The culprit is no secret; warm weather brings with it budding plants and trees, which bubble over with pollen. Judy Moran is a registered nurse who works out of a Eugene-based private practice called Oregon Allergy Associates. She explains what no gardener wants to hear: "Exposure plus pollen equals allergies." In short, the only way to curb those maddening allergies is to avoid exposure to pollen. But for most of us, this is not a viable option.
Some seasoned gardeners suggest raw honey as an effective means of combating the unwanted reactions to these seasonal changes. Raw honey contains pollen, so the gradual intake of pollen will help build up your immunity before the symptoms start, thereby providing a security blanket for when the season actually hits. For those that had no luck here, that don’t want to resort to pharmaceutical options or for those looking to arm themselves with further homeopathic means of combating the springtime allergy blues, here’s a list of six proven tricks to do just that.
1. Neti Pot and Saline Rinse
While the process is messy, the results will speak for themselves. The basic theory is that you use a Neti Pot filled with a sterile saline solution to flush out the sinuses of allergens and irritations. The mix reduces inflammation and the salt abolishes all of the unwanted allergens in your nose and throat. Sea water is said to the natural cure-all for everything from skin irritations to arthritis flare-ups. And it works. It’s the same idea here. Even doctors will suggest this course of action on top of whatever drugs they may prescribe.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
This age-old home remedy is said to help with everything from weight-loss to digestion, lowering blood sugar and even clearing acne or irritated skin. With or without seasonal allergies, a couple daily doses of ACV is a good idea. The basic concept of using ACV to treat seasonal allergies is that it can reduce mucous production and cleanse the lymphatic system. The taste leaves something to desire, but you can mix organic, unfiltered ACV with a thick fruit juice to mask the flavor. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with taste and then the many health benefits that follow. Here's five more recipes that you'll actually enjoy drinking.
3. Nettle Leaf
This plant (Urtica dioica) behaves in the body just as an antihistamine does. The benefit here is that there are far fewer unwanted side effects such as dry mouth and drowsiness. Nettle occurs naturally throughout the United States, but is usually taken in as a capsule with the freeze-dried extract of the plant’s leaves inside. Studies have shown that taking about 300 milligrams daily will offer relief for most people. You can also make your own tinctures or teas with stinging nettle. Be careful if picking your own, as the stinging hairs on fresh nettle can cause skin inflammation. Protective gloves are suggested when handling the plant.
Quercetin is a natural, plant-derived compound called a bioflavonoid. Most often taken in a capsule -- but also occurring naturally in citrus fruits, onions, apples, tea, tomatoes and even wine -- quercetin helps to stabilize mast cells and prevents them from releasing histamine. Allergy sufferers will most likely need to use supplements to build up enough of this compound to ward off future attacks. The recommended dosage is about 1,000 milligrams per day. Start taking quercetin six weeks before allergy season begins so your body is stocked and ready for the fight. Note: Those with liver disease shouldn’t use quercetin, so please consult your doctor before starting a daily regimen.
5. Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus is known for supporting the respiratory system by easing scratchy throats, relieving respiratory symptoms from seasonal allergies, relieving asthma and clearing the head. There are a host of roll-on and topical ointments you can find at your local drug store (or at the very least a homeopathic store). But be careful, the oil needs to be diluted prior to applying to the skin. You can mix eucalyptus with a carrier oil -- such as coconut oil -- and apply to the neck, chest or bottoms of feet. You can also add a few drops of eucalyptus to a hot shower. This will allow the aromatic properties to relieve seasonal allergy symptoms.
6. Allergy-Fighting Foods
Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to lessen seasonal allergy symptoms. How? Omega-3s help fight inflammation incredibly well. These can be found in cold-water fish, walnuts and flaxseed oil, as well as grass-fed meat and eggs. Fish oil is a simple, easy way to get your daily serving. Here's a list of the top 10 foods that contain the most omega-3's.
If you’ve already been exposed to high pollen counts, you’re likely stuffy-nosed and congested. You can keep airways clear by adding a dash of horseradish, chili peppers or wasabi to your food — all act as natural, temporary decongestants. Plus, then you have an excuse to get sushi more often.
High pollen counts are the kryptonite of gardeners with seasonal allergies. And make no mistake; heroic is the gardener that tolerates these issues on a daily basis because their love of gardening overshadows their severe dislike for runny noses and itchy eyes. But with these natural home remedies, you can get back to the garden with a reinvigorated enthusiasm and feel safe leaving the tissues inside.