Spring is on its way to full bloom, and with it, it could be bringing a stuffy, itchy nose, sneezing, mucus and more in the form of seasonal allergies. If you’re a seasonal allergy sufferer, you know how hard it can be to enjoy the changing of seasons when you’re constantly itching and sneezing and blowing your nose.
But seasonal allergies don’t have to be the enemy, and they can be treated without reaching for over the counter steroids, prescription meds or pills that make you drowsy. Before we dive into some of the best natural remedies for seasonal allergies, let’s talk about what might be causing them.
What Causes Seasonal Allergies
Seasonal allergies are a two-part process. First, your immune system starts to react to an environmental trigger—dander, pollen, etc.—and it creates what’s called a mast cell. Then, that mast cell breaks open and releases histamine. That causes inflammation and calls attention to the fact that the allergen is present and your body responds by signaling that it needs more hands on deck to defeat this foreign trigger (the pollen).
Your immune system then creates more mast cells that continue to break open and release more and more histamine. It’s this release of histamine that causes the runny nose, itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, the feeling of being drowsy and brain fog.
Another aspect of seasonal allergies is the mucus that can start to run down the back of your throat, or take up residence in your sinuses. That mucus is really trying to help your body out by cooling down and soothing the inflamed tissue so it can repair itself from being damaged by the histamine and immune system cells. But, lingering mucus predisposes you to sinus infections, pneumonia, and strep throat, as that stuck mucus can get infected with opportunistic bacteria.
So, seasonal allergies aren’t just inconvenient and annoying. They can lead to more serious and longer-term conditions—if we don’t treat them in a way that helps your body regulate and recover.
Why You Should Skip the Claritin and Choose Natural Remedies for Seasonal Allergies Instead
If you’ve been a seasonal allergy sufferer for long, you’ve probably tried medications like Claritin and other antihistamines. These are great at helping to break down the histamine that’s been released from your mast cells, but what if those mast cells never broke open to release the histamine in the first place? Claritin, and other medicines like it, don’t actually prevent that problem from happening—they’re just there to help clean up the mess later.
Also, not all over-the-counter allergy medications are equal. Products like Claritin are going to be better than inhaled nasal sprays, which are steroid based. While these can help reduce the inflammation in your nasal passages, when they’re used long-term, they can cause other problems, including dependency and worsening of symptoms when you come off the spray. Other treatments, like those that are pseudoephedrine (decongestant) based might dry up your symptoms, but they can cause other issues that are more systemic.
On the other hand, natural formulas that treat seasonal allergies help stop the mast cells from breaking open and releasing that histamine in the first place. This also decreases the amount of inflammation that’s produced, and if you start these formulas before allergy season hits, you can prevent of significantly reduce the amount of symptoms (and suffering) you have to endure.
What Natural Seasonal Allergy Treatment Should I Use And When Should I Take It?
Good natural seasonal allergy treatment formulas will include ingredients such as quercetin, stinging nettles leaf, and vitamin C, all of which help to stop those mast cells from breaking open and releasing histamine in the first place. Other good ingredients in products to look for are bromelain, NAC, and zinc to help thin out the mucus, quash inflammation, and heal the tissue. A well-rounded natural seasonal allergy remedy will encompass many of these things!
At MIMC, we love well-rounded formulas so that you’re not taking a ton of capsules per day. Our favorites include:
- D-HIST by Orthomolecular: This is the most well-rounded formula on the market! It hits all the highlights of a good anti-allergy formula and you can take it all year long, or do a loading dose once allergy season has started.
- SinuPlex by Metagenics
The best way to go about taking these natural remedies is to start taking them before the allergy season starts. This can prevent your symptoms from appearing at all. However, if you’re hit with allergies you can start to take a loading dose (about two to three times the normal maintenance dose) for a few days (and up to a week) to calm things down. Then, you can proceed to take a maintenance dose for the rest of the season. Just like with any supplement or medication, consult with your doctor before taking a new treatment to ensure you’re getting the best fit for your symptoms.
Other Tips for Treating and Preventing Seasonal Allergies
While supplements can be incredibly helpful in your battle against seasonal allergies, there are other changes you can make to your diet and lifestyle to help your body cope with environmental triggers.
Reduce or eliminate dairy. Dairy can promote mucus production and inflammation, which can worsen your allergies and potentially make you more prone to getting an secondary infection.
Make a nettles leaf tea. You can buy nettles leaf loose at local herb shops such as The Medicine Tree or Tao Natural Foods, or online at Mountain Rose Herbs, and make yourself a large jar of tea. Generally about 20 to 24 ounces of tea will do the trick, and be supportive of a peaceful allergy season.
Drink lots of water and get some movement. Keeping hydrated can help flush out your system and allow your body to eliminate all the waste associated in the internal war your body is going through with seasonal allergies.
Do a nasal rinse. Brands such as NetiPot and NasoPure have mastered the ergonomics required for rinsing out your nasal passages with buffered water. This can be really helpful at getting out stuck mucus and lowering inflammation levels of the sinus passages.
Still suffering from seasonal allergy symptoms? Give us a call for a free 15-minute consult to figure out your triggers and get the best advice for you.
Dr. Cassie Wilder is a registered Naturopathic Medical Doctor (NMD) and founder of MIMC. Her passion is empowering her patients through education, understanding, and support through their healing journey. After graduating from Iowa State University with a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology and Health, Dr. Wilder earned her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences, a fully accredited and nationally recognized institution in Phoenix, AZ. During her clinical training, she received extensive hands-on training with many leading experts in the field of functional medicine and developed a passion for treating hormonal imbalances, thyroid disorders, cardiovascular concerns, and adrenal fatigue.