Natural Remedies for Seasonal Allergies [plant medicine]
by J. Garnet
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, more than 50 million Americans are diagnosed with allergies. Many more are obviously living with the miserable symptoms but have not been diagnosed by a professional. Allergens are present during every month of the year and vary from region to region. The pesky particles that are to blame are not bound by the outdoors; they can be found inside as well.
Allergy sufferers can experience numerous symptoms, including runny, watery eyes and nose; congestion; coughing; fatigue; headaches; and nausea. Allergies can affect people mildly or be so severe as to cause folks to miss work and prevent them from enjoying the highlights that each season boasts. The plush green grass, the patchwork of leaf color, the first blossom of the year, or the crackling of a roaring fire on a chilly winter's night are just a few of the experiences that are compromised because of aggravating allergy symptoms.
While allergies in general can be debilitating, there are some that are worse than others. People allergic to particular foods, including wheat, shellfish, nuts and insect bites and stings, can be in mortal danger if anaphylactic shock occurs. When this type of reaction happens, the body's immune system goes into overdrive, and all systems and organs become affected and begin to shut down. This can cause death. In these extreme cases, doctors prescribe medications that patients can keep on hand in case this type of reaction occurs.
For milder allergies, doctors prescribe medications for the symptoms. There are also a plethora of medications that can be bought over the counter, many of which can cause side effects that are just as bothersome as the allergies themselves. Common side effects of allergy medicine include significant sedation, dry mouth, blurred vision, trouble urinating, constipation and agitation. Precautions are given to patients who suffer from seizures, glaucoma, thyroid disorders, high blood pressure, and diabetes because allergy medications can have adverse reactions.
According to a research study conducted by the Mayo Clinic, first generation antihistamines, like Benadryl, for example, have been shown to increase the risk of early onset dementia by 54%. Antihistamines block the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is essential for memory and learning. The study was done with people who took antihistamines on a regular basis, as there are many allergy sufferers who fight their symptoms year round.
Fortunately, natural antihistamines, found in some foods and plant extracts, can be used as an alternative to prescribed and over-the-counter allergy medications. A 2018 long-term observational study, published in the Journal of International Medical Research, revealed that vitamin C, when given in large doses intravenously, acts as a natural antihistamine. Oxidative stress is a major contributor to allergies. Vitamin C combats the oxidative process with the high levels of antioxidants and its anti-inflammatory properties. Some fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C are broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, kiwi, squash, melons and citrus fruits. There are other natural antihistamines that can be used as well.
Bromelain, an enzyme in the core and juice of pineapples, has been shown to work as an anti-inflammatory for the sinus cavity. Probiotics, found in yogurt, pickles, kombucha, sauerkraut and miso, are known to boost the body’s immune system, which can help fight off allergies. Quercetin, an antioxidant flavonoid, has been shown to have anti-allergic and antihistamine effects. It can be found in apples, grapes, berries, black tea, red onions and red wine.
The extracts from butterbur, Astragalus, grape seeds, stinging nettle and spirulina are effective in fighting allergy symptoms. They can be found in supplement form and can be added to most diets, especially during times when allergy sufferers are being affected most.
Many people go to great lengths to combat allergies, including receiving shots. Allergy shots contain small amounts of pollen and allergens, and are meant to help the body build up a resistance to these allergens. There’s a natural way to build up a resistance, however, without having to endure the prick of a needle—with bees.
Bees can be found in every geographic area around the country. Bees collect pollen from many of the plants and flowers that cause some of the most severe allergy symptoms. Consuming raw, unfiltered honey is a natural, tasty way to fight and desensitize against allergens. Local honey works best because the pollen being collected by bees is coming from local plants that are wreaking havoc on allergy sufferers.
Allergens are found almost everywhere and at any time of year. Inside a house where the windows remain closed during the winter months, the blooming of spring, the growth of summer, and the harvesting of fall—these all produce particulates that attack people’s bodies and cause horrible symptoms. Eating fruits and vegetables, taking plant extracts, and consuming local honey are all natural ways to treat allergies. Put those pharmaceuticals back on the shelf, enjoy the seasons, and find relief with plant medicines. They’re natural, healthy and make up a big part of Mother Nature’s medicine cabinet.
J. Garnet, MEd, is a teacher, speaker, writer and healer living in the Tucson area. Connect at 520-437-8855 or [email protected].