Dear BJU Pharmacist,
It’s spring in Beijing and my allergies are starting up. Every year my allergies keep me from enjoying the beautiful spring weather because I’m stuck inside with watery eyes and a runny nose. Is there anything I can do to beat allergy season this year?
– Sneezing in the Jing
Dear Sneezing in the Jing,
The weather is warmer and trees are in bloom. Spring is upon us. But for many of us, spring also means allergies: runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing and more. Luckily there are steps you can take to reduce to keep your allergies from getting you down this year. After all, springtime should be about enjoying the green in Beijing, not dreading it.
Natural supplements boost your immune system and reduce the need for common OTC allergy medications, such as anti-histamines and decongestants.
The most common complaints during allergy season, such as watery eye, sniffing, itchy throat and sneezing, are caused by one bad guy-histamine. Histamine is a natural chemical produced by the body’s immune system that causes the symptoms of an allergic reaction, e.g., the red, itchy bump after a mosquito bite. Vitamin C is histamine’s natural foe because it prevents its formation. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is safe even at high doses. I recommend 2000-4000 mg per day for optimal immune support.
Probiotics are “good” bacteria that live in our guts. Taking a broad-spectrum probiotic supplement, which contains 10-15 billion cells per capsule, can increase your immunity and decrease the likelihood of experiencing allergy symptoms. Research as also shown that children who take probiotic supplements are less prone to developing allergies later in life. It’s best to take your probiotic supplements daily, either before bed or first thing in the morning on empty stomach.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are fats commonly found in oils from marine animals and plants, such as salmon and flaxseed. They have been shown to support good health in a variety of ways. They can also help you beat your allergy symptoms! Omega-3s reduce inflammation in your sinuses and strengthen your immune system so that your body is ready to fight off allergens more effectively. When choosing Omega-3 fatty acid supplements, I recommend the ones that come from plants or algae to avoid possible risks associated with some fish.
Quercetin may sound new to you, but you consume it all the time. It is a plant pigment found in many plant-based foods such as red wine, onions, apples, berries and green tea. Quercetin has natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that help to stabilize an over-active immune system. It is effective in reducing allergy attacks, hives, and other respiratory symptoms. I recommend taking 250-500 mg two to three times daily. You may feel better after two weeks but continuing to take quercetin will help control allergy symptoms throughout the season.
2.Saline nasal spray
Saline nasal spray is a dilute solution of salt and water that is soothing and cleansing. Daily rinsing can prevent the allergens from building up in your nasal cavities and trapping bacteria, which can cause further illness. It also reduces uncomfortable nasal inflammation. I recommend starting daily saline nasal rinsing before allergy season for optimal outcome. You can also use saline spray whenever you have a dry nose or thick mucus.
3. Drink up
Believe it or not, staying hydrated can do a lot to relieve your allergy symptoms. Dehydration triggers the body to release histamine (the bad guy, remember him?). Drinking 8-10 glasses of water everyday is an easy and healthy way to feel better during allergy season. Antioxidant-rich green tea and powdered green tea are other good beverage options. Antioxidants block the chemicals that produce uncomfortable allergy symptoms. I recommend drinking 1-2 cups of green tea daily for best results.
This article was reposted with permission from BJU’s website. It originally appeared on April 1 and was written by Dr. Kelly Guo, a US-trained registered pharmacist and head of the CBD clinic pharmacy.
Photo from SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget on flickr