this if it comes into contact with you any other way. Think of it like a vaccine of sorts...but this only works if you use local honey - this way, your getting exposure to the different pollens in your specific area. Honey is by far a more yummy way than bee pollen, but whatever works for you, but "bee" cautious! Honey is still a sugar even though it's natural. And most honey sold in stores isn't real honey (it's a combo of honey and high-fructose corn syrup!), so be sure to get it from a local, trusted source. Sometimes bee pollen can be a bit much for the system though and more sensitive people can become symptomatic just from taking the pollen. Also remember, never give honey to any child under 1 year old!
- Try nettles in a tincture, tea or simply steaming and eating them whole** - nettles have been used medicinally for thousands of years - but beware of their needle-like stingers! ALWAYS wear gloves if harvesting yourself unless you want a painful surprise. These stingers are deactivated after cooking, and the leaves have almost a squash-like flavor - very spring and very fresh! Nettles are also a rich source of flavonoids, carotenoids and minerals and are very nourishing in general. Here's a great website I stumbled on that has some great nettle recipes: Mariquita Farms. Careful here too, there is a small handful of people who's allergies get worse when taking nettles. It doesn't happen often, but it happens. **You should not use nettles without doctor supervision if you are pregnant, nursing or have a heart or kidney condition
- Eat flavonoid and carotenoid-rich fruits and veggies - again for their anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy effects - basically try and eat as many colors of the rainbow in fruits and veggies each day, and you'll get the allergy-reducing benefits of those flavonoids and carotenoids as well as a boat-load of antioxidants to keep you young and healthy! This will be easy to do now that we'll be getting some fresh produce growing soon!
- Take a probiotic. Probiotics are essential in prevention and immune support, even with allergies. You won't get the same quality from simply eating yogurt (plus, dairy is a mucus-producer). You can get similar results by eating other non-dairy fermented foods however, like kimchi, sauerkraut, water kefir and more. Good gut flora helps to balance your immune system and prevent a hyper-immune response (allergic reaction).
So, now you're an allergy prevention pro!
Please check out our online dispensary and go to our "Allergy Support" section for our favorite products, nasal sprays, neti pots and more.
As always, if your symptoms are out of hand or if you have other illnesses or are taking other medications, it's best you see a naturopathic physician in your area to see which specific therapies are safe for you - find a licensed ND here.