Pollen is off the charts in most of the US this week, and spring is in full force, in an almost crazy, accelerated way. Maybe your symptoms started early, when trees started blooming? Right now, for me, that continues. Pollen is my problem and the trees are letting it fly.
Spring allergies are common, and according to The Weather Channel, they are a result of pollen from trees, which can start pollinating anytime from January to April, depending on the climate and location. Trees that are known to cause severe allergies include oak, olive, elm, birch, ash, hickory, poplar, sycamore, maple, cypress, and walnut. Generally this time of year there is more rain, here in the Midwest anyway, and the rain helps by reducing pollen counts.
Daniel More, MD, FACP, a board-certified allergist and About.com's allergies guide, says that it is difficult to avoid exposure to pollens, but he does have some tips to minimize exposure:
* Keep windows closed prevent pollens from drifting into your home
* Minimize early morning activity when pollen is usually emitted between 5-10 a.m.
* Keep your car windows closed when traveling.
* Stay indoors when the pollen count is reported to be high, and on windy days when pollen may be present in higher amounts in the air
* Avoid freshly cut grass and mowing the lawn
Personally, I take enzymes to help me combat the woes of pollen, which believe me, have caused me plenty of difficulty in the past. A high amylase enzyme (a carbohydrate digesting enzyme) is what the immune system uses to fight airborne pathogens. When the body is low in amylase, in many cases allergens such as pollen, pet dander and other histamine inducing substances cause an immune system response, i.e. the creation of histamine. Histamine production is a reaction by the body to a perceived pathogen with the symptoms of watery, itchy eyes, runny nose, coughing etc in an effort to expel said pathogen. Amylase taken therapeutically on an empty stomach may relieve a person of such symptoms.
A few other tips I found while searching for some natural approaches to allergy relief today also included some things I could/should integrate in all year round, but especially during the weeks that my allergy symptoms can really take hold.
* Local honey. We’ve all heard the benefits of regularly including local honey in your allergy arsenal. But what many people don’t know is that many nutritionists recommend that you start eating about 1-2 teaspoons of locally grown natural honey BEFORE the allergy season starts. Why? Well, bees collect pollen from local plants, and their honey is known to have some low levels of pollen. Taking it before the season helps your body to get use to some pollen level in advance before the full-blown season strikes.
* Wash your hair at night. Rinse the pollen out, especially if you’re a gel or mousse fan because these products can trap pollen. And if you spend a lot of time outside, shower. Pollen and mold spores can fly into your hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, and skin. Be sure to wash your hands when you come inside and if your allergies cause a lot of watery eyes and itching, rinse your eyes out too.
* Eat foods to help your body fight allergy attacks. Green tea contains antioxidants that may help stop your body from reacting to allergens like pollen. Marshmallow Root is also a good decongestant. Onions, garlic, citrus fruits contain natural antihistamines. Prevention Magazine also recommends you drink plenty of fruit juices, because fruit juices are rich sources of antioxidants that help reduce inflammation, but read the label to make sure that it's real juice and not a bottle of corn syrup.
*Wear natural fibers. Reason number 5,769 to wear natural fibers is that by doing so, you are avoiding a personal pollen build up. When synthetic materials rub together, they can cause static electricity that makes like mini-magnets for pollen. Who knew your clothes could help you keep your allergies under control!
* Soak up the calm. In one study, seasonal allergy sufferers had a more extreme reaction the day after performing a stressful task. Stress raises cortisol and that can lead to a more extreme allergic response. Since pollen may be keeping you indoors, a few minutes of meditation or a soak in the tub should help.
If allergies aren’t a problem for you, go out and enjoy all that spring has to offer, and when the pollen count gets a bit more manageable, I’ll feel brave enough to meet you on the trail. In the meantime, I’ll just be here hoping for a nice spring rain!