This allergy season has come really quickly in Southern Ontario — from cold to beautiful summer-like temperatures in a 2 week period. What does that mean for allergy sufferers? A ton of tree pollen and flower pollen — and fast! Many of your your poor bodies (mine included) have been shocked with the rapid transition, and I know they are going to need much TLC — stat!
Step 1: Decongest your sinuses
Your sinuses are plugged and it’s hard to hear/blow your nose or it’s impossible to stop blowing your nose — regardless, the mucous that’s being made against the “foreign invader” or allergen is not needed!
Stinging Nettle (freeze-dried capsules) are my go-to for sinus decongestion. Nettle prevents the release of further histamine in the body, and decreases the production of leukotrienes, chemicals that are made in the presence of an allergic response (and inflammation).
Eyebright is a fabulous herbal decongestant that is great for those watery, irritated eyes and runny nose. That puffy, sore feeling in your cheeks and face is well-supported with eyebright tincture.
Chinese Skullcap is an amazing herb at decreasing immune system’s tendency for allergy. It helps to shift the immune system into a less reactive place. See my blog post for more information on this cool herb.
If you want to feel better faster, get yourself a NetiPot. A NetiPot is a sinus rinse that has been used traditionally in Ayurvedic medicine for allergy and sinus support. Salt water is run through the sinuses with a little teapot.
Important tips to remember here:
- The water that is used in a NetiPot Sinus Rinse must be distilled or boiled and cooled to room temperature before using. It cannot come from your tap water because it is not technically sterile, and we want sterile water in the body, and not to add unknown particulates that can be in tap water (metals, hormones, sometimes microscopic amoeba and other friends) to your sinuses
- Using the sinus rinse facilitates circulation to the sinuses, but does not address inflammation of the sinuses, so if you’re using this only to relieve your allergies it will not be enough, but it will give you a great deal of relief.
- See the link above for how to use a Neti-Pot. Remember to tilt your head forward!
Step 2: Reduce your histamine foods
I’m aware that some of you don’t know that you might be allergic to foods that you are eating. That’s okay. Did you know however that certain foods can be more histamine-promoting than other foods, even if you are not in fact allergic? Do you know what histamine is?
Histamine is a chemical released from a lovely cell called a mast cell. Mast cells release histamine which brings blood flow and immune cells to an area, basically to flood the area so that the immune system can get in, clean up, and get out. That however is what is responsible for those swollen sinuses, watery eyes, and mucous production.
Here’s a small list of foods that create inflammation by producing or containing histamine. Who wants to add wood to the fire and get things moving? Not this girl. I would make sure that reducing these foods is a priority for you in allergy season, in a rotation of these foods so your body can get a break from histamine.
- Fermented foods (smoked meats, sauerkraut, sour cream, yogurt) and processed meats
- Mackarel and Sardines, and any smoked fish
- Shellfish (Shrimp)
Another fun fact to consider if you know you have environmental allergies, that there are foods that can be associated with certain plants and trees that you may be reacting to for example birch tree allergies can share reactivity with oranges, apples, peach, strawberry, lychee, zucchini, and carrot. Latex allergy individuals can also react to avocado and banana, as well as buckwheat, coconut, wheat, peaches, pears and many other foods. If the irritation is mild, you may never notice the reaction until allergy season comes upon you!
Tracking your diet during allergy season can be a game-changer. Maybe you have unlikely culprits that you are unaware of, and tracking might help you see your trends. It may be as simple as substituting out one food for another.
**Additional tip: Please reduce your sugar overall — this includes fruit, honey, candies etc. Sugar increases inflammation in many disorders, and will make allergies much worse.
Step 3: Support your stress hormones
Allergies are very tiring for the body as there is something it is fighting fiercely. You will need a lot more sleep and water during this time.
Adaptogens are herbs that support the body’s stress in the allergy fight, by either getting it to calm down or to be more balanced. Great adaptogenic herbs for allergy season include:
Licorice (aka glycerrhiza glabra, the herb, not Nibs or Twizzlers!) — a potent anti-inflammatory
Schisandra — helps with energy without being too stimulating
Ashwaganha (aka Withania somnifera) — for a very tired, depleted individual (burning the candle at both ends)
Step 4: Close your windows
Sleeping with the windows open is great, but pollens can then migrate into your furniture and clothing, and so you never really escape the great outdoors.
Step 5: Be prepared
Bring your allergy ‘kit’ with you, and check the pollen counts in your area before you leave your house.