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Holistic Solutions for the Allergy Season

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By Mallory Leone

If you’re like most seasonal allergy sufferers, you’ve sampled the gamut of over-the-counter medications or even prescription pills, nasal spray and shots. Often, these powerful drugs aren’t remedies at all, but harsh chemical concoctions that mask the symptoms of allergies – congestion, runny nose, coughing, wheezing, sneezing – but never get to the root of the problem.

The most popular allergy medications contain strong antihistamines, which can block the production of sneeze-inducing histamines, but cause side effects such as drowsiness, fatigue, dry mouth and headaches. Nondrowsy formulas often include pseudoephedrine, a double-duty chemical that narrows blood vessels in the lining of the nose and can cause nervousness, dizziness or insomnia as well as elevated heart rate and blood pressure.

For allergy sufferers eager to bypass the simultaneous exhaustion/jitters of common treatments, there are more natural remedies. An allergy is simply our immune system’s response to something it doesn’t like, such as pollen, mold or toxins. Many herbalists, nutritionists, even doctors, agree that creating balance in the body is the first step toward combating this inflammatory response.

Natural Health Coach and herbalist Teri O’Neal-Boring explains that it takes a look at the whole person to truly treat the body’s response to inflammation. For most allergy sufferers, she initially recommends herbs that support the entire immune system. “When the body is balanced, your immune system is able fight the attack,” she says.

Elderberry and Vitamin D3

Elderberry is naturally high in iron and antioxidants to help boost the immune system, improve heart health and help fight bacterial and viral infections. This, in conjunction with a vitamin D3 supplement can reduce inflammation and enhance overall health.

Stinging Nettle

This prickly plant has been used since ancient times as a source of food, fiber and natural medicine. It has a gentle, stimulating effect, and blocks the body’s ability to produce histamines without unwanted side effects. The plant is available raw, dried or in tincture form. The stinging hairs on fresh nettles can cause skin irritation, so wear protective gloves when handling them.

one Wash the nettles
two Chop a cup or two and place in a teapot
three Pour boiling water over the nettles and let steep for 15 minutes
four Strain and pour your cup of tea; Drink up to four cups daily

Air Purifiers

Naturally remove dust, pet dander, pollen and other allergens from your home with air purifiers. One of the most popular among allergy sufferers is the ionic air purifier. These use high voltage to electrically charge air particles. Minuscule allergens in the air cling to the negatively charged plates and become trapped, while purified air is circulated back into the room.

Neti Pot

Nasal irrigation is popular with everyone from holistic healers to old school MDs. For those suffering from chronic sinus obstruction, this therapy, using a saline and water solution to flush the nasal passages, could be your ticket to relief. Originating from Ayurvedic medical traditions, flushing is said to alleviate facial pain and pressure from congestion by thinning out mucus and clearing out the nasal passages.

Local Honey

Frank Bradbury of Teepee Bee in Oakdale ventured into the honey trade because his allergies were so severe. “After moving to the Central Valley, I was told eating local honey would help and it just didn’t,” Frank explained. It turned out he wasn’t eating the right kind. “Has to be local, has to be raw. I thought, if I didn’t know that, how many other people in the valley are doing it wrong?” He identified the type of honey that works from Bakersfield to Sacramento. The sweet, sticky sauce works much like a vaccine; by consuming small amounts of local pollens, your body slowly recognizes the invaders and builds immunity toward them.

When in doubt, one simple trick is to keep the body strong with foods rich in vitamins and minerals. A German study, published in the journal Allergy found that those with a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids were less likely to suffer symptoms than those who didn’t. In addition to your stinging nettles and nasal rinse, listen to your body for triggers from diet, weather fluctuation and common stressors.

As with every holistic remedy, please consult your doctor before adopting one of these or any other allergy relief.

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