It’s spring! The grass is getting greener, the smiles are getting brighter, the clothing is getting lighter and the sneezes are getting mightier. Yupp, allergy season is upon us, filled with sneezes, itchy eyes and runny noses. And if you’ve ever had the pleasure of suffering through it before, you know it isn’t fun. I never dealt with allergies until a few years ago – but when they did hit me, they came with a vengeance!
What are allergies?
Allergies, also known as allergic rhinitis or Hay Fever, affect a large number of us; roughly 20-27% of Canadians report dealing with allergies.1 Pollen is the most common environmental trigger. In early spring (right now!), we’re dealing with tree and grass pollen, and as we get into summer, we typically deal with ragweed pollen. So unfortunately, depending on the environment, allergy “season” can last for months.
Why do allergies happen?
In very simple terms, allergies happen because our immune system is being a little overdramatic, moreover when our immune system overreacts to an otherwise harmless substance. In the springtime, we’re talking about pollen. In response to pollen, our immune system mounts a defense against it – releasing compounds like histamine, which have an inflammatory response in the body. It’s this response that’s responsible for all of the unpleasant symptoms including sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, coughing, hives, runny nose and a scratchy throat.
Who’s at risk to suffer from allergies?
Symptoms and severity do vary from person to person, and allergies can manifest at any age. With that said, risk factors include genetic predisposition 2, being born during pollen season, having repeated antibiotic use as an infant and the air quality and environment in which we live. The hygiene hypothesis has also been supported in scientific literature as a theory regarding possible reasons allergies has increased over the past few decades, with many of us (especially in recent years), sanitizing everything and being less exposed to dirt and other microbes than in years past.3
How can we naturally support allergies?
Regardless of risk factors, if you have seasonal allergies, you’ve got them – and if you’re like me, you just want to get right down to it and find some ways to bring about relief and support.
Try these tips to find some relief
Here are some natural ways you can support your body this allergy season, and find some relief. Enjoy!
- Stay Hydrated
When the body is in a dehydrated state, it’s more likely to produce additional histamine, which is the compound in your body that is responsible for all those allergy symptoms.4 So from a foundational level, a proactive strategy is to stay hydrated this allergy season. Aim for 2 to 3 L per day, or more if you’re physically active.
- Try Nettle Tea
Nettle is a wonderful herb. Nettle (or stinging nettle as you may know it) is a natural antihistamine. It can help reduce inflammation in the body that can trigger allergic symptoms, and actually block histamine receptors.5
Nettle tea is my staple come allergy season. I keep either pre-bagged or bulk nettle tea on hand and have 2 to 3 cups of this during the day. I’ll normally make one big pot in the morning, let it steep and then put it in the fridge to sip on all day.
- Add Quercetin Rich Foods Into Your Diet
Quercetin is a flavonoid (plant pigment) that has incredible antioxidant qualities, and has been shown to act as a natural antihistamine! 6 Try to add in more foods rich in quercetin during allergy season as additional support. As a bonus – most quercetin-rich foods are also rich in Vitamin C, which also has natural antihistamine properties. It’s a win win! Food rich in quercetin include:
- Broccoli & other cruciferous veggies
- Red onions
- Discover Boiron’s RhinAllergy, one my favorite homeopathics
I cannot say enough good things about homeopathics come allergy season. They help provide relief without the drowsiness and other unwanted side effects of conventional allergy medication. They truly have been my saving grace, and I use them consistently in my practice as go-to support.
Boiron’s RhinAllergy is one of my favourites. It’s a homeopathic used to relieve symptoms caused by seasonal allergies, as well as environmental allergens (like dust, mould or animal hair) such as sneezing, runny nose, itchy and watery eyes, and scratchy throats.
How to take (ages 2 and up): allow 1 tablet to dissolve under the tongue. Take another tablet every 1-2 hours (up to 6 tablets per day) reduce when symptoms improve.
- Give the Neti Pot a Try
This is an age-old technique that a lot of people swear by come allergy season. Basically, it flushes out a fair amount of the airborne allergens and dried mucous that collect in your nasal passages. The pot itself costs about $15-20 dollars and can be found at any health food store.
How to: Combine 1 cup distilled or boiled water (easiest way to do this is to boil water and let it cool to room temp – you don’t want to use just tap water as you want to avoid contaminants) with ¼ tsp. non-iodized salt (you can also buy saline packets if you want). Add solution to the neti-pot, lean over the sink and, breathing through your mouth, tilt your head about 45 degrees, place the spout in your nostril and let the solution flow through and out the other side. Use about half of the solution and then switch sides. Finish by blowing your nose.
How often: Depends on how badly you are experiencing symptoms. Daily use is okay during allergy season, but if symptoms diminish you can back off to a few times a week. Afterwards, take a break. You don’t want to be flushing out daily long term!
- Relieve itchy, water eyes with Optique1
If you are one of the many who experience itchy eyes during allergy season, Optique1 eye drops are going to become your new best friend. Optique1 is a homeopathic used to help relieve minor eye irritation, like redness or itching due to allergens, as well as eye strain that can come from sustained screen time. Place 1-2 eye drops in the eye, 2-6 times per day.
- Shower Before Bed
Allergens like pollen can collect on your clothes, and on your skin, as you go about your day. Washing your clothes, and taking regular showers is a simple way to rid your body and clothes of the allergens that can build up and make symptoms worse. So during allergy season, I tend to always recommend a nightly shower, so you don’t carry any pollen into bed with you!
Allergies aren’t fun. But there are many, many ways you can support your body naturally so allergy season comes and goes without much of a fuss. For me, once I knew how bad allergy season could be, I made sure each year moving forward that I was equipped with all of the tools I just shared, because they truly can make a world of difference.
Here’s to a wonderful spring!
These homeopathic medicines may not be right for everyone. Always read and follow the label.
About the author:
Kyle Buchanan is a registered nutritionist, speaker, actor, and the Resident Wellness Expert on Canada’s “The Morning Show.” He has a passion for spreading holistic health and wellness advice to as many as possible; from television audiences and conference attendees to online readers and video watchers. He also has his own private practice, working with clients worldwide on their journey to feeling their absolute best. For more information, check out www.kylebuchanan.ca or his Instagram page!