April 08, 2013
Natural relief for allergy sufferers
Spring is finally, slowly making its way across the country, bringing welcome warmth after a longer than normal winter season. With it comes the beginning of seasons of not-so-welcome pollens and other allergens than can make life miserable for anyone suffering from these kinds of allergies.
There are plenty of natural options for treating allergy symptoms.
Our first choice is Nature's Sunshine ALJ, which is an herbal combination including boneset, fennel, fenugreek, horseradish, and mullein. The regular capsules are the most popular choice among our clients, but if you are a strict vegetarian, there are veggie-tabs available, and a liquid form can also provide quick relief. Dosage instructions give a wide range ... we usually suggest clients try taking two capsules. If that gives relief, you may wish to try taking only one to see if that works equally well. If two is not enough, try three or four capsules. They can be taken several times a day, or if your allergies bother you mostly at a particular time, a single dose can be sufficient. My daughter suffered respiratory allergies that were causing lack of sleep, dark circles under the eyes, congestion, and eczema on her hands, and found that a single capsule upon waking controlled all of her symptoms.
Stinging nettle is another herb helpful for allergy sufferers. It can help prevent a histamine response, taking the place of an anti-histamine.
Butterbur is another herb that has antihistamine properties. The British Journal of Medicine reports a study in which butterbur was as effective as the active ingredient in Zyrtec at preventing allergic responses, at a dose of 8mg 4 times a day. However, some people may experience a worsening of symptoms with butterbur, since it is in the same family as ragweed.
Homeopathic remedies have been very successful for many of our clients, and some work to acclimate the body rather than simply suppressing symptoms. Hyland's Seasonal Allergy relief are helpful for many with a variety of allergy triggers. Boiron Sabadil is another very popular choice that is especially helpful for hay fever type allergies. The Outdoor formula from bioAllers is another formula that is especially helpful for pollen allergies.
In an effort to prevent allergic reactions in the first place, studies have shown that diets high in omega-3 fatty acids are helpful. Look for cold-water fish, grass-fed meats, walnuts, and flaxseed oil. Quercetin can also be helpful in preventing the histamine response. Foods such as citrus, apples, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, broccoli as well as tea and wine are high in quercetin, but as a preventive for allergy sufferers, supplementation would probably be needed. Ideally, begin taking 1,000 mg daily between meals six weeks before allergy season. (Quercetin should NOT be used by those with liver disease.)
As a "mechanical" means of treatment, many people like to use a Neti pot to irrigate the sinuses. This can be especially helpful if done before going to bed, and can alleviate allergy snoring and promote more restful sleep. You may remember the fatal illness contracted by one person from using tap water that contained bacteria in their Neti pot, which resulted in a lot of advice to throw them away and avoid using them. We would caution you to use common precautions - keep the neti pot clean, NEVER let liquid set in it, and use safe water for filling it. We commonly boil any water used from the tap anyway - any water system can have a breach or incident that allows unsafe levels of bacteria in the water and often is not immediately reported.
A few precautions are in order to minimize your exposure as well, if you are seriously affected by pollen. Try to limit your time outdoors when pollen counts are highest. Use an air conditioner instead of fans for cooling, and keep windows closed. Clean and replace air filters as needed. Vacuum often (preferably just before leaving the house so you don't have to breathe the air afterwards, or better yet, get someone who doesn't suffer from allergies to do it!). Dry your clothing in a dryer instead of on a clothesline when pollen counts are high. Consider making it a rule to change clothing when you come inside for the day, instead of dusting your home with carried-in pollen. This is especially important if you tend to lounge on your bed. You don't want to be breathing pollen all night as you try to sleep!
We hope these suggestions and ideas will help allergy sufferers to experience relief from symptoms and enjoy feeling better during spring (and fall!) pollen seasons.