Nothing stops the romance of a beautiful spring day more than big, puffy eyes and a snotty nose. For seasonal hayfever allergy sufferers this is unfortunately a reality. An allergic reaction is the body’s response to a foreign invader. The body produces antibodies to ward off the substance that it deems to be a threat. In the case of environmental allergies, the body goes into overdrive when it comes across the substance—pet dander, pollen, dust—and releases chemicals that start the inflammatory response. The inflammatory response produces the red eyes, constricted or clogged sinuses and itchy skin.
There are several medications or over-the-counter drugs available to reduce symptoms of allergies, such as itchy, watery eyes and sneezing fits. However, there are also natural remedies available that may be just as effective. The following natural remedies for hayfever may offer alternatives to use in your arsenal against seasonal allergies. Always consult your health care practitioner if you have any concerns about medication interactions.
- Butterbur: A member of the Daisy family, this shrub is used as a natural antihistamine; a study showed improvement in 90 percent of the subjects for their seasonal allergy symptoms. Results were comparable to that of the medication Allegra, used for allergy relief. The raw herb contains a toxic compound known as pyrrolizidine alkaloids so it’s best to use butterbur in supplements where these compounds have been removed.
- Nettle: Freeze-dried nettle leaves taken in a capsule form can be used as a natural anti-inflammatory (one of the mechanisms in allergic reactions). The nettle inhibits the pro-inflammatory pathways in the body that leads to allergic reactions, such as a runny nose.
Quercetin: This is a compound referred to as a flavonoid found in fruits and vegetables which acts as an antioxidant in the body (protects the cells from oxidative stress and damage). Also known for having anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic effects, this substance can be taken as a natural allergy supplement. An average dose would be 300 mg twice a day; it is not meant for long term use.
- Goldenseal: Adding goldenseal to a salt water spray is said to clean out pollen from the nostrils and encourage thinning of mucous.
- Eucalyptus essential oil: Eucalyptus will open up the nasal passages and encourage drainage. Use this in a steam treatment—put your face over a bowl of steaming water with a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil in it to relieve clogged sinuses.
- Saline solution: salt water flushed through the nasal passages with a Neti pot can be very effective in getting rid of a stuffy nose from environmental allergies. However, it does not stop or reduce the effects or reactions to pollens.
Washing pollen off your hair when you return from being outdoors will reduce the risk of contamination on the face and eyes which may set into motion a slew of reactions.
Remember to keep the windows closed during heavy pollen times of year. You can also help the situation by avoiding outdoor activities when smog is thick (smog can exacerbate allergy symptoms).
Check food sensitivities—people with seasonal allergies are more likely to have food allergies as well. It’s a good idea to have a food allergy test by a local health care practitioner so that you can eliminate allergens from the diet. This will allow your immune system to recover from a constant assault of problem foods and substances. A strong immune system will help you cope more easily with the environment around you.
I wrote this article for: Naturally Savvy