This spring has been especially difficult for allergy sufferers. Over the past month many of my patients have come in with sinus congestion, itchy eyes, scratchy throats, headaches, and other allergy symptoms that have been more severe than in past years.
I'm guessing some of you may be suffering from some of these symptoms, so I wanted to share some thoughts on how to treat your allergies (and hopefully keep them from returning next season). Acupuncture and herbal medicine have worked wonders for many people struggling with allergies, but I wanted to give you some advice on what you can do at home to stay healthy.
The first step in relieving your allergies is making some simple, but important, changes to your diet. If sinus congestion or pain is your primary concern you need to cut dairy from your diet completely and reduce the amount of raw foods your are eating. That means no ice cream for dessert, no yogurt for breakfast, and limiting how much salad you're eating for lunch. If your sinus are OK but your eyes and throat are bothering you and your skin is feeling itchy, you should limit your dairy and raw food intake, cut spicy foods from your diet, and double the amount of water you're drinking every day.
For sinus problems I strongly recommend eating a warm breakfast of cooked pearl barley. You can find pearl barley in most health food stores. Cook the barley like you would any other grain and season it with cinnamon if you want to add a bit of sweetness. For the rest of you I recommend drinking chrysanthemum flower tea throughout the day. Any grocery store in Chinatown carries dried chrysanthemum flowers that you can steep in hot water. This tea is mild and contains no caffeine. If you can't get your hands on dried chrysanthemums a good alternative is a mild green tea. For all allergy symptoms, add garlic to your meals. Garlic is naturally antiviral/antifungal and will help keep you healthy as you recover from the season.
An excellent supplement for anyone who struggles with allergies is a Quercetin/Bromelain complex. Quercetin is a naturally occurring antioxidant that is found in many fruits and vegetables. It helps to balance histamine levels in the body and regulate hyperactivity in the immune system. Bromelain is an enzyme that helps the body to absorb Quercetin. Another great natural supplement is grape seed extract, which contains antioxidants that reduce histamine levels in the body. I recommend any of the Quercetin/Bromelain and grape seed extract supplements you'll find at http://www.iherb.com/. This website is a good starting point when you're researching supplements. You can buy most of these supplements at other stores or websites, often at a lower price. Finally, for the brave few among you, one raw garlic clove in the morning will help regulate your bodies inflammatory response while protecting your immune system.
TAKING CARE OF YOUR RESPIRATORY SYSTEM
No matter what the root causes of your symptoms are, the discomfort you feel during allergy season is primarily respiratory. Help boost your lungs by practicing yoga or meditation to regulate and strengthen your breathing. Use a Neti pot twice a day to clear the allergens from your sinuses and strengthen the mucous membranes in your nose and throat. And boost the energy of your respiratory system by exercising regularly.