Bittersweet spring: the ultimate guide to surviving seasonal allergies naturally

May 31, 2023 | Blog, Featured, New, Uncategorized | 6 comments

Spring has arrived here in Athabasca, AB, Canada and the bird song is bursting forth with great exuberance! Below is a timely replay of my seasonal spring allergy blog (and includes a link to a free meditation).  

The onset of spring coincides with the onset of allergy season. Currently in Alberta, deciduous trees (aspen, poplar) and shrubs (willows) are releasing pollen now and the coniferous trees are close behind. Next, the grass and weeds will be blooming and releasing their pollen. In sensitive individuals (aka = moi), the pollen and mould spores create an inappropriate immune response, commonly known as hay-fever.

Your body thinks it is under attack by a foreign invader, so it triggers a defence response.

Certain cells start releasing histamine. Histamine can cause excess mucous, tearing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing. With so much pollen in the air, those that suffer from seasonal allergies are often headed to the nearest pharmacy. But there are many natural alternatives to antihistamines that can help reduce and soothe allergy symptoms. Also, by getting to the root cause of what caused the allergy in the first place, often allergies will be greatly reduced or often eliminated.

I have suffered from environmental allergies since early childhood.

My “hay-fever” (allergenic rhinitis) was so severe I had to get weekly allergy shots (immunotherapy), building up to monthly shots over many years. And years. I had allergies year-round. I was congested every night at bedtime and had difficulties sleeping. Even with the shots, I still had to take antihistamines or use a nasal spray. Antihistamines make me feel terrible: I am awake half the night, dehydrated, and feel light-headed and spacey all day long. It wasn’t until I began looking into holistic alternatives that my allergies started to improve. I wanted to get to the cause of why my body was reacting this way, rather than treat the symptom. After working with diet and natural remedies (homeopathics, supplementation, and qigong), I now only have mild allergies (depending on the year) in the springtime! Here are some alternative ideas that have worked for me and as well as many of my clients.

  1. Eliminate sugar. Sugar weakens your immune system and causes inflammation. Allergies are an overreaction of your immune system. Your body is trying to fend off what it sees as an invader. It over-reacts and goes all crazy. You don’t have to cut out sugar all year, but you may notice a difference if you try this when your allergies tend to flare up.
  2. Take antioxidants. Antioxidants in the form of fruits and vegetables, as well as supplements, work well at settling down your body’s defence mechanisms and reducing inflammation. Bioflavonoids, along with Vitamins C and E, are powerful antioxidants and may prove helpful. Grape-seed extract, a powerful bioflavonoid antioxidant, can work well at preventing allergy symptoms when formulated with, or taken with, Vitamin C. The doses should be slightly higher at this time than you would normally take. 100-200 mg grape seed extract, 1,000 mg of Vitamin C, and 400 IU of vitamin E taken two times a day with food should be suitable. Quercetin and Zinc are also beneficial. Please consult with your doctor before taking any supplements.
  3. Take a Probiotic. Probiotics perform many beneficial activities in your body. If I were stranded on a desert island and could only take one supplement with me, it would be a probiotic! These friendly bacteria support the immune system but also get directly to the root cause of allergies, the gut. By supplementing with beneficial gut flora your internal environment is in better balance, making you better able to ward off illness and allergies (not to mention helping with IBS, eczema, yeast infections, food allergies, and more). Look for “human strain” probiotics as opposed to bovine sources. Fermented foods (and drinks) such as kimchee, kombucha, yoghurt, and kefir contain probiotics. But avoid pasteurized versions of these products as the pasteurization process destroys most of the naturally occurring probiotics. Most store-bought yoghurts are pasteurized and often contain added sugars, high fructose corn syrup, or artificial sweeteners. These ingredients will burden your body further, weakening the immune system you are trying to support. That is why I recommend supplementing with a high-quality probiotic.
  4. Bring out the neti pot. Rinsing the sinuses with warm water and a pinch of sea salt cleans out any pollen and reduces inflammation of the sinuses. I do this every time I come in from outside, in the morning, and before bed. For me, the neti (Sanskrit for “nasal cleansing’) pot rinsing has been very supportive. If I don’t rinse, a few minutes after returning from outside I will start to get itchy eyes and a runny nose accompanied by sneezing.
  5. Take Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) in the form of fish oil (preferably) or flaxseed oil. Essential fats are just that, essential. Healthy oils are necessary in the formation of every cell in the body, but they can also boost immunity and reduce inflammation. They are also useful in treating and preventing heart disease and they have beneficial effects on cholesterol and boost immunity. Look for Omega-3’s. Eating fish such as salmon and ground flaxseed is also great for getting Omega-3’s in addition to supplementation.
  6. Detoxify. By cleaning up the liver along with your internal environment, your body works more efficiently. Receptor sites can be blocked by toxicity and this makes enzymatic reactions difficult. Detoxification cleans all this out, making everything run smoothly. In my practice, I use homoeopathic remedies for detoxification and the results are great. You can also detoxify by fasting or cleansing. Please consult a healthcare professional before starting a fast or cleanse.
  7. Drink Nettle tea (or make Nettle soup). Stinging nettle contains antioxidants but it seems there may be other factors at play. I have read many stories of Nettle being just as effective as antihistamines. This is the first year I have tried Nettle tea; I will keep you posted. Nettle has not started growing here yet, but when it does I will carefully (it stings!) harvest the mother load and get to work. If we turn to the plant kingdom, often there are antidotes for our ailments in our adjacent woods. If you are harvesting your own Nettle and happened to get stung, look around for Lamb’s quarters as the antidote. For now, I am getting my nettle tea from the health food store. I recently read evidence that butterbur (Petasites) extract (it must be purified of harmful substances) is even more effective than nettle at treating seasonal allergies. Try adding local honey to your nettle tea. Honey has many healing and immune-boosting properties and can also provide allergy support.
  8. Take a shower. By rinsing off after you have been outside you will clear any lingering pollen from your hair and skin (and clothes from outdoors go straight into the washing machine).
  9. Close the window. This is tough as the weather gets warm; but by keeping your home free from pollen, you will feel much better. Mountain Man has been very patient with this, as we usually sleep with the window open!
  10. Try essential oils. Try oils such as lavender, eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree, or lemon. Put a few drops of oil on your hands, rub them together, then cup your hands over your nose and inhale. You can try putting the oils in a nebulizer or diluting them and rubbing them on the bottom of your feet. Personally, I breathe easier and feel better when I use eucalyptus.
  11. Eat clean. By eliminating additives, preservatives, and other chemicals from your diet, your body doesn’t have to work so hard, particularly your liver. This makes the digestion process easier. Eat whole foods and avoid things in boxes and packages. Also by adding more green foods, your liver will be even more supported. I have been on a green smoothy kick for a couple of weeks now, and it feels good. One benefit is no fruits or vegetables go to waste in my house!
  12. Practice Meditation and Qigong. We know that stress weakens the immune system; so if you are under stress, your allergies are going to be worse. Meditation has been shown to reduce stress. Put on some soft zen music, sit or lie down, close your eyes, and breathe deeply (if you can!). Smile. Focus only on your breath counting to five as you inhale, pause, and then count to seven as you exhale, pause and repeat. As you breathe, visualize a beautiful light shining inside you just behind your navel. Then repeat, repeat, and repeat some more. There, you are meditating. Even if it doesn’t help your allergies, you will feel better! Or you may want to try this free guided meditation. Qigong is a moving meditation practice that works on removing blockages to help your body become self-healing and vital. Many movements correspond to the lung and immune systems, which are the energetic systems related to allergies. Here is a movement you can try. It is my feeling that qigong, when practised consistently, can actually remove the blockages that cause the inappropriate immune response. I am dedicated to a daily one-hour long practice. I feel it’s helping! Yay!

I have also been trying a few mindful techniques such as breathing deeply and telling my body it is safe, there is no need to over-react, there is no imminent danger, we love trees…..don’t we? And honestly, the odd antihistamine on bad days is sometimes the best solution.

It may seem like a long list of things to incorporate, but when you start to feel that allergenic fog lifting, you’ll know it was worth the effort!

I also have some excellent resources in my weekly Qigong membership community, Energy in Motion. There are six sessions with teaching and practices to support allergies along with a comprehensive handout and tons of community support. Head over here if that interests you, it’s just $7 to get started. 

I hope some of these ideas will help you breathe deeply soon. If all else fails, pray for rain! I would love to hear in the comments about how you handle seasonal allergies and any natural allergy solutions you have tried!

Love and light,

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Sue Crites MSc, NCP
Energy Healing and Qigong
Live weekly Qigong practice and certification classes from the comfort of your home. 
www.suecrites.ca

You may also like: Signs and symptoms of spring: transitioning yourself from winter to spring; Today I have failed.

 

6 Comments

  1. Lynn

    Thank you Sue I am going to give your recommendations a try, I have suffered for years and take 20 mg of reactive 2 times a day:….it’s crazy….I do have a neti pot as well as nose spray by prescription what excercise do you reccomend?

    Reply
    • Sue Crites

      Wow Lynn that is rough! I find 10 mg of antihistamine almost knocks me out so I have to cut them in half. For Qigong movements try: Moving of Yin and Yang, Breathing of the Universe, Connecting Heaven and Earth (arms above head as knees bend), Connecting to your Body’s Energy (side to side lunge), and also this video of Master Lin rubbing and tapping areas on his face:https://bit.ly/2K4ap9f. Have you tried any of the suggestions in the blog? I wish you luck!

      Reply
    • Carol Harris

      Hi Sue– ,since moving to Arkansas from Denver, allergies hit me hard. I went to a small natural/organic store near me and they told me to try a homeopathic medicine called SinusCalm. It is amazing. You take 5 little pellets under the tongue every 2 hours and then decrease over time as the symptoms improve. The first time I tried them I was able to breathe and my sinus and head all opened up more. They told me that it is very popular with people. Works for me. Thanks for all the information too and I will add some things to my routine from what you shared. I am not sure how you find human strain probiotics so will check with the store too. Blessings, Carol

      Reply
  2. Norm

    Nothing more to offer, Sue; you mention “Connecting to your body’s energy” and the tapping of the facial areas. Those help clear my sinuses. I do, unfortunately, still have sniffles, and will check some of your ideas, above.

    Your comment about being grateful for Spring from inside reminded me of Lao Tzu’s comments in Tao Te Ching: “Without going out of doors, one may know all under heaven; Without peering through windows, one may know the Way of heaven.” There is more, but I must hurry over to the Level III Classroom. See you there.

    Reply
  3. Lyne

    I’ve suffered from seasonal allergies for a very long time. First as a teenager and had the allergy shots for a few years and as an adult, after my 2 kids and a move it came back and the allergy shots didn’t help even after a couple of years. But 30 years ago I started acupuncture 2 months before the seasonal allergies so 3 to 4 treatments before the season and it has, plus the sinus rinse and no hanging clothes outside, made wonders. No medicAtion and practically no symptoms. Since I’ve been practicing Qi Gong regularly in the past 3 years, I even need less treatments every year as my Qi system is flowing much better. I do recommend acupuncture it helped me so much.
    This year because of the pandemic can’t go for my treatments so Will see how it goes and will try some of your suggestions., Sue.

    Reply
  4. Sheila Hifstedt

    Thank you, Sue. These are great suggestions. My allergies came later in life, and for many years I was able to control them with stinging nettle capsules. Our winter was very moist and my allergies have been the worst ever for me this year, especially as community acupuncture, which pretty much eliminated them last year, is not an option. Sue, which antihistamine worked well for you? When my eyes go crazy, watering, itching, etc, I boil a black tea bag in water for 10 minutes, and when it cools, use an eye cup to rinse my eyes. This is really helpful! Just be sure to refrigerate any amount you won’t use that day to keep bacteria from forming. Three natural products that work well for me when my allergies are a bit milder are Allertonic capsules, ClearLife Safe Relief homeopathic pills and Allergena, a remedy formulated for specific growing zones.

    Reply

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