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Seasonal Allergies

woman sneezing in the middle of a flower field

The welcoming of spring symbolizes new beginnings and the beauty of the natural world. We see a burst of color as flowers begin to bloom. Gardeners eagerly prepare their plots for planting. The melodies of birds can be heard throughout the day. However, alongside the beauty of spring can come the dreaded return of allergies, as pollen fills the air and triggers sneezes and sniffles for many. Depending on your sensitivities, these symptoms can last into the fall.

 

First of all, let’s discuss why allergies happen. To put it simply, allergies are a case of mistaken identity. When the body comes into contact with an allergen, say tree pollen, the immune system may deem it as dangerous. In an attempt to destroy this intruder, a cascade of immune events is triggered. This includes the release of antibodies, white blood cells and histamine. It is this immune mediated storm that causes those pesky symptoms we associate with allergies…

 

Symptoms can include:

 

●       Itchy, watery eyes

●       Runny nose

●       Headache

●       Sneezing

●       Congestion

●       Post nasal drip

●       Fatigue

 

These symptoms can range from mild to severe, causing disruptions in daily activities, work productivity, and even sleep patterns. Folks with seasonal allergies often find themselves avoiding outdoor activities or keeping windows shut to minimize exposure to allergens. They may need to rely on over-the-counter or prescription medications to manage their symptoms, which can come with their own set of side effects. The persistent discomfort and fatigue caused by allergies can lead to irritability, difficulty concentrating, and overall decreased quality of life.


Additionally, seasonal allergies can exacerbate other health conditions such as asthma, making it crucial for individuals to effectively manage their allergy symptoms to prevent further complications. Despite the challenges posed by seasonal allergies, proper treatment, avoidance strategies, and lifestyle adjustments can help individuals navigate this time of year with greater ease and comfort.

 

 

LIFESTYLE ADJUSTMENTS

saline nasal irrigation, clothes hanging on a rack, shower, wear sunglasses outside

  • Saline Nasal Irrigation: Nasal irrigation with saline solution can help rinse out allergens from the nasal passages and relieve congestion. It's a non-invasive and low-cost method that many people find effective in managing allergy symptoms.

  • Hang your clothes on a rack inside when possible, or use a dryer rather than hanging your laundry outdoors, as pollen can cling to them.

  • If you've been outside in a high pollen area, shower and change your clothes when you get home.

  • Wear sunglasses outside to lessen the amount of allergens that blow into your eyes.



HISTAMINE IN FOOD

 

High Histamine Foods

Histamine “releasing” foods

Foods that block histamine breakdown

Alcohol

Eggplant

Pickled or canned foods – sauerkrauts

Matured cheeses

Smoked meat products – salami, ham, sausages….

Shellfish

Beans and pulses – chickpeas, soy flour

Long-stored nuts – e.g peanuts, cashew nuts, almonds, pistachio

Chocolates and other cocoa based products

Seitan

Rice vinegar

Ready meals

Salty snacks, sweets with preservatives and artificial colourings

 

Most citrus fruits – lemon, lime, oranges…

Cocoa and chocolate

Walnuts, peanuts

Papaya, pineapples, plums, kiwi and bananas

Legumes

Tomatoes

Wheat germ

Most vinegars

Additives – benzoate, sulphites, nitrites, glutamate, food dyes

 

Alcohol

Black tea

Energy drinks

Mate tea

 

 

Remember- everyone has their own threshold to histamine levels, and can react differently to foods and elimination of foods. It is always best to work with an experienced naturopathic doctor or dietician when implementing a new nutrition regime.


SUPPLEMENTS TO CONSIDER

 

  1. Quercetin: A flavonoid found in many fruits and vegetables, quercetin has been studied for its potential anti-allergy properties. It can help stabilize mast cells and reduce the release of histamine, which can alleviate symptoms like sneezing and itching.

    1. Food sources:

      1. Apple skins (don’t peel them!)

      2. Onion skins (put them whole in soups, them scoop them out after)

  2. Nettle Tea: can work as an antihistamine, as well as an anti-inflammatory to relieve symptoms associated with allergies

  3. Probiotics: The gut microbiome plays a significant role in immune function, and probiotics may help modulate the body's immune response, potentially reducing allergic reactions. Some research indicates that certain strains of probiotics can be beneficial for managing allergies.

  4. Local Honey: While scientific evidence is limited, some people believe that consuming locally produced honey may help desensitize the body to local pollen allergens over time. This is based on the theory that honey contains trace amounts of pollen that can build immunity.

 

Always speak to a healthcare provider before introducing new supplements into your healthcare plan.

 

Although allergies are common and bothersome, there are many management strategies available to help alleviate symptoms and navigate allergy season with greater ease. Seeking guidance from healthcare professionals ensures a tailored approach to managing allergies effectively. We hope some of these techniques may help you embrace the joys of spring and fully enjoy the beauty of the season.

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