With 50 million Americans suffering from allergies, it is no wonder that there are so many drug choices to treat the symptoms. A nationwide survey found that 54.6 percent of all US citizens test positive for one or more allergens. Unfortunately, over-the-counter medications are often either ineffective, or cause untoward side-effects.
Every year I search for the best natural remedies to treat spring allergies. If you are an allergy sufferer, you know that spring with its burst of colors, rings in the season of itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, nasal congestion and postnasal drip, to name a few symptoms. In the worst of cases, spring allergies will turn into a sinus infection. However, if you attend to the symptoms early on or better yet, prevent them, you can ward off these consequences.
Here are my top choices for 2012:
1. Medicine at the tip of your fork: Ok, it’s as much what you eat, as what you don’t eat. This is probably the hardest thing for people to hear and implement, but it is so dramatically helpful in most circumstances, that I have to bring it to the top of the list. Eliminate wheat, dairy and sugar, and you may be surprised at how your sinuses clear up within a week or two.
2. Vitamin C and Quercetin: This power combination of two super-antioxidants puts a damper on our allergy superstars – the mast cell. Mast cells release histamine, which is the major cause for the allergy symptoms people experience.
Take a combination of Vitamin C 1500mg with Quercetin 500mg. Dosing has to be repeated throughout the day, every 4-6 hours, to help reduce symptoms. A favorite product, Natural D-Hist, very effectively combines these two nutrients with stinging nettle leaf extract, bromelain (pineapple enzyme), and N-acetyl cysteine (mucous thinner) to dry out a runny nose and reduce sneezing attacks.
3. Sabadil®: Medicine without the side effects. Homeopathy uses micro doses of active substances to relieve symptoms and treat diseases. Homeopathic medicines can be tailored to the individual, but it’s also nice to have a blended product, like Sabadil® and Children’s Sabadil® Pellets, that address a variety of allergy-related symptoms. Without side effects, such as drowsiness or irritability, it works naturally to relieve hay fever symptoms. Homeopathy is always my treatment of choice for my son.
4. Stinging Nettle Leaf Tea: Some may find the tea from this perennial “weed” in the garden with vicious stingers on the tips of its leaves to be somewhat bitter. As they say, at times the cure is the poison. This mellow tea should be steeped for 10-15 minutes to obtain its full benefits. As an added plus, it alkalinizes the urine, allowing the kidneys to increase their elimination of toxins – great as part of a Spring Detox program.
5. Optique 1®: Finally, relief for dry, itchy, burning, red eyes without the rebound effect of all those vasoconstrictors or astringents that only provide temporary relief. Optique 1® by Boiron is a safe blend of homeopathic ingredients that work naturally to relieve minor eye irritations caused by airborne irritants, such as pollen, dust or ragweed. It can be used throughout the day without any risk of overdosing.
6. Neti-potting: Ahh, the dreaded neti pot. How do you run a sterile saline solution up your nose and out the other side while leaning your head upside down over the sink without letting it run down your throat? Simply Saline® Allergy & Sinus Relief to the rescue! With its easy misting bottle, I find it takes the guess work out of neti-potting. With a 3% saline solution, it helps dry out a runny nose and flushes out allergens.
7. Steaming with essential oils: You may have seen your grandparents doing this, and it works. Bring water to a boil in a pot, then turn off the heat. My secret recipe (not so secret anymore) calls for 4 drops of eucalyptus oil, 2 drops of tea tree oil, and 3 drops of rosemary essential oil. Drape a large towel over your head, lean over the pot, and inhale deeply. Another method would be to add the oils with water to a mister then spray in the air while taking a steaming hot shower. Inhale and enjoy the sinus clearing effect!
8. Acupuncture: This ancient healing art helps temper an overactive immune system, and can provide immediate relief to swollen, irritated nasal passages. An acupuncturist will typically apply individual, sterile acupuncture needles to the face in specific points that are reflex points for the sinuses and nose. Far away points in the hands and feet may also be applied, helping to rebalance the energy meridians. The debate is up as to how and why it works, but ask anyone who gets regular acupuncture and they will tell you, it helps them feel grounded and relaxed. Who couldn’t use a bit more grounding and relaxation in our stressed out world?
 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI). The Allergy Report: Science Based Findings on the Diagnosis & Treatment of Allergic Disorders, 1996-2001.
 Arbes SJ et al. “Prevalences of positive skin test responses to 10 common allergens in the US population: Results from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.” Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 116:377-383. 2005