What is “allergy season”? In reality, the season lasts for the entire year for most people. But when this phrase is used, it usually describes the period of spring and early summer during which pollen levels are at their highest.
If you have a pollen allergy (hayfever), you’ll know how tough things can get at this time of year. The simplest remedy is an antihistamine. But if you’d prefer to take a natural approach, there are alternatives.
Before we begin, it’s important to point out that some of these hacks aren’t scientifically proven. But they’re all natural and harmless. Here are a few allergy hacks that might make your life a little easier this allergy season.
1. A spoonful of honey
There is a school of thought that exposure to certain allergens can raise the body’s resistance. Research and clinical studies are still looking into the premise, but there is anecdotal evidence that it’s valid.
One particular study examined the link between the consumption of local honey and the severity of hayfever symptoms. Those who ate locally produced honey for eight weeks during the study did in fact experience less severe symptoms.
By eating local honey once a day, you’re consuming local pollen. In theory, this increases your resistance to the allergen over a period of time. Just a tablespoon in your tea or coffee every morning should suffice.
2. Eat more sushi
What’s fish got to do with seasonal allergies? Well, very little. But where there’s sushi, there’s usually wasabi — the spicy condiment that’s always available in sushi bars. Wasabi us actually a very powerful anti-inflammatory, which makes it particularly effective in the fight against allergy symptoms.
3. Eat more curry
In fact, it doesn’t have to be curry. Just eat more chili peppers. There are strong anti-inflammatories in hot peppers that can relieve some of your allergy symptoms. Not only that, chilis are great for flushing out your nasal passages. This could help you to expel some of the pollen that sits there throughout allergy season.
4. Use apple cider vinegar in your cooking
While drinking apple cider may be a step too far, using it in your cooking could provide some relief from your allergies. While the flavour isn’t for everyone, the chemical compounds contained within it certainly are. These chemicals are believed to inhibit the production and release of histamines in your body. And no histamines means no physical reaction
5. Use baking soda as a cleaner
There’s no limit to the cleaning potential of baking soda. It’s versatile, natural and safe — perfect for use in family homes. Chemical cleaners can trigger certain allergies. But regular cleaning is an important part of the fight against household allergens. By using baking soda instead of sprays and foams, you can reduce dirt and dust while keeping the air quality in your home relatively high.
6. Eat more turmeric
Turmeric is a spice used in a lot of Asian foods. It’s a pungent, yellow powder that is used in curries — and it has special powers. Turmeric is a natural decongestant. It also contains important anti-inflammatories. Consuming the spice regularly should soothe some of your pollen-related symptoms. There’s also evidence that turmeric can reduce the effects of the common cold.
7. Take fish oil supplements
If you already eat a lot of oily fish, you probably don’t need to take supplements as well. However, if you don’t, take a cod liver oil supplement once a day could help to keep the levels of leukotrienes in your system relatively low. These are the chemicals that are responsible for the physical reactions we have to histamines. The fewer leukotrienes you have in your body, the less severe your allergy reactions are.
8. Drink lots of water
Drinking lots of water is always good for your health. But there’s evidence to suggest consuming two litres of H2O every day could reduce both the frequency and severity of your allergic reactions. When you’re dehydrated, one of your body’s natural responses is to release histamines (the chemicals released to fight allergens). So if you’re never dehydrated, it stands to reason that you’re less likely to suffer from the most serious allergy symptoms.
9. Drink green tea
Green tea is packed with beneficial antioxidants, which is why so many people drink it. But that’s not the only benefit of regular green tea consumption. First of all, the steam that rises from your cup is a great decongestant. But more importantly, green tea contains a compound known as EGCG — which is known to block the production of histamines. And the fewer histamines your body produces when it’s exposed to allergens the better.
10. Embrace steam
Steam is great for decongesting your nasal passages and respiratory system. At every opportunity, embrace steam in all its forms. Make yourself a hot cup of tea or coffee, and breathe in the steam with each sip. Have a hot, steamy shower, or linger for a while in the bathtub. And if you’re in need of fast relief from allergy-related congestion, fill a bowl with hot water and give yourself a facial.
11. Wait for the rain
If you’re a hayfever sufferer, you’ll know the misery caused by pollen during the spring and summer months. But you’ll also know that a fresh rain temporarily decimates pollen levels in the atmosphere. If you need to go out, check the weather. If rain is forecast, use it as cover to get out and about. Even better, aim to leave the house just as the rain stops.
It’s also a good idea to do the bulk of your outdoor activities early in the morning or early in the evening. Pollen levels are at their highest during mid-afternoon, so plan to stay indoors at this time of the day.
12. Use peppermint
Clearing your nasal passages of congestion is always a good way to get some temporary relief from hayfever. The next time your allergy has you feeling congested, pop a drop or two of peppermint oil on your tongue. The fumes from the oil will give you some relief. Think of this a natural Vicks inhaler.
13. Get rid of mats and carpets
Mats, rugs and carpets are soft, warm and comfortable, but they’re harbourers of dust, dirt and pollen. Even with a powerful HEPA vacuum cleaner, you’ll never be able to remove all of these allergens from your soft floor coverings. A more effective, and permanent, solution involves replacing all your carpets with laminate, hardwood flooring, lino or tile.
That’s right, this universal act of love and affection can actually provide you with a little light relief from your allergy symptoms. Kissing is though to release anti-inflammatory chemicals within the body, thus giving you some respite from the worst of your symptoms.
15. Change your clothes when you come home
We all carry a huge amount of pollen on our clothes when we’re outside. And when we come home, we bring a lot of that pollen with in with us. So, the moment you get home, take off your outdoor clothes and either wash them or seal them in a container. Have a quick shower, and put on your indoor clothes. This should reduce the amount of pollen in your home — reducing the frequency and severity of reactions to pollen.
While you may not be able to cure your allergies, you can take steps to reduce the symptoms you experience. Start planning now to ensure you’re ready when this year’s allergy season finally arrives.