Tackle Allergies with Natural Solutions
It’s a pretty dramatic statistic: more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What’s more, in the US alone, allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness racking up more than $18 billion every year in medical costs.
While over-the-counter allergy medications or even immunotherapy (allergy shots) can help alleviate symptoms such as seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever), there are also all-natural approaches to consider. “Treating allergies naturally is critical because natural treatment attacks an allergy problem at its root,” says Jamie Bacharach, a licensed naturopath, acupuncturist, and the Head of Practice at Acupuncture Jerusalem. “Over-the-counter, chemicalladen medications often do a decent job of masking symptoms while failing to address the allergy problem as a whole. In other words, as soon as you go off the medication, your symptoms will quickly return.”
You should always consult with your doctor for personal treatment, but here are some of the top natural ways to keep allergies at bay all year long.
DRINK GREEN TEA
Green tea helps ward off chronic disease such as heart disease. But Japanese researchers have also found that green tea contains EGCG, an antioxidant compound that helps “stop your body from mounting an immune response to a variety of allergens including pollen, dust, and pet dander,” says Janis Covey, who holds a doctorate in pharmacotherapy. Another study in Allergology International found that drinking benifuuki green tea approximately six weeks prior to seasonal allergy season was effective at reducing allergy symptoms.
EAT MORE QUERCETIN
This anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich flavonoid boasts some serious health benefits including decreasing inflammation, killing cancer cells, controlling blood sugar, and preventing heart disease. A study in the journal Molecules found that quercetin reduces the body’s histamine reaction, therefore lowering one’s allergy symptoms. “A diet rich in onions, peppers, berries, and parsley—to name a few—is a great way to incorporate quercetin into your body,” says Covey. “All these foods are high in the compound.”
GET YOUR VITAMIN C
“Vitamin C can be used like a mild antihistamine to reduce the severity of allergic reactions,” explains Drew Sinatra, a naturopathic doctor for Healthy Directions. “Histamine is a chemical compound your immune cells release in response to an allergen and it can cause itching, redness, inflammation, etc.” A study in the Journal of International Medical Research found that high doses of intravenous vitamin C reduced allergy symptoms. Researchers also found that having a deficiency in vitamin C could lead to allergy-related diseases. While most people can’t receive vitamin C intravenously, Sinatra suggests that consuming it orally can have the same effects. “I recommend taking 1,000 mg three times a day when you’re experiencing symptoms,” he says.
TRY ESSENTIAL OILS
“Environmental allergies are often the result of weakened immunity,” says Bacharach. “Essential oils like lavender, tea tree, and eucalyptus, when diffused or otherwise used for treatment, can help boost your immunity and fight inflammation and allergy symptoms alike.” A study in Cogent Biology found that essential oil blends can significantly decrease inflammation in the body and boost the immune system.
Not only do processed sugars wreak havoc on your waistline, but they also contribute to inflammation in the body. “Sugar causes inflammation, which is an important player in the allergic response,” says Covey. “Decreasing the body’s inflammation helps keep allergies in check.”
Jamie Bacharach, a licensed naturopath, acupuncturist, and the Head of Practice at Acupuncture Jerusalem, offers these tips on keeping your home allergen free.
Vacuum and dust regularly. “By using a vacuum with a HEPA filter and dusting regularly, you can eliminate dust, pet hair, and other common home allergens before they wreak havoc,” says Bacharach.
Fight mold and mildew. “Bathrooms, sinks, and tiles, or areas prone to mold and mildew buildup, need to be scrubbed regularly,” says Bacharach. “Common household mold is a classic trigger of an allergic reaction, so prevent it before it starts by cleaning mold as soon as it appears.”
Ditch the carpets. “Allergens settle on carpets and rugs, gradually building up and making it difficult to get rid of them, even with regular vacuuming,” says Bacharach. “By removing rugs and carpeting, it’ll become that much more difficult for allergens to build up.”
Keep pets out. “Pet fur and dander can trigger serious allergic reactions,” says Bacharach. “When that occurs in the bedroom, it will lessen your quality of sleep, which can lead to other health complications.”