Spring is in the air, and for many hypersensitive individuals, so are the seasonal allergens that can make life miserable. If you’re one of them, you’re not alone. More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
Allergy has become a catch-all for everything from exposure to pollen, mold, dust mites and pet dander to insect stings, peanut allergies, chemical exposures and more. We’ll hone in on seasonal allergies, specifically for allergic rhinitis or hay fever and allergic conjunctivitis or eye allergies.
The focus here is on holistic practices that can be helpful in mitigating allergy issues on their own or in tandem with allopathic approaches.
A first plan of action is to try to avoid allergens whenever you can. This includes regular vacuuming, laundering, showering, pet bathing, keeping windows closed when pollen counts are high, using a medical-grade HEPA filter (especially in your bedroom)—you get the idea.
Of course, it may not always be possible. Many people can successfully manage symptoms through a wide range of remedies. Those taking a holistic approach would explore natural therapies first before resorting to pharmaceutical ones (and it may be a matter of combining them). An integrative physician will be able to give you all the options available, both natural and pharmaceutical, and give you the pros and cons of each.
Following are some natural suggestions for drug-free allergy remedies.
Nasal Cleanse and Lubrication
Rinse your nasal passages once or twice a day, either with a neti pot or over-the-counter saline rinse. Built-up mucus can be festering grounds for bacteria—all the more reason to flush it out. Nasya oil soothes and lubricates nasal passages.
Allergic Eye Support
Cold compresses soothe itchy, red, watery eyes. Warm compresses provide lubrication. Rose water can be added for its soothing, anti-inflammatory benefits. Rose water eye drops can also be helpful, but make certain it’s certified organic.
The homeopathic Similasan Allergy Eye Relief Eye Drops are helpful as are Thera Tears. Consult with your eye specialist regarding any antihistamine and/or anti- inflammatory eye drops as these are not meant to be taken indefinitely.
Consider herbal supplements with natural antihistamine capacity, like butterbur, horehound, echinacea, garlic, turmeric and stinging nettles. Some people are allergic to nettles, so if you suspect you are, don’t take them in any form.
Quercetin is a bioflavonoid abundant in apples, onions and dark-colored berries but also available as a supplement. It can stabilize your immune response to allergens and inhibit the release of histamine. Bromelain, an enzyme in pineapples, is another effective supplement that can help reduce inflammation.
Before experimenting with any supplement, consult with your doctor, pharmacist or trained herbalist to discuss possible interactions with medications.
When suffering from allergy symptoms, optimize water intake. Being well hydrated helps all systems, including the immune system, work at their best. Plus, getting enough hydration can help thin mucus and clear the body of irritants.
MARY BETH JANSSEN, CAyur, RYT, CMT, RYT-500, (marybethjanssen.com) is president of the Janssen Source, wellness director for a large Chicagoland Health Care Organization, and certified Ayurvedic and mind-body health specialist for the Chopra Center for Wellbeing.