Welcome to warm breezes, green leaves, flowers blooming, and allergies! While we love spring, sneezing, sniffling, and itchy eyes are definitely a downside. In Georgia, all the cars turn yellow for weeks of a pine pollen coating. So while we love to be outdoors when the temperature is moderate, for many the allergens take away from our full enjoyment. What are a few things that can help without having to take medication. Here are a few ideas:
There is no firm evidence certain foods make you more congested (unless you have a true food allergy), but we do know (no surprise here!) that healthy eating improves immune function, energy and overall health! For some, spicy foods can make a difference. Even though in the short run, the extra spicy cuisine can make our noses run, spices are also terrific anti-inflammatories. So consider experimenting with some fresh ginger, cayenne pepper, larger amounts of garlic that might make a difference in reducing allergic symptoms. Even if you do not improve your seasonal allergies you have added great spices into your diet.
Peppermint oil can help clear your sinuses… Simply rubbing a few drops in your hands and then cupping your hands to your nose and taking a deep breath can open up your nasal passages.
A temporary solution, especially during sleep, is the simple nasal strips available in most retail pharmacies. They can mechanically decrease snoring (your partner will thank you), and will also ease congestion. You probably don’t want to wear these during the day, but after you are home, apply one after washing and drying your face, to do a test run to see if it’s worth using nightly.
Use a Neti pot or a spray bottle to flush dust and pollen from your nose. These are easy to find at most drugstores. Get in the habit and use it twice a day. (Please note use only sterile filtered water for your safety). Many have found these make a big difference in nasal congestion. It’s nice to think of literally rinsing all those airborne toxins out of your upper airway!
Simple lubricating eye drops used at least daily can keep the eyes cleansed and moisturized, an effective way to reduce itchy watery eyes without medication.
More simple and powerful ideas to decrease the effect of spring pollens
Leave it outside whenever possible: remove shoes, jackets, umbrellas, or anything that could be bringing more pollen in your house!
Keep windows closed while pollen counts are high.
Take shower and wash your hair before bed to decrease the amount of allergens going to bed with you. Similarly, wash your clothes as soon as possible to avoid spreading allergens around the house when you come inside.
Wash sheets more often than usual and always wash with hot water.
Exercise outside or work outside when the pollen count is lowest. The highest counts are usually early morning hours. Check weather in your area for that information.
House clean more frequently… sorry. Vacuum and use a HEPA filter, dust with a damp cloth and damp mop floors.
Invest in an air filter with a HEPA filter.
Encase your mattress with a dust proof plastic cover.
A natural remedy (if you are opposed to medical antihistamines) is the herbal medicine Stinging Nettle. Make sure you purchase an extract from a freeze dried plant for higher quality, and you can take it every 2 – 4 hours, but I do not recommend it for children under 12.
Take Quercetin 500 mg every day for 6 to 8 weeks to stabilize cells that produce histamines.
Consider acupuncture. The American Academy of Medical Acupuncture says often the relief is noticed after the first visit.
With all these suggestions, we hope you have a more comfortable spring season and can enjoy being active outdoors!
To your good health,
Robert Pendergrast, MD, for Aiken Augusta Holistic Health.