Sniff, Sniff, Blow – Natural Strategies to Combating Spring Allergies
With spring just around the corner, most of us are counting down the hours to those glorious sun-filled days of summer. But in the midst of these spring fantasies, many of us suffer from the inevitable symptoms of itchy, watery eyes, runny nose and sinus discomfort associated with allergies which leaves many of us wondering if spring is all it’s cut out to be. Here are some natural strategies to enable to you to combat spring allergies and cope with these spring time sniffles safely and effectively, and all without a trip to the drug store.
Natural Allergy Relief
Allergies are caused by immune system imbalances, which lead the body to overreact to normally harmless substances in our environment such as pollen and dust. It is this immune system hypersensitivity that triggers an inflammatory response resulting in sneezing, stuffy nose, and redness. Although antihistamines are a common solution to easing allergy symptoms, they also come with a long list of side effects and do not treat the underlying immune system imbalance… leaving symptoms to become increasingly severe and difficult to treat over time.
Many natural compounds have immunomodulating effects that help to balance our immune function without creating other health concerns in the process. Some less commonly known compounds include magnolol from the magnolia tree and lycopys lucidus extract, which inhibit the inflammatory pathway associated with allergic response through their antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties. On the other hand, quercetin, butterbur, omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics top the list of natural alternatives for allergy relief.
Quercetin is a plant-derived flavonoid that helps prevent the body from releasing histamine, the culprit compound that causes allergy symptoms. This natural compound also has antioxidant characteristics and aids in preventing cell-damaging and disease-causing free radicals. Although quercetin is abundant in foods such as citrus fruits, apples, onions, tomatoes and broccoli, supplementation with sufficient dosages of quercetin before allergy season is in full swing is often the most effective at allergy symptom treatment and relief.
Butterbur is an herb that also demonstrates effectiveness at treating allergies by improving redness, sneezing, nasal congestion and skin irritation, sometimes by up to 90%. This herb helps to prevent the release of chemicals that trigger swelling in the nasal passages. In a double blind, randomized controlled trial comparing butterbur and the common antihistamine drug Zyrtec, butterbur had a similar effect to that of the drug in patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis, without the sedative effects of the antihistamine.
Omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel or sardines as well as walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds and omega-3 enriched eggs have developed quite a reputation for their potent anti-inflammatory properties. On top of allergy benefits, omega-3s are useful in combating other inflammatory diseases such as joint discomfort, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Studies show that individuals who regularly consumed omega-3 rich foods are less likely to suffer from allergy symptoms than those who did not regularly include them into their diet.
Probiotics such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria have also been investigated for their allergy relieving benefits due to their immunomodulating mechanisms in the gut. A recent double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial on probiotic strain B. lactis showed that subjects receiving oral probiotic administration experienced significantly alleviated allergic symptoms during seasonal exposure. These results suggest that specific probiotics influence systemic and local immune responses while they reside in the gut of the host. Maintaining gastrointestinal health through probiotics or supplements such as SierraSil Joint Formula 14, which also reduces gastrointestinal inflammation through detoxification mechanisms, is an important part of relieving seasonal allergies.
Non-nutritional remedies have also shown to be effective in the treatment of allergic symptoms. According to a recent study in Korea and China, acupuncture may also be effective in decreasing the severity of allergies. Stress also tends to worsen the inflammatory pathway associated with allergic reactions, thus participating in regular physical or meditative such as yoga particularly during the allergy season can also help to combat symptoms.
Investing in a cool-mist humidifier can also be an effective tool in your anti-allergy tool box. The water droplets released by the humidifier bind to allergens in the air, making them heavy and drop to the floor, decreasing the airborne allergens in the environment. Because pollens in the air increase as the day gets warmer and decrease after spring showers, making an effort to spend time outdoors in the cooler morning or evenings, or immediately after it rains is also a good way to protect yourself against exposure to pollens.
When considering treatments for seasonal allergies, being aware of natural anti-allergy options puts you ahead of the game in the fight against the spring sniffles. Avoid the incessant sniff, sniff, blow rhythm of spring and coast into summer with a clear head and bright eyes with these natural remedies.
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