It’s spring!  The weather is getting warmer, buds are blooming on the trees, ramps and fiddlehead ferns are in season and my phone is ringing off the hook with people complaining that their allergies are driving them crazy.  Itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, congestion, sinus pressure and headaches, a tickle in the throat… bad allergies can make you feel like you’re living in a fog.

Unfortunately, once your allergies kick in and histamines are released, it’s difficult to turn back the clock and reverse the symptoms.  Usually I recommend that my acupuncture patients start preparing their bodies and treating their allergies mid-winter so that once spring rolls in, allergy symptoms aren’t triggered.

However, if you find yourself under-prepared this allergy season, have no fear.  I have a few recommendations that can really help you find seasonal allergy relief.

If you’ve read any of my blog-posts before, you’ll recognize this first one:

Remove or Reduce Dairy from your diet:

Milk and dairy create mucus, and mucus is typically what makes allergy symptoms feel so uncomfortable.  If you suffer from seasonal allergies, I recommend removing dairy for at least one month.  Many patients don’t even recognize what a difference this one step makes until they attempt to re-introduce dairy into their diets and symptoms they didn’t even know were relieved come back in full effect.

Try Essential Oils:

Lavender, Clove Bud, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Sage, Grapefruit Seed and Tea Tree can all help to relieve sinus pressure and congestion and reduce allergens in the air.  Try a few drops of these oils in your humidifier or try a facial steam: put the oils in a pot of water, boil the water, throw a towel over your head and carefully let the steam work its way into your sinuses for five to ten minutes. When you’re done and the water cools, you can wet a washcloth in the water and drape it over your forehead or on your chest while you rest.  You can also make your own saline water using 1/2 teaspoon of salt in distilled water, and add some very diluted oils to use in a neti pot.

Keep things clean:

It seems fairly obvious, but allergens can really linger on our sheets, our clothes, our carpets, etc.  So wash your sheets and clothes often, and consider changing your pillow case even more frequently.  If possible, get rid of rugs or carpets and just go with the bare floor.  As much as we love enjoying the fresh air, if you’re an allergy sufferer, you might be better off keeping your windows closed when pollen level is high.

Eat Green:

Take advantage of spring’s bounty!  All of those delicious spring vegetables I mentioned above actually have medicinal properties.  The acrid flavor in ramps and fiddlehead ferns, as well as in ginger, garlic, spring onions, scallions and chives can help to clear some allergy symptoms.  If you ever wondered why a big bowl of chicken soup can help when you feel crummy, it’s most likely because of the onions, ginger  and garlic in there!

Get Acupuncture:

OF COURSE I always recommend Acupuncture or anything that ails you, but I have back-up:

In a German study published in the journal “Allergy”, 52 people with hay fever received acupuncture and a Chinese herbal tea designed to address allergic symptoms. After 6 weeks, people who received the acupuncture and herbal treatment noticed an 85 percent improvement on a “global assessment of change” scale compared to 40 percent in the control group. They also noticed a significant improvement in the their quality of life.

In another study, 72 children with hay fever received acupuncture for eight weeks. A dramatic increase was found in symptom-free days when compared to placebo.

Herbs for Allergies:

Of course you’ll want to know which herbs were included in the study mentioned above, right?  I’ll be honest, the tea version kind of tastes awful, so I have a few favorite products in pill form that are much more user-friendly.

Astra-C: for anyone who suffers from allergies.  Contains zinc and vitamin C, in addition to herbs that strengthen your immunity.  It can work alone for a runny nose, but I recommend pairing with one of the following to really target your allergy symptoms. 2 tablets three times a day.

Xanthium Relieve Surface: In addition to Astra-C, I recommend Xanthium Relieve Surface if your main allergy symptoms are nasal congestion, sinus pressure or sinus headaches.  It can also treat various skin rashes, such as eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis, which worsen with allergies.  3 tablets three times a day.

Nasal Tabs 2:  If your allergies get so bad that they turn into a sinus infection or are on their way to one, use Nasal Tabs 2. It contains eucalyptus and thyme , which act as anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agents.  3 tablets three to four times a day.

Minor Blue Perilla:  Useful for coughing and asthma characterized by either thin or thick sputum that is clear or white.  Treats watery sinus congestion and/ or congestion of the lungs, sneezing and tearing of the eyes. 3 tablets 3 times a day.

If your children suffer from pediatric seasonal allergies:

Aller-Ease Jr: A liquid formula developed by Blue Poppy Pediatrics specifically for childrens’ allergies.  It comes in a glycerin base, so it’s sweet and can be given on its own, or added to juice. Treats runny or stuffy nose and sinus pressure.  2 droppers-full 3 -4 times a day.

Lung Qi: Also by Blue Poppy Pediatrics, Lung Qi is great for any kind of pediatric cough, including asthma.  It strengthens the lungs as it reduces cough and clears any mucus or congestion in the chest.

Raven Crest Breathe Easy Chest Rub: Totally organic and wild-harvested, this chest rub contains essential oils of eucalyptus, camphor, lavender, peppermint, rosemary and chamomile.  Perfect for yours or your child’s sensitive skin.  

Interested in learning more or purchasing the products mentioned in my blog?  Feel free to visit my store, or send me any questions.