From the Blog Archives: Originally Posted 5/16/13
Spring is out in full force in Chicago and it’s brought a nasty, unwanted guest along with it: an ultra-high tree pollen count. I don’t usually enjoy unwanted guest and I’m particularly perturbed with those that leave me feeling like a cranky, teary-eyed mess.
Funnily enough, I never had to worry about seasonal allergies as a child. I’d watch my dad sneeze & sniffle his way through the summer thankful that my immune system was better than his. It wasn’t until the spring of 2008, when the pollen count went sky-high in Indiana, that I had my first reaction to tree pollen. My symptoms got so bad that things eventually transformed into a nasty sinus infection & my favorite season became a mine field of potential sniffles.
Thankfully, my reactions have calmed down over the years [partially thanks to giving up dairy & gluten…food allergens can have a compounding effect on seasonal allergy symptoms], but I still have to tolerate a bit of discomfort when the pollen-cast goes crazy. I’ve developed a few tried & true remedies for getting myself through.
So, in hopes that I can help fellow sniffle sufferers, here are my favorite ways to make it through allergy season still [mostly] alive:
1. Flush Out Your Sinuses. Forget the addictive nasal sprays & start your day with some clean, filtered water & a NetiPot. I can’t believe it took me so many years to finally try this device. Admittedly, I was a little scared at first. The idea of pouring a saline/water solution through my nasal passages didn’t exactly sound like fun, but it’s not as weird as it sounds…ok, it kind of is as weird as it sounds, but it works wonders for clearing out the allergens. I usually only remember to break out my Neti when I’m already feeling a little stuffy, but you can use it preventatively almost every morning. Just be sure to use clean water…no one wants an unseen parasite swimming up their nasal cavity.
2. Boost Your Immune System. Seasonal allergies are caused by your immune system attacking what it perceives to be a foreign intruder. The healthier your immune system, the less likely your allergies will give way to further health complications like sinus infections & the quicker you will feel relief from your symptoms. In an effort to both reduce your current sniffles and prevent future post-nasal drip, you can treat allergies with some of the same home remedies used to fight a cold: lots of water [to flush invaders out of your system], green tea [for antioxidants], and plenty of vitamin C [for a natural anti-histamine effect].
3. Decrease Your Inflammation. Increasing your consumption of omega-3’s like flax seed & chia seeds and decreasing your intake of sugars, meat, & dairy will help to reduce your body’s inflammatory response to allergens. If you find yourself also suffering from itchy mouth & throat, you’ll want to avoid foods that may be cross-reacting with your allergenlike apples, nuts, & cherries.
4. Clear Out the Passages. Eating spicy foods, like hot peppers, and pungent foods like onions & garlic can help to naturally clear your sinuses. Meanwhile, adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil to a hot bath can heal the mucus membranes in your nasal cavities and break up the congestion in your nose for easier breathing.
5. Fight Pollen with Pollen. So the vegan police may hate me for this one, but sometimes the best way to reduce your allergy symptoms over time is to take a dose of the same pollen that’s causing them…in the form of raw, local honey. While I avoid honey in most packaged products & choose to bake with maple syrup & agave, I will occasionally indulge in a few spoonfuls of raw honey purchased from a bee-friendly small business at my farmer’s market. Just like taking a small dose of poison to build up an immunity, taking a spoonful of local honey helps your system adjust to the pollen in your area. If you’re more vegan than bee-gan, however, you can supposedly get similar results by consuming small doses of the sap from whatever tree’s pollen you’re allergic to.
6. Clean Up Your Diet. Whether it’s to boost your immune system or to avoid the compounded effects of food allergies on your seasonal allergies, eating clean is never a bad idea for allergy sufferers. Many people these days have undiscovered food allergies that could be making their seasonal symptoms worse. Discovering these allergy triggers is one of my favorite things to help my clients with because it not only reduces seasonal suffering, but it can also increase energy, clear acne, & reduce migraines. If you’d like to learn more about discovering your own allergy triggers, sign up for a free health coaching consultation by telling me a little about your health & lifestyle.