After a blissfully allergy-free spring, I walked out of the house yesterday morning and instantly started sneezing and sniffling. I check the allergy report for Brooklyn and saw that the pollen level was labeled as high.. which definitely explained why so many other people on the train and in my office seemed to be suffering from similar symptoms.
Seasonal allergies affect nearly 40 million Americans, which becomes really apparent this time of year. There are over-the-counter medications, of course, but many people experience side effects (dry mouth and throat, fatigue, headaches, hoarseness, feeling jittery or spacey) that can be as bad as the allergies themselves. And long term use of prescription allergy medication is responsible for a whole host of unpleasant effects like high blood pressure, glaucoma, osteoporosis, and stunted or delayed growth in children. Luckily, there are steps we can take to treat the symptoms naturally, or prevent seasonal allergies altogether!
Neti pots are by far the most effective weapon against seasonal allergies, and can be used as both a preventative measure and as treatment. Basically, netis are traditional ayurvedic tools that look like little tea pots (traditionally ceramic, though commercial, store-bought netis are plastic) with a special spout small enough to fit in your nostril. When filled with lukewarm water and a powdered saline solution, the liquid irrigates and cleanses the nasal passages, and also thins the mucus built up in there, flushing it out of your nose. If you are prone to seasonal allergies, start using a neti pot daily a little before your symptoms would typically start. Regular use will strengthen your nasal cilia, improving their ability to remove allergens, bacteria, and other irritants from your nose before they start causing problems. If you’re already experiencing symptoms, you can start using your neti morning and night to flush out allergens and ease congestion.
Apple Cider Vinegar is a magic cure-all that I’ve written about before (see: The Magic of Apple Cider Vinegar), and healing the symptoms of seasonal allergies is just one of its many benefits. When I got to work, sniffling and sneezing yesterday, I instantly poured myself a glass of water with a tablespoon of organic, raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, and I kid you not, an hour later, I was totally fine. And the effects lasted for the entire day! I started my day off today with the same formula before I even left the house, and had absolutely no sign of allergies.. even though the pollen count was even higher today!
If you’re lucky enough to have access to local honey (like, seriously, from-within-a few-miles local is best), that can be a huge boost to your allergy fighting powers. Regularly consuming local honey (and chewing on the honey combs too) helps to desensitize your immune system to the pollen in your area, effectively rendering it harmless to your body! Eat 2 tablespoons of local honey (raw and organic, whenever possible) every day starting two months before allergy season, and you’ll notice a big difference!
Lastly, the right supplements can help your system fight off seasonal allergies. Studies have found that high levels of vitamin C (around 2000 mg a day) significantly helps those prone to allergies avoid symptoms, due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant qualities. Omega 3 fatty acids (which are another general cure-all) have also been found to decrease inflammation and symptoms of seasonal allergies. Eating lots of foods like salmon (wild-caught) and walnuts, and/or supplementing with a high quality fish oil (around 2g a day) will help with allergies as well as a host of other health benefits.
So next time you start sneezing and sniffling, don’t reach straight for the OTC medications or sprays.. Try some natural solutions first that will boost your overall immunity and health, without any long or short term side effects!