Spring is upon us, which means more sunshine, longer days… and irritating Spring allergies. As most of us know too well, kids can suffer right along with their parents when it comes to allergies. In my work as a holistic pediatrician, I love helping parents find ways to help support and treat their children’s allergy symptoms as naturally as possible.
Environmental allergens are all around us, but they are especially plentiful at the height of Spring, when pollen and dust are at their peak. Here are some basic lifestyle modifications that will help your kids limit their exposure to Spring allergens.
- Leave your shoes at the door. This will keep you and the kids from tracking dust and pollen all over the house.
- Have your kids change into clean clothes when they get home from school. Yes, this means more laundry, but it also means that the allergens on their school clothes won’t be sticking to your sofa, the living room carpet, or worse, their beds.
- Get them in the bath or shower every evening before their bodies touch their beds. Washing the pollen and dust out of their hair and off of their skin will limit overnight sniffles and itches.
- Keep the windows closed. As tempting as it is to let the cool Spring breeze blow in, don’t do it! If you get stir-crazy with the windows always closed, open them for an hour each day, preferably when it’s warmest out. Pollen peaks around 5 a.m., so definitely don’t sleep with the windows open.
- Vacuum and wash bedding at least once a week. Use extra hot water for bedding to get rid of dust mites, which are around all year long but contribute to allergies nonetheless.
Believe it or not, there is a lot we can do to support our kids’ allergy symptoms through their nutrition. An integrative approach to treating allergies will always include some great dietary recommendations.
- Offer them foods that are rich in Quercetin. Quercetin is a mast-cell stabilizer (mast cells are the immune cells that release histamine) found in many fruits and vegetables. Some foods that have healthy amounts of quercetin include capers, onions, berries, kale, apples, and red grapes.
- Give them pineapple! Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelian, which helps decrease inflammation associated with allergies. It also contains lots of vitamin C. Giving your kids fresh pineapple chunks, fresh pineapple juice, or pineapple (fresh or frozen) added to a smoothie can help regulate their allergy symptoms.
- Get lots of good fats into them. Ideally we want them to eat great sources of Omega-3 fatty acids like wild-caught salmon or herring. These will help decrease inflammation. If that’s not possible, you can sneak flax seeds into their oatmeal or into smoothies. Chia seeds and hemp seeds blend well into smoothies also. Other sources of good fat are coconut oil, olive oil, and avocado oil.
- Use raw garlic in your recipes. Garlic has anti-inflammatory properties and will boost your kids’ immune systems, a win-win in allergy season.
- Avoid pro-inflammatory foods like sugar and dairy.
Knowing that we can’t get our kids to eat ALL of the amazing nutrients their bodies need, our holistic allergy plan for patients tends to include some naturally-derived supplements to make up the difference.
- D-Hist and D-Hist Jr. (Ortho Molecular): I’ve become a huge fan of D-Hist, a supplement that contains Quercetin, as well as Vitamin C, Stinging Nettles Leaf, Bromelain, and N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine. It is available in both capsule and children’s chewable. As someone who has had allergies forever (and hates taking pharmaceutical medication for them), I can say that D-Hist has been a lifesaver.
- Probiotics: Making sure your children’s guts have the right kind of bacteria will help them fight allergies and will boost their overall immune systems. Most children do great with 5 billion CFU, and older kids can even go to 10 billion CFU.
- Omega-3’s: As mentioned above, good fats like Omega-3 fats have an anti-inflammatory effect. Getting your kids a DHA+EPA supplement should help them fight that allergy-season inflammation.
Used safely and within reason, essential oils are a great adjunct to all of the above when it comes to getting your kids’ allergies under control. Remember you never put essential oils directly into ears, noses, or eyes. There are two ways to use essential oils with children: topically and aromatically.
- Topically: When I recommend essential oils topically for children, I always insist that the oils be diluted with a carrier oil like fractionated coconut oil. A 1:4 dilution (1 part essential oil, 3 parts carrier) is a safe bet for most kids.
- Aromatically: A cold-water diffuser is my favorite way to use oils aromatically, but simply putting a few drops on a cotton ball in a small glass jar can work too.
The oils that work wonders for allergies are Lemon, Lavender and Peppermint, used in equal parts. Lemon helps decrease the runny nose symptoms, Lavender controls the itchiness, and Peppermint can open up nasal passages and calm the airways. If using Peppermint on children under 6 years old, keep the application to the bottoms of the feet only. In older kids, all three oils can be rubbed on the feet, the spine, and along the sinuses.
These tips should help make this allergy season as painless as possible for you and your children!
To vibrant health,
|Dr. Jamilet Alegria, M.D., joined the CentreSpring MD team of providers in the fall of 2016 after spending years as a Pediatric Hospitalist at both CHOC Children’s in Orange County and at the Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center Inpatient Pediatrics Unit in Southern California.|
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