Posted by & filed under Allergies.

allergy-18656_1280It’s that time of year again! The great outdoors is alive with brilliant colors, sweet-smelling blossoms, fresh new growth…and an abundance of pollen.

Though reports suggest this allergy season won’t be as severe as the pollen-packed onslaught we faced several years ago, having a full arsenal of natural, sensible ways to prevent and relieve spring allergies never hurts.

1. Treat yourself to a relaxing, warm shower after work.

This one simple, self-care step packs a three-way wellness punch during allergy season.

First, allergies are the body’s extreme reaction to substances that aren’t normally threatening—and that reaction means you have a good chance your cortisol levels are already running a little higher than usual. Relaxation helps tame your body’s overblown stress reaction.

Second, showering will help remove pollen, mold spores, or other irritants that may have hitchhiked home with you. Don’t forget to rinse your hair, which can pick up a lot of these unwelcome visitors! Finally, the steam a shower produces eases breathing by loosening sinus congestion.

2. Self-care, the sequel: Take time for a cup of tea.

…but skip the chamomile. It can trigger even more allergy trouble in people sensitive to ragweed. Instead, why not try peppermint, elder flower, nettle, rose hip, or ginger? These pleasantly spicy brews can help ease congestion. Drink them hot to let steam double the easier-breathing effect.

3. Fuel up right.

Eating well during this time of year means giving your immune system a hand. You’re wise to arm yourself against those pesky infections that can so easily strike when your body is already feeling a bit compromised by spring allergies.

Foods that are naturally high in a variety of antioxidants—dried beans, sweet potatoes, berries, grapes, whole grains, and pecans, for instance—or just packed with good old vitamin C (such as tomatoes, citrus fruits, and green, leafy vegetables) are a great start to your “immunity diet.” The bonus: Most of these foods are also high in fiber, which keeps you feeling full longer and helps stave off the cravings that might otherwise send you in search of quick, junky food between meals. That’s a wellness “two-fer”!

And don’t forget, drink plenty of water throughout the day. It’s a good habit year-round, but during the allergy season, staying hydrated can also prevent congestion by thinning nasal discharge.

4. Adjust your schedule.

Pollen counts are typically highest between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. They rise again around dusk, too. These are bad times to be outdoors for those who suffer allergy symptoms.

As much as possible, avoid the added assault by commuting, running errands, exercising, etc., during the midmorning to late afternoon hours instead. When it’s not possible to stay indoors during those peak pollen hours, it’s a good idea to wear sunglasses to shield your eyes from itchy airborne irritants. Leave your shoes at the door when you reenter your home or office, too, to help minimize the immune triggers you bring into your personal space.

5. Fight back, naturally.

Please don’t reach automatically for powerful prescription or even over-the-counter anti-allergy formulas. These often come with side effects such as drowsiness, “the jitters,” dehydration, or a sense of being foggy or disconnected. The last thing you need is to trade allergy symptoms for other kinds of discomfort.

For many hundreds of years, people have trusted plant-derived remedies for gentler relief. Today, quercetin, goldenseal, stinging nettle, bromelain, and butterbur are among the many natural therapies available. My modern patients attest to their effectiveness. And for time-tested immediate relief, saline nasals sprays or rinses can work wonders!

With these simple tips helping you keep allergy symptoms to a minimum, I hope you’ll find yourself free to enjoy the vitality of the season. I certainly am here to help if you’d like a hand harnessing the promise and energy that pulse during these vibrant spring weeks—and putting it to work in your own life. Give me a call at [phone OR link as above??].

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