It’s almost that time of year again when spring breaks forth in all her glory. That’s great news for those of us suffering from too much time indoors during the winter months, but it may leave allergy sufferers panicking…or running for their antihistamine drugs, decongestants and allergy shots.
Before you pop those pills, spray your nose or get that injection, you might want to consider some of the natural options that help with allergies. Here are some of my preferred foods and remedies:
A fuzzy-leafed, tall herb that predominantly grows in semi-arid regions, mullein helps to protect mucous membranes, thereby preventing them from triggering allergic reactions. It works best when taken just prior to, during or immediately after an allergic exposure. It can also be used if your nasal passageways are inflamed from allergic reactions as a way to reduce the inflammation.
Use one to two teaspoons of dried herb per cup of water to make an infusion. Drink one cup of tea three times daily. You can also use a tincture made from mullein leaves. Tinctures are alcohol extracts that pull the medicinal properties of plants into the alcohol. A typical dose is one quarter teaspoon to one teaspoon of tincture three times daily.
I’m fairly confident you weren’t expecting to see the popular sausage or hot dog condiment in a list of allergy remedies, but the natural probiotics found in sauerkrauts with live cultures (not the bottled stuff that sits on most grocery store shelves, you’ll need to find this type in the refrigerator section) has demonstrated the ability in a studypublished in Current Sports Medicine Reports to improve immune system functions and reduce allergic conditions. Another study published in the medical journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, scientists found that Taiwanese fermented cabbage regulated the immune systems and reduced or prevented allergic reactions in animals. The German version also likely yields the same results.
Papaya contains a natural enzyme known as papain that has natural anti-inflammatory properties. As such, it helps alleviate inflammation linked to sinus and nasal swelling, as well as addressing many of the symptoms of allergies, hay fever and excessive catarrh buildup. It works on the root causes of allergies, so be patient: it may take some time with papain to see the results.
While the fruit is helpful, for best results supplement with papain enzymes on an empty stomach. When there is no food for the enzyme to break down it goes to work to reduce inflammation. Choose a product that contains 250mg of papain. Take two capsules three times daily for a month prior to and during allergy season.
A natural antioxidant found in foods like apples, berries, cabbage, cauliflower, nuts, onions and tea, this nutrient has been found to have potent anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties, making it a great choice to reduce the effects of pollens and other allergens. In a study published in the medical journal In Vivo, researchers explored the mechanism by which quercetin supplements worked on people suffering from allergy-related nasal congestion. They found that the nutrient reduced the body’s production of a protein linked to airway inflammation. Take 400mg of quercetin twice daily.
Green tea is known as one of the best superfoods for many conditions and is also beneficial for allergies. That’s because it contains a potent antioxidant known as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) that can impact allergies on a cellular level by reducing inflammation. You don’t have to remember EGCG to benefit however; simply drink more green tea. Even if you’re not a huge fan, try drinking it iced with a little stevia to sweeten and a squeeze of lemon for a delicious and refreshing iced green tea.
LOW SUGAR DIET
Sugar impairs the immune system’s ability to function properly for hours after it is ingetsted. Additionally, it is also highly mucus-forming, which is a problem for sinus and lung congestion linked to allergies. Sugar like high fructose corn syrup has been linked to inflammation and an overactive immune system, which can cause the immune system to overreact to otherwise harmless substances and create allergic symptoms. Simply reducing the amount of sugar in the diet, or better yet, cutting out all sugars except whole fruits, will make a significant difference for most people. I began using this approach over 25 years ago with serious allergy sufferers and every one of them reported the improvements in their allergies.
This little-known herb is part of the mint family and has been explored as an all-natural, herbal remedy for allergies. In a study in Experimental Biology and Medicine, researchers found that perilla and one of its active ingredients known as rosmarinic acid significantly reduced inflammatory reactions such as nasal and sinus congestion, and eye irritation. Other research in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine found that the herb was also effective at alleviating allergy-related skin conditions.
The effective dose of perilla differs from product to product and depends on whether the seeds or leaves are used, or whether the remedy is an extract of a specific compound or crushed, dried leaves. Follow package directions since the products can have a wide range of potency. A typical tincture (alcohol extract) dose is thirty drops three times daily. Ideally, start a month prior to your primary allergy season and continue throughout the season.
The fermented bean or rice paste known as miso is good for a lot more than just miso soup. Research in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that the more miso study participants ingested, the lower their symptoms of allergic rhinitis (nasal congestion due to allergies). For best results, do not heat the miso. Instead, add to salad dressings or other foods.
Known as Petasites hybridus, this shrub grows in wet, marshy parts of North America, Asia and Europe. Multiple studies show its effectiveness in the treatment of allergies. Because the raw plant contains chemicals known as pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA) that can be harmful, be sure to choose a product that is PA-free. It should indicate this status on the label. Follow package instructions for dose.
Some beneficial bacteria have been linked to the prevention or reduction of allergic reaction. Research published in the International Archives of Allergy and Immunologyfound that Lactobacillus casei reduced nasal and sinus congestion linked to allergies. This study also showed that supplementing with the right probiotic strains can not only heal the intestinal walls and reduce low-grade inflammation in the gut but also prevent, reduce or delay allergy symptoms. L. casei is available in most probiotic supplements.
Modern research supports the traditional Native American use of the herb nettles to alleviate allergies. In a study published in the medical journal Phytotherapy Research, researchers at the company HerbalScience Group found that nettles worked on multiple levels to significantly reduce inflammation linked to allergies. Unlike many pharmaceutical anti-allergy medications, nettles do not cause heart problems or drowsiness.
Add the Korean condiment to your daily diet to reap its allergy-alleviating rewards. Research in the Journal of Clinical Immunology found that certain lactobacilli found in kimchi could reduce the overreaction of the airways in the lungs.
Of course, if you have life-threatening allergies, you should seek emergency medical help. And, don’t discontinue any prescription drugs without first consulting your physician.