Gesundheit!

If you noticed you’ve been getting lots of practice blessing folks and brushing up on your German pronunciation of health, then you are already aware of the on-set of the much dreaded allergy season.  Each year since 1970, more and more of the population finds that the air no longer agrees with them as allergy rates continue to increase.  As more people find themselves suffering from allergies, more and more people are turning to alternatives for help.  

For right now, let’s focus on the seasonal allergies people complain about… the runny nose, watery eyes, itch (eyes, nose, and skin), headache, etc. that drives people nuts as pollen counts rise in spring and dust/mold rises in the fall. 

Last week we discussed anti-inflammatory practices that could help reduce painful reactions to your enjoyment of outdoor activities.  As luck would have it, reducing your overall level of inflammation will also reduce the severity of your allergies.  Think of it like this… each of us has a certain built-in tolerance for, well, “crap”.  If your diet is high on the crappy end of the scale, then your system is already going to be very close (if not already over) to your tolerance level.  Then along comes some ragweed pollen and WHAM, you go right over the edge!  Since you have much more control over what you eat on a daily basis than you do over what is blooming, it makes sense to target the diet.  As your diet improves, your symptoms will decline. 

It also makes sense to address your exposure to allergens in the places you spend most of your time.  For most of us, the best place to start is the bedroom.  Having access to a safe haven while you get your 8 hours of sleep will greatly improve your experience of allergy season for multiple reasons.  Weekly washing of your bedding in hot water, not having carpet in the bedroom, dusting and sweeping at least weekly will do wonders for keeping your bedroom a safe zone. 

Breathing filtered air during sleep will assure that you waken each morning with a much lower allergen level to deal with.  You’ll also recover from the previous day much more thoroughly if you’ve had a restful night’s sleep instead of tossing and turning all night struggling to breathe.   Last but not least, frequently opening the windows and airing out the house will actually reduce your exposure to airborne pollutants!  Indoor air quality is often 100’s of times worse than outdoor air, especially in well insulated modern homes and buildings.

Same goes for work, if you have an office job or are otherwise stuck inside in one place most of the work day.  Placing a small air filter in your work space makes a lot of sense and will help considerably.  These 2 strategies alone will drastically reduce your exposure to airborne allergens for at least 16 hours of the day! 

The next step will be to keep a few things handy for the really troublesome days:

  • Quercetin:  a flavonoid (flavonoids are responsible for the rich colors found in fruits and veggies) found in such things as onions, citrus, parsley, and kale; this plant extract has widely beneficial actions on the mucus membranes (airway, digestive tract, urinary tract and reproductive tract), circulation, and is able to protect the eyes in diabetics.  When allergies hit, take 1000mg three times per day.  If you are allergic to citrus, this supplement will be a problem.  Choose other sources of flavonoids such as bilberry, hawthorne, or other berry extracts.
  • Nettles tea… 2 tsp of dry herb per cup of tea.  Steep for 3 minutes.  Have 3-4 cups per day.
  • Neti Pot… daily irrigation of your sinuses with a body temperature saline solution will wash away pollen and other irritants, moisten sinus membranes and open airways.  Some people like to use a sinus rinse where you spray the saline up into your sinuses.    

As luck would have it, these steps are also helpful if you have asthma or suffer repeated upper respiratory infections.  Actually, you’ll begin to notice that when your objective is to promote your own health… it actually works cross the board, regardless of what you may have been diagnosed with!  The exceptions to this rule of thumb are what make the medical professions necessary.

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