Your Guide to Combating Seasonal Allergies Naturally

Nothing quite puts a bummer on Spring and Summer like seasonal allergies. Dealing with sneezing, congestion, itchiness, runny nose, and all of the joys that come along with pollen sensitivity can leave you feeling like you’re missing out on the joy and ease of the season.
Thankfully, I’ve got you covered with some natural tips for preventing and minimizing seasonal allergy symptoms. 

What Causes Hay Fever?

Allergies are an immune response to something that is otherwise ‘harmless’ such as pollen, pet dander, or dust. This happens when your body is exposed to an allergen and reads it as a ‘threat’ as it would a bacteria or virus. The body then ‘remembers’ this allergen and becomes hypersensitive to its presence.
When you come into contact with these substances again, your body will release a chemical called ‘histamine’ in order to increase mucus production to expel the substance from the body as quickly as possible. Histamine creates the classic hay fever symptoms you know like sneezing, itchiness, etc. 

Over the Counter Antihistamines 

Over the counter antihistamine drugs that many people turn to to combat the histamine response and reduce symptoms, can have side effects such as drowsiness, dry eyes, headaches, dizziness, and constipation that can be just as disruptive as the allergy symptoms. 

1. Limit Pesticide Exposure. Pesticide exposure can trigger an inflammatory response that may leave you more sensitive to other allergens such as pollen. Eat organic foods wherever possible. But be sure to avoid the ‘Dirty Dozen’ which are the produce items that are more heavily sprayed with pesticides. (Strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, and potatoes.) 

2. Support Good Gut Health. Having a ‘leaky’ gut or gut inflammation are linked to a greater immune response, including seasonal allergies. Avoid pesticides and limit inflammatory foods such as refined sugar, red meat, processed food, dairy, gluten, caffeine, and alcohol, get plenty of probiotics from fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, or miso, and pay attention to any food sensitivities 

3. Get Support from Local Bees. While no definitive research has been done on the benefits, many people have had great results in combating seasonal allergies by incorporating local bee products into their diet. Bee pollen and local honey are thought to help sensitise the body to the pollen of the local environment which can better prepare the body when Spring comes. The key is to get products from local bees so that the pollen profile is from your community. 

4. Vitamin C. Getting adequate Vitamin C from fresh fruit and vegetables, such as citrus fruits, kiwis, strawberries, tomatoes, bell peppers, and broccoli or from supplementation may help reduce histamine levels. 

5. Try Some Antihistamine Herbs and Nutrients. Certain herbs have natural antihistamine qualities, and can be enjoyed as a hot or iced tea. Stinging nettle, thyme, parsley, tulsi (holy basil), and chamomile are all excellent options. Spices like turmeric and ginger may also be helpful. Quercetin can be a highly effective nutrient to combat the histamine response and is one of my top recommendations for this time of the year. 

6. Stay Hydrated.  Staying well hydrated may also reduce the histamine response. You may notice that when you aren’t drinking enough water that mucus is thicker, and drinking more water allows your body to flush out unwanted allergens more effectively. Aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day, and eat plenty of hydrating foods such as fruits and vegetables. 

7. Nasal Irrigation. When symptoms are activated, using a nasal irrigation system, such as a Neti Pot to flush out the sinuses with saline water can help improve symptoms. 

8. Use Essential Oils. Dabbing some essential oils behind the ears (be sure to mix them with a carrier oil) such as frankincense or peppermint can help with hay fever symptoms. You can also add them into a diffuser in your home. 

I hope these tips allow you to soak up the season, breathe easy, and have plenty of fun and play on this beautiful island!

Dr. Marita Schauch, BSc. ND