Allergy-Free Naturally

As the weather begins to cool for fall, we can anticipate the beginning of cold and flu season. But before cold and flu season hits, there's allergy season! Having a few tools available for effective allergy management can definitely give you and your loved ones the time and energy to enjoy the beauty of autumn.

When it comes to allergy management, I like to make the distinction between things to avoid on one hand and things to do or add in on the other. Here are my top 10 tips on what to do to minimize the impact allergies can have on the days, and nights of both you and your family:

1.    Keep hydrated

This is always one of my most common suggestions because so many of us are dehydrated. Water is a very powerful antihistamine. Staying hydrated dilutes the concentration of histamine in the blood as well, making you less reactive. Think of hydration as dilution being the solution to pollution! Read this post to find out how much water adults and children should drink each day.

2.    Your daily dose of honey

The pollen in your area that is creating itches and sniffles has been processed and modified by bees. Ingesting this teaches the immune system to remain a little less stimulated when exposed.

I usually recommend that my clients eat half a teaspoon of raw, local honey every day. Unlike raw honey, pasteurized honey has been heated, destroying those beneficial compounds we are looking for.

Mom’s to be, women who are breastfeeding and infants under the age of one should avoid ingesting honey.

3.    Avoid mucous producing foods

Mucogenic (mucous producing) foods make all types of symptoms worse during allergy season. The biggest culprits include milk and dairy products, wheat products, orange juice, and sugary foods and drinks. Toast, yogurt and orange juice, or cereal and milk for breakfast can make it more difficult for those struggling with allergies.

4.    Consider a probiotic

A good quality probiotic supplement will not only help with environmental allergies, it will begin to shore up the defenses for the winter as well. Probiotics help buff up the gut flora (the millions of bacteria living in the digestive tract), which in turn communicate with the immune system. The largest portion (over 70%) of the immune system resides within the digestive tract and creating strength and resilience in this area will have a hugely positive impact on your overall wellness. 

5.    Keep your house clean and ventilated

Indoor air quality is notoriously poor. Opening the doors and windows for a few minutes each day is a good idea. Indoor air concentrates allergens and dust, etc. Keep your floors clean and shelves dusted to lower this "load".

6.    Invest in a high quality air purifier

Air purification helps lower the concentrations of allergens and irritants you are exposed to in your home. They can be particularly beneficial for the room you sleep in. High quality air purifiers can be purchased for an affordable price at most larger hardware and home renovation stores. Ensure you read the cleaning and filter change instructions to ensure your purifier is being optimized.

7.    Launder your sheets in warm/hot water weekly

Laundering helps cut down on the amount of allergens stuck to sheets, bedding and bath towels, and will help limit the amount you are exposed to.

8.    Don't re-wear clothes

Keep those clothes clean! Refer to my thoughts on laundering in tip #7.

9.    Consider nettles and butterbur

Herb nettles are a wonderful antihistamine, and are often found with quercetin in product formulations. For therapeutic effect, it is necessary to take a dose of 600 mg to 1200 mg daily. The dosage can be halved for children under 12.

Butterbur is a good stand-in for nettles. For some, butterbur is more effective and it may be wise to experiment with both. Daily dosage is 50 mg to 100 mg daily. Butterbur should not be taken by those with liver disease and it should not be taken for more than three months without the guidance of a competent healthcare provider.

10.    Consider taking bioflavonoids and vitamin C

Look for products containing hesperidin, rutin and/or quercetin, all powerful bioflavonoids or plant compounds that help stabilize mast cells (a type of immune cell important in controlling allergies), along with the vitamin C. Some products may be sweetened with xylitol. Xylitol supports the tightening of the mucous membranes and has been known to help in the prevention of an allergy turning into bronchitis or an ear infection. 

I have one final but important note. Allergy medications can be very helpful and there is no need to be afraid of them if nothing else works! Finding one that is suitable for you or your child is key - a medication that works well for some may cause drowsiness, dryness or other adverse side effects for others. When other options are no longer sufficient, experimenting and finding what works best will alleviate symptoms and prevent unnecessary suffering. Consult with your healthcare provider about the herbs, supplements and other products referred to in this post and appropriate dosages of each for your and your family.

Read this post to learn more about allergies and food sensitivities. See this post to find out the difference between cold, flu's and allergies. Tips for preventing colds and flu's can be found here and about preventing the spread of colds and flu's here.

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