Author: Nicole Cieslak, NTP
The weather is warming and many of us are looking forward to the Springtime blooms and sunshine after months of being stuck indoors. However, if you suffer from seasonal allergies you might not share the same sentiment. Springtime is often synonymous with sneezing, coughing, congestion, itchy or watery eyes and other uncomfortable symptoms for many people.
In fact, it’s estimated that between 40-60 million people are affected by seasonal allergies every year. In order to understand how we can support our bodies during this time of year let’s first take a quick look at what seasonal allergies really are and how they affect our internal systems.
What are seasonal allergies?
Allergic rhinitis is the official medical term for seasonal allergies or hay fever. At their core, allergies are an immune response to external stimuli such as pollen from blooming trees, plants and flowers. This immune response causes inflammation throughout the body, particularly in the joints, lungs and sinuses.
The body’s immune system has certain safeguards in place to protect us from foreign invaders such as an infection, illness or wound. A normal healthy immune response activates temporary inflammation that serves as a protective tissue barrier while our body sends T-cells to fight off whatever foreign invader is threatening our wellbeing.
However, sometimes our system overcompensates, which is the case with seasonal allergies. When the body detects an environmental allergen such as pollen, our immune system releases certain antibodies that react with what we would classify as a generally harmless environmental substance creating a histamine reaction.
The result: flu-like symptoms that make us feel miserable and can sometimes prevent us from enjoying time spent outdoors.
Other factors to consider
Because allergies are a disorder of the immune system, there are other factors that can influence how severe our symptoms might be such as our stress levels, overall gut health and the consumption of cross-reactive trigger foods.
Chronic stress is one of the biggest ways to weaken our immune system and make us more susceptible to histamine reactions. Stress also can weaken the intestinal barrier of our digestive system, leading to something known as leaky gut, or intestinal permeability.
When the gut is leaky, we are more prone to developing allergic reactions and food sensitivities as well as ongoing digestive disorders. Food particles and other substances leak through our intestinal wall into our bloodstream, activating our immune response and creating systemic inflammation.
Some foods including processed foods and carbohydrates, alcohol, caffeine, sugar, soy, peanuts, gluten, nightshade vegetables, and some tree nuts and seeds can cross react with certain pollens. It’s best to try and avoid certain trigger foods until you can get your allergies in check.
Herbal remedies for allergy relief
These 4 herbal remedies can support your body’s allergic response and will have you feeling your best this Spring!
- Allertea — A beautiful loose leaf tea blend of lemongrass, eyebright, licorice root, stinging nettle, hawthorn and hibiscus that supports inflammation reduction and a healthy histamine and asthma response. Nettle in particular has been shown to help support a normal healthy response to seasonal environmental irritants.
- Upper Respiratory Support — A combination of herbs including yarrow, Oregon grape, wild bergamot, beebalm, thyme and nettles in a base of alcohol and spring water help promote normal healthy sinus passages and upper respiratory tract function for clear breathing.
- All Purpose Salve — An emollient blend of calendula, comfrey, vitamin A and vitamin E in a base of beeswax and olive oil, this topical product can help promote soft and hydrated skin. This is a great option for people who suffer from seasonal dryness and other allergy-related skin conditions.
- Mullein and Garlic Oil — An herbal ear drops blend that supports pressure buildup in the ears and sinuses common with allergy season. If your ears get itchy and sore from allergies, just one drop of this herbal blend will provide you with the support you need. It’s even safe for kids!
In addition to supporting herbs, we can also focus on eating foods that are known to reduce inflammation and that support gut healing. Those include fresh ginger, bee pollen or local honey, organic bone broth and collagen, probiotic rich foods like coconut yogurt, raw cheese, kimchi, sauerkraut and other fermented foods, apple cider vinegar, pineapple, high quality protein and organic vegetables.
Stress management is also an important part of reducing an allergy flare up. You can try some simple at-home strategies like meditation, yoga, tapping, an epsom salt bath soak, diffusing calming essential oils like lavender and light walks to help your body get out of fight or flight mode and into rest and digest mode.
With these holistic strategies and herbal remedies, you’ll be ready to take allergy season head on this year!
Remember that prior to adding herbal supplements to your daily regimen, it’s always best to consult your doctor or practitioner to figure out the best way to incorporate these as part of your existing healing routine. Nothing in this article is intended as medical advice or diagnosis.
Nicole Cieslak is a functional nutritional therapy practitioner and certified personal trainer specializing in gut health, hormone balance and performance nutrition. Everyday she strives to help people overcome chronic health issues by getting to the root cause. She helps clients take back control of their health through personalized food, lifestyle and supplementation adjustments. Learn more about her nutritional therapy services at thefitfoodist.com and follow her on Instagram at @fitfoodist_foundations for free health, fitness and beauty advice.