April showers bring May flowers– along with the dreaded itchy, watery eyes, and nasal congestion for many. Allergies, or sensitivities to pollen, spores, mold, and dust (also called hay fever or allergic rhinitis) can be quite severe make daily living quite uncomfortable.
Symptoms of hay fever are sneezing, runny nose, stuffy nose, watery eyes, itchy eyes and nose, and headache. Hay fever is often seasonal (when pollen is in the air), but if constantly exposed to an offending substance (mold, pet dander), symptoms can last year-round.
Prevention is key, so I always have patients start natural treatments 1–2 months before the season starts to help reduce the severity of symptoms.
Adrenal, immune, and digestive deficiencies can also be a reason why some people are susceptible to seasonal allergies. People sensitive to airborne allergens may also be sensitive to certain foods. Identifying and removing those foods from the diet can greatly improve health and reduce allergy symptoms.
Here is my general plan for allergy sufferers any time of the year.
Include a lot of the following foods in the diet:
- Dark green, leafy vegetables
- Deep yellow and orange vegetables
- Nettles, bamboo shoots, cabbage, beet tops, beets, carrots, yams
- Onions, garlic, ginger, cayenne, horseradish
Eliminate the following from the diet:
- Alcohol, caffeine, and dairy products
- Bananas and citrus fruit
- Food colorings/additives
- Red meat
Supplements, Vitamins and Minerals
- Bioflavonoids (e.g., quercetin, catechin, and hesperidin) – Take 2-3 grams daily. When symptoms are severe, take up to 6 grams. Bioflavonoids are natural antihistamines and strongly anti-allergenic. Bromelain and Vitamin C can enhance the action of bioflavonoids.
- Flaxseed oil – Take 1 tbsp daily.
- Probiotics – Take one in the morning and one in the evening. Buy a quality product that has 1-4 billion organisms per capsule.
- Vitamin C – Take 1-3 grams 2 to 3 times daily or to bowel tolerance. Bowel tolerance is the amount of Vitamin C that can be taken without causing diarrhea. This amount is different for each person and can change if the need increases because the body is stressed, injured, or ill.
- Zinc – Take 30 mg daily.
Make a tea of one herb or a combination of herbs. Drink 3 to 4 cups a day. If the herbs are in tincture form, combine several of them and take 1 -3 droppers 3 to 4 times a day.
Some of the herbs used to treat hay fever symptoms are:
- Dong quai (Angelica sinensis) antihistamine and anti-inflammatory.
- Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis) reduces congestion and secretions, and is good for itchy eyes, sneezing, and excess mucus.
- Gingko (Gingko biloba) contains bioflavonoids; antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
- Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) helps reduce allergic, inflammatory, and histaminic reactions and supports liver function.
- Red clover (Trifolium pratense) helps build the body’s resistance to allergies.
- Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) antihistamine and anti-inflammatory.
- Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) reduces congestion and secretions.
Hydrotherapy is SO VERY IMPORTANT for symptomatic relief.
To reduce allergy symptoms, drink at least 1/2 of body weight in ounces of water daily (e.g., a 150 lb person would drink 75 oz of water). Coconut water is a great natural hydrator. Stay away from artificial and sugary electrolyte drinks.
Sauna and steam therapy is a great way to detoxify during allergy season. I do this at least 3 times a week.
Nasal lavage and throat lavage with saline. SO IMPORTANT to do this 3-5 times daily. Early morning, before bed, and after outdoor activity is essential.
Eye lavage with natural tears is essential way to flush out allergens such as pollen. There are many homeopathic and natural eye drops on the market that can be used. Cold cloth to the forehead and eyes also offers immediate symptomatic relief.
Acupuncture and Chiropractic care is essential for increasing immunity and adrenal function, as is adequate rest and relaxation.
Adrenal glandular and thymus extracts to support the adrenal glands and the immune system.
Desensitization uses bee pollen and homeopathic remedies to desensitize people to the plants to which they are allergic.