Spring is a marvelous season - full of natural beauty, picture-perfect picnic weather, and daydreams about summertime fun ahead. However, for allergy sufferers, it can also mean a lot of really uncomfortable, or sometimes downright debilitating symptoms. Yes, nature is flowering back to life around us, which means pollen...lots and lots of pollen.
If you suffer from seasonal allergies during the spring, it may seem like a hopeless situation that plagues you year after year.
However, seasonal allergies can be vastly reduced, if not eliminated altogether, by focusing on our diet, overall health, and keeping the body's inflammatory responses under control.
When the lymphatic system is bogged down with toxins, the body may react to various environmental irritants with a heightened inflammatory response. Cue the relentless congestion, sneezing, puffy eyes, sinus pressure, fatigue, and brain fog.
The key is to eat healthily (plant-based, lots of raw foods, minimally processed stuff), stay hydrated, and keep the lymphatic system pumping through regular exercise, not just during allergy season, but all year round. However, there are also a host of things you can do during the height of the pollen season to treat both the symptoms and the root cause of allergies when symptoms are at their worst.
Allergies and functionality of the immune system are intimately connected. When the immune system is run down or weak, allergies will be more intense. And with somewhere between 70-80% of our immune system actually seated in the gut, it becomes clear how important probiotics are in relation to the body's allergic reactions. Probiotic bacteria play a vital role in regulating our body's inflammatory response, and in building a robust immune system. A healthy, balanced gut is a healthy, balanced body. Don't forget to take your daily dose of Sunbiotics!
Matcha (Green Tea)
More good news for matcha-lovers! Green tea has been shown to have potent antihistamine properties thanks to a polyphenol compound known as methylated epigallocatechin gallate (or EGCG for short). EGCG works by blocking the production of histamine and immunoglobulin E, two compounds that the human body produces which are associated with allergy symptoms and allergic reactions.
What makes allergic reactions so unpleasant? You can blame good old fashioned inflammation. Hemp cannabidiol (CBD for short) is a very unique cannabinoid found within cannabis (hemp!) that has gained a lot of recognition lately for a seemingly endless list of health benefits. One of CBD's main claims to fame is its well-documented anti-inflammatory properties. CBD also works within the human endocannabinoid system to help the body maintain a state of balance - in other words, CBD is an adaptogen. It becomes a great natural remedy to help the body maintain balance during times of increased stress (mental or emotional stress, physical injury, allergy season, etc.).
Speaking of inflammation, the discussion can't go on without mentioning curcumin, a highly anti-inflammatory compound found within turmeric root. Taking a turmeric extract with a high concentration of curcumin, using the spice itself with more generosity in your food prep, making turmeric lattes a daily ritual, etc., are great steps to take if you're an allergy sufferer. Not only is curcumin anti-inflammatory, but it is also a decongestant, and acts as a natural antihistamine.
This tip is great for treating symptoms of allergies when you're feeling them the most. Certain oils like peppermint, lemon, lavender, rosemary, and eucalyptus can help clear and soothe breathing passages, relieve sinus headaches, energize the mind, and help lift brain fog. You can diffuse them in the air with an essential oil diffuser, or simply keep a bottle on your person and inhale the aroma for some instant relief. Try making your own roller with a carrier oil of choice, such as MCT coconut oil or jojoba, and roll over temples, neck, and chest throughout the day.
Nettle is incredible wild food, rich in minerals with an emphasis on silicon - a beauty mineral known for strengthening hair, skin, nails, and bones. It has also been shown to have antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-ulcer, astringent and analgesic capabilities, making it a great tonic herb for general use. While fresh nettles are known for their painful sting, they actually have antihistamine properties if ingested. You can find nettles dried in the bulk tea section of most health food stores. Dried nettles can be steeped into a soothing herbal tea. Try blending them with raspberry leaf for a great fortifying tonic blend. If you happen to live in the pacific northwest, you can also find them growing wild all over - just be sure to read up on how to properly identify them and harvest them safely - they can sting and leave painful welts on the skin.
Unlike honey, bee pollen isn't actually produced by bees, rather it is flower pollen collected by the bees as they buzz around collecting nectar. The pollen forms granules, and the granules can then be harvested carefully from the hive with no harm to the honey bees. Bee pollen offers a complete source of protein and is awash with B vitamins. While it won't cure your allergies overnight, by introducing pollen into your system regularly, it gives the body a chance to build up antibodies over time, which can have a very beneficial impact on seasonal allergies. If using bee pollen for allergy prevention, make sure to find a source that is local to you, so your body is building up the right kind of antibodies.
Quercetin is a powerful bioflavonoid that not only acts as a free radical scavenging antioxidant, it also helps reduce inflammation. Not only that, but it has also been shown to limit the body's histamine production, making it great for allergy sufferers. Quercetin is found naturally in cruciferous vegetables and citrus fruits - so be sure to load up on broccoli, cabbage, kale, oranges, lemons and grapefruits during the height of allergy season. If you're really serious about getting a solid dose, you may also want to find quercetin in supplemental form. Check your local Whole Foods or health food store.
While using a neti pot can definitely take a little getting used to (it's not every day that we need to pour the liquid in one nostril and out the other...), it can bring you a world of relief if you're suffering from allergies. Neti pots work to flush the nasal passages of irritants, providing instantaneous relief if you're congested or can't stop sneezing. You can use your own (slightly warm) purified water, or a special pre-blended neti pot saline solution. If you're new to the concept of using a neti pot, watch a few Youtube videos for some tips. You'll be a neti pot pro in no time!
While movement is important all of the time, it becomes even more critical when you're suffering from allergies. While going on a 5-mile run is likely not an option if allergies have the best of you, a gentle rebounding session is an incredibly effective way to get the lymphatic system pumping and draining without too much exertion. The lymph system is a network of tissues and organs that work alongside our cardiovascular system to clear toxins and waste bi-products from the bloodstream. Unlike our cardiovascular system though, the lymph system doesn't have the heart to help pump fluids around. Instead, this system relies on specific bodily movements like exercising, breathing, digesting, and yes, jumping up and down, to function most efficiently. The gentle bouncing motion that a rebounder provides acts as a very effective pump for the entire lymph system.