Allergies Seasonal Alternative Treatments

From coast to coast, approximately 40 million Americans suffer from allergy symptoms (also known as allergic rhinitis or hay fever). Many people experience allergies from spring to fall, when plant pollen becomes airborne. However, allergy symptoms can be present year-round if you are sensitive to any of the following:

  • animal dander
  • cockroaches
  • dust mites
  • feathers
  • mold.

These allergens can be found in:

  • bedding
  • carpet
  • curtains
  • down clothing
  • pillows.

When the immune system encounters an allergen to which a person is sensitive, it produces IgE, an antibody that triggers the release of histamines in to the blood stream. Histamines cause:

  • achiness
  • allergic shiners (dark areas around the eyes caused by blood flow to the sinuses)
  • congestion
  • itching
  • mucous drainage
  • red eyes
  • scratchy throat
  • sneezing.

Natural Medicines and Acupuncture

Each year, at least 40 percent of allergy sufferers seek natural or alternative allergy treatment relief. Always consult with a doctor or board-certified allergist before self-diagnosing, especially if your allergies are moderate to severe. It is very important never to mix alternative treatments with traditional drugs. For example, mixing Allegra with a natural antihistaminic medicine can produce problems from the extremely high levels of antihistamine. Although their effectiveness is not confirmed, the following are considered natural allergy treatments:

  • aloe
  • butterbur
  • honey
  • quercetin
  • sodium selenite
  • stinging nettle.

Aloe, available in supplement form or in a saline-based nasal spray, soothes irritated mucous membranes. Butterbur, an herb, is known for relieving grass allergy symptoms. Raw, unfiltered honey is rumored to reduce pollen allergy symptoms. It works by exposing a small portion of an allergen, such as pollen, to the body. This exposure builds up resistance to the allergen over time, reducing painful symptoms. Quercetin, a flavonoid, is known to block histamines. It is naturally present in onions, apples, and black tea. It contains anti-inflammatory properties. Sodium selenite, an antioxidant, helps boost the immune system and neutralize free radicals, which aggravate allergies. Stinging nettle is a natural antihistamine that is used to relieve irritation in the nasal passages.

Acupuncture is known to reduce allergy symptoms without side effects. It calms parts of the immune system that are worn down by exposure to irritating factors. It is especially helpful for people who suffer from multiple allergies.

Lifestyle and Home Remedies

Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and getting sufficient sleep will help combat intense allergy symptoms. Fruits and vegetables, along with a vitamin C supplement, should be consumed daily to support your immune system. Additionally, a nasal rinse is a scientifically-proven method for removing pollen from the nasal passages. A nasal rinse combines warm water, salt, and sometimes baking soda to clear out mucus and remove pollen lodged within the nasal passages. You can administer the solution through a squeeze bottle by tipping your head back and pouring the liquid down one nostril, and then gently blowing it out the other nostril.

At home, wash sheets and towels in hot water weekly and vacuum twice a week. Replace air conditioning filters and keep windows closed. These actions limit pollen and dust from spreading. Also, experts recommend that you should invest in an air purifier for severe pollen allergies. HEPA compatible filters remove most of the pollen from the air in a home or office.

Resources

Heubeck, E. (2008). The weather: Wreaking havoc on health. Retrieved March 17, 2009, from the WebMD Web site: http://www.webmd.com/allergies/features/the-weather-wreaking-havoc-on-health.

Rabkin, R. (2009). Natural allergy relief: 13 ways to alleviate sniffling, sneezing, and headaches. Retrieved March 22, 2009, from the Fitness Magazine Web site: http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/health/conditions/allergies/natural-allergy-relief/.

Wholeliving.com. (2007). Honey for allergy relief. Retrieved March 22, 2009, from the Whole Health Web site: http://www.wholeliving.com/article/the-allergy-buzz.