Relieve Allergies the Natural Way
If spring and fall send your seasonal allergies into a spin, many experts say look to Mother Nature for relief that can be as comforting and easy as a day at the beach.
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
"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 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
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.
"Acupuncture can be particularly useful if you are suffering from multiple
allergies, since it works to quiet the areas of the immune system that are
overstimulated by exposure to multiple irritating factors," Dillard tells