Springtime and summer allergies are soon to bloom. Now is the perfect time to prepare your body to ward off symptoms caused by an over-stimulated immune response to pollens and allergens.

The World Health Organization estimates that up to 2.1 billion people in the world — 30 percent of our planet’s population — feel the affects of allergic rhinitis, otherwise known as hay fever. That’s a lot of Claritin and that’s exactly what drug companies are counting on to pad their already full coffers. But you can save some bucks and avoid nasty side effects of allergy drugs by pursuing natural remedies that support the body’s inert ability to avoid hay fever.

Not a fever and not caused by hay. Officially, “hay fever” is actually “allergic rhinitis.” There’s no fever associated with it and it’s not caused by hay. It’s an unbalanced immune system response brought on by a reaction to any number of stimuli including pollens from flowers, trees or grasses or proteins from animal dander. Red, itchy eyes, runny nose and bronchial upset are the common symptoms. It’s typical during pollinating months but can also be year-round.

How bad are drugs? Some of the pharmaceutical drugs intended to treat hay fever have some drastic side effects and include warnings of tremors, anxiousness, depression and suicidal behavior as possibilities. This is in addition to the already recognized common side effects of stomach pain, stomach or intestinal upset, heartburn, tiredness, fever, stuffy nose, cough, flu, upper respiratory infection, dizziness, headache, rash,” and the severe possible side effects of increased bleeding tendency, allergic reactions [including swelling of the face, lips, tongue, and/or throat (which may cause trouble breathing or swallowing), hives and itching], behavior and mood related changes [agitation including aggressive behavior, bad/vivid dreams, hallucinations (seeing things that are not there), irritability, restlessness, trouble sleeping], palpitations, drowsiness, pins and needles/numbness, seizures (convulsions or fits), diarrhea, indigestion, inflammation of the pancreas, nausea, vomiting, hepatitis, bruising, joint pain, muscle aches and muscle cramps, swelling.” These were listed for just one of the drugs but many are shared. Severe drug reactions were characterized with hives, skin rashes, breathing difficulty, itching, swelling of the mouth, lips, face, or tongue, tightness in the chest, urination difficulty, chest pain, fast or irregular heartbeat, seizures, severe or persistent dizziness and mental or mood changes.

Over the counter — KITCHEN counter! You don’t have to go to the drug store or suffer harsh side effects from pharmaceuticals. You can find help for hay fever symptoms in your kitchen or around the house.

Clean air Most allergens enter the body through the air. Keeping a dust-free house cuts down on potential pollutants. Also, dump the bad chemicals like toxic cleaners, phony “air purifiers” (which have nasty chemicals in them,) air out things like dry cleaning and never treat furniture with stain repellent or fire retardants. Those may also be a source of respiratory discomfort.

Honey. Local honey is the “go to” for people wanting to tend to their hay fever in a natural way. Right now is a good time to start. Bees carry pollen from local flora back to the hive. So note: it must be local to influence an allergy to local plants. Some of the processed and denatured pollen ends up in the honey. Eating honey or using hive products such as bee pollen can reportedly strengthen the immune system against the pollen that causes the allergic reaction. Important: Choose raw, unfiltered and local. Find information at your neighborhood, locally owned health food store. But know your provider. A popular brand carried in Omaha stores advertises in BIG letters on its label that it is local. But beware: “local” is not a regulated term. The owner told me their bees gather from as far away as North Dakota. That’s misleading and not my definition of “local.”

Garlic and onions These two super foods contain quercetin, a substance that stabilizes the cell walls of histamine-producing cells and lowers inflammation.

Vitamin C In The Green Pharmacy, Dr. James Duke, cites research suggesting Vitamin C lowers incidence of asthma, respiratory and allergy problems. Foods are citrus, peppers, cayenne, guava, kiwis and watercress. According to Todd Hurley at No Name Nutrition, pineapple has another anti-allergy substance, bromelaine.

Horseradish Horseradish is a spicy root that brings tears to your eyes and clears sinuses. Duke suggests one spoonful a day of grated horseradish for about a month before allergy season begins; maintenance doses after that.

Stinging nettle Dr. Duke strongly recommends stinging nettle, a frontline herb in the fight against allergy and respiratory symptoms. Dr. Andrew Weil suggests the freeze-dried leaves. Immune system supporting herbs like astragalus and echinacea are also high on the list of hay fever fighting herbs.

Fenugreek In their book, Folk Remedies that Work, Joan and Lydia Wilen recommend tea made from fenugreek seeds. Red clover tea is also an herbalist’s standby. Both are suggested to relieve allergy symptoms.

Common side effects of popular allergy drugs are often the same as the symptoms we are trying to avoid. How senseless is that? There are alternatives.

Be well.

Heartland Healing is a New Age polemic describing alternatives to conventional methods of healing the body, mind and planet. It is provided as information and entertainment, certainly not medical advice. It is not an endorsement of any particular therapy, either by the writer or The Reader. Visit HeartlandHealing.com for more information.

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