As I am sitting here in the sun (yeah for a beautiful warm day!), it is a lovely reminder that spring weather is on its way. The season bring many wonderful things - sun, warmth, fresh flowers - but for many it brings a plethora of negatives - sniffling, sneezing, itchy eyes, fatigue. Oh, the dreaded spring allergies. You may have suffered from these for many years and are reliant on over the counter antihistamines and nasal sprays, but within only a short time you could be free of these forever!
For many summers as a teen, I suffered from seasonal allergies, especially from fresh cut grass. As a camp counsellor one summer, I remember not being able to function in the morning until I took a Reactine, my nasal spray and eye drops. I literally did not feel like a person and was miserable until I did these steps. I continued to take Reactine daily for 3 whole years because otherwise I would break out in hives, with no known trigger. I would panic slightly if I forgot my anti-histamines while travelling because I knew I would be very itchy soon. Not fun! Flash forward a couple years, after seeing an ND myself, I was free of all medication and spring allergies haven't crossed my mind since (except when treating patients). All it took was simply tweaking my diet and taking a few supplements for a short period of time.
So what can you do?
The root cause of seasonal allergies is typically an increase in inflammation and hyper-reactivity in the body. Meaning, our bodies are hyper-alert to anything that seems foreign to us and we mount an inflammatory response by releasing histamine. It is histamine that causes red, itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, hives etc., released from mast cells. It is important to build our immune system and decrease inflammation to eliminate this reaction, and it all starts in the gut…surprise, surprise! 😃
Here are 5 things you can do to prevent spring allergies:
1. Adjusting your diet - Focus on nutrient rich colourful foods to support your digestive system and provide necessary nutrients. Eliminate gluten, dairy, and artificial sugars for at least 3-4 weeks (one month of your life isn't so bad), to drastically decrease inflammation in your body. If you need some guidance feel free to reach out. Here's a list of low-histamine foods that are great to add to your diet:
- freshly cooked meat, poultry (frozen or fresh)
- freshly caught fish
- gluten-free grains: rice, quinoa
- fresh fruits: mango, pear, watermelon, apple, kiwi, cantaloupe, grapes
- fresh vegetables (except tomatoes, spinach, avocado, and eggplant)
- dairy substitutes: coconut milk, rice milk, hemp milk, almond milk
- cooking oils: olive oil, coconut oil
- leafy herbs
- herbal teas
2. Probiotics - This is an important step in healing the gut and boosting your immune system. With the abundance of antibiotics taken, it is likely that your gut flora is lacking the beneficial bacteria that are vital to our health. Adding a probiotic supplement with at least 11 billion units, eating 1-2 tbsp of coconut kefir, or adding fermented foods to your diet are all possible options.
3. Nettles - This is one of my favourite herbs for spring allergies and liver detoxification. It acts as a great natural anti-histamine. I add it to my allergy teas or give it in capsule form. If you are antsy for a quick fix this is a great start.
4. Quercetin - Another good natural anti-histamine. Quercitin is found in foods such as apples and onions, however a higher dose is typically more effective for an alternative to OTC anti-histamines. This is one supplement I used to wean myself off of Reactine those years ago.
5. Vitamin C - This helpful vitamin acts as a potent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant. It is helpful to build your immune system as well. I typically start with 1000-2000mg of buffered vitamin C, and be weary of an increased dose in pregnancy and its potential to cause loose stools.
Several of these suggestions can be mixed into one supplement and taken all together to minimize the miserable effects of spring allergies. This is generally what I do with my patients. In conclusion, by addressing your gut and immune health with a few tweaks, you can improve or forever eliminate spring allergies so there really IS nothing to sneeze about. 😃
If you have any questions or visit me for a free 15 minute consult. I'd be happy to help!
In health & happiness,
(Photo credit: avivaromm.com, womensday.com)