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AllergiesPosted 6/3/08 • Last updated 5/17/11 • 553 views • 0 comments
The best treatment for allergies is to limit exposure. When seasonal allergies are a problem, limit time outside, especially when pollen counts are high, and during peak pollen hours- 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. Keep windows closed, avoid yard work, and shower after being outdoors, since pollen will stick to your hair and clothing. Avoid line drying your clothes outside, working with compost, raking leaves, or walking through uncut fields.
If you have year-round allergies, you are likely to suffer from dustmite allergies. If you suspect this is the case, it is helpful to remove carpeting from the bedroom, and cover your mattress and pillows with dustmite-proof casings.
A very simple way to relieve allergy symptoms is to rinse out excess mucus and allergen triggers from your nasal passages. A neti pot, or nose pipe, looks kind of like a miniature tea kettle. It is filled with a warm mild salt water solution. Insert the neti pot into one nostril, and tilt your head in such a way that the water flows back out through the other nostril. If the solution burns, you may have used too much salt, or the water may be too hot. Rinse out the nasal passages until the water runs thin, then repeat on the other side.
Sometimes your diet can increase allergy symptoms. Certain foods increase inflammation, such as meats, full fat dairy products, sugar, and highly processed foods. Many people anecdotally report that cutting wheat, sugar, and/or dairy from their diet relieved their allergy symptoms. Be sure to drink plenty of water. Also, some studies have shown L. acidophilus , the bacteria commonly found in yogurt, to lower the risk of allergies. L. acidophilus is available in supplement form. The best quality L. acidophilus will have been stored in a refrigerator case.
Local raw honey- especially good for hay fever and pollen allergies. Honey works similarly to allergy shots by exposing you to small amounts of local pollens to help you build up your tolerances. Ideally, you should begin taking 2-3 tsp of honey daily a couple months before allergy season. However, honey is also anti-inflammatory, so it can relieve allergies in the short term as well. Raw honey should not be given to infants under one year of age.
Quercetin- a natural anti-histamine. It is a phytochemical that contributes to the red coloring in the skins of apples and red onions. It is now sold as a health supplement.
Stinging nettle- Studies of the effectiveness of nettle have been favorable. You may want to talk to your doctor about whether it is safe for you to try nettle as a possible alternative treatment. Pregnant women should not use nettle, and lactating women should avoid excessive use of this herb.
Ways to prepare nettle-
Tea: prepare a cup by pouring 2/3 cup of boiling water over 3 to 4 tsp of dried leaves or dried root and steeping for 3 to 5 minutes. Drink three to four of these cups a day. An infusion can also be made with fresh nettle leaves. Always drink additional water along with the tea (at least 2 quarts per day).
Dried leaf: 2 to 4 grams, three times a day
Fluid extract (root,1:1): 1.5 mL, three to four times daily
Fluid extract (leaf, 1:1): 2 to 5 mL three times daily
Tincture (root, 1:5): 5 to 7.5 mL three to four times daily
OTHER POSSIBLE SUPPLEMENTS
Butterbur ( Petasites hybridus )
Butterbur has been traditionally used to treat asthma, bronchitis, and to reduce mucus. A recent two week study of 125 people with hay fever found that this herb was as effective and less sedating than cetirizine, commonly known as Zyrtec. It is not known what would be the effect of using butterbur over a longer time period. Pregnant women should avoid Butterbur.
Echinacea ( Echinacea angustifolia/Echinacea pallida/Echinacea purpurea )
Several studies suggest that echinacea enhances the immune system and reduces inflammation. Professional herbalists may recommend echinacea to treat allergies. In rare cases, echinacea itself causes an allergic reaction, ranging from a mild rash to anaphylaxis. People with asthma may be at an increased risk for developing these adverse reactions. Avoid Echinacea if you are allergic to ragweed.
Evening Primrose ( Oenothera biennis )
This herb’s main active ingredient is gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid that may relieve allergy symptoms.
Goldenseal ( Hydrastis canadensis )
Goldenseal is a natural antibiotic and antiseptic, and many herbalists consider it a remedy for allergy symptoms. Commercial preparations of goldenseal may have very little berberine, the active ingredient with antibacterial and immune-enhancing properties. Pregnant women and those with high blood pressure should avoid Goldenseal. Do not use for an extended period of time.
If you are pregnant or breast feeding, avoid the following:
- Decongestants without discussing with your physician
- High doses of vitamin C
- Stinging nettle
- Butterbur (Petasites) extracts
A NOTE ABOUT RAGWEED
If you are allergic to ragweed, avoid other plants in the Asteraceae family (including echinacea, feverfew, asters, chamomile, and chrysanthemums).
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