A recent CBS report showed that springtime allergies are already a concern in some southern states – particularly following an unseasonable warm spell in February. As noted in “How Does Weather Affect Your Allergies,” warmer temperatures will trigger the blooming of trees and plants during the months of February through April, while the typical winds of spring help pollen travel farther.The unpredictable weather we’ve been experiencing throughout the US can spell trouble for allergy sufferers, no matter where they live.
One way to cope is to begin taking your medication early – even if there is still snow on the ground. Of course, if you chose to do so, it should always be in consultation with your doctor.
But perhaps you want a more natural approach. MrSteam has been thinking about this. We've been searching high and low for the best advice available so you can shed those winter layers and fully embrace warm sun, friendly flowers and easier living. The result are these 11 SteamTherapy tips to relieve springtime allergies when they hit.
11 SteamTherapy Tips for relieving springtime allergies
1. Raw local Honey and Bee Pollen
When you consume a teaspoon per day of honey produced locally within 20 miles, according to ApartmentTherapy.com's Natural Remedies for Spring Allergies, you can develop an immunity to local pollens. Woman's Day explains, "The bees eat the pollen that’s in your region of the country, then they produce the honey and you consume that, so it’s kind of like a mini allergy shot." That's according to Sezelle Gereau Haddon, MD, an attending otolaryngologist at the Beth Israel Medical Center Department of Integrative Medicine in New York City.
The/Thirty adds that bee pollen helps as well – it is antifungal, antimicrobial, antiviral and a great safeguard against cancer, while also being an anti-inflamatory and an antihistamine.
2. Probiotics Are Good, Some Other Foods May Be Bad
Women's Day explains that probiotics "play a role in keeping your immune system well balanced. Since not all strains of probiotics are beneficial for the same thing, Dr. Haddon recommends choosing brands that contain Lactobacillusrhamnosus GG, Bifidobacterium lactis and Acidophilus."
Prevention Magazine points to a study published in the journal Clinical & Experimental Psychology, which found that Lactobacillus paracasei ST11 (a particular strain of probiotics found in many probiotic supplements) lowered nasal congestion in those suffering from seasonal allergies. While further study is needed, the results are promising.
Common Sense Home tells us the list of probiotic foods includes kimchi and sauerkraut, yogurt and kefir, wines and fermented condiments. And while you’re eating probiotics, it’s also a good idea to avoid foods that make allergies worse. The site quotes David Hoffman’s book, Holistic Herbal, in saying that the following foods may produce excess mucus in some people, making allergies worse:
- Dairy products, including goat's milk and yogurt (despite their probiotic qualities)
- Grains, especially gluten-rich ones
- Potatoes and other starchy root vegetables
- Deep fried foods, processed foods
Readers Digest claims that eating chicken rather than beef will help, according to a study that found that adults with hay fever who had more trans oleic acid in their diets (a form of monounsaturated fat found in meat and dairy products) were nearly three times likely to have hay fever than those who ate the least.
Tea is often a recommended part of steaming and is certainly a soothing answer to the flu or common cold. Herbal tea can be great for calming allergies as well. Gardenista in Miracle Cure for Allergies provides a recipe for nettle tea comprised of a variety of ingredients that serve as a "A powerhouse against seasonal allergies." The tea medley includes: nettle, red clover, fennel, spearmint, peppermint, eyebright, yerba santa, calendula, lemongrass, lavender and stevia. All of which contain healing qualities, including antiseptic properties, natural antihistamine, and acting expectorant.
4. Neti Pot
The saline nasal rinse may not be the most comfortable of experiences, but it does wonders to relieve even the worst of allergies. The Neti Pot simply allows you to flush out your sinuses with a saltwater solution to dispel irritants and clear your sinuses thereby clearing allergy irritants. Neti Pots are available at your local pharmacy or drugstore.
Common Sense Home cautions that you should only use purified water in your neti pot or saline rinse.
5. Saline spray for the nose
If you don't have a Neti Pot available, look for a pre-packaged saline spray as Health.com suggests.
Prevention cites a study from the University of Cologne, which found that when allergy sufferers rinsed with saline consistently, flushing out mucous, debris, allergins and pollutants, for seven weeks, using either neti pots or sprays, they improved their allergy symptoms by 28% and decreased other medication needs by 62%.
6. Keep pollen out of your personal space
HEPA filters are a must for filtering pollen from the air in your home or office and providing yourself with a safe pollen-free breathing environment indoors as Women's Day and Readers Digest explain. Further, you can also protect yourself outside by wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, removing your clothing when you arrive home, and by changing your car’s cabin air filter.
7. Herbs and Supplements
Natural herbs and supplements can also boost your immune system as it fights allergies. According to ABC News' 10 Natural Ways to Ease Allergies and Health.com's Home Remedies for Allergies, a few specific herbs can help calm allergies.
"The plant extract butterbur, which is thought to reduce airway inflammation, has produced what are perhaps the strongest results. In a pair of clinical trials led by a Swiss research team, butterbur tablets eased symptoms just as much as the over-the-counter antihistamines fexofenadine and cetirizine, respectively."
Another supplement to consider is quercetin, a natural antihistamine according to 10 All-Natural Allergy Remedies from Woman's Day.
- Prevention says that Vitamin C and stinging nettle can be helpful, as well as spirulina, which contains vitamin B12 and protein, and the spirulina algae, which studies show significantly improve nasal congestion and sneezing.
- Tumeric is also considered to help ward off allergy symptoms, according to Reader’s Digest. This spice, common in Indian cooking, contains curcumin, which may act as a decongestant, helping to reduce allergy symptoms.
Acupuncture treatment can be beneficial in relieving allergy symptoms if the acupuncture starts a month or so before the worst of allergy season.
Prevention cites a study published in the European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, patients who underwent acupuncture three times a week for four weeks showed a significant reduction in allergy symptoms.
Particularly if you've been outdoors and working in the garden, you'll want to shower to wash off all of the pollen off your body and hair. Be sure to wash your clothes, too, so you don't redistribute pollen on your furniture and bedding.
Every resource on relieving springtime allergies refers to steam and the way that inhaling steam (or taking a steam shower) can, according to Health.com,"flush out mucus and moisten dry nasal passages nearly as well as a shower."
You'll also find the following articles from the SteamTherapy blog helpful:
- Steam Bathing 101: Seven Steps For an Effective Steam Bath
- 44 Delicious Benefits of Steam Bathing
- How to Steam Your Face: SteamTherapy Tips
- Physical Therapist Praises the Benefits of Steam
- Using SteamTherapy to Combat that Congestion
11. Steam + Eucalyptus or Other Essential Oil
Enhance your steam experience by adding soothing essential oils to your steam shower. Common Sense Home explains that inhaling mint steam can help relax airways, and adds that the book Modern Essentials recommends the use of lavender, eucalyptus, rose or peppermint essential oils to alleviate hay fever.
For more information, check out Feeling Down? Try MrSteam Chakras and Aromatherapy for Sensual Bliss.
So there you have it: 11 simple and easy steps to achieve allergy and sinus relief via natural methods. Are there other tips you would add to the list? We'd love to hear them.
Have a glorious spring season free from allergies!
Note: This article was originally published on April 9, 2014 and has been updated.