It's the sniffle season. And rather than resorting to drowse inducing, pharma-chemicals, I have the very best tips for natural allergy season solutions.
As someone with a predisposition to auto-immune disease, what with a bout of Crohn's back in the day and what not, I am also extra mindful around this time of year to make sure my immune system is stable and strong and I am taking great care, to support my busy schedule, by not falling prey to allergies or any other icky spring colds and flus.
There are many things to consider when we truly want to strengthen our immune systems. Whether we believe we are sensitive to certain things or not, there are key things we want to keep to a minimum in our diet, high dose in our supplements, and some lifestyle practices that will help.
- Wheat and other glutenous grains: These will stress and strain the digestive system as well as if we are sensitive and consume it, they can increase our sensitivity to other things like pollen causing hay fever.
- Sugar: Glucose competes for uptake with vitamin C, a natural anti-histamine, and so the more sugar we consume, the less Vitamin C we can absorb, weakening our immune function. Additionally, sugar is acid forming in the body which is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, fungus and viruses.
- Dairy: Like sugar and refined grains, dairy is also acid forming in the body and as such creates a breeding ground for the bad guys. Addtionally, dairy can make us really mucousy, adding to the congestion common with seasonal allergies.
Natural Remedies For Allergy Season
Part of getting out the bad stuff, and short of moving to the arctic for the seasonal thaw, there are loads of natural remedies you can add in. These recommended by clinical nutritionist Josh Gitalis.
- Quercetin: one to be one of the best natural antihistamines. It works by stabilizing the membrane of histamine-releasing cells. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. (Up to six, 500mg capsules a day, may be needed)
- Vitamin C: A natural antihistamine and immune booster.
- Nettles (Stinging Nettle): An herb that has been shown to alleviate allergic rhinitis.
- Sabalia: A homeopathic remedy effective for seasonal allergies.
- Echinacea and/or Astragalus: Herbs that boosts the immune system. (Don’t use for more than 3 weeks at a time)
- Vitamin B5: Helps strengthen adrenal function, which is intimately involved in the immune response.
Lifestyle Practices For Symptomatic Relief
- Neti Pot: Using warm salt water in the neti pot allows you to flush your nasal passages, as a way to clear out sinuses and also works as a preventative to sinus infections that can result.
- The Salt Pipe: Over here in the kitchen we all have one and love it. You breathe in through the pipe, inhaling the minerals and natural cleansing air through a sea salt filter. This helps cleanse the lungs, open the airways and can also be a great relief for wheezing and even asthmatic responses to avoid steroidal puffers.
- Yoga: Get yourself upside down! Inversion poses like shoulder stand, headstand, plow, or even bending over while standing, hanging your upper body upside down will help drain the nasal passages and cleanse the lungs. Start for just 1-2 minutes to avoid too much pressure on your head if you're heavily congested.
- Steam Inhalation: Another great way to drain the sinuses and relax the lungs is through steam. Boil some water in a pot and then drop some food-grad essential oils of eucalyptus peppermint and/or myrtle. Put your head over the pot, cover with a towel and breathe in the goodness.
- Air Purifier with a HEPA Filter: Using a HEPA filter is an amazing way to remove spores and pollen from the air. Ideally you would have one for the whole house, but short of that, keep one in your bedroom with the doors close while you sleep.
Foods To Eat Lots Of During Allergy Season
Now we get to the fun and delicious part. I love great food all year long, but come this time of year, I pay extra attention to high, high, high dose on some potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant rich powerhouses. My favourite way to take all these in is via the blender as they make a delicious, refreshing drink.
- Turmeric: A potent anti-inflammatory root containing curcumin. This helps to bring down any inflammation in the body, including in the lungs and gut which are vital for preventing allergies and other immune-stimulated sensitivities.
- Lemon: Bring on the vitamin C/antioxidant power to help the white blood cells zip around and do their thing and also to work as a natural anti-histamin.
- Ginger: Ginger is another anti-inflammatory food that also promotes the production of digestive juices to better help us process through what we eat, and increase the circulation of the good stuff through our body. Bonus, ginger stimulates the part of the immune system that produces anti-bodies, thereby amping up your body's natural defences to foreign invaders.
- Cayenne: Boost immune system function, and increases circulation throughout the body. Also can be helpful in healing intestinal inflammation, common in people who suffer from multiple food sensitives.
- Raw honey: Raw honey has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties and is a powerful antioxidant helping to strengthens the immune system. Honey has been shown, through homeopathic applications to work to eliminate pollen allergies by taking small doses (about 1tsp, 2 times/day) ongoing to eliminate allergies, similar to how an allergy shot might work. The key is to consume honey for your area, where the pollen you are breathing might affect you.
- Irish Moss, Chia Seed and/or Aloe: These foods all have a potent mucilagenous property, a sliminess that helps clear excess mucous from your lungs and at the same time support the health of the lining of the intestinal tract- a key to reducing environmental and food sensitivities.
Yield: 1 serving
- 1 tsp turmeric
- juice of 1 whole organic lemon
- 1 tsp fresh ginger root, grated
- ½ tsp each ground cardamom, clove, and coriander (for extra antioxidant power)
- pinch of cayenne (or more if you can handle it!)
- 2 tsp raw honey (or more to taste)
- 1-2 tbsp of prepared Irish Moss, Aloe Gel or Chia
- 3 cups water or chilled herbal tea
- Place all ingredients in your blender and mix until smooth .