Summer is the best time for out-door fun (swimming, grilling, hiking), but for some this time of the year also brings allergies (itchy nose, throat and eyes) with it. However, by understanding the triggers, taking necessary precautions and keeping natural remedies at hand, you can make sure that you don’t miss out on the summer fun.
You develop allergies when immune system of your body reacts to an external substance (allergen) as a threat and produces antibodies against it. During summer months grass, weeds, tree molds and fungi are the main allergens in the environment, which trigger the defence mechanism of your body to releases histamine and other chemicals. These chemicals cause allergic symptoms like runny or stuffy nose, congestion, sneezing, coughing, itchy watery eyes, headaches and swollen sinuses. This food may help reduce allergies.
Natural remedies: Often pharmaceutical treatments for allergies either don’t work or cause serious side effects but there are numerous natural medicines that help you treat these allergies from the inside. Here is a list of natural remedies that help in preventing or treating common symptoms of summer allergies:
- Diet: Besides improving your immunity, healthy food works as medicine to calm down allergy symptoms. So, include these anti-inflammatory foods in your daily diet to prevent or relieve common allergies:
- Omega-3 fatty acids: These fatty acids help with cellular defence mechanisms. Research suggests that people who eat diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids suffer from fewer allergies. Walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds and oily fish (salmon, trout, and sardines) are excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Probiotics & Fermented foods: Probiotics are healthy bacteria found inside your body, which help in proper functioning of your immune system. Studies suggest that people who take probiotics throughout allergy season have lower incidences of allergies. To boost probiotics in your body eat fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, apple cider vinegar, raw pickles and probiotic yogurt.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C naturally lowers histamine levels and supports the adrenal glands in production of allergy-fighting hormones. Broccoli, citrus Fruits and hot peppers are found beneficial in preventing allergy.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D not only strengthens your immune system but also reduces inflammatory responses to allergens. Research links insufficient vitamin D levels to more severe asthma and allergies in children.
- Local Raw Honey: Like allergy shots, daily intake of a spoonful of locally produced honey de-sensitizes your immune system against local pollen and provides protection against allergy symptoms, when pollen is in the air.
- Quercetin: Quercetin, is a natural phytochemical found in some foods (broccoli, citrus fruits, berries, red grapes, apples, red onion, capers and black tea). This antioxidant works as ‘natural antihistamine’ by stabilizing cell membranes and makes them less reactive to allergens. A supplemental dose (300 mg 3 times a day, during peak allergy season) of quercetin is effective in preventing or relieving allergic symptoms.
Also, take generous amount of anti-inflammatory foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables; and a few cloves of garlic daily to boost your immune system and reduces allergic symptoms.
- Salt Water or Saline spray: Salt water or saline solution is good to flush out your sinuses. To make saline solution, combine 1 quart of distilled warm water, 2- 3 tsp non-iodized salt (kosher or sea salt) and 1 tsp baking soda. Now fill this saline solution in either a spray bottle or a Neti pot, a small vessel with a spout (similar to Aladdin’s Lamp) that you insert into your nose to gently irrigate your nose. Tilt your head forward over the sink while you allow saline solution to run through one nostril and out the other side to remove sinus pressure and clear out nasal cavities. For best results, use saline solution twice a day during allergy season to wash those allergens off your nasal membranes.
- Colloidal Silver: Colloidal silver is a natural anti-inflammatory substance. A small amount of colloidal silver taken orally can provide significant boost to your immune system and limit allergic reactions. Add colloidal silver to the warm water and use it in Neti pot to clear your sinus cavities or inhale colloidal silver mist through a medical nebulizer to alleviate lung congestion. Also, you can apply colloidal silver to relieve itchy skin, rashes and hives.
- Oregano: Wild Oregano has ‘natural antihistamine’ quercitin and normal oregano has antibacterial carvacrol, both of these compounds are anti-inflammatory in nature and help in relieving allergies and associated symptoms. You can either use whole, crude herb or its steam distilled oil. Chew fresh oregano to alleviate throat itchiness and soreness or boil dried oregano in water and inhale the steam to decongest and refresh your sinuses. Topical application of oil of oregano also relieves itchy rash, bites, and swollen throat.
- Grapefruit seed extract: Grapefruit seed extract is a natural antimicrobial that blocks inflammation triggered by an allergic reaction. Just add a small drop of grapefruit seed extract in the saline solution and use it in Neti pot or nasal spray to effectively relieve nasal congestion and sinus symptoms associated with allergies.
- Baptisa tinctoria (wild indigo): This herb has anti-microbial and immune system stimulating properties, which are especially beneficial in relieving upper-respiratory infections. When used in homeopathic (very dilute) concentrations, baptisia can have special effects as an anti-microbial agent.
Precautions: Also, take necessary precautions to avoid extended exposure to environmental allergens. Try to stay inside when the pollen count and smog levels are high or wear wraparound sunglasses when you go outdoors. Keep your home clean, use an air purifier, vacuum more often (but wear a mask) and let your doors and windows closed on high-pollen days. Also washing your clothes and hair more regularly and changing your clothes after you go outside can help you sail through summer time easily.