If you are an allergy sufferer you are more than familiar with the symptoms of sneezing, runny nose, watery or itchy eyes or a scratchy throat that cause you misery, but there are other symptoms you may not be aware of related to allergies. If untreated, allergies can lead to sinusitis, ear infections or stopped up ears, sleep apnea and possibly asthma. They also interfere with your lifestyle by making you tired, unable to focus, irritable, and cause you to sleep poorly. Getting some relief from your allergy symptoms is possible if you know a few natural solutions that can help you relieve your allergy symptoms.
Allergy Symptoms and The Cause
Allergic rhinitis, more commonly known as hay fever or seasonal allergy, results from coming into contact with an allergen such as pollen, dust, mold, or animal dander. Your immune system initially treats these allergens as foreign invaders and creates antibodies to fight it off. When further exposure to these allergens occurs the antibodies then react, triggering the release of histamine which creates inflammation causing tissues around blood vessels to tighten and fluid to escape. The escaping fluid becomes the symptoms you experience such as a runny nose, itchy watery eyes, and sneezing. Symptoms you may not be aware of as being connected to allergies include allergy shiners which are dark circles under the eyes that Dr. Marc Meth explains happen when blood pools under the eyes from nasal and sinus congestion, mouth breathing when a stuffy nose prevents breathing through it, rubbing the nose, a chronic cough, eye sensitivity to light, and ear pressure or trouble hearing.
Relieving Allergy Symptoms
Of course in an ideal world avoiding allergens in the first place would be the perfect natural solution to dealing with allergy symptoms, but this isn’t always possible. You can try to avoid them as much as you can by checking pollen counts and scheduling you outdoor activities accordingly though. Keeping windows closed and air ducts, air filters, furniture, curtains and sheets clean can also help you avoid some exposure. If you do have to go outside, using a saline solution rinse to wash out nasal cavities with a Netipot or bulb syringe can help wash out allergens and unblock thickened mucous from the nose and sinuses. The most common mixture to use is a teaspoon of salt that is non-iodized and a little baking soda mixed in a cup of barely warmed distilled water. This is then poured into each nostril one at a time while leaning over the sink with head tilted to the side so the water can run out the opposite nostril. You can also help relieve allergy symptoms by getting regular exercise, boosting your immune system, and adding foods with certain vitamins and phytochemicals to your diet.
Nutrition for Allergy Relief
Vitamins – B vitamins such as folate or folic acid and vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid are two important vitamins for maintaining a healthy immune system. Studies on folic acid report that high levels of folic acid result in fewer allergy symptoms. Good food sources for folate include cereals, breads, rice, pasta, spinach, asparagus, broccoli, avocados, peanuts, and bananas. Vitamin B5 has also been linked to immune system health and is known to provide support to the adrenal glands which can reduce asthma and allergy symptoms. Food sources for this B vitamin include eggs, fish, chicken, cheese, milk, nuts, whole grains and potatoes. Foods with vitamin C can help reduce the production of histamine that results in allergy symptoms and can help trigger hormones from the adrenal glands that fight off allergies. Foods high in vitamin C include citrus fruits, strawberries, bell pepper, leafy green vegetables and tomatoes. Adequate amounts of vitamin D has also been found through research to play a role in reducing allergy and asthma symptoms. We get most of our vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, but there are some foods that also contain vitamin D such as fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel, egg yolks, milk fortified with vitamin D, and cod liver oil. There are also other foods that have been fortified with vitamin D such as cereals, orange juice, and yogurt. Vitamin E can also help in reducing allergy symptoms as it helps reduce the number of cells that release histamine. Good vitamin E food sources include dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, eggs, milk and soybeans.
Antioxidants – Resveratrol found in red wine, grapes, berries, grape juice and peanuts is known to reduce stress responses that bring on allergic reactions. Tea, especially green, according to Los Angeles ENT, Murray Grossan, MD, has natural antihistamines that can help alleviate allergy symptoms. Drinking hot tea can also give some relief in unblocking the nose from its steam. Quercetin is a flavonoid that attaches to histamine producing cells thus reducing the amount released. Foods like apples, citrus, onions, parsley, olive oil and dark cherries and berries are all good sources for quercetin.
Essential fatty acids – Omega-3 fatty acids in particular can help control the inflammation that results from the body’s reaction to allergens and has been reported in research studies to help reduce asthma symptoms. Olive oil, nuts, flaxseeds, fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, herring, and mackerel are all good sources of omega-3 as is AFA bluegreen algae. Research with blue green algae has shown it may help interfere with histamine producing cells which would reduce allergy symptoms and can help with increasing IgA antibodies to fight off allergens. One study in 1996 from the National Center for Health Statistics found algae eaters to have less allergies, less problems with skin conditions and with asthma. In addition to AFA bluegreen algae, your immunity can benefit from the blend of marine and freshwater algae, tonic mushrooms, sprouted grasses and grains, probiotics and digestive enzymes found all together in these convenient packets. Many varieties of mushrooms have been found to help in boosting immune system function, sprouted grasses and grains are a great source of antioxidant protection for an immune system boost, and probiotics help support the friendly bacteria in the intestines that are part of a strong immune system.
Don’t let allergy symptoms keep you down, miserable, and in control of your life. It’s great to avoid allergens when you can and take some precautions against them, but that isn’t always practical. Get in your exercise and add some immune boosting foods to your diet that can help you reduce your allergy symptoms and get back to enjoying all the things you want to do in life.
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Bruno, Jeffrey, PhD, Edible Microalgae