It’s that time of the year again when spring brings forth all her colorful glory — along with a host of potential allergens.
“It’s definitely pollen season,” Dr. Andy Nish, an allergy and asthma specialist from Gainesville, Ga., tells Newsmax Health. “And while we can help control our immediate environment, pollens can blow in from miles away to make our lives miserable.”
Allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States with an annual cost in excess of $18 billion. More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year.
Allergic rhinitis, often called hay fever, is a common condition that causes symptoms such as sneezing, stuffy nose, watery eyes and itching of the eyes, nose or the roof of the mouth.
You can try using antihistamines when the pollen hits and a nasal steroid prior to the onset of your seasonal woes, says Nish. But experts agree that natural remedies may be just as effective without the potential side effects of decongestant medications.
“When a person with an allergy encounters the offending substance, the immune system interprets it as the enemy,” Dr. Ellen Kamhi, Ph.D, tells Newsmax Health. “To help ward off the intruder, the human body activates antibodies and releases a substance called ‘histamine.’
“Allergy medications are called antihistamines because they attempt to turn off this natural, albeit overzealous body reaction. The result is that other body tissues get into the battle and impose a number of unpleasant side effects for the allergy sufferer. These can include annoying reactions such as rashes and scratchy throat but may become frightening, such as a closed throat and difficulty breathing.”
Kamhi says it’s important to identify the trigger and try to eliminate it from your environment.
“Interestingly, you may be eating honey made from the exact flower pollen that you are sensitive to,” she says. “The use of natural, nutritional herbs and supplements may be an extremely useful therapy to beat allergies along with changes in diet and lifestyle.”
Here is her recipe for an anti-allergy cocktail:
- 2000 milligrams powdered, buffered vitamin C.
- 100 milligrams B-6.
- 1000 milligrams magnesium.
- 1000 milligrams calcium.
- 250 milligrams bioflavonoids.
Mix the above ingredients in ½ glass of water and drink twice daily during an allergy attack.
Other helpful allergy-fighting herbs include:
Bromelain. This digestive enzyme from pineapple and quercetin, one of the bioflavonoids work well together to offset an allergic reaction
Milk thistle. This herb acts as a protector and regenerator of the liver and helps repair damaged tissue caused by allergens while supporting the actions necessary to deal with the accompanying symptoms.
Echinacea and goldenseal. These two herbs also work together to combat both the discomfort of allergies as well as reduce excess mucous from the nasal and respiratory tract, says Kamhi, the author of “The Natural Medicine Chest.”
Licorice. This is the most widely studied adrenal herb and has anti-inflammatory actions similar to the glucocorticoids — which are produced by healthy adrenals — that help resolve allergic reactions.
Green tea. This popular beverage is widely recognized as one of the best super foods for many conditions and it’s also beneficial for allergies. It contains a potent antioxidant called epigallocatechin or EGCG that impacts allergies at a cellular level by reducing inflammation.
Nish says that you can also reduce allergens by keeping windows in your home and car closed during the pollen season.
“Stay indoors during high pollen days and don’t dry laundry outdoors. Avoid bathing or brushing your pets outside as they can carry pollen into the home,” he adds.
“Buy a humidity gauge and try to aim for between 40 and 50 percent humidity in the home to deter unwanted houseguests like dust mites and mold. If the percentage is higher, you may want to invest in a good dehumidifier.”