Our body has an interactive network of organs, cells and proteins to protect it against bacteria, viruses and invasion by foreign substances. While the former are called pathogens, the latter substances are called allergens. They can be anything, right from the fur of your pet to the smoke of your cigarette to pollen from any of the plants of your garden. Worse, your immune system may also start reacting against anything in your body, causing very serious conditions.
The worst times of the year for common seasonal allergies are the months from the end of spring leading up to summer. That is the time when most of the plants reproduce, most animals shed fur. Also the heat helps in activating many creatures like mites which are natural allergens.
There are many types of allergy, the most common being skin allergy and food allergy. The general symptoms of allergies are breathing trouble accompanied by coughing and wheezing, fever, excretory problems, rashes, excessive sneezing, and digestive disorders like vomiting.
Symptoms of allergies should never be left untreated, as many of the allergic reactions can be fatal. It is best to identify the allergen (the substance causing the allergy) and to avoid it altogether.
Here are some natural remedies you can try to fight allergies naturally and to improve your immunity in general.
1. Nettle – Peppermint Tea
Nettle is actually one of those herbs that are very effective against some major problems that affect us on a daily basis, like arthritis, high blood pressure, and it is also a great anti-allergen.
Peppermint has luteolin-7-O-rutinoside, a flavonoid, which inhibits the proper functioning of anti-inflammatory substances like histamine, and thus provides a lot of comfort against the resulting discomfort.
• 1 tbsp dried peppermint/ ¼ cup chopped fresh peppermint
• 1 tbsp dried nettle leaf/ ¼ cup of chopped fresh nettle leaf
• 8 ounces of fresh water
Put the nettle and peppermint in a cup and then pour some boiling water. Keep it covered for 10-15 minutes before straining it. You can add some honey and lemon to taste. Drink this twice daily.
Stinging nettle leaf is also available in the form of anti-histamine tablets. Consuming its leaves too helps, and its roots are a traditional diuretic.
2. Refreshing Citrus Drink
As allergies are the reactions of your immune system against allergens, you can always go for the juices of citrus fruits. They contain Vitamin C which is great at boosting your immunity. Also, the cool drinks will leave you refreshed and energized in the summer months.
• ½ lemon
• 2 oranges
• 1 tbsp of local, raw, organic honey
Squeeze the juice out of the fruits and refrigerate for a few hours. Before drinking, add some honey and stir the mixture before adding the ice cubes. Drink this daily.
3. Bee pollen
Bee pollen is crunchy and has a good floral taste. You can easily sprinkle it on yogurt or oatmeal, if you don’t want to have it raw. It comes in three forms- granules, capsules, and powder. If you are using granules, keep then under your tongue till they dissolve, or chew them.
This is an extension of ‘hygiene hypothesis’, the same medical principle behind vaccination. It is actually a very old method of developing immunity against something. Start with very small dosages (1 or 2 granules) and then gradually increase the dosage daily (1 granule more per day) for your body to slowly build immunity to the pollen. Try this for at least 2 weeks. If you are having reactions, stop immediately. If not, you can have up to 1 tbsp each day.
While this is the best way to cure pollen allergy altogether, there are some things you should keep in mind before trying this:
• Start doing this at least 5 months before the allergy season begins in spring.
• Make sure you are not anaphylactic, or severely allergic to bees. Even pollen can cause anaphylaxis in some.
• Do this with bee pollen available locally. Else it won’t be effective against them.
• Make sure that the pollen you are using is natural and free from chemicals like insecticides.
4. Local honey
You can use local honey for allergies, as it too contains local pollen. Small dosages of local honey, like a tablespoon or two, can go a long way in boosting your immunity by relieving itches, watery eyes, congestion and symptoms of hay fever. But make sure that you are not allergic to bees before trying this out.
In fact, a study conducted by the International Archives of Allergy and Immunology found that those who consumed local, raw honey had much better reactions to their allergens as compared to those who used conventional allergy medications.
5. Apple-Walnut Trail Mix
Walnut is rich in magnesium, meaning it is very effective against wind pipe problems like wheezing and coughing. It also comes with Vitamin E, meaning it boosts your immunity.
Apple is rich in quercetin, and so reduces histamine production.
• ½ or 1 cup of chopped walnuts
• 1 apple, cut into medium sized chunks.
Place the walnuts and the apple chunks in a bag and toss until they are thoroughly mixed. You can use pecans instead of walnuts. Add dried cherries and sunflower seeds to taste.
6. Red Onion Water
Onion is rich in quercetin, which reduces histamine. It also inhibits inflammation and acts as a bronchodilator.
• 1 red onion, cut into thin slices
• 4 cups of water
• Organic, raw honey to taste
Add the slices of onion to the water and allow it to infuse for 8 to 12 hours. Drink once or twice daily. You can refrigerate the solution for up to 4 days. You can add some honey before drinking to reduce the pungency.
The berries and flowers of elder have been so popular since the ancient times that even Hippocrates was aware of their effectiveness in boosting the immune system. Elderberry helps you fight colds, flu, allergies and inflammation. It has been found that elderberry administered 48 hours within the onset of symptoms reduces their course by at least 4 days on an average.
Many allergies block your nasal tract with mucus and thus leave you with a nasal congestion. You can do this in many ways. Sit in the bathroom with the hot shower running and inhale the steam. Also, you can put a bowl with steaming water under your face and cover the whole thing with a heavy cloth to prevent the steam from escaping. Breathe in the steam. You can add salt or mint leaves to the water, or use some other inhaler compounds found in the market.
However, be very careful about serious burns and damages to the eyes, both from the water and the steam. Do not use boiling water. Allow the water to cool sufficiently so as not to sustain burn injuries from the steam.
You can also take a hot shower after returning from the outside as it helps you to get rid of outdoor pollen.
9. Essential oils
Essential oils of a wide range of kitchen ingredients like peppermint, eucalyptus and lemon are very popular remedies against allergies.
Breathing in some eucalyptus oil gives a lot of relief as it reduces inflammation very fast. It is also useful against respiratory problems like asthma. Just put a small bowl containing the oil on your work desk, or rub three drops of the oil on your chest.
This traditional Chinese medicine can be a bit painful, what with its pinning of needles at strategic locations. But it has been found to be very useful in treating allergies, especially allergic rhinitis. According to a study published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine, acupuncture reduced the symptoms without causing any side effects. It has not been determined yet how this helps with allergies. But there is a probability that it inhibits inflammatory immune system substances, according to HealthDay. However, it is best to consult your doctor and/ or an acupuncturist well before the allergy season before getting on with it.
This is a plant whose large leaves have been traditionally used to wrap butter.
This is a traditional and natural product used to cure bronchitis, headaches, excess mucus and asthma. It is also a natural antihistamine. But unlike other antihistamines, it has an added advantage of not causing drowsiness. In a study conducted recently on those suffering from hay fever, it was found that butterbur is as effective as Zyrtec or Allegra.
Butterbur is also available as tablets and as butterbur tea.
This should not be used by young children, pregnant women and lactating mothers.
12. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a great remedy against a host of problems like blood sugar and fat accumulation. It also helps with digestion. In addition, it is very useful in treating symptoms of allergy.
Apple cider vinegar is rich in potassium, which helps in breaking down the mucus in the body and supports lymphatic drainage. This makes it an excellent remedy for runny noses.
However, don’t drink this raw. Dilute it with water or some lemon juice before drinking it. Mix 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar with 1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice and ½ tbsp of local raw honey. Drink this thrice daily.
13. Nasal irrigation
A slightly tricky method, nasal irrigation is basically draining your nostrils by passing saline water from one nostril to another and washing the sinuses. You can try nasal irrigation using Neti pots, bulb syringes or other nasal kits available in the market.
To 8 ounces of sterilized lukewarm water, add a pinch of baking soda and ½ teaspoon salt. Use this to make a nasal rinse. It clears away bacteria and thin mucus and helps in decreasing postnasal drip. It is also beneficial in tackling hay fever.
However, you need to keep these things in mind:
• Never forget to add the salt to the water. It can be extremely painful else. Do this daily for at least three weeks.
• Take care to cool the water sufficiently before using it to avoid burn injuries in your nasal passages.
• Neti pot won’t work unless you have a heavily congested nose. Use the plastic squeeze bottle- style nasal irrigators in case of a mild congestion. For a heavy congestion, use the Neti pot thrice daily- after waking up, in the afternoon, and an hour before turning in for the night.
Probiotic food items and supplements provide good bacteria which aid in digestion by detoxifying the colon. They also help in reducing inflammation. Probiotics like quercetin, found in yogurt, tomatoes, have anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine properties.
It has been found that probiotics administered in infancy goes a long way in strengthening the gut mucosal immune system and increasing the number of immunoglobulin cells and cytokine-producing cells in the intestines.
It has the enzyme Bromelain, which is a natural anti-histamin. It also has high levels of vitamins B, C and other essential nutrients. The core of fresh, ripe pineapples has the highest concentration of these, so always eat that.
This has been used since prehistoric times to boost the immune system and has been an important ingredient in Ayurvedic medicine. Ginger helps in breaking down the accumulation of toxins in the organs due to warming effects, cleanses the lymphatic system and the excretory system.
Ginger root and ginger essential oil are very effective due to their immunonutrition and anti-inflammatory properties. It also helps in treating infections. But the best part is it is very effective against inflammatory responses of the body against a wide range of allergens like heat, acid and cigarette smoke.
17. Bone broth
This is useful against a lot of problems, like leaky gut syndrome, joint issues, cellulite in addition to boosting the immune system and helping in overcoming food intolerances and allergies. Bone broths have been traditionally used across many cultures as a food supplement during a lot of illnesses because they are rich in nutrients, promote healing and are easy to digest.
Bone broth from chicken, lamb and beef eases respiratory problems caused by allergies and helps in expelling nasal mucus. It also reduces inflammation and strengthens the immune system. Chicken soup broth is especially useful for this purpose. However, keep in mind that the broth or stock available over the counter is not real and thus ineffective.
You should remember that the methods listed here are only treatments against the symptoms of allergies, but they do nothing to affect the causes of allergies.
1. Maintain cleanliness. This is the primary step in the fight against allergies. Most of the allergies are caused by the accumulation of allergens in an unclean home. Use clean sheets on your bed and wear clean clothes.
2. Maintain optimum temperature. Use a thermostat, and don’t allow the temperature to rise above 70 degrees and the humidity above 50 percent.
3. Eat the right kind of food. A healthy diet ensures proper bodily functions and boosts immunity.
4. Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Clean your body thoroughly, including your hair. Do things that reduce stress. Don’t put on weight.
5. You can opt for alternate medicine by consulting your physician. Multivitamins and herbal supplements go a long way in protecting your body from allergies. You can use them while undergoing the natural allergy treatments. Also, there is seasonal allergy medication available which you can use after talking to your doctor.
With allergies being so common, the most important question is how to get rid of your allergies naturally. Well, the best part is they are avoidable to a large extent. Following the procedures given here, leading a healthy lifestyle and getting regular checkups done help a lot in dealing with them and making life easier.