It has begun.
Two nights ago I had some chest tightness and wheezing. At the time, I thought it might be because neighbours that have a dog were visiting. Or that I was diffusing a new essential oil. But, that same night, my son had his first asthma episode of the season and I realized—spring is coming and allergy season is here. Over the past few days, a number of my patients have reported that their symptoms have started up as well.
I was a super allergic kid – grass, trees, ragweed, dust, cats, dogs, birds (really anything you might want as a pet – which explains the series of lizards and turtles that I had instead). I would sneeze, my eyes would get red, itchy and swollen, and I had asthma. From the time the snow melted until the first frost I was a mess. I did allergy shots. I took a weird green anti-histamine, that has since been pulled from the market. I was also plagued with chronic ear infections throughout the winter. If you’ve read my other posts, you know where I’m going with this. I ate tons of dairy as a kid (as did we all) and it wasn’t until my 20s that I realized it was a major sensitivity for me. When I removed dairy and gluten, my allergies immediately improved. Well, guess what I’ve been cheating with lately? Gluten (more than I’d like to admit) and dairy (just a bit, but for me that’s all it takes). And so, with the first allergy symptoms, a personal reminder to rein in my diet.
When patients do an elimination diet or Change of Season Detox program, one of the first things that they usually report is an improvement in allergy symptoms. Reducing inflammation and the immune response in the gut helps reduce the inflammatory processes in the immune system that cause allergies as well.
How to reduce or eliminate allergy symptoms:
- Identify and limit food sensitivities. Don’t know where to start? I can help you with that. Dairy is a big one, and usually the first that I recommend people remove during allergy season.
- Keep your windows closed. Perhaps less of an issue in March, but during the spring and summer months, as lovely as fresh air is, it brings with it airborne pollens. Even just keeping them closed at night when you sleep can help.
- Use your Neti pot. Flushing your sinuses with saline helps physically remove the pollen that you have inhaled and are now stuck to your mucous membrane causing an immune reaction. Just a reminder to use your Neti pot at least an hour before going to bed since you don’t want excess water to stick around in your sinuses while you sleep.
- Run an air filter. A good quality air filter will help trap pollen particles so that they don’t wind up up your nose.
- Eliminate processed sugars. These wreak havoc with your immune system.
- Eat lots of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables. Foods high in bioflavonoids (one of the compounds that gives berries and leafy greens their vibrant colours) help reduce allergy symptoms.
- Cut out coffee and alcohol. These both cause inflammation and liver congestion and can worsen allergy symptoms.
- See your naturopath – early! Allergy treatments are always more effective when we start them before the season has begun. I focus on diet, a few herbs and supplements and acupuncture.