Seasonal allergies can put a damper on outdoor activities this summer. Allergies are an overreaction of the immune system to substances found in the everyday environment. Many people rely on medications to relieve allergic symptoms. Yet, natural solutions may help relieve some allergic symptoms and rebalance the immune system without the side effects brought on by drugs.
Katherine Anderson, National Director of Naturopathic Medicine at CTCA, offers natural remedies for relieving allergic symptoms:
Change your diet: Recent studies indicate that the substances found in red meat and dairy products can worsen allergy symptoms. On the other hand, a healthy diet low in Omega-6 fatty acids and high in vitamin E, Omega-3 fatty acids and natural anti-inflammatory foods can provide protection from allergic reactions. Consider some foods with anti-allergic properties such as: whole grains, dark leafy vegetables, egg yolks, oily fish (cod, herring, mackerel, salmon, menhaden and sardines), pineapple, papaya and turmeric.
Try supplementation: Some supplements may be helpful in relieving allergy symptoms:
- Butterbur – This herb helps to block some chemicals that trigger swelling in the nasal passages. Choose specialized butterbur supplements labeled UPA-free with petasin; and avoid raw, unprocessed butterbur root, which is dangerous.
- Bromelain – Some studies suggest that bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapple juice, is helpful in reducing nasal swelling and thinning mucus, making it easier to breathe.
- Cod liver oil or other cold-water fish oil – A high quality fish oil product containing from 1000 - 2000 mg of the essential fatty acids EPA + DHA per day may help to reduce inflammation and allergic response.
- Elderberry – This supplement may be taken preventatively or during an acute illness as an antiviral against influenza.
- ViraClear – This supplement, derived from the root of Pelargonium sidoides, has been clinically studied for the common cold, sore throat, bronchial irritations and nasal congestion.
- Quercetin – This antioxidant, found in many fruits and vegetables, may work as a mast cell stabilizer helping to block the release of histamine that causes inflammation.
- Combination allergy supplements - Many natural allergy remedies contain a blend of botanicals. Sinupret®, a combination of European elderflower, sorrel, cowslip, verbena and gentian root, may help relieve symptoms of chronic sinusitis.
Change your environment: Cleanse your environment of allergens. Remove dust collectors such as rugs, drapes and upholstered furniture. Purchase HEPA air filters. Avoid perfumes and fragranced products with synthetic ingredients. Try flushing out the nasal passages with salt water using a neti pot. Use steam heat instead of forced-air heating systems.
Try acupuncture: Many people with allergic rhinitis are now turning to acupuncture for relief. The evidence on its effectiveness is mixed. A 2008 German study of more than 5,000 adults found that acupuncture reduced symptoms significantly compared to standard treatment. An earlier and smaller study in children also had positive results.
As always, make sure you consult with a qualified naturopathic clinician before incorporating any natural remedies into your allergy-fighting plan. Learn more about naturopathic medicine.
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