Here in the Bay Area spring is only just really beginning. We've had long periods of rain, which means that now everything is blooming, and seasonal allergies are at an all time high for a lot of people. One of the many questions I get, is there something we can do about this with nutrition and food? The answer is absolutely yes, but I have found that a combination of many things together give me the best results.
I have never suffered from seasonal allergies, and only when we moved here three years ago did I suddenly get how miserable it feels to constantly have a stuffy nose, to want to scratch out your eyeballs, itch your skin until it is bloody, and feel like your head is about to explode at any moment. Since I eat very balanced, avoid inflammation triggers like dairy and wheat, deal with my levels of stress, don't drink alcohol, don't have a lot of toxins in our household, and didn't get triggered with allergies in other countries, I just couldn't understand why I kept getting triggered here. I went for two months feeling completely out of it, until I read an article (and I am sorry, I don't remember where this was) that pointed out how the spraying of public areas such as parks, playgrounds, and green strips on the roads were triggering more and more people to have allergies. While Berkeley apparently hires people to weed everywhere by hand, other cities just spray herbicides and pesticides, that then attack our gut, leaving our immune system compromised to deal with pollen and other allergens. Of course this made me mad, and brought me into a downward spiral of hopelessness. I started avoiding public parks, and instead opted for more natural nature such as the forest and the beach. I mention this here, even though it is not a remedy, because it may get you thinking about the environment you move in, and where you get triggered the most. And in case you use any kind of herbicides and pesticides in your own garden, maybe re-think those.
When it comes to allergies, your body is overburdened and doesn't have the capacity to deal with all of the invaders coming in. In our lives today, we have an endless amount of toxins to deal with, from food additives, to skin care products, environmental pollutants, and chemicals in our homes (furniture, carpets, cleaning products, air fresheners, the list goes on forever). All of these need to get eliminated from our body, and the organs responsible for all of this are our liver and our gut. Anything you can do to show them extra love is key when dealing with seasonal allergies. This is also the topic of my upcoming ebook, so look out for it coming soon!
I have tried a lot of natural remedies, and in the end found that the one thing that constantly gave me the best results is very controversial. However, I will still mention it here, because if it has helped me, it may help you! So let's get started on my long list of seasonal allergy remedies:
1. Start your day with warm water with lemon
The one tip you will hear from most health professional is this: drink some freshly squeezed lemon juice with warm water as soon as you wake up to hydrate yourself, to cleanse out your liver, to kickstart your digestion, and to alkalize your body from any toxins that you may have broken down throughout the night. I use about half boiling water and half room temperature water in a cup, squeeze in one lemon, and sip slowly. It’s better than coffee, I promise! You will get addicted to how good you feel just with this one simple ritual, and on days you don’t do it you will feel off.
2. Eliminate inflammatory foods from your diet
An overload of inflammation is really what is happening here when you suffer from allergies. Your red skin and eyes, you scratchy throat, your runny nose, they are all signs of too much inflammation in your body… which means we want to try to reduce our intake of other things that cause inflammation in our body. Otherwise we are just pouring more gasoline on the fire. Inflammatory foods are definitely wheat, dairy, and refined sugar. I didn’t mention gluten, because older grains such as kamut or spelt are often still ok when you suffer from allergies, but you can play around with this. The reason I definitely mention wheat is because wheat crop is one of the most sprayed and genetically modified crops out there. Do you remember the spraying of the parks I mentioned above? Well, when eating wheat you are basically eating that spray, and not just breathing it in. Good thing is, you don’t have to deprive yourself. Basically this entire blog is dedicated to giving you yummy recipe ideas that do not contain wheat, dairy, or refined sugar. So go crazy, and choose a new recipe to try out.
3. Eat real food
I guess after you have eliminated inflammatory foods, you realize that now most processed foods are gone, and you can rely on real foods that come from the earth. These will always strengthen your immune system better than any pill ever can! Pay special attention to adding more garlic, leafy greens, and different colored fruits and veggies.
4. Avoid alcohol
I know this is a biggie, but every time I drink a little bit, the next day my allergies are so much worse. Alcohol takes over all detoxing capacity in your liver, which means everything else gets put on hold including pollen in the air. If you are truly done with suffering, just give alcohol a little break for now.
5. Extra vitamin C
As with every illness, vitamin C is always your best bet! Try 1000mg of vitamin C every hour to help boost your immune system. Again, a seasonal allergy means your immune system is compromised to deal with the invaders, so extra vitamin C will help you from the inside.
6. Local bee products
When I met Arman, he told me he suffered from seasonal allergies. Wherever we went, I immediately got a jar of local raw honey or bee pollen for him, and he felt much better on our travels. You can kind of think of honey or pollen like a natural vaccination. When you expose yourself to the local pollen through small doses of honey or pollen, your body will become less sensitive to it, and the next time pollen fly through the air, you don’t get the same horrible allergies. It has worked for me for sure, but at some point not enough. It is one part of the many things I do to keep the allergies at bay. Make sure you find a local bee keeper with local honey or pollen, and they should be raw, not processed.
7. Nettle leaf
Nettle is one of my favorite herbs, since it is so versatile for women’s health. Super rich in minerals such as calcium, iron, and magnesium, it helps with bone health, with menstrual cramps, and is an amazing anti-inflammatory - exactly what you need when dealing with allergies. Take 1 Tbsp of dried nettle lead, and steep in boiling water in a cup. You can either strain and drink right away or let it sit overnight to bring out more of its anti-inflammatory properties. This way you end up with more of a tonic, that you can then either heat up again or drink cold. You can also use nettle leaf as a compress for puffy eyes. If you have nettle in teabags, place those on top of your eyes, or put nettle leaves in a towel, and drape over your eyes. Chamomile will also help with puffy eyes in case you don’t have nettle leaf.
Because your gut is so crucial to a good immune system, we need to keep it happy. As I’ve mentioned many times, I am not a fan of taking the same probiotics year round, but in certain periods such as seasonal allergies, probiotics can be extremely helpful to give your gut a little good bacteria boost.
9. Nasal rinses
In order to ease the symptoms of congestion, I use my neti pot every day. If you have no idea what I am talking about, check out your nearest health food store. It’s a little pot that looks like Aladdin’s lamp, but instead of rubbing it for a wish, you pour out a mixture of water and salt into your nose to flush out mucus. Yes, it sounds gross. Yes, the first few times you use it is kind of gross. But again, once you’ve done it a few times, and you realize how great it feels to finally breathe again, you will be hooked! I use cooled down boiled water with specific neti pot salt, and do this every morning before I head out the door, and sometimes even at night if it was a really bad day.
10. Nasal sprays
You can also use salt water sprays if you are not keen on rinsing your nose with the neti pot. A spray I use and love is Restore. You probably already know that we have bacteria living in our gut. But did you know we have them on every surface including in our sinuses? After I rinse with the neti pot, I restore the bacteria with the Restore spray.
11. Diffuse lemon essential oil
My mom contributed an entire blog post last year to this subject, so check it out to see more essential oils and how to use them for seasonal allergies. I diffuse lemon oil every single day in our entire house to purify the air, and I even carry a bottle around with me to sniff it while I am out, and feel a sneezing attack coming on. You just want to make sure you don’t put it directly on your skin, as it reacts with sunlight and leaves bleached marks on your skin.
12. And finally, celery juice:
Yes, it seems like everyone is juicing celery juice these days for any ailment. I was skeptical at first, too, but after suffering from allergies forever, I was just like “give me all the celery juice!”. I have not looked back since. Within two days my sinuses cleared up, and this year when everyone around me was extremely suffering, I could breathe and laugh, and didn’t have a single symptom. I have had celery juice every single day for over three years now, and I am a convert. The original “trend” of celery juice has come from the Medical Medium Anthony William. Some people really put down his information, but honestly, if it helps you, do it! Who cares where the information comes from. There are two things I love about Anthony William. First, he addresses many big question marks in science right now, that have always left me scratching my head, for example the whole autoimmune disease theory of the body attacking itself. Why would it? You are perfect! Science doesn’t have enough answers for us yet, and slowly research is catching up to some of Anthony William’s theories. Secondly, he is not selling us a magic pill that costs hundreds of dollars. You can go to the market tomorrow, get celery, juice it, and drink it. He does not make a single cent from it. Often when you have health trends, the people selling you the magic cure have a financial interest, so you have to take their claims with a grain of salt. Not in this case. So what have you got to lose? Give it a try, and see if it works for you. I juice one bunch of celery with a lime, and drink it after my lemon water but before my green smoothie and breakfast.
I hope all of this will help you survive the allergy season!