Natural Cures for Spring Allergies
I can clearly recall a day at the junkyard with my father when I was about 8 years old. We were looking for a bumper for his truck when a sneezing attack hit me - eight, nine, 10 times straight. I did not have allergies (yet), but I was familiar with them since my mother got a weekly shot to reduce her own symptoms.
By the time I hit high school, I had my own battles with the runny nose and watery eyes of early spring and mid-autumn. I never went as far as taking a shot, though I was on prescription medication for a few years. That route left me tired, anxious and cranky, and it seriously affected my sleeping patterns. Over the years, I've integrated a number of simple practices into my seasonal switch and I've had great success -- sans meds.
Learn to Love the Neti Pot
My most important antiallergy tool is undoubtedly a Neti Pot. I've used it daily for eight years, and it is the most effective way to keep sinus issues at bay. This very old technique of cleaning out your nasal passages with a salty water solution is great at clearing out pollen and whatever else might get trapped as you inhale. It does wonders at keeping colds to a minimum. As someone who has had numerous sinus infections -- many due to allergies -- nothing combats the symptoms and quickens the healing process like this little pot does. However, like anything new, it certainly takes some getting used to. I suggest using it in the shower; most people try it over a sink, which can get quite messy.
Here's how I do it: Begin by putting 1/2 teaspoon of non-iodized salt into the pot and filling the pot with lukewarm water. Give it a swirl for the salt to dissolve; place the spout in one nostril and tilt your head sideways. Make sure to not lean back, as the water can then flow into the back of your throat. Let the water drain through the opposite nostril, then repeat with the second side. Once you get the technique down, believe it or not, it will become part of your daily routine that you crave.
Watch a video demonstration:
Stand Over Some Steam
I was suffering from a bad sinus cold shortly after I met my wife. One night in her apartment, she put a pot of water on the stove and put six drops each of tea tree and eucalyptus oil. Standing over the water as it steamed up felt remarkable. Tea tree oil has antiviral and antibacterial properties, and eucalyptus is widely used as a decongestant. For everyday use, simply place a drop on your fingertip and rub underneath your nose. Sesame oil is also an effective allergy-reliever. Just rub some on the inside of your nostrils and underneath your eyes.
Nurture Your System With Nutrients
The right nutrients will also help keep you symptom-free. Both grape-seed extract and quercetin, which is found abundantly in red wine, are beneficial in reducing symptoms. Grape-seed extract can be taken in pill form and as a drop, as well as mixed into a smoothie; two pills daily or 10 drops work perfectly. Quercetin extract has the highest concentration, though it can also be found in citrus, onions, apples and parsley.
Try Some Nettle Tea
I've come across a number of teas recommended for allergy relief, though none have been as effective as stinging nettle. This common weed is also found in pill form and probably tastes a lot better, though I've never had problems with the tea. I love the nettle tea from the San Francisco–based Nature's Herb Co., as well as their other leaves and therapeutic blends.
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