As the Summer months draw closer, you may be chomping at the bit to break out the summer shorts and flip flops, dreaming of picnics in the park and enjoying the great outdoors. However for seasonal allergy sufferers, enjoying the outdoors is just that, a dream!
When I was a kid, I had extreme hay fever and summer was always a bitter-sweet experience. I was often stuck inside while my friends played in the park. The times I thought I could handle it and tried to join them, it always ended in tears: Itchy, swollen eyes so bad I couldn't see, sneezing, runny nose, and itchy throat.
For those of us that suffer with seasonal allergies, there are a few culprits, the main ones being pollen, grass, trees, animal dander, air pollution, and mold causing inflammation of the mucus membrane. Depending on the nature of your allergies, for some it only lasts a few days out of the year, but for others the whole of spring/summer can be a right off. But no matter what type of allergies you have, we have some tips for you.
What Happens When Allergies Strike?
An allergic reaction is like your bodies internal alarm system, when it detects a break-in (allergens), your immune system overstimulates and alarm bells start ringing (allergic reactions). The response is normally sneezing, runny noses and itchy eyes and is often to harmless substances like pollen and dust, but the body recognises it as a harmful intruder.
Most of the time, over-the-counter antihistamines and corticosteroids are used to treat the symptoms of seasonal allergies. There are many options on the market, varying in strength and reliability and although effective, the side effects can often have you feeling out of it with drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth, moodiness, and blurred vision.
Reports estimate that nearly 30% of the population suffer from seasonal allergies. Some people’s allergies are with them from childhood and others develop them later in life. Whatever the case is for you, having a head start on how to keep on top of them naturally will insure you’re not stuck experiencing the summer months from your window.
Here are 6 natural remedies that can help with seasonal allergies:
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1. Cannabis /CBD
A recent study into the effectiveness of cannabis on seasonal allergies has proven to show impressive results. It’s possible that CBD oil works to reduce inflammation and control the production of mast cells. These white blood cells from your immune system can be controlled by CBD, stopping them from going into hyperactivity and release histamine, which is what causes allergic reactions like rashes, sneezing, coughing, itching, and inflammation.
CBD also works to reduce inflammation, by increasing the number of cannabinoids produced by your endocannabinoid system. The more cannabinoids you have in your body, the less likely you are to experience inflammation, saying bye-bye to puffy eyes and blocked noses.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is said to be quite beneficial for fighting allergy season. It works by cleansing your lymphatic system, helping lower the production of mucus.
It is advised you take one teaspoon of organic, unfiltered apple cider (ACV) in a glass of filtered water, 3 times per day. You have the best chances of it working if you get a head start by taking this mixture early in the year, before your allergy season starts.
Don’t forget the bits! You may find some ‘floaties’ in your glass of ACV. This is known as the ‘The Mother’, made of healthy bacteria that can be beneficial for digestion.
ACV is known to help with your digestive system, by strengthening your gut. This can also help with allergies, as gut health is strongly linked to your immune system.
3. Nettle Leaf
Nettle leaf is a powerful herb with natural allergy-fighting properties. It contains natural antihistamines that block your bodies production of histamine. You can drink it as a tea, use it as a tincture or take it as capsules. The capsules are said to be the most effective, while the tea is both refreshing and soothing.
Allergies are caused by an imbalance in your bodies immunity, causing your body to overreact and think it’s under attack. Studies into the link between gut health and immunity has shown that the presence of good bacteria in your gut can reduce allergic reactions.
Having a balanced diet, including fermented foods and drinks like Kefir and organic Komucha can naturally help boost gut health and healthy gut bacteria. Adding a good quality probiotic capsule to your health regime is also a way to build up your immunity.
5. Diet Changes
Diet seems to be the name of the game when it comes to fighting allergies and increasing immunity. Gut health has been linked to the reduction of severe allergies not just seasonal, but also other allergies to food and animals. 70% of our overall health can actually be linked to gut health, especially when it comes down to the functioning of your immune system. If your immunity is already dysfunctional due to an imbalance in your gut, you are more at risk of experiencing more extreme allergic reactions.
Rebalancing your microbiome is essential to regaining optimal health. A way to do it is to go on a cleanse for a few weeks and cut out the following foods: gluten, sugar and GMO, sticking with an organic diet that has plenty of fermented foods and vegetables. Also foods and spices that reduce inflammation, like ginger, turmeric and green tea, are known to help reduce mast cell response, sneezing and congestion.
Sleep, exercise and stress reduction techniques are also key in building immunity. Also try and avoid antibiotics and prescription medications unless absolutely necessary, as they can actually weaken your microbiome.
6. Neti Pot and Saline
Washing away the pollen that can cause sneezing and nose congestion with saline water can be an effective way to relieve symptoms. A Neti pot is ideal for this and looks almost like a small teapot. It may seem weird at first, but I can actually attest to the fact that it does work.
It works by flushing your sinuses of allergens. It’s recommended you use sterile water, either distilled or boiled, as tap water can have parasites. You can easily make your own saline rinse by dissolving one teaspoon of Himalayan salt or sea salt in a small cup of sterile water. Wait for it to cool. Then, over the sink, tilt your head to one side and pour the saline into one nostril and let it drain out the other side. It may take a while to get use to, but it's worth it. I find it works best a few times a week in the morning and evening.
Suffering from seasonal allergies can be a nuisance that can ruin the best months of the year, but treating them naturally can be a life-changing discovery that enables you to enjoy your summer to the fullest.