It's that time of year again... the trees are in bloom, the grass is green, the flowers are blossoming, and mold counts are high. Springtime is beautiful, but for many people it causes sneezing, hoarseness, coughing, runny nose, congestion, and itchy/watery eyes.
Why do some people suffer while others seem absolutely fine? Some immune systems overreact, releasing chemicals that cause all or some of the symptoms listed above. But fear not-- you can get relief, without taking drugs. As a singer, I am obsessed with finding natural cures for symptoms. Hopefully some of these will work for you:
1. Apple Cider Vinegar: This is an old remedy, which helps to reduce mucus production, alkalizes your stomach, reduces hunger, helps with digestion and weight loss, and even helps to cleanse the lymphatic system. Mix 1 tablespoon (or more) of Apple cider vinegar with a glass of water. I prefer to use Bragg Organic vinegar in warm to hot water. It can quickly clear your head. Drink 3+ times a day.
2. Probiotics: Allergies are caused by an immune system that overreacts to foreign stimuli. Having good, healthy bacteria in your gut will help to reduce symptoms of allergies. This is especially important if you have taken antibiotics in the past year. Also, eating fermented foods like kimchi, pickles, or sauerkraut helps. Or, alternatively, cut up apples into chunks. Add just a touch of water. Boil on stove. After a few minutes, the skins will look shiny, which is a sign the pectin has been released. Shut it off, add cinnamon, and eat a few spoonfuls daily. Helps to coat the lining of your stomach, and help the health of your gut. (See Dr. Tom O'Bryan video on youtube for further information).
3. Neti pot with Saline Rinse and Alkalol: The neti pot, or nasal flush, has been used for thousands of years to help alleviate sinus and allergy issues. It looks like a small tea pot with a long spout. You can either buy saline packets, or make it yourself (using half a teaspoon of sea salt, mixed with a touch of baking soda). I also like to use about a tablespoon of a product called Alkalol. Add the saline solution and Alkalol to the neti pot. Fill with warm water. Pour it in one nostril, and let it drain out the other, thus flushing your sinuses. It helps to reduce inflammation and is also great for dryness or headaches.
4. Quercetin: This is a natural bioflavonoid that is found in onions, apples and black tea. It helps cells to stop releasing histamine, and is an antioxidant which helps to reduce the inflammation as well. It also acts as a bronchodilator, opening the airway and making it easier to breathe, and is a natural cure for skin allergies, and hives as well. I take 2-4 pills as needed for allergies.
5. Steaming: This is my cure for head allergies. I place a pot of water on the stove, and add about a teaspoon of sea salt to it. Cover it and let it boil hard. Remove from heat and and add 4 drops of each of the following essential oils: Clary sage, cinnamon, clove and thyme. Cover your head with a towel and breathe in. It will burn wherever there is bad inflammation or if your throat or lungs are swollen or congested. This burning sensation will go away as the inflammation reduces, within a min or so. VERY QUICK FIX, and it also reduces puffy eyes, and can be an almost immediate cure for coughing.
6. Eat Local Honey: Try to add a teaspoon of raw, local honey into your diet daily. It's made from pollen, so buy locally, so you can start building up immunity to the allergens in your area.
7. Drink Extra Water: When your body is inflamed, you need extra liquids to help flush out the toxins, and keep the liver detoxified. Be sure to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day during allergy season.
8. Wear Sunglasses or a big Hat: When going outside, covering your face with a large brimmed hat, or covering your eyes with sunglasses helps to reduce your pollen intake, as it prevents irritants away from your eyes and eyelids.
9. Shower before Bedtime: If you have been outside during the day be sure to shower before you go to bed. Otherwise, you will carry the pollen/allergens to bed with you.
10. Change your Air Filters: It's the time of year to change filters. Replace the filters in your AC, your vacuum, your air purifier, and even your car, so that you aren't blowing pollen into your face.
11. Vitamin C: This is a very strong immune boosting antioxidant, which helps to lower histamine levels in your bloodstream. Just taking 2000 mg of vitamin c daily can cut your histamine levels by nearly 40%.
12. Acupuncture: Just a few tiny needles, inserted under the skin at specific points can quickly reduce or stop inflammatory immune systems. You can also use acupressure (Acupuncture without needles) to fight allergies. Press on your hand in the webbing between the thumb and first finger. If you have bad allergies, you will find a very tender point. Press and release until the pain improves. There is a similar point on your foot, between the big toe and the next. Find it by pushing on the top of the foot, about 1/2 inch in from the webbing.
13. Chinese Tea Pills: There are also various chinese pills that help to cure allergies. The best I have found is Plum Flower Brand Bi Yan Pian, which really helps to reduce nose inflammation when you have a runny nose. If you are congested and dried out, and it feels more like a sinus infection, I have taken Pe Min Kan Wan. Just take as prescribed until symptoms clear up, and then stop.
14. Histaminum Hydrocloricum 30c: This Boiron brand is similar to taking claritin. Very fast acting and also cures hives.
15. Go Spicy: During allergy season, cut back on the mucus producing foods like dairy and sugar and add in extra spice. Foods like hot salsa can thin mucus and aid breathing.
16. Eat Pineapple: Bromelain, a digestive enzyme, which is found naturally in pineapple, helps to reduce nasal swelling and thin mucus.