It’s that time of year for sneezing, watery eyes, and general discomfort. That’s right: seasonal allergies are back. That doesn’t mean we’re stuck taking over the counter allergy medications for the next three months; there are natural allergy remedies that can make a big difference. The following approaches to managing seasonal allergy symptoms can send those allergies packing before spring is over:
• Reduce the volume and duration of dust and pollen that comes into contact with mucus membranes
• Support the body’s overall natural anti-inflammatory response
• Stabilize cells responsible for releasing histamine in response to pollen and other allergens (mast cells)
For a sneeze-free spring, follow this simple and natural three-tier approach to allergies:
1. Use an air filter and daily sinus rinse
The best approach to any medical condition is to focus on treating the underlying cause rather than palliating the symptoms. The underlying cause of allergies is, in part, from pollen coming into contact with nasal mucous membranes. There are two simple and effective ways to reduce and eliminate this. The first is a high quality air filter that is kept the bedroom. This filters out pollen and dust as it comes in through open windows and doors.
The second is a daily nasal rinse, which for allergy sufferers, is as important as brushing your teeth. Rinsing out the sinuses and nasal passageways with lukewarm saltwater is an inexpensive and natural way to regularly remove particulate matter from coming into contact with mucous membranes. I recommend doing this at least once a day during allergy season, with a repeated rinse following activities such as gardening or lawn mowing. There are many different neti pots available to make this an easy habit to stick with.
2. Fish oil: minimum of 2 grams EPA + DHA daily
For individuals suffering from allergies, it is vitally important to support the body’s natural anti-inflammatory response at the cellular level. Omega-3 fats from fish oil are nature’s most potent anti-inflammatory. The omega-3 fats EPA and DHA are incorporated into your body’s cell membranes where they serve as precursors to anti-inflammatory eicosanoids. Thousands of clinical trials have unequivocally shown that increasing omega-3 fats from fish oil reduces inflammation, which has been correlated to reduce incidence of chronic inflammatory diseases including allergies and asthma.
3. Quercetin: 250–500 mg three times daily
Most prescription and over-the-counter allergy medications act as “antihistamines,” which chemically block the action of histamine on cells. Unfortunately, these drugs carry unwanted side effects like drowsiness. Quercetin is a naturally occurring bioflavonoid that stabilizes cells that carry histamine (mast cells) so that histamine is not readily released. This in turn will reduce the itching, redness, and discharge that result from histamine release. A dose of 250–500 mg three times daily is most effective when allergy season is at its peak.