As February begins to take full hold here in North Carolina, it’s time to start preparing for the allergy season. “What?!,” you say, “It’s winter! Nothing is blooming yet!” Yes, but those barren limbs and flowerbeds we see all around us hold the potential to wreak much suffering on those of us with susceptible noses. The trees here in the Piedmont will start releasing their pollen before you know it. Last year it was so thick and heavy, the yellow miasma that marks early spring here struck those usually unaffected by seasonal allergies. As the old adage goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Prevention is definitely the best strategy when it comes to dealing with seasonal allergies. One of the easiest methods is taking nettles either as a tea or a capsule. If you decide to use capsules, choose a freeze-dried preparation. Daily consumption of this herb can help to blunt the histamine response that causes the discomfort associated with allergies. It’s important to consume this herb before you are exposed to your typical allergen.
Ginger and turmeric help to normalize hepatic and gastric function and decrease levels of inflammatory chemicals in the body. It’s these inflammatory chemicals, which contribute to the severity of the body’s allergic response. Turmeric is best taken as an extract. Look for companies that extract with both alcohol and super critical extraction methods. Also, the addition of black pepper extract and/or quercetin aids the absorption of turmeric. Ginger works well as a food, a medicinal tea and an extract. Choose one that works for you, or use them all.
I have also had personal success using the homeopathic tincture for tree pollen allergies by Natrabio. It’s called Tree Pollen. In my experience, it works best if I start 1-2 months before the heaviest pollen starts to fall.
Next on the list is the neti pot or nasal wash. You can use a traditional pot or the newer squeeze bottle, though I prefer the traditional pot, because it is gentler. In order to minimize exposure to harmful bacteria and protozoa, the CDC suggests using distilled water. Tap water filtered through a 1-micron filter and then boiled is also acceptable. Check the specifications on your filter to see if it meets this criterion. After you have warmed your water to a comfortable temperature, add sea salt (get the kind with no iodine or anti caking agents) and a bit of baking soda. I usually use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of each per 2 cups of water. This mixture makes enough isotonic saline solution for 2 full neti pots. Use 1 pot per nostril and repeat 1-2 times per day to clean the nasal passages and aid sinus health.
The last recommendation would be to try a series of acupuncture treatments in the months before you would typically experience your allergy symptoms. Acupuncture is a powerful modality that can reduce inflammation and greatly reduce or eliminate the allergic response to environmental irritants. If you have any questions, please contact me.