Wellness Lead, Dill Pickle Food Co-op
Even though it may not feel like it, spring has finally arrived here in Chicago! You may be feeling symptoms from seasonal allergies that come with the blooming trees and flower buds, such as congestion, headaches, runny eyes, itchy eyes, and sneezing. And you’re not alone – it’s estimated that 1 in 5 or 50 million people in the US suffer from seasonal allergies.
These allergy symptoms can be triggered by particles in our environment, like pollen and mold. Our body treats these particles as foreign substances and attempts to filter out these invaders through the liver. Once filtered, these particles need to be released from the body, so our body uses three exit strategies to flush them out - through the skin, urinary tract, and digestive tract. However, if these elimination systems are not optimally functioning, the irritants will eventually recirculate back to the liver.
When the liver has more toxins than it can handle, it stores them and releases a chemical called histamine, which results in allergy symptoms. Seasonal allergy symptoms are a result of the liver’s inability to keep up with the workload it is dealt (1).
Fortunately, there are many natural remedies one can seek out to reduce the production of histamine, restore the liver, and balance the systems of elimination. Here are five of those remedies:
Stinging nettles grow wild here in the Midwest, but be careful if you go out to harvest them, as they can “sting” you with their prickly hairs, known as trichomes. Research has shown that stinging nettle leaves naturally control the production of histamines (2). You can ingest nettles as a tea or in tincture form. It is advised to brew a tablespoon of dried nettle leaves per 8oz cup of water and to consume 3-4 cups per day to help flush out the particles more efficiently.
Another ancient remedy used to provide allergy relief is local, raw honey. Studies suggest that eating a tablespoon of raw honey, sourced within a 100 mile radius, is equivalent to an allergy shot because when one eats honey you are ingesting smaller amounts of the local pollen and over time a person may become less sensitive to the pollen and experience less symptoms. In one study, it was noted that one has to consistently consume the honey everyday for at least 8 weeks in order to feel relief from symptoms (3).
If you’re looking to avoid sweet substances, you can try another bee product called Propolis. Propolis is a resinous mixture that honey bees produce by mixing saliva and beeswax with a substance called exudate, gathered from tree buds, and is used as a sealant for unwanted open spaces in the Beehive. Local Propolis has been shown to be effective in the relief of allergy symptoms, where in one study scientists gave propolis to rats for two weeks and found that it significantly inhibited the production of histamine in the rats (4). It can easily be consumed in tincture form.
To help improve detoxification, increase your daily intake of fruit, vegetables, and seeds. The average American gets a total of 15 grams of fiber per day, where primal predecessors were getting upwards of 120 grams of fiber per day. Fiber assists in regular bowel movements and also binds to toxins for excretion. To protect and detoxify the liver, eat more bitter vegetables, such as as arugula, dandelion leaves, mustard greens, and chicory, which helps promote the production and flow of bile (5).
Last but not least, drink plenty of water! Drinking water helps flush our urinary system and supports elimination of foreign substances by thinning mucous in the nasal passageways, while encouraging sinus drainage. It’s recommended that one drink at least half your body weight in ounces to help flush out the foreign particles. And yes, those 3-4 cups of stinging nettles tea do count towards your daily water goal. 😀
The content presented above is for informational purposes. Please consult with your doctor if you are interested in implementing any of these suggestions to ensure it is safe for your personal health care needs.
- Roschek, Bill, et al. “Nettle extract (Urtica dioica) affects key receptors and enzymes associated with allergic rhinitis.” Phytotherapy research 23.7 (2009): 920-926.
- Saarinen K, Jantunen J, Haahtela, “Birch Pollen Honey for Birch Pollen Allergy – A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study” 2011
- Shinmei Y, Yano H, et al.“Effect of Brazilian propolis on sneezing and nasal rubbing in experimental allergic rhinitis of mice” Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol. 2009;31(4):688-93.