This is my little whippersnapper, Monica Geller. Pictured before her natural allergy remedies were administered.
Spring has Sprung!! And so have the seasonal allergies.
The dry throat, horrendous sinus pressure, incessant coughing and sneezing, and eyes so itchy you want to pull them out of your head and scratch them relentlessly….
And to make matters worse, while over-the-counter medications (OTC’s) may relieve symptoms temporarily, they may actually prevent your body from developing the natural mechanisms it needs to fight the allergy on its own, thereby sabotaging any long-term relief. Also, many OTC’s come with a laundry list of unpleasant side-effects, like the dreaded zombie-like drowsiness. And because you don’t want to be that bridesmaid who pulls a “Weekend at Bernie’s” at your best friend’s wedding because she chose to get married in the Secret Garden in May, you need to find a more effective alternative.
Well I’ve got you girl. And boy. Here are my (kid-tested, mother-approved) natural allergy remedies!
While I have personally managed to contract every single bizarre and incurable air, tick and ear borne illness, by the grace of Venus I have never struggled with allergies. Except last year in Hawaii and it was absolutely horrible. I know what you’re thinking “ah poor baby with the sniffle wiffles in paradise. Wah.” But literally my eyes were swollen shut and I spent several days chasing my kids on the beach with tissues shoved up my nose. Can one be allergic to palm trees??? I sure hope not because I plan on retiring in one.
My husband, (hereinafter “The Dude”) and my eldest daughter (“Rachel Green”) are both card carrying allergy sufferers. I distinctly remember the Spring of 2005 when The Dude’s allergies hit an all-time high and he literally coughed and sneezed his way through our last semester in grad school. Needless to say, I sat far, far away from him in the lecture hall and watched in horror as he sprayed his neighbors and fellow classmates with post-nasal drip. It was equally heart-breaking and disgusting as f&ck.
However, it is only after my baby Rachel started exhibiting signs of the big “A” that I sprung into action like a Mama bear on uppers. I was extremely hesitant to start her on an OTC regimen given the potential side effects, so I began researching natural ways to combat her allergy symptoms.
And here are my TOP FIVE!!
(1) Neti Pot & Saline Rinse
Okay so I know what you are thinking….
“The last time I used a the neti pot I felt like I was being waterboarded in a POW camp.”
Well I’m going to explain proper neti pot technique and give you some tips and tricks to make this a more pleasurable experience.
I’ve been using a neti pot for over five years and not to toot my horn, but I can really get down with the neti. True, I may have honed this skill in college while holding my breath upside down in a keg stand, but when it comes to the neti, that age old adage applies– practice makes perfect.
Cleaning out your nasal passages both morning and night will run those histamines right out of your system, along with other unwanted gunk like dust, dirt and cold viruses. In addition, cleansing the nasal passages right before or during a cold will prevent the original virus from developing into a sinus infection. And just FYI…this is one of my absolute favorite seasonal allergy remedies!
Here are some tips:
- If you are new to the world of neti, I highly recommend using the Neilmed Sinus Rinse Starter Kit. It comes with a squeeze bottle (as oppose to a full neti pot) and 5 saline packets. The squeeze bottle allows for an easy and light rinse and all you have to do is tilt your head slightly downward and squeeze. The saline/water mix goes up one nostril and then flows out the other.
The saline packets are easy to use, less messy than other methods and great for travel! Start with ½ of a packet. Pour it in, fill water to the line shown and you’re one step closer to Neti Nirvana.
Once you grow accustomed to the squeeze bottle then make the switch to ceramic. Anytime you can eliminate sticking a piece of plastic in your body, you should. I find that ceramic neti pots are extremely durable and long-lasting.
WATCH ME NETI LIKE A NINJA!
2. Use distilled or boiled water. PLEASE!
It’s really important to use distilled or boiled water (obviously cooled to a moderate temperature) when using your neti pot. Even if your water is treated, it does not kill all the nasty bugs. This completely defeats the purpose of the neti which is to eliminate the bad stuff from your naval cavities rather than put the bad stuff in. For convenience, I keep a huge tub of distilled water under my sink and I will use bottled water on-the-go if I’m desperate, but the preferred method is distilled or boiling. (Now I’m starting to sound like a teacher Mom with my repetitive directions. I promise to never ever say the “d” or “b” word again.)
3. For an amateur, but hilarious visual demonstration please see my accompanying video: “How to become a Neti Ninja.”
(2) Essential Oils: Peppermint, Lavender, Tea Tree (Melaleuca)
It’s the daytime “coughing, sniffling, sneezing, achy, stuffyhead, fever, so-you-can-get-through-the-day” alternative.
Even if you don’t believe in the magical powers of essential oils, this allergy blend works. I’ve seen it improve symptoms in the worst allergy sufferers and even a friend who after using the blend, was able to kick her OTC’s to the curb.
Simply mix 6-8 drops of each oil in a rollerball, fill the rest with coconut oil and apply to feet and wrists. In addition, I highly recommend adding 3-4 drops of each oil to a diffuser to clear the airways. No diffuser? Add one drop of each to a small bowl, mix in some fractionated coconut oil, apply to palms, rub together and inhale.
Stay tuned in the upcoming months for blog post and video, “How to use Essential Oils Safely and Effectively”
(3) Local Honey
Not just any old store bought honey will do. It must be raw and unfiltered. This means that the bee-keepers do not use chemicals to treat their hives, move or feed their bees and use wooden frames and natural wax foundation.
Check out this article from Rebecca Conroy who is truly “bee” keeping it real: http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/how-to-find-the-best-local-honey/.)
Also, it must be sourced within a five mile radius of where you live so that it contains local pollen. The theory is, ingesting small quantities of this local pollen allows your body to build up resistance to it. It’s the same theory applied to allergy shots.
The best place to find this type of honey is at your local farmer’s market. That way, you can shamelessly interrogate the poor kid in the honey booth on the company’s bee-keeping practices. But seriously, don’t be shy—I find the folks at the Farmer’s Market to be extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their products. And most of the time, they are the makers, packagers and sellers. Even better.
Fun fact: In addition to reducing allergy symptoms, raw, unfiltered local honey contains bee pollen which works as a powerful anti-oxidant and helps stabilize blood sugar and blood pressure while boosting the immune system.
- Nettle Tea:
In addition to providing natural hay fever and allergy relief, nettle is an incredible anti-inflammatory, which makes it an effective pain reliever and diuretic (which I have used for monthly issues). The nettle plant actually contains a low level of histamines and works the same as local honey to relieve allergy symptoms.
How well does it work? Well a global study from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine found that stinging nettle use for allergy relief was rated higher than placebos in a 98-person, randomized, double-blind study. (http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/2192379).
And just about everyone could use a little less inflammation in their life. And Kardashians. #amiright?
Easiest way to use nettle is to buy the pre-packaged tea bags and brew them at home. I like the one from Traditional Medicinals that can be found on Amazon or many local healthfood stores. I will warn you that the tea tastes a bit like hay. In fact, the first time I took a sip I said “Hay. Wait a second…” Okay bad joke. It’s not really that bad, but “hay” if you’re not into the flavor, I suggest adding another bag of your favorite flavored tea to the pot. Like hibiscus. So good.
- Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
Oh ACV how I love thee… I even wrote a short poem about you:
I gargle with you when my throat is sore,
Sip you for my tummy.
You help me get rid of diaper rash,
I heart you so much it’s funny.
I absolutely love ACV because it has multiple uses, it’s cheap, it’s easy and it works. FOR EVERYTHING. I plan on subjecting you to an entire article on the myriad of health benefits of this stuff, but for now let’s stick to allergies.
ACV helps to balance out your GI tract and build up your natural defenses to fight off allergies. Similar to honey, you want to stick to a brand that is organic, unfiltered, unheated, unpasteurized and with a 5% acidity. Your ACV should contain “Mother of Vinegar” which are strand-like enzymes connected to protein molecules. If you look closely at the bottle, you should actually see the floating strands in the cider.
I personally use Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar because it meets the requirements above and is made with “Mother.” So much so that a couple years ago I returned it to my local health food store because I thought it went bad. But… that was back when I was just starting to dip my toes in the natural living pond. Now I feel like I’m ankle deep 🙂
Okay so how to use it:
If you are self-proclaimed herbal, supplement, take-a-garlic-shooter-no-chaser type gangsta, I recommend taking 1 tablespoon (3xday) right to the dome. If not, (and there is no judgement here) try adding the tablespoon to water, your favorite smoothie or juice. You can even throw a tablespoon right onto your salad!
And that’s a wrap on my Top 5 Natural Allergy Remedies!
Now that your allergies are gone, I hope to see you taking advantage of all that Spring has to offer—stop and smell those roses, play in the hay gurl, dance until your feet fall off at your best friend’s wedding! YOLO.
WHAT DO YOU USE FOR SEASONAL ALLERGIES? ANY OF THESE NATURAL ALLERGY REMEDIES WORKED FOR YOU?
Hit me up in the comment section!!
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And Hop on over to Essential Living next week where I’ll show you how to make Dye-free Easter Eggs and even share my super secret recipe for more colorful eggs.