15 May 2020
Managing Allergies With Natural Remedies
15 May 2020
Allergies are no fun. Year round (and this time of season especially), allergy sufferers have to put up with runny noses, sinus headaches, red eyes, aches, pains, and other unpleasant symptoms. There’s never been an era where allergies were pleasant, but at a time when sneezing, coughing, and runny noses will get you more than your fair share of dirty looks, it’s worth finding ways to manage your allergies.
There are a number of ways you might manage your allergies; most of them fall into one of two categories. The first category is prevention; this category contains any efforts made to reduce contact with allergens. The second category is symptom reduction: these are any efforts made to reduce the frequency, length, and severity of allergy symptoms. Here, we will look at natural methods you might employ in both categories:
The first method of prevention we’re going to discuss is… awkward , right now, to say the least. Many allergy sufferers have hay fever, which occurs when allergens in the air (namely pollen) come in contact with the body. They can irritate the eyes, but most commonly irritation occurs when they enter the mouth, throat, and nose. One very efficient way to stop this from happening is to wear an airtight mask that stops particulates. One such mask is the N95, so named because it filters 95% of airborne particles.
During “normal” times, it’d be practical to purchase some N95s; right now ,however, there’s a dire shortage throughout the world. It may be best to look at alternatives. Once supplies are once again in less demand, this would be a good option to consider.
For days when you’re cooped up inside, it’s a good idea to get an air purifier. The New York Times has an excellent article on the efficacy of air purifiers. Though they vary in design, they’ll generally use a method of attracting particles, coupled with a HEPA filter to trap those particles.
A brief note while we’re talking about HEPA filters: HEPA filter vacuums will also help eliminate particles in your home, as long as you’re diligent about vacuuming. You’ll also benefit from purchasing hypoallergenic pillows and bedding, which serve to block.particles (primarily dust mites). Make sure you wash your bedding and pillows regularly to keep the dust mite count low.
Close your windows to avoid having particulate outdoors drift in; this is especially important on particularly windy days. Pollen counts tend to be highest early in the morning, so having your windows closed during that part of the day is a good idea.
When it comes to lessening allergies from outside, it’s important to choose when and how you go outside. Check the pollen count every day; you should be able to do so on your favourite weather website or on your local weather station. Pollen counts are generally lowest after rain and on days with little wind. Take steps to avoid exposure to pollen by delegating chores like weed pulling and grass mowing to someone who doesn’t have allergies.
For years, the only readily available methods of symptom reduction for allergies fell into the realm of conventional medicine. Antihistamines target the body’s natural immune responses, focusing on histamine receptors; histamine is one of the primary causes of itchiness due to allergies. Allergies are caused by a hypersensitive immune system, so suppressing the histamine functions of the immune system reduces allergic symptoms. There are a number of reasons a patient might not want to go this route, including the drowsy side effects of some antihistamines.
A number of natural allergy remedies and alternative medicines are becoming more widely available on the market. Extracts from the butterbur plant have been shown to be an effective method of managing allergy symptoms. These extracts (often known under the brand name Ze 339) aren’t antihistamines, but they seem to be as effective as popular antihistamines.
There have been a number of studies on the efficacy of these extracts: one in 2002 , one in 2005 , and one in 2006 . Though there’s less evidence for a number of other plant extracts, testing has begun, and hopefully, we’ll see good results.
Another promising avenue for treating allergies is acupuncture. The effectiveness of acupuncture is inherently difficult to test by conventional medical standards – a whole other article could be written explaining why. Nonetheless, there are a couple of meta-analyses available that seem to indicate acupuncture is a safe and plausibly effective treatment to reduce the severity of allergy symptoms. You can look at the studies here and here .
You’ll note that in both studies, the researchers want bigger, more comprehensive studies to understand exactly why acupuncture seems to alleviate symptoms. The main advantage of acupuncture as a treatment is the extremely low chance of complications. Acupuncture is incredibly safe, which makes it an excellent complementary medicine.
One important consideration in alleviating any chronic symptoms is the effect of stress on those symptoms. When you’re stressed out, things that are bad tend to feel worse. Helping you deal with stress, then, is an effective way of helping reduce the perceived severity of allergy symptoms. When it comes to severity of certain mild symptoms, perception is more or less everything, so stress reduction can reduce mild allergy symptoms .
If your stress levels are high, a Myers’ Cocktail might also be a nice treatment option for you as this can support adrenal function, as well as lessen allergy symptoms.
You should know that the discussion we’ve had in this article pertains entirely to mild, chronic, allergy symptoms. This advice is no replacement for epinephrine auto-injector (commonly known as an EpiPen) or any other advice your doctor is giving you about severe or life-threatening allergies. Natural remedies are almost always able to be used as complementary medicines. Always keep your whole medical team informed of any changes to your health.
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