Seasonal allergies can cause a range of symptoms and appear in spring or fall. Seasonal allergy symptoms occur when body’s immune system treats the (harmless) allergen as a foreign body that it must defend against, and mounts an immune response by releasing histamine and other inflammatory chemicals.
Some of the common symptoms are
- Runny nose/ nasal congestion
- Postnasal drip
- Red/puffy eyes
- Itchy eyes
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Rarely wheezing and breathing difficulty especially when someone has a respiratory condition such as Asthma or due to severe case of sinusitis.
Ragweed, mold and weed pollen are the most common cause of allergies in Fall season and tree pollen is responsible for allergies in the Spring season. Ragweed is singularly responsible for seasonal allergy symptoms more than any other environmental allergen, releasing pollen from late summer until the first frost occurs.
One approach to reducing allergy symptoms is to limit exposure to the allergen. You can limit exposure by wearing a mask when you do outdoor activities such as raking leaves, take frequent showers if you have been outside, change clothes immediately after returning home and keeping the doors and windows closed in the house and car.
To manage exposure, it is also important to know what allergens trigger your seasonal allergy symptoms. You can have testing done to identify them. Two of the common allergy tests are
- Skin prick test: You can have this testing done by an Allergy specialist. You can test for allergy to 50 different substances this way.
- Regional allergy test: You can have blood testing done for a set of allergens specific to the region of the country you live in.
You can also include one or more of the nutrients/herbs listed below to get natural relief from seasonal allergy symptoms.
1. Vitamin C
This water-soluble vitamin is well known for boosting the immune system and being a powerful antioxidant. Vitamin C can also help with seasonal allergy symptoms as it can reduce production of histamine as well as help break down excess histamine, keeping histamine levels low. Citrus fruits, red peppers, guava, kiwi and gooseberries are good sources of vitamin C. However, during allergy season, you may need higher dosages of vitamin C which is easily available in the supplement form. Amount of vitamin C frequently used in studies varies from 500mg to 3 grams per day. As absorption of vitamin C reduces when a single high dosage is taken, it is best to take vitamin C in divided doses through the day.
Quercetin, is a dietary bioflavonoid that reduces inflammation. Known as the “King of flavonoids”, it works by stabilizing the mast cell membrane and reducing the release of histamine from the mast cells. Quercetin can be found in many fruits and vegetables, especially onions, berries, apples, tea and green leafy vegetables. Quercetin when taken together with vitamin C enhances the action of vitamin C, further reducing allergy symptoms.
Healthy level of beneficial bacteria and microbes in your gut is key to maintaining a healthy immune response. Studies have shown that daily probiotic intake reduced both the intensity and frequency of allergic rhinitis symptoms. Fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles are a great source of probiotics.
4. Nettle (Urtica diocia)
Stinging nettle leaf has been used traditionally to reduce joint pain and support respiratory health. Nettle leaf contains vitamin C and flavonoids that may be responsible for its anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties. Nettle leaf is one of the top herbs used in many natural allergy relief supplement formulas. Studies evaluating effectiveness of nettle leaf for allergic rhinitis show reduction in symptoms including sneezing and itchy eyes. It can be taken in the form of tea, tincture or freeze-dried leaf extract. Safety consideration: fresh nettle may cause allergic reaction especially with topical application.
5. Guduchi (Tinosporia cordiofolia)
This Ayurvedic herb is referred in Ancient texts as “Divine Nectar” due to its action as a nutritive tonic. In addition to having multiple therapeutic benefits, it has powerful immuno-modulating properties. In a 8 week randomized double blind placebo controlled clinical trial with 75 patients suffering from allergic rhinitis, there was significant reduction in sneezing, nasal discharge, nasal blockage and itching symptoms, in the group receiving Tinosporia cordifolia extract.
If you are not sure whether your symptoms are due to seasonal allergies or have more complicated symptoms, talk to your health care provider to get an accurate diagnosis and the right treatment for you. You should discuss with your health care provider before taking any new supplements or herbs.
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The information and other content provided in this blog are for information purpose only, and not intended and should not be considered as medical advice. If you have a medical concern, you should consult with your health care provider before you make any changes to your diet or lifestyle.
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