The last six months have been an allergy nightmare! Living in Florida means a limited winter so we have different things blooming all year round. Great for nature; bad for me. I did the big daddy scratch test at a local allergy office and surprise, I have allergic rhinitis. Essentially, I am allergic but they cannot pinpoint to what. I have taken every OTC and several RX drugs and they always make me tired or cranky. So aside from taking over the counter or prescription allergy medicine which have multiple side effects, what can we do?
I took a trip to a local natural food store and they suggested Quercetin. Found in wine and many fruits and vegetables, quercetin may work as a mast cell stabilizer. It helps block the release of histamine that causes inflammation.¹
Another popular herb is Butterbur; Derived from a common weed in Europe, butterbur (Petasites hybridus) is another alternative to antihistamines, though it may be hard to find in the United States. In the days before refrigeration, its broad, floppy leaves were used to wrap butter during warm spells, hence the name butterbur. A Swiss study, published in British Journal of Medicine, found that butterbur was as effective as the drug cetirizine, the active ingredient in Zyrtec. Even though cetirizine is supposed to be a nonsedative antihistamine, researchers reported that it did cause drowsiness, though butterbur did not. Participants in the study took 32 milligrams of butterbur a day, divided into four doses. A word of caution though — butterbur is in the same family as ragweed, so it could worsen allergy symptoms in some cases. Effects of taking butterbur over a long period of time also are unknown.²
There are also certain foods you can add to your diet to help with allergy symptoms.³
- Whole grains, dark leafy vegetables, and egg yolks are high in vitamin E.
- Cold-pressed flax oil or Evening Primrose oil also contain high levels of vitamin E. Drizzle 1 tbsp. on your salad every day.
- Oily fish such as cod, herring, mackerel, salmon, menhaden and sardines provide the Omega-3 fatty acid called eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA.
- Spirulina (an alga often used in “green drinks”) also contains eicosapentaenoic acid.
- Pineapple contains the anti-inflammatory enzyme bromelain.
- Papaya contains the anti-inflammatory enzyme papain.
- Turmeric (a rich spice often used in Indian and Far Eastern dishes) contains the anti-inflammatory bioflavonoid quercetin.
The allergist gave me a neti pot which is used to irrigate the sinus cavity. It is a little like sucking water into your nose in the swimming pool but when used correctly is quite effective. The kit I was given came with a packet of USP grade sodium chloride & sodium bicarbonate mixture that is mixed with warm water. The solution is squeezed into the nose and comes out the other nostril. This cleans out the pollen and mucus in the nose and sinus cavity.
Last, keep a clean home! Pets, dust, mold and other environmental triggers can run rampant in our homes without proper cleaning. Keep your floors dusted and mopped, carpets cleaned and vacuumed and your sheets and beds clean. Also, bathe your pet regularly. Their little paws and fur covered bodies pick up all sorts of allergens running around in the yard and they bring them into your home.
While it is virtually impossible to eliminate allergies altogether, these small steps can help alleviate some of the symptoms we face every year!
¹”Natural Allergy Remedies: Supplements and Herbs.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2014.
²”6 Natural Allergy Remedies.” Mother Earth News. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2014.
³”Allergies: Natural Solutions.” Natural Allergy Remedies and Allergy Relief. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2014.