When WW3 Is Imminent and All You Want To Do Is Survive Allergypocalypse 2017
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, this spring in California is going to be a rough one. We’ve had months of rain which means tons of tree, grass, and flower growth — and now it’s warm and the wind is blowing, carrying with it billions of tiny pollen Deathstars flying straight for your face.
These medieval weapons that nature has launched at your sinuses trigger your immune system to release histamine, causing inflammation, itching, runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, and congestion. This can seriously put a damper on those romantic wildflower hikes in Antelope Valley.
You can take the edge off with over the counter antihistamines, however for severe allergy sufferers, these are not extremely effective at eliminating symptoms (and they come with side effects). Usually, more action is needed to achieve clear sinuses and a clear head.
Behold! Five practices you can fold into your daily routine to keep allergic reactions at bay. You don’t have to do all of them every day, but some days you might want to!
- Nasal irrigation is a thousands of years old ayurvedic practice, and it’s also research proven to reduce symptoms of chronic and allergic rhinitis (1). To do this you need a neti pot. Best done in the morning and at night, this is especially great if you have been walking around outside collecting pollen and pollutants in your sinuses because it literally cleans them out. At first you might hate it and feel like you are waterboarding yourself, but it’s such a fast and effective way to clear congestion, once you get the hang of it you will want to do it every day.
How To Do It: Boil water, mix 1/2 cup with 1tsp of salt and set it aside for a few minutes -you want it to still be warm but not too hot. Pour mixture into the neti pot. Bring Neti up to one nostril, lean forward and pour water into your nostril, pointing your elbow to the sky. Remember to breathe through your mouth. If you’re super congested, the water will just fill your nostril and come back out. That’s ok! Keep trying. The salt breaks up accumulation. Eventually the water will go into one nostril and come out the other.
2. Steaming with essential oils. Steaming with a few drops of cooling aromatic oil calms inflamed sinus tissue, cools the eyes, throat, and skin around your nose which can be raw and red from wiping and blowing after a severe attack. My favorite oil for this is the Olbas blend.
How To Do It: Boil water. Sit at table with an empty bowl in front of you and a towel draped over your head and shoulders. Pour the boiling water into the bowl, add a few drops of oil, and quickly bend over the bowl, covering your head with the towel. Breathe in the steam for a few minutes. Remember to close your eyes unless you want a super minty eyeball blast, which isn’t all that unpleasant, just a little shocking at first. Take a few minutes break and repeat. This has the additional bonus of making your skin look amazing. ***For a double dose effect, do a few rounds of steam, then a few rounds of nasal irrigation, since you’ve got the water boiling. The steam will clear out your sinuses a little bit to pave the way for the neti.
3. Antihistamine Foods and Herbs. These act as pre-emptive antihistamines because they are mast cell stabilizers. Mast cells are the cells that freak out and release histamine when they identify (or think they’ve identified) any kind of invading material — ie pollen. Eat these foods to keep your mast cells happy and stable for antihistamine action without side effects:
- pea sprouts
- holy basil
How to make a Nettle/Mint Infusion: Nettles and Mint are potent natural antihistamines, and mint clears the sinuses(2). Make an overnight infusion in a french press by putting 1/4 inch at the bottom of loose leaf nettle and mint, pour boiling water over it and let it sit overnight. Strain in the morning and drink during the day. The liquid will be a very dark green.
4. Coverage. Look, I know, this sounds really bonkers but I’m just gonna say it— wear a mask. The best way to keep your sinuses free of pollen is to not let it in there to begin with. I live on a gorgeous tree-lined street, and I am allergic to every single one of those beautiful Chinese Elms. So when I ride my bicycle anytime March-June, I wear a mask and cover it with a scarf. At first I thought people would think I was insane or maybe Blackbloc, but generally folks know what’s up and I’ve had some deeply respectful ‘You Are A Genius’ head nods as I ride by fellow sufferers. You can get them pretty cheap in packs of 10 or 20 at your local drugstore, or get creative.
5. Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs. Acupuncture boosts the immune system and reduces inflammation by lowering your stress levels, helping you sleep, easing you out of the fight-or-flight nervous system engagement of every day life to rest and digest.
Acupuncture and herbal formulas are extremely effective for clearing congestion, stopping itching, hives, rashes, sneezing, and allergic rhinitis(3). Every person is different, so you’ll have to come in and see for yourself. Acupuncturists work with you to identify which points and herbs will work for your body and your specific condition to get you on the road allergy-free.
Having issues with allergies this season? For those in the SF bay area, click here to Book your appointment at Slow Poke today!
(1) Rabago D, Zgierska A, Mundt M, Barrett B, Bobula J, Maberry R (2002). “Efficacy of daily hypertonic saline nasal irrigation among patients with sinusitis: A randomized controlled trial”. The Journal of family practice. 51 (12): 1049–1055. PMID 12540331.
(3)Am J Rhinol Allergy. 2015 Jan-Feb;29(1):57–62. doi: 10.2500/ajra.2015.29.4116.