By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
If you suffer from allergies, you’re not alone–seasonal allergies affect an estimated 40 million to 60 million people yearly. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. There are several underlying factors that make a person more prone to having allergies, and several natural solutions to increase your resistance to these immune triggers.
What Causes Allergies?
All aspects of health are important pieces of the puzzle: air quality, diet, exercise, sleep, stress, etc. Whenever we burden our body with stress–whether it be eating a gluten-containing muffin, or having a fight with a loved one–it adds a drop into our stress bucket. Too many drops, and the bucket is going to overflow. When our immune system is overloaded, it will react to an otherwise harmless substance, like pollen, as if it were a dangerous foregin invader.
The risk of developing seasonal allergies is increased in individuals with a co-existing condition, like asthma, food allergies, pregnancy, and even stress and trauma. These conditions affect your immune system, contributing more drops to the stress bucket.
Allergies are an immune system disorder. The body overreacts to a harmless substance by producing antibodies to attack, causing common allergy symptoms.
Common Seasonal Allergy Symptoms:
- Post-nasal drip
- Excess mucus
- Runny nose
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Scratchy throat
- Decreased concentration and focus
- Fatigue, problems sleeping
- Mood swings, Irritability
- Skin issues like hives or eczema
In addition to the above pre-existing conditions, anything which weakens the immune system will contribute to the stress bucket, leading to allergies. Recent surgery, physical trauma, underlying illness, and lack of sleep included!
What are other stressors on the immune system? A poor diet is a biggie. Gluten, sugar, alcohol, and processed foods all weaken the immune system, leaving you more susceptible to gut imbalance (which affects the immune system), sickness, and yes–seasonal allergies.
Natural Remedies for Seasonal Allergies
- Treat your nostrils with a Neti Pot or Saline Spray– Sterile saline solution can flush out allergens and calm inflammation in the nasal passages.
- Quercetin: Quercetin can significantly lower inflammation and modulate immune response. Research also shows quercetin stops the production and release of histamine!
- Nettle: Nettle blocks histamine production and reduces inflammation. A natural antihistamine, nettle can be used as a tincture or tea to calm allergy symptoms.
- Probiotics: Allergies are linked to immune health–and so is the gut. By balancing gut health, the immune system benefits and allergies subside. Try a quality probiotic and consume fermented foods to boost beneficial gut bacteria.
- Local raw honey: In a study published in the International Archives of Allergy and Immunology, those who received honey had better allergy relief than those on allergy medication! The key here is local and raw. Local honey contains the pollen causing your allergies, and raw honey contains vitamins and enzymes. If you want to use it in your tea, allow the tea to cool before adding honey to prevent killing the beneficial compounds.
- Sleep: Getting ample sleep is crucial for the body to repair itself. The immune system thrives when the body gets adequate rest. Aim for 8 hours per night. Sleeping n a pitch black room, slightly cool (aim for 65-68 degrees), with white noise can help foster a good sleeping environment.
- Essential oils: Peppermint eucalyptus, lavender and peppermint essential oils can help clear the nasal passages. Diffuse them, or apply with a carrier oil to the chest to help ease breathing and open the lungs
By eating an anti-inflammatory diet, getting enough sleep, and implementing some of the remedies above, you can reduce your allergy symptoms significantly. Allergies are not a sentence–you have the power to take charge of your health.