Is your medicine cabinet stocked with anti-histamines and allergy medications around pollen season? And do Paul Simon’s ‘Allergy’ lyrics ring true to you?
“Maladies, remedies,.. still the allergies remain….”
Most people assume pollen is responsible for allergies but foods, insect bites, domestic pets, mold, chemicals and smoke can all trigger a histamine response. Histamines are a type of immune cell that gets released when your body comes in contact with an allergen. Conventional medicine can treat the symptoms of histamine release (like over-the-counter anti-histamines) but do not address the underlying cause to prevent it.
In this blog, I’ll share some tips on reducing the allergy disorder that many of us suffer from this time of year.
Keep your liver clean – Normally, your liver can process annoying allergens but in the toxic world we live in, it’s VERY easy to overload your liver – hence, the sneezing, itching and watery eyes. Did you know that bitter foods are like a gym session for your liver? Bitter foods stimulate the liver to produce bile to optimize digestion and keep it functioning optimally. Some bitter foods to add to your diet include: a stiff cup of black coffee, dandelion greens, radicchio, bitter melon (you can buy this in the Asian markets), and green tea. In addition, you can try herbs like milk thistle, burdock and dandelion in tea form or as a supplement. Here is a powder blend I buy to add to coffee in the morning:
Eat a clean, gut-healing diet – Were you aware that more than 60% of our immune cells are in the gut? So it’s no surprise that an inflamed gut leads to more allergies. Focusing on an anti-inflammatory diet that’s packed with nutrients will enable your body to fight off these invaders:
- Greens, cruciferous vegetables and polyphenol rich foods: broccoli, swiss chard, cauliflower, berries
- Raw honey: evidence has shown the benefits of honey as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. Try adding a tablespoon of honey several times a day to your diet to reduce allergy symptoms. I suggest local honey – it’s easy to find at farmer’s markets and many grocery stores.
- Apple cider vinegar: great as an antioxidant drink and to keep mucus at bay. Add a teaspoon to your morning glass of water and also to your neti pot to flush out your nasal passages.
AVOID gut-inflaming foods like corn, wheat/gluten, dairy, sugar, bad oils and processed foods.
Consider supplements – In addition to having adequate vitamin D, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids, here are 2 others that I add to my regimen during allergy season:
- Stinging nettle – The leaf of stinging nettles has been shown to bind to histamine receptors and inhibit inflammatory responses. It can be taken in tincture of tea form. Here’s an extract from a reputable herbal company to try:
- Quercetin – this powerful antioxidant found in foods like onions is known for inhibiting histamine production. Consider a supplement to get a strong enough dose to keep sneezing under control – here’s one that’s been third-party tested:
Clean up your environment:
- Avoid fragrances and perfumes which are loaded with chemicals – there are many fragrance-free (or natural fragrance) soaps, cosmetics and personal care products to choose from. Here’s a cosmetic line that is free of parabens, chemicals and synthetic fragrances and dyes: https://hanscc.com
- Use EWG-verified (Environmental Working Group) cleaning products for the home and avoid harsh bleaches. Actually, one of my favorite cleaning agents is just hydrogen peroxide. I buy the 12% food grade concentrate and dilute it 4:1 with clean water and use it to clean hard surfaces like bathrooms and countertops. To make your own, pour ¼ cup of 12% peroxide into a clean container. Then add ¾ cup of distilled, reverse osmosis or clean spring water to dilute. It’s very inexpensive and extremely effective! Here’s the 12% peroxide I buy:
- Avoid pesticides/herbicides around the home: We have a lush weed-filled yard which my dogs and family enjoy without worrying about chemical exposure. Stick to non-chemical pesticides or traps if appropriate to manage critters and unwanted guests.
- Get rid of mold and make sure areas inside and around your home are dry to prevent growth. If you think you may have a mold issue in your home, you may have to call a mold remediation specialist but you can purchase kits online to check first. Here’s a DIY mold test kit I bought:
- Vacuum regularly – how about a robotic vacuum? I am obsessed with how much dirt/dust this small robot picks up. Here’s one I use.
- Get an air purifier for areas where you spend the bulk of your time (i.e. bedroom, home office). There are many to choose from and they do not have to be expensive to do the job. Here’s one I bought. Just don’t do what I did – I was in such a rush to turn this purifier on that I forgot to peel the plastic cover off the air filter so it ran for months doing absolutely nothing!