Achoo! Bless you! What to eat & take to alleviate Spring Allergies.29th August 2018
Spring is here! The season when the sunlight in our day increases, temperatures heat up and plants and trees begin to bloom and flourish.
Spring unfortunately also marks the beginning of the hayfever and allergy season. These seasonal changes result in an increase in the amount of pollen from the outside environment and allergens from our internal environment.
Spring is also the season we clean and freshen our homes from common allergens like dust, mold spores and pet hair. The ingredients in cleaning products may also act as allergens. Choose chemical free kinds that are not only gentle on ourselves, they also gentle on our environment.
Allergens can send our skin, sinuses and immune system into over drive with all the extra exposure. When our immune system encounters an allergen, plasma cells release IgE an antibody specific to that allergen. IgE attaches to the surface of mast cells found in great numbers in our skin and mucous membranes of the nose and eyes. Mast cells release a number of chemical mediators, one of which is histamine. Symptoms can include itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing and shortness of breath. Other respiratory conditions such as asthma can also worsen during Spring, and if you are run down or stressed it may develop into a cold or flu.
A healthy diet helps to keep our immune system strong in Spring. Eliminate processed food containing artificial additives, which can contribute to allergies. Replace them with fresh, whole foods such as fruit, vegetables, meat, eggs, fish and seafood. These offer the nutritional density which keeps our immune system strong and resilient to the external environment. Add plenty of fresh herbs such as mint, basil and parsley and dried herbs and spices, such as turmeric, ginger and cinnamon alongside citrus juices and zest to help thin mucous, reduce inflammation and offer extra vitamin and minerals for health.
For a simple decongestant, add chili and ginger to teas, broths, soups, salads and even your smoothies.
Stock up on your immune boosting herbs like garlic, thyme, oregano and sage. Traditionally, garlic has been used as a natural antibiotic and can help clear mucous and fight infection. The effective dose is 2-4 grams per day of fresh, minced organic garlic cloves (each clove is approximately 1 gram).
Pineapple, is a rich source of bromelain which is an anti-inflammatory nutrient that can help decrease sinus inflammation. Enjoy in freshly made juice with fresh mint and ginger root or as is.
Chicken soup is a wives tale with substance! It may help to relieve symptoms by acting as an anti-inflammatory, inhibiting the movement of neutrophils (immune system cells that participate in the body’s inflammatory response). It also temporarily speeds up the movement of mucous, possibly helping to relieve congestion and limiting the amount of time viruses are in contact with the nose lining. It is also high in absorbable minerals for supporting recovery, is a digestive aid and is rich in love and care (especially if your mother made it!). Clear broth made with a fresh or thawed home made frozen bone stock and the addition of a few simple ingredients. A cup of broth as an appetiser before meals warms the digestive system. A clear broth is an excellent remedy for colds and flu, especially with the addition of lemon, garlic and some freshly grated ginger root. The addition of fresh or dried thyme and sage soothes a sore throat.
Dairy can be a problem if you are prone to experiencing a mucous producing cough or runny nose. So best eliminate for a few weeks until your symptoms settle down.
Simple ways to calm inflammation caused by seasonal allergies is the traditional practice of nasal irrigation with a Neti pot. Using a Neti pot with saline solution to flush out sinuses will help drain and cleanse the sinus passage of congestion and can alleviate symptoms immensely. Use a pot a few weeks before the spring season approaches as a preventative approach to seasonal allergies. A natural salt water gargle made from half a teaspoon of natural salt dissolved in a glass of warm water can act as an anti catarrhal and a natural anti-histamine, effective for sore throats and excessive mucous.
Enjoy quality organic herbal teas with anti-histamine, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory herbs such as Eyebright, Elderflower, Nettle and Lemon myrtle leaf. Our Spring Elderflower Tea and C-Strength Citrus Tea were designed just for this. Check out our Spring Allergy Wellness Tea Box.
There are also some effective herbal medicines and supplements that you can take to calm inflammation in the sinus and reduce hay fever symptoms. These include Bromelain, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and herbs such as Golden seal, Cats claw, Chinese skullcap, Eyebright, Albizzia and Nettle. Vitamin C is a natural anti-histamine. It can be taken as a supplement or consumed as food. It is found in high amounts in citrus, papaya, kiwi fruit and kakadu plum. Fresh Leaf Olive Leaf Extract, widely available from your local chemist or health food store also helps relieve the symptoms of allergies, colds and flu.
Consult with your naturopath or herbalist for a prescription or bespoke blend made specifically for you. They will also assess whether the remedy is suited as some natural remedies are contraindicated or cautioned with certain medication, disease states or pregnancy.
For those who suffer from chronic allergies or would like to decipher the exact allergen causing the symptoms, there are allergy tests are available to help you identify the cause. It is best to consult your health practitioner to advise if testing is suitable for you.