It’s that time of year again- the time of year you wake up feeling like you’re breathing through a straw, your eyes are glued shut, and every square inch of your skin is peeling.
At least if you live in this house.
There is no cure for allergies. There are only comfort measures. Anyone who attempts to cure allergies is ignoring one small detail- they’re a genetic deformity. Basically, your body thinks that allergenic proteins are diseases and attacks them. This isn’t normal. If you want to know more about how allergies work in the body, I found this really great link here. SOME acupuncturists and acupressurists, and some naturopaths believe that their methods of acupuncture, acupressure and sub-lingual homeopathic tinctures can cure your allergies, and I’ve heard of success stories, but personally, I’ve had very little luck with those methods because my allergies are VERY serious.
If your allergies are VERY serious and/or you carry an Epi-pen because you have life-threatening allergies, you should be overseen by a doctor. I am not a PHD, I have a certification in Holistic Health, so take this information with the oversight of your GP.
Now, you may have gone to your doctor or allergist. I’m going to show you what my medicine cabinet looks like DOWNGRADED from the 13 OTHER prescriptions that I dropped off at the fire station for disposal. Ya. That’s like, what, 20 scripts? Look, I strongly advocate natural remedies, but I cut myself some slack with seasonal allergies for two reasons. The first is that I’m already doing everything, including maintaining optimal health in other areas, and avoiding the things that make me sick. But the reason we have so much ragweed is because of global warming. And secondly, my allergies are so serious that if I don’t maintain them, I get very serious bronchial, sinus, and skin infections that can lead to pneumonia or worse. I even carry an Epi. The things I’m recommending today are to go in addition to an every day routine, such as taking Claritin, though for some with moderate to mild allergies, they may be enough to stand on their own. Asking your doctor about these things is always a great idea, especially if you’re considering going off your existing medication, which could be life-threatening.
So this is what I needed after being gluten free (being gluten free as a Celiac calms your immune system). There’s generic versions of Sudafed, Benedryl cream (and I had Benedryl as well but we’re OUT!), Patanol eye drops, generic Claritin, two eczema creams (there are two at the fire station), and an inhaler (I’ve got 2 others in my purse of different types). And an epi-pen. I’m SUPER horrible at taking medications because the side effects are GHASTLY. I’m realistic with myself- I use my natural remedies until I start to cross over that very fine line of management into suffering. To be honest, I haven’t needed any of these since avoiding animal products.
Now I’m going to show you what I actually do for allergies currently.
This one is going to ruffle a few vegan feathers. Many vegans don’t eat honey. There’s a huge ethical reason for being opposed to honey- bees are VERY mistreated, our bee populations are dwindling, and honey has the same properties as sugar in many ways. BUT. I know how these bees are kept. It’s one of the advantages of knowing where your food comes from. You don’t have to hurt bees to get honey. And unlike drinking cows milk or eating eggs, honey can actually be good for you.
The properties of wildflower honey are very important for people with seasonal allergies. The wildflower pollen helps the body create immunity to local wildlife. It’s like the sub-lingual tinctures that your naturopathic doctor would give you. I don’t recommend that you use honey as a dietary substitute because of the ethical issues involved. However- for the sake of medicinal purposes, I think that it is justifiable consuming small amounts seasonally as long as you’re getting it responsibly. I do NOT recommend winter honey consumption in spring, because some farmers give their bees corn syrup or sugar water. Get your honey this time of year, and get enough to use in spring. That’s probably no more than a couple of jars this size.
Don’t get pasteurized honey. Pasteurization kills a lot of properties in food. Also, never give children under 1 unpasteurized honey, because sometimes it can contain bacteria that is safe for adults, but harmful to children with newer immune systems. Honey is also great to soothe a sore throat, which can result from post-nasal drip.
I drink these. I love them. They’re perfect for allergies. Green tea (I get decaf) is also very good for asthma (and eczema). Some people argue that caffeine is bad for allergies- and it is, but for a different reason. Those people don’t understand that eczema isn’t caused by dry skin from being poorly hydrated (a result of excessive caffeine consumption) but rather that eczema is a histamine reaction. Get this- recent studies indicate that eczema actually causes asthma. Caffeine, though, can raise the histamine level in some allergic people, so try not to consume it in excess. Be careful with echinacea because of cross-reactivity to ragweed.
I drink a lot of tea, but I drink 2-3 cups of this nettle every day. I put the nettle leaf that I got in the bulk section of my local grocer in the diffuser into hot water for about 5-10min. The nettle leaf is surprisingly mild, but you could cut it with some peppermint leaf, which should be in the same section of the store. You can also get teabags with nettle, and capsules. I don’t get the capsules because they’re often mixed with other allergenic herbs, and because the capsules have gelatin. Don’t take this if you’re pregnant or nursing, and consult your doctor if you have diabetes because it can raise blood sugar levels. Also, if you have a ragweed allergy, do NOT drink or take chamomile. It’s a major cousin allergen.
I also take this. I’m taking it for a variety of reasons, but it’s known for treating allergies. The only thing is, it CAN cause problems in people with ragweed allergies, but it’s far less likely than other supplements that I was taking, which include goldenrod, yarrow, and echinacea. Word to the wise- do not take goldenrod. These are vegan and gluten free capsules and they’re cheap on Amazon.com.
I own a $400 air purifier. Don’t laugh at me- this thing can clear the house in under 15min. The filters are HEPA and cost $5/ea, but they only need replacing 4x’s a year. I got it at Home Depot. I also have a HEPA filter vacuum, which you MUST have if you have a dustmite or pet allergy. My daughter is allergic to dust mites, so we leave this device on, vacuum weekly, and we have special bedding. Sears (and I think Walmart) carry special mattress/boxspring covers that you zip over them, and I ordered my daughter a pillow and comforter made of the same material on Amazon.com. These things are very important because the fabric is specially designed so that dust mites cannot get inside them, keeping them out of the bedding and mattress. Additionally, we wash her bedding every week. For dust mite allergies, you can also run a humidifier, which we do in the winter, but is not suitable for those with mold allergies.
I bet you’d never think I’d endorse a chemical product on my site, but let’s talk about allergy sprays. I hate Febreze- but I also hate spending $40 on a bottle of allergy spray. Allergy sprays are made to neutralize allergenic proteins. Let me tell you a little secret- all these are is rubbing alcohol. So spray rubbing alcohol around your carpets and furniture. If you’re allergic to mold, add some tea tree oil. Try to avoid Febreze, especially if you have asthma.
I already have permission to crank my AC everywhere I go because of hijab, but my puffy face just makes it even more convincing. I put my AC on in the car and the house this time of year. Yes, there are more sustainable ways to do it, and we do leave windows and doors shut during the day to conserve energy, but I can’t exactly cook in a house that is 90 at dinner time. So we run the AC to keep the pollen out.
This is our household cure-all. My allergies are so bad that my skin gets red and peels (in addition to the patches of eczema), so I put some of this in a spray bottle and just spray it all over me. Take care using this around cats, as some say it is toxic to them. It’s great for allergic acne too, but always dilute it.
I also strongly endorse this company, Avena Botanicals. I have been using this product on my face and areas with eczema to prevent allergic inflammation of my skin. The chickweed is great for eczema.
It might surprise you that I don’t use a netti pot. First and foremost, I don’t like to feel like I’m drowning. More importantly, people think they can use tap water, but the lining of the sinus is very sensitive. Chemicals used to treat public water and bacteria in pipes can cause infections. There’s more on that here. You can buy saline nasal sprays at the store, even for small children, or do like the Indians and rub a thin layer of oil on the insides of your nostrils. If you can do a netti right and like it, they have a high success rate in reducing sinus inflammation, and Dr. Oz swears by them!
Cows milk was meant for baby calves…
Also, if you’re not already vegan, consider avoiding dairy during allergy season. Dairy promotes mucous production, which can cause blocked sinuses, sinusitis, and eventually, infection. It’s also responsible for most eczema.
Lastly, I do these yoga poses, some with adaptions because of my disability. For allergies, you’re going to want to do more inverted poses. Be sure to clean your mat with a highly diluted tea tree oil solution and to air it out well. I also refrain from personal care products with scents, as I mentioned before, so that when I’m breathing deeply, I’m not choking myself off. You can view these at YogaJournal.