If there’s anything that I am all to familiar with, it’s seasonal allergies. I have suffered from both hay fever and winter mold allergies. This constant barrage of problems has led me to seek out all kinds of allergy remedies I could do at home. I must say, I have found some very helpful things. Today, I am going to share some of my remedies (and some that others have sworn by). I recommend you experiment a little to find what works for you, but keep in mind not to use too many things at once. You want to really know what works and what is useless for you. You also don’t want to take a chance mixing too many things at once because some things may not interact well with others. Keep in mind, I am not a doctor, and none of this should be used in lieu of medical advice. If you do want some DIY remedies, though, the following are my choices.
- First and foremost, remove offending foods
So many people don’t realize that what they eat can affect every part of their bodies. This includes the immune system (a key system in fighting allergies). Removing foods that contain histamines and trigger the histamine response is a key in alleviating allergies. So, what are these foods. They include grains, alcohol (wine and cider too…yes, I know…that sucks, but it’s a fact. These contain histamines.), pasteurized dairy, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), hydrogenated oils (vegetable, soy, and other highly processed oils), and chemical preservatives. All of these ‘foods’ (and I say that in quotes because I don’t believe these truly are FOODS) are highly inflammatory, They affect gut health in a negative way, which, in turn, affects your immune system in a negative way. Remove these, and you can begin to heal the gut, which begins the rest of the body’s healing as well.
One issue that I do want to briefly mention is that some other foods may need to be eliminated depending on situation. Those suffering from issues with ragweed, for example, may need to eliminate raw pollen-producing plants, such as bananas or cantaloupes (Ebeling, 2011). Other raw plants to avoid for ragweed issues would include melon, banana, cucumber, sunflower seeds, chamomile, and echinacea. For those with grass allergies, one might avoid raw celery, oranges, apples, tomatoes, peaches, sugar, and bananas (St. Pierre, 2012).
According to Mark Sisson (2010) “if you know the source of your particular allergy, you can further pinpoint foods that tend to trigger what’s called “oral allergy syndrome,” a reaction to allergen-related foods that affects primarily the lips and mouth.”
Before I go further into the other ways to help eliminate seasonal allergies, let me just side step here for a minute. Since I am talking about healing the gut, I thought I’d explain a little about what I mean and how this works.
- Gut dysbiosis, in simple terms, is when ‘bad bacteria’ in the gut are more predominant than the ‘good bacteria.’ You can contribute to this situation by eating the above offending foods or food-like substances, and not eating healthy, live foods like fermented foods, vegetables, fish, and meat.
- Another way to create problems in the gut is by ingesting grains containing gluten or foods you may be intolerant to. These can cause damage to the gut lining, and allow for substances to cross the gut barriers that are there to protect you. This can create an immune response that triggers your allergies.
- Digestion is important in immunity. When the digestive system is not functioning properly (for reasons such as low stomach acid or other such issues), it prevents the body from properly responding. The immune response can be triggered just by having something like low stomach acid (which is the cause of heartburn, by the way…really…it is. I’ll explain this in a future blog).
- Every system in the body is tied to one another. When one is sick, the other systems are likely to also be sick. One example of this would be your liver. When the gut has problems constantly, the liver has to work overtime. This means the pathogens the liver would be removing are likely escaping into the bloodstream, causing the immune system to function poorly. Thus, allergies persist.
- If you have mold allergies, know that molds interact with sugar and wheat. Removing these will create an environment less appealing to them. That means the molds are less likely to take over in the body!
Many times, people have found that removing offending foods and food-like substances from their diets can be the first step to healing their guts. This gut healing improves overall system healing…and that means less chance of allergies!
- Add foods that will boost the immune system and fight for you
In addition to removing offending foods, adding foods to help you boost your immune system will help you rid yourself of those pesky allergies. There are many, many foods that will help do this. In the following list, I have included some of them, along with their helpful effects:
- Fermented foods such as kombucha, kvass, grass-fed, raw yogurt and kefir, and sauerkraut (look out for this last one, though…sometimes sauerkraut can actually create a histamine response). These foods help heal the gut and produce a healthy whole-body system.They do this because these foods are natural probiotics, meaning they increase the numbers of ‘good bacteria’ in the gut, thereby surpassing those ‘bad’ buggers.
- People who have low levels of zinc have been found to have more allergy troubles. Increasing your intake in shitakii and cremini mushrooms, spinach, asparagus, green leafy vegetables, and healthy meats such as grass-fed beef and lamb will boost your levels of zinc, thus increasing your ability to fight allergies.
- Quercetin, a bioflavenoid found in onions, capers, broccoli, leafy greens, cranberries, apples, and raspberries, peppers, and other brightly colored fruits and veggies, can stabilize the immune system and strengthen mucous membranes (Ebeling, 2011). Eating these vegetables will help fight the excessive histamines (Carrasco, 2012).
- If your allergies bring weeziness and trouble breathing, try upping magnesium rich foods such as green leafy vegetables. The magnesium in these can help your breathing.
- Anti-inflammatory foods are also something you should be consuming. These foods will, as the name implies, help reduce inflammation in the body. They include wild caught fish and grass-fed beef.
- Green tea, red tea, and white tea all contain a flavenoid that some say helps with allergies. These help by reducing inflammation and support the immune system at the same time.
- Foods high in Omega 3s, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C will also help during allergy season. Walnuts, grass-fed meats, wild caught fish, broccoli, bell peppers, and eggs are all good choices for these nutrients that are needed to fight allergies and stay healthy. Consume a good amount of these foods, and you should be able to boost immunity!
- Garlic is a go-to for me. It helps with colds, flus, and allergies. It’s also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, so you can see why it would help!
- Many people have sworn by local, raw honey as a remedy for their seasonal allergies. The idea behind it is that the pollens within the honey enter your system and act in the way that an allergy shot would. These pollens essentially adapt your system to the local pollens that might otherwise become a problem. During hay fever season, I will often get some raw, local honey from my local honeybee guild or farmers and take a teaspoon of it daily or every other day. I think it does help a bit with hay fever, but it does nothing for mold allergies.
Ever notice your allergies acting up more when you’re stressed or tired? I know I have! Believe it or not, allergies can be affected by stress and sleep. If you are under stress or don’t get enough sleep, your immune system is stimulated by the release of cytokines, which are pro-inflammatory (Carrasco, 2012). In order to prevent this from happening, try getting at least 8 hours of sleep and doing a relaxation technique such as meditation.
- Think about products you are using
We might often think about the foods we do and don’t eat, but sometimes we don’t think about the products we are using. Yes, it is true that household products, make-ups, hair products, and other such products are often filled with allergy producing chemicals and substances. If you begin learning what is in the products you use, you can begin to rid yourself of those chemicals and substances that induce allergies. Try switching to more natural products, but be careful there too. Some natural products, while ‘natural’ can still can contain allergens. Know what the products consist of and know how those ingredients affect you.
I prefer getting my nutrients from food; however, I have found some supplementation helps fight seasonal allergies. These are mostly in the form of herbs and homeopathic remedies. Some examples and their benefits follow:
- Vitamin C: A natural antihistamine. Taken in a bit larger doses than is typically common for you, Vitamin C can boost the immune system and block histamine.
- Ginger: Ginger can reduce swelling in the glands and air passages. That is why it works so well for colds and the flu. It can also work well for mold allergy reduction.
- Wild Oregano and Olive Leaf Extract: These are anti-fungal herbs. Using them can kill of the mold, but they should also be used with caution. You don’t want to use too much of a tincture of either, for they can be toxic in larger doses.
- Echinacea: This calming herb is often used to treat colds and flus. It can boost the immune system and help the bronchial tracts clear for better breathing. This herb is often good for mold allergies as well as hay fever.
- Nettle: Yes, the stinging nettle plant can be used for allergies. It seems counter-intuitive since nettle is commonly considered a weed, but it’s true. In fact, this weed has often been considered better than many hay fever medicines! It can relieve itching and sneezing from allergies. To use nettle, you can take freeze dried capsules at 300 mg when symptoms are experienced. This will relieve you for around 4 hours. You can also make a tincture or tea with nettle. To make the tea, just boil the nettle leaves. Add peppermint for a tasty allergy reliever!
- Goldenseal: This herb has often been used for colds and the flu. It can flush out the passageways and act as an astringent. You can get goldenseal as a capsule, dried herb, or a tincture. Probably the fastest and best way to take it is in tincture form. Just a few drops added to nettle tea will really help the allergies subside!
- Finally, I have to mention that I have used some homeopathic remedies for seasonal allergies. You can find these at most health food stores such as Whole Foods Market or Central Market. Look for the ‘blue tube’ stand in the herbs and minerals section of the store. These are literally blue tubes. They are homeopathic mixtures for a variety of ailments, and they have helped me in the past. Click here to visit the Boiron Blue Tube website and learn more.
As with colds and the flu, a sinus rinse may help clear nasal passages during allergy season. Using a neti-pot with CLEAN (distilled or boiled and cooled) water and sea salt will help clean out mucous.
Well folks, that’s it! I think there are plenty of good remedies here to get you started to healing your body and taking charge of your own seasonal allergies! I know each of these remedies has been of help to me!
Carrasco, A. (2012, Oct. 27). 6 ways to relieve allergies naturally. Retrieved from http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-6635/6-Ways-to-Relieve-Allergies-Naturally.html
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. (n.d.). Oral allergy syndrome. Retrieved from http://www.chop.edu/service/allergy/allergy-and-asthma-information/oral-allergy-syndrome.html
Ebeling, C. (2011, Aug. 8). Natural paleo fixes for seasonal allergies. Retrieved from http://www.simplesmartnutrition.com/athletes/improve-asthma/natural-fixes-for-seasonal-allergies
Sisson, M. (2011, Apr.26). Dear Mark: Seasonal allergies. Retrieved from Mark’s Daily Apple website: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/seasonal-allergies-treatment/#axzz2JPAiBfOa