Each spring, summer and fall, the tiny pollen grains are released from trees, weeds and grasses. These small, light and dry pollen grains travel by the wind, by birds, by insects or by other animals and fertilize other plants of the same species causing misery for seasonal allergy sufferers. Pollen is one of the most common triggers of seasonal allergies. Many people know pollen allergy as “hay fever.” Experts usually refer to pollen allergy as “seasonal allergic rhinitis’’.
Pollen allergy is an overaggressive immune response triggered by inhaling an irritant known as pollen. Allergies to pollen, spores, mold, and dust affect the respiratory system and the mucous membranes of the eyes and nose are inflamed, causing various symptoms.
*Itchy throat and eyes
*Wheezing (breathing with a whistling or rattling sound in the chest)
*Pollen can also aggravate symptoms in asthma patients.
PREVENTION : There are certain actions which you can take to reduce allergic reactions to pollen:
Limit your outdoor activities as this will lessen the amount of pollen allergen you inhale and reduce your symptoms.
Keep windows closed during pollen season.
Using special HEPA filters in central air conditioning vents might help filter out pollen from the air system.
Bathe and shampoo your hair daily before going to bed. This will remove pollen from your hair and skin and keep it off your bedding.
Start taking allergy medicine before pollen season begins. Most allergy medicines work best when taken this way. This allows the medicine to prevent your body from releasing histamine and other chemicals that cause your symptoms.
Wash bedding in hot, soapy water once a week.
Wear sunglasses and a hat. This will help keep pollen out of your eyes and off your hair.
Limit close contact with pets that spend a lot of time outdoors.
Change and wash clothes worn during outdoor activities.
Dry your clothes in a clothes dryer, not on an outdoor line.
NATURAL REMEDIES : These simple natural remedies have been very effective for allergy relief. Different people seem to benefit from different remedies depending on certain genetic factors and which allergens you are reacting to, so it might be worth trying more than one of these to see which works best for you ;
- Honey: Consuming local honey from where you live will help your body adapt to the allergens in the environment there. This is supposed to work like a natural allergy “shot” and doesn’t seem to have a downside.
- Stinging Nettle Leaf: Nettle (‘Soie’ in Kashmiri) leaf is another natural antihistamine that can be very effective as it naturally blocks the body’s ability to produce histamine. It grows in many places and can be made in to a tincture or tea, but for allergy relief, capsules made from dried nettle leaves are the easiest and most effective option. Nettle leaf can also be used in combination with other herbs to make a soothing herbal tea for allergy relief. It is often mixed with peppermint leaf and sometimes red raspberry leaf to make a refreshing allergy relief tea.
- Garlic: Garlic is a natural antibiotic that helps ward off infections, viruses and even allergies. Eating or juicing two raw cloves of this powerful antioxidant may literally keep the doctor away. Some people choose to take garlic supplements because they don’t want to smell like garlic, but the supplements do not work as well as the real herb does, so don’t be deceived by this. Raw garlic eaten every day will fight off all types of allergies because it boosts your immune system immensely.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar (a type of vinegar made from apple cider that has undergone fermentation to form health-promoting probiotics and enzymes) is an age old remedy that is often recommended for a variety of health conditions. It is used for allergy relief with great success. Its ability to reduce mucous production and cleanse the lymphatic system makes it useful for allergies. It is also said to help digestion, weight loss, and more so it is worth a try.
- Lemons: As most of us know an alkaline body means better balance and immune function. Lemons and limes are excellent immune boosting little fruits and are used for various afflictions, including allergies. Both of these little fruits are loaded with vitamin C and immune-boosting antioxidants. Drinking lemon water throughout the day detoxifies the body and rids it of impurities. Mix the juice of one or two lemons or limes with olive oil to make a wonderful tasting dressing for salads and veggie sandwiches.
- Green Leafy Vegetables: Leafy greens (including spinach, kale, collard greens, knol knoll etc) are a great source of essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes that aid detoxification and help reduce inflammation during allergies.
- Probiotic-rich Foods: Probiotic foods support immune health and can help to repair a damaged intestinal lining. Examples include yogurt, raw cheese, curd etc. Many studies link the presence of beneficial bacteria in the gut with reduced incidence of allergies. Evidence is even emerging that a mother’s gut bacteria during pregnancy and nursing can impact a child’s likelihood of getting allergies throughout life, as can exposure to overly sterile environments.
- Essential oils: Essential oils for allergies work by reducing inflammation and improving detoxification of harmful bacteria, parasites, microorganisms and toxins that can trigger an attack. You can use eucalyptus oil for seasonal allergy relief in a variety of ways like several drops of eucalyptus oil can be inhaled via a diffuser, or use it in your laundry detergent as an antimicrobial agent.
- Bone Broth: Bone broth, made from meat and chicken stock, is rich in many minerals and amino acids that support the healing of leaky, thereby helping to strengthen the immune system during allergy.
- Breast Milk: Studies shows that exclusive breastfeeding seems to have a preventive effect on the early development of asthma and atopic dermatitis.
- Herbal Teas: Drinking herbal teas made with gingko, milk thistle, red clover, stinging nettles, or yarrow. These herbal preparations may have anti-inflammatory effects, which might reduce allergy symptoms.
- Quercetin: Quercetin is a natural bioflavonoid (found in onions, green tea, apples, berries, Ginkgo biloba etc) is said to help stabilize mast cells to keep them from releasing histamine. It is also a potent antioxidant that is said to help reduce inflammation. It is best used as a long term remedy and many people start taking it about 4-6 weeks before allergy season to help prevent allergy symptoms. As with any herb, you should check with your doctor before using, especially if you have a liver problem, are pregnant, or are on hormonal contraceptives.
- Wash Your Nostrils: This remedy works by preventing the offending allergen (or at least as much of it) from entering your airways. Using nasal saline irrigation tools, such as Neti pots (a fluid-filled vessel that is used to flush or rinse the sinuses and nasal passages with warm water. It is a specially designed small container often made of ceramic or plastic that is shaped like a flattened tea pot). Neti pots are a natural remedy for allergies and many respiratory conditions because they help to clear the sinuses and remove congestion. Use of neti pits has been shown to help improve quality of life in sufferers of respiratory illnesses and cause little to no side effects.
Dr. Raies Ahmad , HOD at KTC Hospital & Research Centre, Kashmir, can be reached at email@example.com