Do you find yourself sniffling, sneezing, rubbing itchy eyes — maybe even coughing — around the same time the flowers are blooming and leaves are opening on the trees? If so, I hate to break it to you, but you may have seasonal allergies.
But you’re far from alone. An estimated 10-30% of people all over the world live with seasonal allergies, and I’m one of them!
It seems like everything in coastal Maine bloomed over the last week. As a result, everything is covered in a thin dusting of fine yellow pollen, and I’ve become a snot factory. I’m not a huge fan of taking medications unless absolutely necessary. In fact, one of the decongestant nasal sprays my sweet husband brought me had the opposite effect — it made my sinuses and throat swell up so I couldn’t breathe at all!
Whether you’ve had similar experiences with nasal sprays, or you just want to be less reliant on them next allergy season, here are some helpful tips on natural, drug-free remedies for allergy relief.
What are seasonal allergies?
When you say, “I have allergies,” you mean you’re having an immune response to a normally non-threatening substance that your body thinks is trying to harm you. These substances are called allergens, and the response is an allergic reaction.
In the case of seasonal allergies, the allergen is most likely pollen. Other names for seasonal allergies include allergic rhinitis and hayfever.
What causes seasonal allergies?
Pollen is one of the most common allergens. Depending on where you live, trees, flowers, grasses, and other plants release pollen at various points in the year.
Around here, spring allergy season is when lots of grasses and trees release pollen, whereas late summer and early fall are infamous for ragweed allergies.
The only way to know exactly what you’re allergic to is to see an allergist/immunologist. I’ve never done this, so I assume I’m allergic to all pollen that comes out around springtime.
What are seasonal allergy symptoms?
The type and severity of allergy symptoms vary from person to person, but generally include:
- Runny nose
- Nasal and sinus congestion
- Itchy, red, watery eyes
This year, I’ve also experienced a cough, sore throat, and ear pain from all the congestion. Fun times!
Symptoms may be worse at certain times of the day. For example, mine always worsen in the evening. A few times this week, I went to bed before dinner because I couldn’t swallow or hold my head up to eat safely.
Alternative approaches to seasonal allergy relief
As I mentioned earlier, over-the-counter drugs don’t always do my body good. Here are a few unconventional remedies that have helped me without causing any negative side effects.
Acupuncture is a fundamental part of traditional Chinese medicine. Treatment involves stimulating energy meridians through fine needles placed in your skin at specific locations. There’s still a lot to learn about the ways in which acupuncture helps relieve allergies, but one hypothesis is that it helps calm your overactive immune system in order to prevent it from responding to an allergen with such force.
Though overall results are mixed, research suggests that acupuncture helps to reduce symptoms of seasonal allergies and improve the quality of life of allergy sufferers.
To be honest, I haven’t received acupuncture treatment in years. But when I did, I always left my acupuncturist’s office feeling calm, relaxed, and ready for whatever might lie ahead. These days, I prefer to stimulate meridian points with my fingertips through EFT/tapping. More on that in a bit.
You know I’m all about that plant medicine!
This spring, I’ve been hitting my herbal tinctures hard. These two have been lifesavers:
I’m a huge fan of Wise Mountain Botanicals! I have a bunch of her healing salves, botanical perfumes, and tinctures. If you really want to spoil yourself, her Ambrosia Face Elixir is divine.
(Not sponsored, just hoping to boost a really great woman-owned business!)
Even though this is the last item on my blog list, it’s the first technique I tried. Tapping works for anything and everything, baby! I tap every day, often multiple times a day. Tapping is an important part of my morning routine, and I create custom tapping videos for the lovely clients in my transformation program. Naturally, when something is bugging me, my first instinct is to tap it out.
A quick interweb search revealed that my favorite EFT YouTuber, Brad Yates, doesn’t really make videos focused on physical health. But he did create this gem on reducing inflammation. I tried that one first since inflammation is the underlying cause of most health problems.
Then, I ventured out of my familiarity zone to find a great video on hayfever I found quite effective! I was able to get through the entire tapping session without sneezing or blowing my nose — a miracle, for sure! And my symptoms stayed calm for 20-30 minutes afterward. I had to keep going back to this one several times, but it worked!
Will eating local honey prevent seasonal allergies?
The short answer is, probably not. While there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that eating locally-sourced raw honey can cure allergies, controlled experiments haven’t been able to support this claim.
In theory, it makes sense. Local honey contains pollen from the flowers frequented by the bees that made it. Therefore, eating honey follows the same principle as immunotherapy — a treatment for allergies that involves exposing your body to small amounts of the allergen until you become used to it and stop reacting.
The glitch in this plan is that bees usually gather pollen from flowers, while the pollen that causes problems for most allergy sufferers comes from trees, grasses, and weeds. So, you may be microdosing on the wrong kind of pollen!
I hope this article has been helpful. If you know of any holistic tips to keep seasonal allergies at bay, please share in the comments!