Spring has sprung and everything is in bloom! Although the budding trees, plants and flowers are beautiful to see and smell, they can wreak havoc on the 40 million people who suffer from seasonal allergies. Basically what happens during an allergic reaction is that the body encounters an allergen and decides that this foreign substance needs to be attacked. Then our immune system produces antibodies that attach to cells and thus release histamines. This “overreaction” to the allergen results in the runny nose, sinus headaches, watery and itchy eyes and all of that miserable stuff. It’s why most allergy products on the market contain anti-histamines.
In addition to over-the-counter medications that undoubtedly provide relief from sneezing and wheezing, there are some natural alternatives to ease allergy suffering such as acupuncture or acupressure. One pretty delicious method is to eat local bee pollen. It might seem odd but the idea is to start a regimen of taking bee pollen before the spring is fully underway. It is recommended to start with a small bit each day and gradually work up to a daily teaspoon. It tastes really good too, like little pellets of honey! Getting bee pollen from a local source is important to ensure that you are building immunities to the local plants that are causing the allergies. However, anyone with a history of severe allergies should consult with a doctor first.
There are also some nutritional things that we can do to help build our immune systems over time. Certainly these aren’t immediate solutions but certain foods act as histamine blockers and can help make our bodies more resistant to allergy symptoms. For example kale, one of the most popular “superfoods” right now, contains quercetin, an antioxidant that apparently blocks histamine production. Studies also show that carrots, or other foods high in carotenoids, help reduce hay fever symptoms. Also, according to Dr. Oz, limiting “long aged” cheeses such as cheddar is a good idea, since they naturally contain dietary histamine.
Allergies don’t always just make us sneeze but sometimes manifest as a skin reaction. With more interest and education about natural and eco-friendly products there’s a bunch of excellent soaps and lotions to bring relief. MotherEarthsSoaps makes a vast collection of natural soaps, particularly an unscented goat’s milk bar that is perfect for sensitive skin. It is rich in vitamin E from the grapeseed oil and sunflower oil, so it’s soothing for even the most allergic. For post-bath comfort, luxuriate in Emily Jayne’s “Antilles Cimarron,” a healing body butter particularly good for those with psoriasis, eczema and other skin irritations. It’s also made with grapeseed oil, along with vitamin E, coconut oil and shea butter to soothe and moisturize thirsty skin.
Even as many allergies are seasonal, there are some of us who have allergic reactions to products all year round, especially in our most delicate areas. Many soaps, lotions and especially feminine hygiene products often are made with or contain irritating chemicals and fragrances that make skin very unhappy. On the other hand, Maxim Hygiene organic and natural tampons and pads are hypoallergenic, a nice alternative to bleached and chlorinated products that dominate the market. At the same time, VulvaLoveLovely makes a wonderful hypoallergenic, vegan and all natural vaginal soap specifically for women who are sensitive to soap additives. We also love The VBAR Lady’s herbal based soaps specifically designed for vaginal health.
Many of us may have to live with allergies but fortunately we don’t have to suffer. By being an informed consumer and taking charge of our health, we can enjoy frolicking outside during one of the most beautiful times of the year.