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Natural Allergy Relief

Relieve Allergies the Natural Way continued...

"There is even some evidence that quercetin may control the release of histamine and other chemicals that help initiate the allergic response," says Dillard, clinical advisor to Columbia University's Rosenthal Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and assistant clinical professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Turning the focus from the medicine chest to the kitchen cabinet, you might want to try cooking up some allergy relief in the form of hot, spicy foods. The reason: Experts say the spicier the dish, the more likely it is to thin mucous secretions, which in turn can clear nasal passages. Among the most frequently recommended spices for this purpose include cayenne pepper, hot ginger, and fenugreek, as well as the traditional onion and garlic.

Interestingly, what you don't eat may be even more important than what you do eat. The reason, according to Hardy, is that food intolerance may be far more intimately entwined with seasonal allergies than we realize.

"You have to really look at your diet and cut out any foods that seem to provoke even a mild sensitivity, such as occasional hives or even stomach upset, " says Hardy. In doing so, she says, you can literally lighten the burden on your immune system, which in turn may help reduce the impact of seasonal allergic reactions.

According to New York University allergist Clifford Bassett, MD, if you suffer from ragweed or other weed pollen allergies, "you should avoid eating melon, banana, cucumber, sunflower seeds, chamomile, and any herbal supplements containing echinacea, all of which can make symptoms much worse," he says.

Seasonal Allergies From the Inside Out

If your seasonal allergies are causing you to spend more time indoors than out, you may be tempted to try an air filtration system, which many say can remove irritating dust and pollens from your personal space, and in the process improve seasonal allergies. But according to a recent report from the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, while these sometimes-costly units may clear the air, once an allergy is in progress they don't appear to have much impact on symptoms.

What may work somewhat better, however, is donning a paper dust filter mask when outdoors in high pollen conditions.

In addition to whatever natural treatments you try on your own, you may also find significant relief visiting a practitioner of the ancient Chinese medical practice known as acupuncture. Based on the idea that stimulating points outside the body can change or initiate reactions inside, in this case treatment is thought to affect the immune system, where allergic reactions begin.

In a small but significant study of 26 hay fever patients published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine, acupuncture reduced symptoms in all 26 -- without side effects. A second study of some 72 people totally eliminated symptoms in more than half, with just two treatments.

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