Natural Help for Seasonal Allergies

It’s officially allergy season here in the Willamette Valley. Since taking over-the-counter allergy medication may increase your risk for dementia, you may be thinking twice about popping Benadryl on a daily basis.

Happily, you don’t have to choose between short-term allergy relief and long-term dementia — there are plenty of natural remedies that can help.

Here are my top recommendations:

  1. Rinse the pollen out of your sinuses: use your neti pot daily.
  2. Avoid dairy products — they encourage the production of mucus. Not really what you want.
  3. Drink an daily infusion of nettles*: 1 cup of dried nettles to a quart of hot water. Let it sit overnight, and drink it the next day.
  4. Chrysanthemum blossoms and mint teas are used in Chinese herbology for red, itchy eyes, and headaches. Steep them in hot water, covered,  for at least 5 minutes. They’re delicious combined with green tea.
  5. Take probiotics: the immune system is based in the gut, so supporting your gut flora is key.
  6. If you like working with essential oils*, try smelling blue tansy straight from the bottle, or diffusing it. You could also combine blue tansy with with other anti-allergy oils like peppermint, lemon, and lavender along with some carrier oil like grapeseed or almond oil.
  7. Take Chinese Herbal formulas* like Pe Min Kan Wan (especially great for itchy eyes) from Plum Flower,  Xanthium 12 from 7 Forests, and Empowered Reishi from People’s Herbs. The thing that’s different with taking herbs instead of drugs is that you need to take them pretty frequently — 3 or 4 times a day. Call your local acupuncturist and see what s/he has in stock.
  8. Eat foods rich in quercetin (onions, dark berries, parsley, tea), or take quercetin as a supplement.
  9. Eat seasonally, including pungent and anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric.*  (See my recent post, What to Eat in Spring for many more dietary tips.)
  10. Get acupuncture. Studies show that acupuncture can reduce symptoms — and in my practice, I find that some people only need a couple of treatments per season. People with more severe symptoms are often helped with a combination of all of these above strategies and more frequent visits.
  11. Press on Gall Bladder 20: this point at the base of the skull is great for neck pain, migraines, headaches on the side of the head, itchy eyes from seasonal allergies, and the common cold. Find the depression just to the outside of the trapezius muscle where it meets the back of the head. You could also anoint this point with your essential oils.
If you suffer with severe allergies, you will likely need to combine many of these strategies together.

If each one gives you even a few drops in the bucket, you can still fill your bucket by combining them together. Of course, none of this is meant as medical advice — talk to your health care providers about the most appropriate strategies for  you.

* These strategies may not be appropriate for you if you’re pregnant.

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