When summer rolls around, outdoor activities are a top priority. Swimming, hiking, camping, sports leagues, vacations…there are so many wonderful activities to enjoy with friends and loved ones during the summer. From the blooming flowers to the lush green grass, leafy trees and fresh fruits and vegetables, the gifts of summer are endless. Along with the beauty of it all comes the pollen, dust, mold, and seasonal allergies that may make summer difficult to enjoy.
Our immune system is a wonderful thing. It recognizes danger to our bodies and deploys a host of illness fighting white blood cells in response to keep us healthy. It senses injury and sends repair cells to the right place to heal damaged tissue. It knows how to protect us once we are exposed to an illness we’ve had before, and it creates swelling or pain to help prevent us from further damaging previously injured tissue.
When we are exposed to something our body recognizes as an allergen, our immune system releases a cascade of activity which ultimately results in those telltale symptoms many of us know all too well: sneezing, itching, watery eyes, nasal congestion, and other bothersome physical reactions. In more serious allergic cases, hives, wheezing, swelling and other severe symptoms warranting emergency and/or hospitalized care may occur.
For those who suffer from mild seasonal allergies, natural remedies may help alleviate bothersome symptoms, allowing greater enjoyment of summer in all of its glory. Read on to learn more about 5 natural remedies and how each may help to relieve those annoying seasonal allergies.
- Quercitin – One of the ways the immune system reacts when exposed to an allergen is by creating the break down of mast cells. These special immune cells contain histamine, which when released in the body can lead to a whole host of llergy related symptoms. Quercitin, which is responsible for the beautiful color in many fruits and vegetables, acts by stabilizing mast cells so that they are less likely to break apart and release histamine. Quercitin is a type of antioxidant known as bioflavonoids, which are even more potent in action when combined with vitamin C. Quercitin needs to be present in the body in order to prevent mast cell break down, so taking Quercitin daily during allergy season is more effective than taking it only when exposed to allergens.
- Vitamin C – There are many roles vitamin C plays within the body, and research shows that one action of this nutrient is as an antihistamine. Vitamin C both prevents release of histamine and increases breakdown of histamine already in the system. The antihistamine action of vitamin C is one that accumulates over time, so it is most effective when utilized daily rather than on an as needed basis.
- Stinging Nettles – A plant often thought of as causing an allergic type reaction when brushed against the skin, stinging nettles can have a powerful effect on relieving allergy symptoms when taken orally. In one research study, 57% of participants noted relief of symptoms when taking stinging nettles while 48% of participants felt the stinging nettles worked even better than their previous allergy medications. Freeze-dried stinging nettles extract is the preparation that has the greatest effectiveness for improving allergic symptoms.
- Butterbur – Many scientific studies have shown butterbur to be effective in relieving allergic symptoms. Research participants rated the effectiveness of butterbur as similar to or better than their previous allergy medication. It’s important to make sure butterbur supplements are sourced appropriately and produced by a reputable company. Raw, unprocessed butterbur should never be consumed, and butterbur should be avoided by those with known allergies to butterbur or other plants in the same family.
- Nasal Irrigation – For nasal allergy symptoms (hay fever or allergic rhinitis), good clinical evidence supports the practice of nasal irrigation. Also known as a neti pot, nasal irrigation helps to flush out irritants, mucus, and debris from the nose and sinuses. Neti pots are inexpensive and found at most drug stores. It’s important to use distilled, sterile, or previously boiled water that has been cooled and follow the instructions for mixing with salt to create a saline solution for rinsing. It can take a little time to get the hang of nasal irrigation, but many people find great relief of symptoms once they master the technique.
Natural remedies for mild seasonal allergies can be very helpful for achieving relief of symptoms. However, natural remedies may not be right for all allergy sufferers. It’s always best to check with you doctor before beginning any new medications, herbs, or supplements.
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