Fall brings to mind cool weather, beautiful foliage, and pumpkin spice everything. But autumn can also bring about some unwanted side effects that a trip to Starbucks and Trader Joes just can’t cure: allergies.
Ragweed pollen reaches its peak around mid-September, and considering the increase in mold and airborne irritants, the fall season tends to be one of the worst times for allergy sufferers.
Itchy and watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, congestion, itchy throat, and headaches are common symptoms of seasonal allergies typically brought about by a rise in pollen in the air.
Allergies can make us feel like helpless, vulnerable, relief-seeking consumers of Zyrtec and Claritin, especially if not going outside isn’t in the question. But in order to fight allergies, you must first know what it is, what causes it, and know the best and safest natural ways to arm yourself as you go deeper into allergy season.
How allergies affect us
Allergies can be triggered by a number of things, but in the fall particularly, there are outside or external factor that increase the likelihood of nasal symptoms.
Seasonal allergic rhinitis, which is also known as hay fever, is an allergic response to changes that occur during certain seasons, usually triggered by mold spores or outdoor elements, such as pollen, trees, grass and weeds.
Contrarily, perennial allergic rhinitis is where the person suffers from symptoms all year long, which are usually brought about by things in their live or lifestyle that might be a little harder to change, such as mold in the home, cockroaches, pet dander, pet feathers or pet hair, and dust mites.
In the Southeast, where it’s traditionally warmer longer and humid, ragweed wreaks havoc, especially when the warmer weather lasts longer into the year, bringing about hay fever.
Ragweed is a flowering plant found near riverbanks, but also often located in urban areas along roadsides, and in agricultural fields. It flowers during the late summer, causing severe allergies during the fall as it expands north and westward.
Ragweed season tends to die out once frost starts to occur, which is usually late fall, since the plant can’t survive in temperatures under 30.
If you commonly suffer from seasonal allergies, the longer it seems like summer is hanging around, the more you’re likely to feel the effects of it, which includes lingering mold spores and high pollen counts. But a natural part of fall is the falling of the leaves from trees—an obvious cause of allergy symptoms.
“Allergy shots are the most commonly used and most effective form of allergy immunotherapy. Shots are effective in treating reactions to many allergens, including trees, grass, weeds, mold, house dust, dander, and insect stings.” – ACAAI
Natural ways to fight or prevent allergies
— Local honey: Your local honey will have pollen from your local trees. Eating honey made from the bees that pollinate in the area may act like a vaccine and help make you less sensitive to the pollen, and therefore, less susceptible to the allergic effects that pollen may trigger.
This also applies to bee pollen, which many consider to be a super food. The pollen naturally looks like little pellets or granules. There are several ways you can consume it. Since it has a sweet taste, you can add it to your oatmeal or smoothies easily.
Opinions about whether this technique works are mixed, but it’s still worth a try. And even if it doesn’t work, raw honey and bee pollen have a ton of benefits and should be staples in your diet anyway, so it won’t hurt to keep them in your cupboards.
— Probiotics are simply “good bacteria” for your gut. Having good gut health can help with building up your immune system to guard against a number of things, and it’s a perfect addition to your routine, particularly in the high-allergy seasons. You can buy probiotics in pill form to get a concentrated dosage, and you can increase your intake of probiotic foods by eating more fermented foods like sauer kraut, kimchi, and kombucha.
— Butterbur is an herb that has historically been used for pain and inflammation, and a number of illnesses. But butterbur can act like popular allergies medicines when it comes to relief, making it a potentially safe, natural alternative. But with any herb, check with a naturopathic doctor first for dosage information and possible side effects.
— Air purifiers are a great addition to any home, and can help cleanse the air of some unseen causes of allergies.
— Using a Neti pot for nasal irrigation is an ancient method of cleaning the nasal passages with purified water and salt (a saline solution).
— Drinking lots of water to help flush out toxins in general is a benefit that can aid in helping you fight allergies. But tea, especially green tea, can also help with fighting inflammation and providing you with powerful antioxidants, which will aid in building your defenses. Green tea also has anti-histamine qualities (like Benadryl) that can help soothe allergy symptoms.
— Clean: Keeping your spaces—home and work, or anywhere you spend a lot of time—clean of dust, and making sure to keep outside things outside, can help you avoid symptoms.
— Acupuncture is a technique that uses little needles places under the skin at different points in order to relive various symptoms. It’s generally thought of as “alternative” medicine, since it comes from the Ayuvedic school and is traditionally used in Chinese medicine. But acupuncture is used to treat a number of things, from our rather benign allergy symptoms, to cancer.
— Sugar is a big trigger for allergies, making you susceptible to more severe symptoms. Cut back—preferably eliminate—processed sugar from your diet, especially during allergy season, in order to see relief.
Allergies are often thought of as something you can’t help or prevent, but rather just endure until it passes; however, there are plenty of all natural ways to stop allergies before they even start, or
Maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle, and keeping your surroundings clean and clear of things that often cause severe allergy symptoms can provide relief or help you avoid suffering from allergies altogether.