5 Natural Remedies for Allergies
Finding relief for seasonal allergies with traditional medicine can be a double-edged sword. Either you’re sneezing every other second or you’re popping over-the-counter (or perhaps even prescription) antihistamine pills that may stop the allergy symptoms but leave you feeling groggy and disoriented. For this reason, some experts recommend incorporating natural remedies, which sometimes come with fewer side effects, for controlling allergies. Here are five that have been shown to nip sneezing, itchy throat, and runny eyes (among other things) in the bud.
Stinging Nettle Leaf
This herb contains natural antihistamines that help to open nasal passages and ease allergy symptoms. In a double-blind study, 48 percent of participants said stinging nettle leaf worked just as effectively (or more!) than other allergy medicines. Serron Wilkie, a clinical naturopath in Portland suggests using the herb in tea form. “The tea works best when one starts to drink two-plus cups daily about two months before allergy season begins,” says Wilkie. You can purchase stinging nettle leaf at most health food stores.
Most allergy sufferers try to avoid needles; in 2010 a Consumer Reports survey found that only 8 percent of respondents received allergy shots. But, acupuncture needles may soon become the exception. A new study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine found that acupuncture,the ancient Chinese process of inserting tiny needles just under the skin at specific points in the body, may be able to relieve sneezing and itchy eyes brought on by allergies. The theory is that acupuncture treatments stimulate meridians (channels through which energy flows) that can calm an over active immune system.
The same honey you use to make sweets like flan de miel and turrón can help out seasonal allergies brought on by pollen sensitivity. But you can’t just buy any old honey from the grocery store. The key is to take a spoonful daily of local honey produced within 45 miles from your home. Here’s why: Your body’s exposure to tiny doses of the pollen you are in contact with each day help reduce your reaction to it, which means fewer sneezes and sniffles. While experts are divided on honey’s effectiveness on allergy symptoms, “The theory itself actually appears quite sound,” says Dr. Joseph Mercola, a physician of alternative medicine in Hoffman Estates, Illinois.
This natural plant-derived compound helps prevent your body from releasing histamine, the chemical that makes you sneeze and cough and feel miserable when you’re having an allergic reaction. While the compound can be found in citrus fruits, onions, apples, parsley, tea, tomatoes, broccoli, and lettuce, you’d need to take a supplement to build up enough quercetin in your body to fight allergy symptoms. The recommended dosage is about 1,000 milligrams a day, taken between meals. It’s best to start treatment six weeks before allergy season.
You first make a saltwater mixture, next lean over a sink, twist your head to one side, and insert the spout of the neti pot into one nostril; then, you lift the spout until the solution pours into the upper nostril, and allow the liquid to drain out the other nostril before repeating with the other nostril. Pouring water into your nose may sound uncomfortable (and it is at first), but research shows nasal irrigation is nearly as effective as allergy medicine, without all the side effects. ”Neti pots and sinus saline rinse are becoming a standard treatment for patients with allergies and sinus disease. No question they are well received by many allergists, ear, nose, and throat doctors, and others who treat allergies,” says Clifford Bassett, MD, a fellow at the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
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