Pollen, mold, dust, dander…many of us experience unwelcome reactions to one or more of these allergens. An allergic reaction can be vexing, and it is helpful to understand what is happening inside the body.
Take pollen for example. A grain of pollen is inhaled and attaches to a mucous membrane lining the nasal or bronchial passages. These membranes contain mast cells which are full of histamines. In people with hay fever, the histamines are released which creates a physical reaction within the body like sneezing, itching or tearing of the eyes in an attempt to remove the pollen. People afflicted with allergic asthma can also experience inflamed bronchial tubes which can inhibit breathing.
Prescription or over-the counter medications can treat allergy symptoms but many people are looking for more natural methods. Take a look at these five natural ways to fight allergies.
Neti Pots – These are small vessels that flush the sinuses with salt water. They have been used for centuries in India as a remedy for nasal congestion and allergies. An Italian study published in the International Archives of Allergy and Immunology found that nasal flushing is useful for treatment of seasonal allergies in children providing significant reduction in the use of antihistamines. Neti pots can be found at your local whole foods store or at many natural health stores online.
Natural Supplements – Note: Always check with your health-care provider before using any supplement.
Quercetin – This natural bioflavonoid found in fruits, vegetables, seeds and grains, helps to neutralize free radicals in the body which can damage DNA and even cause cell death. Quercetin has also been found to prevent mast cells from releasing histamines in laboratory test tubes which scientists think might be helpful for allergies, though it has yet to be tested on humans.
Stinging Nettle – This is a common weed found in many parts of North America. A preliminary study on humans has suggested that freeze-dried nettle in capsule form may prevent the release of histamines in the body and reduce hay fever symptoms of sneezing and itching. Some health care providers recommend taking this natural supplement before hay fever season begins.
Fish Oil - Research conducted on people with allergic asthma concluded that participants who took daily supplements of fish oil for one month had lower amounts of leukotrienes in their systems than those who did not take the supplements. Leukotrienes are chemicals that can promote allergic reactions.
- Some research links low Vitamin C levels to allergies. During hay fever season, consider bulking up on foods that are high in vitamin C like citrus and kiwi fruit or take a vitamin C supplement.
- Research examining 334 adults with hay fever and 1,336 without hay fever found that the likelihood of symptoms nearly tripled in participants who consumed high amounts of trans oleic acid - a type of monounsaturated fat mostly found in meats and dairy products.
- Research has determined that the preservative monosodium benzoate can trigger symptoms like a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, and nasal itching. It can be found in pickles, olives, salad dressings, juices and pie fillings, so read labels.
- Lower Dust and Mold Levels
Clean out gutters – Blocked gutters can create seepage of water into your home leading to the growth of mold which aggravates allergies.
De-clutter – If you haven’t used an item in the past year, have a garage sale or donate to your local thrift store.
Clean – To prevent dust mites, substitute carpet for flooring if possible, and sweep or vacuum on a daily basis. Also, wash bedding in hot water at least once a week.
Ventilate – When taking a shower or bath, always open a window or run the exhaust fan to prevent mold growth. Open windows once a week if possible to move fresh air throughout your home and check that the exhaust vent on the outside is clear of leaves and debris.