Treating Seasonal Allergies
If you’re among those normally affected by seasonal allergies, you will probably experience more severe symptoms this year. Cold winters and scorching summers stop seasonal allergies dead in their tracks. But this year’s mild winter in many parts of the U.S. means that a lot of people haven’t received their usual break from allergies, and according to experts, a super hot summer is only a remote possibility for most areas in the U.S. this year.
In problem areas like the Northeast, levels of pollen and molds in trees and grass are already extremely high. In other regions like Southern California, there is a surplus of culprit plants, such as thistle and sagebrush, which thrive in disturbed soil such as mudslides.
Respiratory allergies result from reactions to environmental pollutants like asbestos and smoke fumes, and to seasonal allergens like dust, pollen or spores.
If you have excess mucous in your body, that mucous may be harboring environmental irritants. This can make you more vulnerable to seasonal allergies.
Also called allergic rhinitis or hay fever, seasonal allergies are the most common type of respiratory allergy, affecting over a quarter of the U.S. population. More than 3.5 million work days and 2 million school days are lost each year as the result of hay fever. Plus, almost 90 percent of people with hayfever have sleep problems that keep them tired and performing poorly in school or on the job.
Drugs for allergies are a booming business! Americans spend $325 million every year on over-the-counter drugs for allergies. Allergy drugs are in such demand that the FDA is considering allowing the popular allergy drug, Claritin, to become available in the U.S. without a prescription.
Unfortunately, allergy drugs usually have a rebound effect. The more you take them, the more you need them. Some can even be dangerous. A recent University of Iowa study reveals that diphenhydramine (as in Benadryl) impairs driving ability more than alcohol. Please don’t take OTC allergy medications and drive!
Recognize the symptoms
Do you have hay fever or just a cold?
It’s an allergic reaction if you have:
* sudden symptoms like itchy eyes, sneezing, stuffy nose and dry cough that appear at the same time each year and don’t go away within a week
* chest and nasal congestion that is not accompanied by fever, aches or pains
* unrelieved sinus pain or headaches
* chronic insomnia
* worsening sense of taste and smell
* great fatigue when symptoms are worse
Finally, you can have hay fever relief without side effects. Here are some natural tips that can stamp out hay fever attacks.
A Vitamin C flush can neutralize and release allergens. Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory. For some people, vitamin C provides relief when everything else has failed. The usual dose is 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon powdered Vitamin C every three hours, or until the stool becomes loose. Note: Make sure the vitamin C powder you buy has bioflavonoids. Part of the vitamin C complex, bioflavonoids can help relieve even the worst hay fever. If you prefer to get your bioflavonoids from food, simply mince the peels and inner rinds of citrus fruits like oranges, lemons or grapefruits. Simmer in hot water for 10 minutes. Sweeten with honey to taste and take 1 teaspoon three times a day.
Aromatherapy is one of the oldest allergy relief techniques. Inhaling the essential oil of eucalyptus can help clear up congestion fast.
I like an aromatherapy diffuser; or simply add 1-3 drops of eucalyptus oil to a small bowl of hot water, close your eyes (this is important as the oils can be very strong), and cover head with a towel. Breathe in for 5 minutes for allergy relief.
A hot miso broth speeds up the release of mucous. Add garlic, cayenne pepper or horseradish for extra allergen flushing.
An herbal combination with marshmallow, white pine, ma huang, and bee pollen works fast to help you breath easier. (Most people begin to feel relief in about 25 minutes!) One to two caps every hour as needed for adults helps alleviates painful inflammation, sinus headache, stuffiness and watery eyes.
Try herbs like valerian root, skullcap and passionflower before retiring to help you sleep through the night.
Consider gentle herbal energizers like ginkgo biloba (also helps inactivate allergens), Gotu Kola or American ginseng if your allergies make you sluggish.
Homeopathic remedies are renowned for their effectiveness against allergy reactions. Ambrosia is the primary remedy for ragweed allergy. For sneezing, try arsenicum. For runny nose, try allium. For tearing, swollen eyes, try euphrasia.
Acupressure can relieve hayfever attacks. Try pressing between the eyebrows and the hollow above the upper lip and breathe deeply for one minute. (This is especially helpful before an important meeting or date that you don’t want to sneeze through.)
Prevention is the best defense against allergies. The allergen is just the trigger–the allergic person is the loaded gun. Strengthening your body’s immune defense system and stabilizing the cells that release histamine before allergies start is the best course of action for long-term allergy prevention.
Here are a few tips for long-term hay fever prevention.
Try my Healthy Healing mucous cleansing cleanse. Mucous congestion is a breeding ground for allergens. A diet that focuses on mucous elimination is essential to recovery.
* Vitamin C, 5000 mg. daily, not only addresses symptoms, it also helps prevent recurrent incident. One review of 40 vitamin C studies showed that people who took vitamin C regularly had fewer allergy problems, respiratory infections and asthma attacks.
* Quercetin 1000-2000 mg. daily, acts as a natural antihistamine and stabilizes cells that release histamine. Start taking it now.
Quercetin works best when a healing base builds up in the body.
* B complex with extra pantothenic acid, 500 mg. and B-6 100 mg. twice daily after meals, morning and evening, as a preventive measure before high risk seasons.
* 1 teaspoon bee pollen granules daily helps prevent symptoms. Note: May cause allergic reactions in some people. Start with small doses.
* Reduce stress. Stress lowers immunity and can worsen allergy symptoms in susceptible people. Meditation, massage therapy and guided imagery are all effective relaxation therapies.
* Nourish your adrenal glands. Healthy adrenals are critical in controlling environmental and seasonal allergies. Using herbs that support the adrenal glands like licorice root, sarsaparilla and Siberian ginseng is a good choice to build a strong body foundation to prevent allergic conditions.
It is important to avoid allergy triggers in your environment.
Clean your house frequently to get rid of mold spores, dust or animal dander that may be causing allergies. (Especially pay attention to areas hard to reach like behind the bed or in closets!) Remove carpeting where possible. Carpets are notorious for storing excess dust and dander that can aggravate symptoms.
Wash clothes often.
Pollen sticks to clothes.
Clean your yard, mow the lawn and rake leaves once a week to reduce pollen and mold build-up. If your symptoms become worse while cleaning, delegate chores to someone in the household who is less affected by allergies.
Stay indoors in the morning (between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m.) when pollen levels are highest. Keep the windows closed in your home or in your car to reduce airborne allergens.
Use special bedding that can be washed regularly in hot water. Vacuum upholstered furniture regularly. Run a fan in the bathroom while you shower to reduce excess moisture and mildew build-up.
Invest in a quality air filter. A High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter can be used to keep the air in your home free of dust, dander and pollen.
Herbal combinations are more effective than single herbs because they work with multiple body functions. When I formulate an herbal combination to manage seasonal allergies, I include specific herbs that can address broad facets of the allergy problem: 1) decongestant herbs with antihistamine properties attack aggravating symptoms like itchy nose and eyes and chest congestion; 2) lymphatic cleansers help clear body pathways and assist with allergen elimination; 3) bioflavonoid-rich herbs help block histamine reaction; 4) immune boosters enhance immune response and help normalize body chemistry for improved resistance against allergic reactions.
* Marshmallow root soothes irritated mucous membranes to relieve unpleasant allergy symptoms like itchy nose and eyes, and sinus pain and pressure.
* Mullein leaf tones the mucous membranes of the respiratory system, reduces inflammation and pain from chronic coughing, and facilitates the release of mucous build-up in the lungs.
* Nettles is a gentle astringent, antihistamine herb that helps dry up runny nasal passages, alleviates itchy eyes and relieves coughing and wheezing associated with hay fever. In a 1990 study, nettles reduced symptoms for 58 percent of allergy patients after one week of use. Nettles can be taken as an extract, 1/2 teaspoon daily or in capsules, 1 to 2 every 2 to 4 hours.
* Ephedra is the herb world’s quintessential bronchodilator and decongestant for asthma and allergies. It can clear congested bronchial passageways and sinuses like no other herb. I recommend using ephedra only in combination with other herbs. Ask your physician if you have any pre-existing medical condition before using ephedra.
* White willow decreases allergy-related inflammatory reactions in the body and soothes headache pain and sinus pressure.
* An echinacea/goldenseal tonic combination can stimulate the immune system and strengthen resistance against pollen. I have found that using this type of combination is a good preventative for seasonal distress.
* Burdock root purifies the blood and neutralizes allergens, improves breathing distress, soothes a scratchy throat and acts as a natural antihistamine to slow down an allergy attack.
I’ve worked with an herbal combination with marshmallow, burdock, ma huang, white pine and mullein leaf with good results in terms of allergy prevention and symptom reduction. Two to four caps daily during high-risk season helps to open passages and neutralize allergens.
Linda Page, N.D., Ph.D., is a best-selling author and popular television correspondent on natural healing. Visit www.healthyhealing.com [C] 2000 Traditional Wisdom, Inc.
Try this Healthy Healing recipe:
Use 1 quart homemade chicken stock. (Boil down bones, skin, and trimmings from one fryer in 2 quarts water and skim off fat.) Or use a vegetable broth. In a large pot, saute 3 cloves minced garlic, 1 teaspoon horseradish, and a pinch of cayenne until aromatic for 5 minutes. Add stock and simmer for 7-10 minutes. Top with nutmeg and snipped parsley
Nourish your adrenal glands
Healthy adrenals are critical in controlling environmental and seasonal allergies. Using herbs that support the adrenal glands like licorice root, sarsaparilla and Siberian ginseng is a good choice to build a strong body foundation to prevent allergic conditions.
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