Ah-Choo! - Home remedies for springtime allergies

Published on Sat, 04/08/2017 - 8:00am

Ah, Spring! That period when we emerge from a long winter to be greeted by green grass, tender leaves, and colorful flowers.

Or maybe the season for you brings sneezing, watery eyes, scratchy throat, and a runny nose. Yes, all that emerging life can play havoc with your allergies. And the culprit is pollen.

Sure, you can pop antihistamines, but they can cause their own problems that include drowsiness, dizziness, restlessness, confusion, or blurred vision. By comparison, your allergy problems can seem minor.

Are there any home remedies that can help alleviate your symptoms? We present three of the easiest that may offer relief.

Be smart about home remedy use. What can heal can also hurt if used inappropriately. Discontinue use and see your doctor if you feel worse.]

Local honey

The idea behind eating locally-produced honey is that you are gradually exposed to pollen in your environment in very tiny amounts. Over time, some theorize, your body will build up an immunity against the irritating agents found around you.

The gradual-buildup strategy was recently espoused to combat a growing number of peanut allergies among children—introducing children to minute amounts of nuts (such as in peanut butter) when young will head off allergies later in life.

Does it work? Some say yes, some say no. The differences may have to do with how how the honey is processed. Generally-speaking, the less processing the better. So look for a local honey producer and ask about it. Most bee-keepers are only too happy to talk about their craft.

Nettle-peppermint tea

Many of us have stumbled into a patch of nettles with unfortunate results: Itchy, scaly, raised bumps on our skin that beg to be scratched—often. When it comes to fighting allergies, though, this is just what our bodies need.

Those itchy bumps represent your skin’s reaction to the plant’s irritating chemicals that produces a rash. (Did you know that “urticaria” is the medical term for skin rash, and that comes from the scientific name for stinging nettles, Urtica dioica?)

When you make a tea from nettles, the game changes. By ingesting some of those skin-irritating oils, you trick your body into a kind of overdrive to fight against the allergic reaction from pollen. Adding peppermint improves the taste and smell, and by combining the drink with local honey, it can even taste good.

Bee pollen

You’ve never tried bee pollen? Many haven’t, and that’s a shame. Bee pollen is essentially the granules of pollen that bees collect on their travels. Before you start adding tablespoons to your morning cereal to build a great wall against airborne pollen, be advised that it’s best to start slowly.

As with honey, use locally-produced bee pollen, which concentrates many of the elements in your neighborhood that cause allergic reactions

Most herbalists recommend starting with a single granule, moving to two the next day, and three granules after that—for two weeks. This is to insure that you have no adverse effects from the substance. After that, feel free to sprinkle a teaspoon on your toast and wait for your immunity to grow.

Other strategies

If natural, home-style remedies don’t work, there are always traditional ways to minimize your discomfort.

  • Stay inside—Keeping your doors and windows closed minimizes pollen infiltration.
  • Change that filter—High efficiency furnace (or air conditioner) filters can trap pollen before it reaches your nose. Dirty filters simply spread it around in your indoor air space.
  • Don’t line-dry your wash—Hanging damp clothes outside only collects microscopic pollen grains. Wearing these clothes then puts the irritants all around you.
  • Pay attention to pollen forecasts—Weather forecasts now often include pollen counts. Some over-the-counter medicine producers (for Zyrtec, for example) can have the local forecast sent right to your smartphone.
  • Go to the doctor—Depending on your level of misery, it may be worthwhile to hit the problem head-on and visit your doctor, who may refer you to an allergist.

For allergy sufferers who can’t seem to find relief, the one thought that keeps them going through spring and summer: The first frost is only six months away. Hang in there.