We all want to avoid allergic reactions, but in many cases, the common solution is over-the-counter and prescription medication. These medications, while often effective, can be expensive and could cause side effects such a drowsiness, dizziness, and even blurred vision.
To avoid the downsides of allergy medications, many people turn to natural remedies. These remedies, while not perfect, are often used to reduce symptoms of allergies, and with mounting research, some are becoming accepted by a growing portion of the medical community.
Common Airborne AllergensFirst, let’s start by taking a look at a few of the substances that may be causing your allergic rhinitis.
DustIf you have dust allergies, you are constantly fighting a battle against congestion, irritation, and possibly even headaches. Unfortunately, dust comes from many different sources, so avoiding the issue can be difficult. Dust is not a single particle, but a mix of many different substances that can include tiny specs of dirt, pet dander, and more.
It’s been said that most dust in the home is from human skin cells. This unpleasant myth is false, as the majority of household dust is tiny dirt particles. (There are skin cells in dust, but it’s not the majority.) Every time you open a window, you let in a small amount of dirt that flows in the air. Depending on your location, the wind, and the looseness of soil outside, there can be varying levels of dirt that flow inward, creating more dust in your home. This could possibly contribute to allergies.
PollenPollen season is an allergy sufferer’s worst time of the year. Plants release pollen for reproduction, and these tiny substances can travel for hundreds of miles. Seasonal allergies bring sneezing, coughing, eye irritation, and more, making life miserable for anyone who has hay fever. Avoiding the outdoors during pollen seasons is difficult, so many sufferers need to find other remedies.
Flowers are often considered the main culprit to hay fever, but this is actually false. In most regions, the top contributors to hay fever are grasses and trees. Flowers rely on insects to spread pollination (flowers are bright and colorful to attract bugs), but grass and trees release pollen for their reproduction, and because pollen can travel dozens of miles, you don’t have to be near the woods and prairies to suffer from hay fever.
Pet DanderHaving a pet is one of the true joys in life, but if you suffer from pet allergies, it can be one of the biggest hassles as well. Like humans, pets release skin cells that are light enough to float on the air. If someone is allergic to pets, when they breathe in the skin cells it can cause sneezing, coughing, and throat irritation.
All cats and dogs create some amount of dander, so there is no such thing as a completely hypoallergenic breed. However, there are breeds that shed less, making them better for allergy sufferers.
SmokeSmoke is irritating to anyone, but if you are allergic, it can be significantly troublesome. Even the smallest amounts of smoke can cause some allergy sufferers to have extensive complications and breathing problems.
Causing irritated and watery eyes, nasal congestion, shortness of breath, and coughing, smoke is one of the worst allergens. It’s not just cigarette smoke either, as industrial smoke or wood-burning fires can also cause allergic reactions.
MoldMold is found in almost any dark and moist location. It may seem that mold is only found on unwashed shower curtains and in damp basements, but mold is present in many different locations in the home, and it can travel all through the house.
Mold travels, or more accurately, reproduces, by releasing spores into the air. These microscopic spores float through the air and, if they land in a comfortable location with nutrients and water, turn into colonies. Spores can cause allergic reactions that include runny noses, coughing, wheezing, and sneezing. Even if you are not allergic, high concentrations of mold can cause respiratory issues.
FormaldehydeThis chemical is used in many different products, including adhesives, carpets, drapes, liquid cleaners, and (ironically) air fresheners. High levels of formaldehyde exposure can impact anyone’s health, but some people will have allergic reactions to even the smallest amounts. Reducing formaldehyde in your home is the best way to avoid allergic reactions, which include tightness in the chest, fatigue, headaches, rashes, and burning sensations in the throat and eyes.
Natural Remedies for Airborne AllergiesWhat do we mean by "natural"? The word natural gets tossed around quite a bit. We could easily argue that the word gets tossed around too much. But what does natural mean?
Are all over-the-counter medications unnatural?
Are all untraditional forms of treatment, such as acupuncture and neti pots, natural?
Are supplements, that come in pill form, just like prescription medications, natural or unnatural?
We won’t try to be the final judge on natural vs unnatural treatments. We’ll keep it simple.
Natural treatments, for the purpose of this article, are anything that does not include typical medication, either over the counter or prescription.
This list will include foods, physical treatments, and lifestyle changes.
In our list, we are also including supplements, because, in general, supplements are made of vitamins and minerals that the body either produces or we consume in food. For example, we generally get our vitamin C from food, however, it’s possible to take vitamin C supplements. Therefore, we have included vitamin C in our list of natural remedies for allergies.
Eliminate the AllergenPretty simple, right? Perhaps the most effective way to prevent allergy problems is to avoid the allergen as much as possible. Obviously, this will be affected by the specific allergen that is giving you trouble, so each person’s strategy will be slightly different.
If, for example, you are allergic to pollen, avoid extensive outdoor activity during pollen season. If you’re allergic to pet dander, don’t stay long at a home with pets. Simple, basic avoidance of pollen, dust, dust mites, or pet dander will likely give you the most relief from allergic reactions.
Changes to Your DietYour diet affects so many aspects of your overall health and well-being that we should all be extremely meticulous about what we put in our mouths, regardless of allergies. Anyone suffering from allergies has a legitimate chance at improving their allergy symptoms.
In this case, we’re not talking about not eating your allergens; anyone allergic to peanuts should obviously not have peanuts in their diet. In this case, we’re talking about eating food that have been linked to a reduction in the of the severity of frequency of allergic reactions, regardless of your personal allergen.
There are lots of reports about food and allergies, so this is certainly not a comprehensive list, but these are few of the foods that may help you find relief...
Spicy FoodsHot, spicy food can cause your nose to run, which may help clean nasal passages. When experiencing allergy symptoms, try adding a little cayenne pepper, ginger, red pepper flakes, or hot sauce to your foods. You may notice that as your nasals clear, your allergy symptoms, especially congestion, are eased.
Avoid Certain CheesesTalk with an allergy specialist and see if eliminating certain cheeses from your diet would be a good idea. Some cheese can cause blood vessels to swell, which makes your congestion worse.
GarlicAs a natural antibiotic, garlic can help ward off infections. Garlic also has been linked to the ability to reduce allergic reactions. Some people choose garlic supplements to avoid the garlic smell, but some add garlic to their food to help reduce allergies. As a bonus, the slightly spicy aroma and taste may reduce congestion.
OnionsOnions are high with quercetin, a natural chemical that is known to act as a natural anti-histamine. Try to add both fresh or raw onions to your food to reduce allergic reactions.
Fatty FishCertain fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have numerous health benefits including the potential reduction of allergy symptoms. If you can add two servings per week of tuna, salmon, or mackerel, you may be able to lower your allergies.
ProbioticsLive bacteria in your gut are good for the digestive system, and probiotics, which are considered good bacteria, help keep your digestive system in proper working order. It’s believed that probiotics can help with nasal congestion among people suffering from seasonal allergies. The exact way that probiotics help is still being debated, but it’s believed probiotics may help correct an imbalance in the immune system. Vinegary foods, such as kimchi and sauerkraut, are believed to enhance stomach health as well.
Try AcupunctureWhile more research is needed on the cause and effect, there is actually a significant amount of scientific information that demonstrates a positive connection between acupuncture and the reduction of allergies. For example, a study conducted by German researchers found clinically relevant benefits for acupuncture. This study allocated 15 acupuncture sessions to patients with allergies. During a three month period, these patients were compared to a control group that received no acupuncture. At the end of the period, patients from both groups completed a survey on their current allergic status. Patient who received no acupuncture had lower quality of life scores (which took into account allergies and health) than those receiving the treatment.
Nasal Rinses (Neti Pot)You can use a neti pot to flush dust, pollen, dander, or any other airborne allergen from your nasal passages. The products, which look like a small teapot, can be purchased from most drugstores. While the specifics can change, for most you will simply fill a container with sterile water and rinse one nostril at a time for allergy relief.
Stinging NettleThis is a common herb found in many supplements. The stinging nettle may also be an antihistamine, giving it potential as an allergy-fighting option. This remedy is also backed by scientific research as well as anecdotal evidence. This product can be found online and in most health-food stores, but, like all potential remedies, be sure to talk with your doctor and an allergy expert before making any purchases.
QuercetinAs described in a report by Boston University specialists, quercetin is a bioflavonoid found in red wine, grapefruits, onions, apples, and many other plant-based foods. Bioflavonoids are semi-essential nutrients that are often credited with giving fruits and vegetables their color. Essentially, these nutrients block the substances involved in allergic reactions, acting as an inhibitor. In conjunction with other methods, quercetin could bring benefits that allow you to reduce the severity of your allergies.
BromelainThis is an enzyme that digests protein and has many therapeutic properties, including allergy control. Although more research is still required to fully understand the scientific effects of bromelain consumption, there is reason to believe that it may help with allergy control. You can find a large amount of bromelain in pineapple, but it is also available in supplemental form.
Vitamin CThis one actually might seem counterintuitive. Vitamin C is well known to boost the immune system, but allergies are actually the immune system gone into overkill. Therefore, it logically would seem that anything that strengthens the immune system would actually make allergies worse. However, there are many reasons to belief that vitamin C can significantly improve allergy symptoms among sufferers. Vitamin C has antihistamine properties, and initial research is suggesting that it may be helpful for reducing allergy symptoms.
The studies that have been conducted don’t simply include a daily ration of oranges and bell peppers (which are loaded with vitamin C), but instead involve vitamin C supplements and even injections.
AstragalusThis is a large section of herbs that includes roughly 3,000 different species. Studies are beginning to show that astragalus in a specific formulation can provide natural allergy relief, including runny nose, sneezing, itching, and more. However, there are reasons to believe that people with some diseases, such as Crohn’s disease, should not take astragalus. Also, people who take drugs to suppress the immune system should also avoid astragalus.
ButterburThis flowering plant has been used traditionally to treat asthma for years. It’s also used to reduce mucus, and it could be a natural remedy for allergic rhinitis. Although the studies currently conducted have been small, there are promising signs that it could help reduce your allergies.
Eucalyptus OilEssential oils, of which eucalyptus is a member, are thought to reduce inflammation and reduce harmful substances that can cause allergic reactions. There are many ways that you can use eucalyptus oil; for example, you can add it to your neti pot or even add a dose to your laundry. Mixing eucalyptus oil with coconut oil and applying it to your chest could also reduce symptoms.
Frankincense OilThis is another powerful oil that has a well-established reputation for reducing allergies and supporting a healthy immune system. You can add a dab of frankincense oil behind your ears or on your chest for relief from allergies.
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