When we have chronic allergies, our immune system has been shifted away from a response that deals more with bacteria and viruses towards a response that causes more allergic tendencies. This is usually due to our bodies being over-stimulated by exposure to multiple irritants and becoming hypersensitive to different agents. With a shift in the immune response, our immune system is hypersensitive to things such as dust, pollen, grasses, pet dander, or allergic foods, and allergies can often be found in a triad with asthma and eczema. The most important thing to do at this point is to try and avoid things we are sensitive to, whether they are food or environmental offenders, to try and decrease the burden to our immune system. Besides avoiding offending factors, there are many other natural treatments that can be helpful, which are described below.

Vitamin C and quercetin are both very helpful in decreasing histamine and the inflammatory response seen in allergies. Other treatments that are very helpful for decreasing hay fever include grape seed extract, Petasites hybridus, or butterbur, and Urtica dioica, or nettles. Because low stomach acid can cause problems in digestion and lead to the development of allergies, supplementing with hydrocholoric acid may be useful. Fish oil and probiotics can also help with stabilizing membranes and the healing of the gut, which will decrease allergic symptoms.

A method for directly clearing our nasal passages during bouts of hay fever is the use of a neti pot. Howto use a neti pot is described in my blog post on treatments for sinus infections. A neti pot can help to wash away any airborne allergens we may have inhaled during the day, as well as rinsing away any bacteria or other microbes that can build up and eventually cause sinus infections. The neti pot can thus directly decrease the allergic load in our nose and sinuses.

Along with using a neti pot to clear nasal passages, another way of decreasing congestion and thinning mucus secretions can be accomplished by eating spices or pungent foods. As long as the spices do not cause reflux (spicy foods are an easy trigger for people that are prone to having heartburn), the most frequently recommended spices for this purpose include cayenne pepper, hot ginger, and fenugreek, as well as the traditional onion and garlic.

One key to success with allergies is to try and start treatment before symptoms kick in – starting three weeks before allergy season begins is a great way for preventing or decreasing allergy symptoms. As always, there are many treatments that can be beneficial for allergies. It is therefore important to seek professional medical advice for moderate to severe allergies to find the underlying causes for each case and to get treatments specific to each individual.

Dr. Corrine Wang is a licensed Naturopathic doctor that graduated from Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington. As a Naturopathic doctor, she is committed to assisting others achieve balance and wellness in their lives. She believes in treating the whole person and supports each individual’s healing process with the most effective, least invasive methods possible. Dr. Wang treats a variety of conditions using therapies that include clinical nutrition and dietary therapy, herbal and nutritional supplements, homeopathy, detoxification, and physical medicine including craniosacral therapy. She believes in mind-body medicine and supporting mental health along with physical health and also has experience with biofeedback, meditation, and other counseling techniques. She has a practice at Pacific Naturopathic in Mountain View. To learn more about Dr. Wang and how she can be of service, please visit her website at NoniHerbal.com