If you suffer from seasonal allergies, April showers and May flowers can bring you a lot of discomfort. And you aren’t alone. Hay fever (an allergy to mold or pollen) affects 30 to 60 million people nationwide each year. Springtime is especially rough for sufferers since trees are beginning to produce pollen. Additionally, all those spring showers, especially accompanied by warmer temperatures, encourage mold growth. Spring breezes worsen the problem further by carrying these allergens far and wide.
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology there are 11 types of trees that trigger spring hay fever. They are: oak, sycamore, maple, elm, birch, ash, western red cedar, walnut, hickory, poplar, and cypress. These trees start to produce pollen as spring arrives, around the same time every year. Once their pollen is airborne, those who are allergic to it will experience sneezing, congestion, along with itchy eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. Rainy and cloudy days, or days when there is no wind to carry the pollen will allow some relief from these symptoms. However, warm, dry or windy days will aggravate symptoms because there will be higher levels of airborne pollen.
Mold spores are very similar. Molds, like yeast and mildew, release spores (seeds) that can be carried in the wind, much like pollen. Spores, however, can be found both outdoors and indoors. Some outdoor molds are Alternaria, Cladosporium, and Hormodendrun. Indoor molds include Aspergillus and Penicillium. These molds can cause common allergy symptoms, such as congestion, itchy eyes, runny nose, and sneezing.
If you experience springtime allergies, you’re probably wondering what you can do to eliminate or at least lessen your symptoms. While there are many prescription and over the counter allergy medications, there are also many natural options you can try instead of medication.
Using a saline nose rinse can help alleviate allergy symptoms by flushing out irritating particles that can become stuck in your nasal passages and cause itching and inflammation. You can buy saline solution at the drugstore or you can make your own rinse at home. Just add a teaspoon of salt and a pinch of baking soda to a pint of warm, distilled water. Then bend over a sink and sniff some of the solution through each nostril and let it drain out through your nose or mouth. You can do this once or twice a day.
Taking a hot shower may help during a coughing/sneezing allergy attack because it helps to open up the sinuses, which allows you to breathe easier. Additionally, it will rinse off any irritating allergens that may have stuck in your hair. Rinsing itchy, red eyes with clean, cool water can also help to alleviate symptoms.
Hot herbal tea can also provide allergy sufferers with relief. The hot liquid and steam helps open up nasal passages. Additionally, many herbs have medicinal properties that can help alleviate allergy symptoms. Natural or health food stores usually carry tea bags that contain blends of medicinal herbs. Traditional medicinals teas, for example, have blends specially prepared to help treat and nourish various body systems or ailments. Their blends Gypsy Cold care, Herba Tussin, Organic throat coat, and Breathe Easy are ideal in helping battle allergy or cold symptoms.
Natural food and health food stores often also carry herbs in bulk if you want to mix your own tea blends.The following are just a few herbs herbs that can help with allergy symptoms. Look for these herbs in your pre-blended tea bags to identify teas that will help with your allergy symptoms or mix and match them in a variety of your own tea blends to see what tastes and works best for you.
- Peppermint: helps relieve nasal and sinus congestion; has antiseptic properties; an anti-inflammatory
- Mullein: a natural expectorant, helps clear the airways of mucus
- Licorice: helps relieve pain and inflammation of mucus membranes; helpful for sore throat
- Elderberry: a natural expectorant and detoxifier
- Marshmallow: often used to treat respiratory disorders and inflammation; a natural expectorant
- St. John’s wort: used to treat bronchial problems; a natural expectorant and antiseptic
- Wild cherry bark: used to treat respiratory disorders, soothes cough; natural expectorant
Adding honey to your herbal tea may be a great way to boost its effectiveness in fighting allergy symptoms. Consuming local, non-pasteurized honey is thought to help reduce your initial reaction to pollen. When bees make honey, they transfer some of the pollen they collect from local plants into their honey. So, when you consume honey made by local bees, using pollen from local plants, its like you’re getting a series of mini allergy shots and specifically targeting the pollens in your area. Eating this honey will help you slowly build a tolerance to allergens and thus, can eventually decrease the severity of your allergic reaction to pollens. Honey also has anti-inflammatory properties and thus, can help relieve allergies in the short term as well.
Wasabi and horseradish can also help alleviate the symptoms of hay fever. This is because they contain allyl isothiocyanate, which promotes mucus flow. Try putting a generous amount of horseradish on your sandwich or wasabi on your sushi to help with allergy symptoms.
Allergies can certainly make life miserable for those who can’t kick the symptoms. But, living with allergies doesn’t have to be terrible. It is possible to get your symptoms under control and to enjoy everything life has to offer, without all that snuffling and sneezing.