In honor of San Luis Obispo’s upcoming Native Plant Week (April 17-23), Spring, and the heaps of pollen swirling on the breeze, Bambu Batu presents the top 8 natural ways to beat allergies this season.
1. Native honey- Eating locally farmed honey helps to inoculate the immune system by letting the body get used to very small doses of pollen. For best results, eat 2-3 spoonfuls of native, unfiltered honey each day for for several months prior to the height of allergy season. Browse your farmer’s market for some sweet relief!
2. Neti pot- When your head feels like its been stuffed with enough cotton to soak up the Atlantic, drain your sinuses with a saline solution using a Neti pot. The little ceramic container helps to flush out nasal passages, relieve pressure, and soothe irritation. The salt rinse works by allowing the small hairs (cilia) in your sinuses to better remove mucus, bacteria and allergens. Sure, inserting the spout of what looks vaguely like a magic lamp up your nose may take some getting used to, but its a great alternative to taking medications and leaves your head feeling clean and clear.
3. Spring cleaning- Give your home a good wipe-down and and allow air to circulate. Dust is composed of a myriad of elements that can cause coughing, sneezing and inflammation. Some of these appetizing ingredients include pet dander, mite feces, molds and fungi. To curb the growth of irritants, maintain a constant low humidity in living spaces, run fans, and vacuum regularly. While a little tidying can do a lot of good, be careful not to go too overboard! Vigorous cleaning may eliminate the small amount of allergens on which our immune systems practice. Some household chemicals may also increase immune reactions, so play it safe by using “green” or environmentally friendly products that easily biodegrade and contain less caustic substances
4. Quercetin- This plant-derived compound helps to stabilize cells in the respiratory system that trigger the release of histamines and cause allergy attacks. Quercetin is commonly found in citrus, tea, onions, apples, parsley, lettuce, onions, and wine and can also be bought in supplement form. Sufferers should take about 1,000 mg each day between meals and start about six weeks before allergy season reaches full bloom.
5. Allergy-fighting foods- Recent studies have shown that people with diets rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, (found in fish, walnuts, flaxseed, grass-fed meats and eggs), were less likely to suffer from allergies. For decongestion, add spicy foods like horseradish, chili or mustard to meals.
6. Stinging nettle- As a natural antihistamine, nettle prevents the immune system from over-reacting to environmental irritants. You can avoid the pain of touching this common weed and find its freeze-dried extract in capsules at your local health foods store. This supplement does not cause drowsiness or dry mouth like most proscription medications and 300mg a day should provide relief for several hours.
7. Butterbur- This European plant derivative has been shown to be as effective in fighting symptoms as cetirizine, the active ingredient in the Zyrtec. Four doses of 32mg each day should alleviate discomfort. However, Butterbur is in the same family as ragweed, so those sensitive to these plants should show caution before considering this remedy.
8. Apple cider vinegar- Good for more than just salad dressings, 1-3 doses of 1/8 cup of vinegar throughout the day can prevent attacks and keep the itching and watery eyes at bay. Either dilute the vinegar in 16oz of water to form a tonic, or if you are feeling brave, take a shot from the bottle. Add a a little local honey to buffer the tangy flavor and boost the allergy fighting power!