With the pollen count in Atlanta being the highest that it has been in years, many allergy sufferers are wondering how to get relief.
A recent pollen count stands at 6,262, which is the fifth highest count that Atlanta has seen since Atlanta Allergy & Asthma started keeping track in 1991. Keep in mind that counts more than 1,500 are considered extremely high.
So how do you fight allergy symptoms and reactions without over-the-counter medications and nasal sprays full of chemicals and synthetic ingredients?
Continue reading for natural allergy symptom solutions for you and your family.
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 you limit your 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.
- Change into clean clothes when you get home from work and school. Yes, this means more laundry, but it also means that the allergens on your clothes won’t be sticking to your sofa, the living room carpet, or worse, your beds.
- Take a bath or shower every evening before your body touches your bed. Washing the pollen and dust out of your hair and off of your 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 allergy symptoms through nutrition. An integrative approach to treating allergies will always include some great dietary recommendations.
- Eat 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.
- Snack on pineapple! Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelian, which helps decrease inflammation associated with allergies. It also contains lots of vitamin C. Snacking on fresh pineapple chunks, fresh pineapple juice, or pineapple (fresh or frozen) added to a smoothie can help regulate allergy symptoms.
- Get lots of good fats into your diet. Ideally we want you 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 add flax seeds into 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 immune systems, a win-win in allergy season.
- Avoid pro-inflammatory foods like sugar and dairy.
Knowing that we can’t always eat ALL of the amazing nutrients our 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 (adults and kids): Making sure yours and your children’s guts have the right kind of bacteria will help you fight allergies and will boost your overall immune systems. Most children do great with 5 billion CFU, and older kids can even go to 10 billion CFU. Adults can take anywhere from 20 to 50 billion CFU.
- Omega-3’s (adults and kids): As mentioned above, good fats like Omega-3 fats have an anti-inflammatory effect. Getting you and your kids a DHA+EPA supplement should help fight that allergy-season inflammation.
- Turmeric: Turmeric is known as an inflammation fighter, which will help suppress your immune system’s response to allergens.
- Vitamin D (1000 IU and 5000 IU): Vitamin D is also great support for your immune system. And remember, when your immune system is strong it is less likely to produce histamine, which is your body’s natural response to allergens.
Used safely and within reason, essential oils are a great adjunct to all of the above when it comes to getting allergies under control. Remember you never put essential oils directly into ears, noses, or eyes. There are two ways to use essential oils: 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. Adults should also dilute when using a new oil, but it isn’t always necessary.
- 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 and adults, 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!