It starts out innocently enough. You wake up with a scratchiness — ever so slight — in the back of your throat. But as the day goes on, it grows. Every time you swallow, every bite of food you take grates down your throat like bare feet on gravel. By early afternoon, your nose has stuffed up like a clogged pipe, and you can’t breath with your mouth closed. Your evening is disrupted by fits of coughing and sneezing. By the time you lay down to go to sleep, you’re exhausted; unfortunately, you know the worst part is that you’ll soon wake up and do it all over again.
This is allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever or seasonal allergies, and while it’s not deadly, it’s incredibly disruptive. When left unchecked, allergies wreak havoc on your productivity and quality of life.
Allergic rhinitis occurs when the immune system becomes confused, more or less. Airborne agents or allergens, for example pollen, mold, dust mites, or grass, get caught inside the body. These allergens, in and of themselves, are harmless. However, sometimes the immune system gets overactive and releases a chemical called histamine, which attacks the allergens. But histamine action has nasty side effects — sore throat, runny nose, coughing. In other words, what you commonly refer to as “allergies.”
So what do you do about it?
Many people, longing for an easy magic button, go to the drug store and swallow pills, which promise to rid them of the problem. Unfortunately, it’s not quite so simple. Most allergy medicine works by providing antihistamines, chemicals that fight histamine (that nasty chemical responsible for allergy symptoms). This sounds great, until you consider something called “symptom management.” These pills treat symptoms, while ignoring the underlying issue. As soon as the antihistamines are gone, your immune system is back to wreaking undue havoc on the body.
Instead, consider the holistic approach. Holistic medicine considers the person’s entire health, and looks at the underlying root issues to a problem. Holistic medicine views particular symptoms as one piece of your lifestyle. If you want to overcome those symptoms, it’s not enough to manage the symptoms with pills, because that ignores the root issues. Change your lifestyle, and your body’s natural healing abilities kick into gear.
When it comes to fixing your allergies, there are a lot of home remedies and holistic solutions out there. Try to start small, and consider these four lifestyle additions.
One of the most common allergens that results in hay fever is pollen. While cross-pollinating plants, bees don’t always deposit all the pollen they carry. Some of it ends up in the bees’ system, and traces of that pollen may end up in the bees’ honey. One theory suggests that, by eating honey which carries local pollen, you can build up an immunity (of sorts) to the pollen. The immune system becomes used to the pollen, in small doses, and therefore doesn’t care when large amounts enter the body.
To try this remedy, try eating a tablespoon of local honey each day during the spring.
Neti Pot and Saline Rinse
A Neti Pot looks like a miniature teapot, or perhaps an Aladdin lamp, and is used to help flush excess mucus out of your nasal passageways, thus clearing your sinuses. The saline solution (distilled water with salt) increases the efficiency of your body’s natural cleansing process.
You can buy a Neti Pot at most drug stores, and it should come with instructions for that particular model. The most important precaution to remember is to always use distilled or boiled (and then cooled) water, to prevent any unwanted bacteria from sneaking into your system.
Quercetin may sound like a scary chemical produced in a lab, but don’t worry — it’s completely natural, and found in a variety of foods, such as apples, red onions, green tea, and even red wine. According to some studies, quercetin can help control the release of histamine — the chemical culprit responsible for allergic reactions. Consuming foods high in quercetin is a natural way to help curb your allergic reactions.
Anyone who’s ever gotten a runny nose from spicy food knows the decongesting power of spicy food. It clears up your sinuses and helps you breath clearly. So next time your allergies act up, go get some Indian food!
If little tips and lifestyle adjustments like this aren’t quite doing the trick, come see us at Whole Body Health today for other allergy relief options.
Additional Blog: 10 Home Remedy Tips for Spring Allergies