People who experience seasonal allergies know just how uncomfortable and even debilitating they can be. Allergic reactions are caused by the immune system overreacting to a foreign substance that is not inherently harmful, such as pollen, dust, or animal dander. The body releases histamines to fight off the allergen, which in turn causes symptoms associated with seasonal allergies. People with asthma, eczema or a family history of allergies are especially susceptible. Children may experience seasonal allergies but outgrow them as they get older.
Hay fever or allergic rhinitis is a common type of allergy that may start or worsen during different times of the year. Hay fever causes symptoms similar to a cold, but it is not a viral infection.
Common seasonal allergens include:
- tree pollen
- grass pollen
- ragweed pollen
Mold spores can also cause allergic reactions, but unlike seasonal allergies, mold often grows indoors, especially in wetter climates.
Allergy symptoms and their severity can vary from person to person but some of the most common include:
- itchy or watery eyes
- sinus pressure
- runny or stuffy nose
- ear congestion
- dry or itchy throat
- postnasal drip
Maintaining a healthy immune system is one of the best ways to minimize the severity of allergy symptoms. Many people rush to the drug store to get over-the-counter allergy medication to help ease their symptoms, but the truth is that many of these drugs may reduce symptoms initially, but they don’t address the underlying issues that are causing allergic disease.
The following are effective holistic ways to address the underlying causes of allergies and combat seasonal allergies:
Improve gut health
A healthy gut microbiome is an essential part of maintaining a healthy immune system. When our gut health is compromised by chronic inflammation, our immune system is on high alert and is overly sensitive to allergens. Identify food sensitivities by doing an elimination diet and nourish your gut microbiome with a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and probiotics and avoid inflammatory foods like gluten, dairy, caffeine, and processed foods.
Reducing the body’s inflammation is a great way to combat allergy symptoms. Consuming inflammation-reducing foods like turmeric, ginger, tomatoes, berries, and fatty fish and avoiding junk food, refined carbohydrates, fried food, sugary drinks, and processed meats will not only reduce inflammation but also boost the immune system and improve overall health which can help minimize the effect of seasonal allergies.
Not only is green tea rich in antioxidants that help boost the immune system, but researchers in Japan also found that a compound in green tea blocks a key cell receptor involved in producing an allergic response.
Cardiovascular exercise is a great way to reduce symptoms of seasonal allergies and improve immune function. Increased circulation helps clear nasal congestion and improve breathing.
Reishi is a powerful adaptogen packed with antioxidants and polysaccharides. Adaptogenic herbs help the body deal with environmental stressors and maintain homeostasis. Antioxidants alleviate inflammation and inhibit histamine, the allergic response in the body. Polysaccharides have immunomodulating properties that make Reishi an effective preventative and treatment for allergies.
Stinging nettle is a well-known treatment for seasonal allergies. Research shows that stinging nettle extracts inhibit inflammation that causes allergy symptoms. This includes inhibiting histamine receptors and immune cells from overreacting to allergens and triggering allergy symptoms.