March 04, 2021
Spring is the time of renewal. As we come out of the hibernation of winter, it's exciting to see new growth, new births and the return to outdoor living.
Unfortunately, this is not a joyous time for everyone. For those who suffer from allergies, spring comes with sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, sore throat cough, and congestion, which can put a damper on anyone's day. The biggest springtime allergy trigger is pollen which is released by trees such as elm, oak, cedar and birch. When the minuscule grains produced by these flowering trees get into the nose of a person who is allergic, chaos ensues.
Why does this happen?
Allergies occur when your body identifies a foreign substance, such as these tree pollens, as the enemy. The body responds defensively by activating mast cells, which are programmed to release histamine. Histamines set off a cascade of immune reactions in the body, which ultimately release IgE antibodies that are the cause of allergic reactions. This is why you see “anti-histamine” written on allergy medications. Conventional treatments vary from over-the-counter anti-histamine medications, nose sprays, eye drops, and anti-itch creams, but those tend to come with some unwanted side effects, like drowsiness and feeling very "dry".
Fortunately, there are natural ways to help reduce these uncomfortable reactions. The natural treatments mentioned below help to regulate the immune response, which decreases histamine release and can help keep you breathing easy during your allergy season.
This supplement is made from stinging nettles, which is an herb that dates back to medieval times. This potent natural antihistamine can be used for an array of ailments and is particularly useful in lowering the allergic response to pollen and hay fever. Think of this as a natural anti-histamine, with less side effects.
This flavonoid is a natural antihistamine which works by acting as a mast cell inhibitor. Isoquerctin can be found in many foods like broccoli, cauliflower, onions, shallots, green tea, but for allergy relief it is best to take it as a supplement. Typically, it takes about 2 weeks for isoquercitin to build up in your system so, for best results, if you tend towards spring allergies, start about 2 weeks before spring starts!
N-Acetyl Cysteine is an amino acid supplement that works as a natural decongestant. It has been shown to improve airflow during asthma attacks and loosen mucus in individuals with cystic fibrosis. So, if you have symptoms of stuffy or running nose, nasal congestion, post nasal drip, take 2 caps 2 times per day and this should help to relieve those symptoms.
Raw Local Honey and Bee Pollen
Local honey and bee pollen supplements can help build immunity to local pollen in the air. In a study published by the International Archives of Allergy and Immunology, it was shown that those who consumed 1 Tbsp of local honey per day saw a 60% reduction in symptom severity and 50% fewer days with symptoms. Honey collected from local bees will be infused with pollens specific to your area. On Long Island my favorites are East End Apiaries and Sag Harbor Honey. Check out your local farmers markets, or online, for apiaries near you!