Spring has sprung! And unfortunately for many of us, so have allergy symptoms. During this time of year, allergies can significantly impact our quality of life, especially since the weather is getting warmer and most of us want to spend more time outside. Fortunately, there are some natural remedies to help reduce the severity of these symptoms:
- Nasal rinses/irrigation – A large study showed that saline nasal irrigation has beneficial effects for both children and adults with allergic rhinitis (nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, and itching). You can use a neti pot or squeeze bottle to rinse out your sinuses using distilled or sterile water. If you use tap water, you must boil it and let it cool first. You can perform nasal irrigation daily or several times per day to relieve symptoms of congestion. If using a neti pot with a saline solution, you can pour the solution from the pot in one nostril and let the solution drain from the other nostril. Be sure to clean the bottle or neti pot after every use.
- Nettle leaf tea – This herbal tea has been traditionally used for relieving allergy symptoms by acting as a natural antihistamine and stabilizing mast cells, which are immune cells that react to allergens in our environment. One trial found this herb can help to reduce allergy symptoms and change our eosinophil counts (a type of white blood cell involved in allergic reactions). You can steep one tea bag in hot water for a minimum of 5-10 minutes before drinking, one to three times per day.
- Acupuncture – A large review of 15 studies concluded that acupuncture demonstrates positive results for both seasonal and perennial allergies. One of the major advantages of acupuncture is that it can help treat various symptoms at the same time, and not just allergies alone. It’s also a safe form of treatment that can be done in addition to conventional treatments, like chemotherapy or radiation. If you’re interested in trying acupuncture, you can book with our clinic’s acupuncturist, Jin Wang.
- Air filter – Consider using an air filter in your bedroom and/or common living spaces. Specifically, high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters can capture fine, airborne irritants such as pollen, dust, and pet dander, making them a useful way to reduce allergens in your home. It may also be a good idea to get a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to minimize your exposure to allergens even further.
If you’re interested in learning about other options or supplements that may be helpful in reducing allergy symptoms, book a visit with one of our naturopathic doctors for more guidance and information.
Note: No natural remedy is effective in the event of an allergic emergency such as anaphylaxis. This is a life-threatening reaction and should be treated immediately by a medical doctor.
Author: Dr. Nadine Kexel ND, CCNM Integrative Cancer Centre Resident