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Healing approaches mentioned in this blog are for educational purposes only. Suggested supplements, etc. should not be used as replacements for conventional medical treatment without guidance from a licensed and trained medical professional.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Spring Allergies

Every year at the end of January or beginning of February, I start getting an upswing in environmental allergy patients.  For us on the Oregon coast, this is when mold can take hold in your bathrooms and in your walls.  I even can smell it outside in some yards when I go for a walk.  If you are allergic to this mold, your eyes will itch, you may have a little bit of drainage down the back of your throat and perhaps a small headache. Sneezing, coughing and dark circles under the eyes are other symptoms.
It gets worse in March and April, when the scotch broom gets going.  If you are allergic to Scotch broom it may seem as if the symptoms are ten times worse than the allergy to molds.  For other folks it could be any one of a number of tree, weed and grass pollens that become airborne in the spring.
There is no one cure for these allergies.  Many people will use an over the counter medication such as antihistamines, decongestants, nasal sprays and eye drops.  
As a naturopathic physician, I’d like to offer some alternatives to these OTC medications:
*    Hepa air filter air purifiers really help quite a bit.  Keep it in the room you spend the most time in, usually your bedroom.  Make sure it’s rated for the size room you use it in. Clean the filter often.
*    Keep doors and windows closed and stay indoors during the morning when pollen counts are highest.
*    Wash your hair after being outside.
*    Change your pillowcase every few days.

I can just hear you asking, “Isn’t there something natural I can take for allergies?”  Yes, of course there is, but I think keeping the allergen away from you is a good first step.  Also, just because something is ‘natural’ doesn’t make it safe for everyone.
Natural things that have worked well for my patients:
*    Stinging nettles.  In tea or capsule form 3 to 4 times per day away from meals, it works best if you start it before the allergy season.
*    Bioflavonoids, especially Quercetin.  Research shows that it blocks histamines and is anti-inflammatory.
*    NAC or n-acetyl-l-cysteine.  About 600mg every 4 to 6 hours helps to dissolve mucus.
*    Neti pot or nasal  irrigation.  Use warm water, ¼ teaspoon of salt and a pinch of baking soda to wash through your sinuses once or twice per day.

If your ears are bothering you because of allergies, try using dry heat on your ears.  I take an old sock, put a cup of either flax seeds or uncooked white rice in it and heat it up in the microwave no more than 3 minutes.  Then I wrap it in a cloth and put it on my ear for about 5 minutes. It can be reused over and over again.

Do you have some favorite spring allergy remedies?  Let me know in the comments below!

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