by Kimberly Allen R.N.
While most of us are excited as the change from the long cold winter into spring arrives finally arrives. Many are making plans for hiking and camping and spending time outside. Then there are the over 40 million Americans suffering from allergies that are preparing for that change in a much different way, by making that yearly trip to the pharmacy. Allergy sufferers spend over $1 billion in OTC and prescription medications to relieve their symptoms every year.
Many allergy sufferers are turning away from the pharmacy and ‘traditional’ remedies and turning to Mother Nature for relief. Most researchers believe that using a combination of herbs and nutrition are the most effective natural way to treat and manage allergies. Allergies occur because of a malfunction in the immune system. So increasing your intake of foods that boost the immune system will help you manage your allergies. In order to manage your allergies effectively there are also certain foods you should avoid. Mucous forming foods like dairy products, processed foods and fried foods, wheat, and even chocolate are among the foods you need to avoid or decrease your intake of. These foods not only increase mucous production, but hinder the immune system and promote inflammation.
Foods that are high in antioxidants not only fight cancer but they can help you manage your bodies allergic response. The four antioxidant vitamins that will be most beneficial to you are vitamins A, C, E and the bioflavanoids. Increasing your intake of fruit and vegetables containing these nutrients not only improves your general health but also improves your allergic response. Fresh berries of any kind are a great addition to your diet and they are only available during allergy season. There are many areas where berries grow wild but if you don’t live near an area where they do it’s easy to start your own berry patch at home. The only vegetables you should limit are corn and tomatoes. Increasing anti-inflammatory foods like walnuts, ground flaxseeds and hempseeds as well as omega-3 fatty acids in your diet can stop the inflammation in your nasal passages.
In addition to nutritional changes there are certain herbs and herbal supplements that you can use to relieve your allergy symptoms. Using the herbs and spices in your kitchen cabinet you can cook up some allergy relief. Experts say that spicy foods thin mucous and clear nasal passages. The best and most commonly used spices for this are the traditional garlic and onion, as well as cayenne pepper, hot ginger and fenugreek.
There are also a few herbal supplements that have been shown to help relieve allergy symptoms. The most common of these are goldenseal, butter bur, grape seed extract and quercetin. Most herbal supplements come in tablet, capsule or liquid formand can be purchased in a variety of locations including online. Always notify your Dr before adding herbal supplementgs to your treatment regime as there may be potential interactions or side effects that can affect you individual case.
There are also a few simple things you can do to help manage your allergies without changing your diet or taking supplements. Before going outside put a small amount of non-petroleum jelly, like K-Y just inside the nostrils, it catches and nuetralizes the pollens effect. When you return home change your clothes immediately. Changing in the bathroom or an outer room is better than a room with carpeting etc. Pollen gets trapped in your clothes and hair very easily so drapes and carpeting are places where it can easily be transferred and trapped. If possible, limit your time outside between the hours of 5AM and 10AM as this is when the pollen counts peak.