This time of year, I treat a lot of people who are miserable because of seasonal allergies—they suffer from itchy eyes and throat, sneezing and a runny nose. Seasonal allergies typically result from exposure to allergens, such as pollen from grass, trees and ragweed. But there's another type of allergy that can affect people year-round. Dust, feathers and animal dander are the most common causes of these so-called "perennial allergies.
Regardless of the trigger, an allergy is an immune disorder. When an airborne irritant, such as pollen or dust, is inhaled, the body recognizes it as a harmful substance. This activates the body's defensive response, which leads not only to sneezing and a runny nose but also to watery eyes, sinus congestion and/or ear pain. When the body is under assault from allergens, the immune system works hard. That's why for some people, the only sign of seasonal allergies is lethargy (extreme physical and mental sluggishness).
When allergies are treated with medication (such as antihistamines and corticosteroids), symptoms are temporarily relieved. Allergy shots can reduce allergic reactions in some people but, like medication, they do not cure the problem. To address the root cause of allergies, try my natural allergy-fighting regimen (products are available at most health food stores)...*
- Get more flavonoids. These powerful antioxidants strengthen the cells in your upper respiratory tract (particularly the membranes of your nose), which helps protect your body from the ill effects of inhaled irritants. Take 300 milligrams (mg) each of supplements containing the flavonoids quercetin and hesperidin four times daily during allergy season.
*Check with your doctor before taking any of these supplements.
Fruits—particularly citrus and berries—are rich in flavonoids. Eat them daily. Organic fresh fruits are best.
- Reduce stress. Researchers at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston have linked worsening allergy symptoms to anxiety, depression and psychological stress. That's because chronic stress triggers immune dysfunction, weakening the body's ability to defend against irritants. If you have allergies, review what causes stress in your life and take steps to remedy these situations, especially during allergy season.
- Take herbs. Adaptogen herbs help the body "adapt" to stress, generally by supporting adrenal gland health. I recommend astragalus and borage for allergy season. Mix one-eighth teaspoon each of a tincture of astragalus and a tincture of borage in two ounces of water and take 15 minutes before or after meals, twice daily throughout allergy season.
- Drink tea. To safely relieve allergy symptoms, try flavonoid-rich elderflower tea, which reduces nasal and sinus congestion, fights sneezing and relieves watery eyes. Pour one cup of boiling water over two teaspoons of dried elderflower blossoms (or an elderflower tea bag) and steep for 10 minutes. Strain and drink hot (add lemon and/or honey, if you like) three times daily until symptoms improve.
Play the Harmonica For Healthier Lungs
Blowing into a harmonica lowers air pressure D in the airways and expands the air sacs in the lungs, reducing the risk that they will narrow or collapse, as occurs in patients with asthma or emphysema. It also forces you to frequently change the pace and depth of your breath, which strengthens the diaphragm (a muscle separating the lungs from the abdomen)
If you have asthma, chronic bronchitis or emphysema: Consider learning to play the harmonica.
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