That Little Pollen Problem

Natural allergy remedies for seasonal allergies

One of life's great pleasures is the first day that it truly feels like spring. Nature delights us with robin's egg blue skies, tree limbs covered in pretty blossoms and the smell of freshly-mowed grass.

Unfortunately, it's a scene that makes me — and some 35 million other Americans — sneeze. I'd prefer natural remedies, but I need several heavy-duty prescription drugs to survive all the pollen blowing down from the trees. But, years of suffering have taught me a few tricks. Here are some tips that make it possible to actually enjoy the fine spring weather.

Use a Neti pot.

Without question, the best allergy tip I know is the Neti pot. For the uninitiated, it looks like it should come with its own genie. But it's actually an ancient Ayurvedic technique to cleanse the nasal passages with salt-water. Neti pots are inexpensive and easy to find online or at mainstream drugstores. Trust me, the technique may be off-putting at first, but its turned me into a true believer.

Rethink your diet.

According to experts, pollen allergies are aggravated by specific fruits and veggies, including melon, banana, cucumber, sunflower seeds, chamomile, and any herbal supplements containing echinacea. Meanwhile, spices — including cayenne pepper and ginger — can help clear up congestion. Personally, I've found it helps to cut back on dairy and wheat during allergy season.

Recommended supplements.

Right now, experts are buzzing about quercetin, which contains flavonoids and anti-inflammatory agents. WebMD also suggests a European herb called butterbur, freeze-dried nettles, and goldenseal. Remember to talk with your doctor if you plan to take natural supplements along with traditional drugs, because it's possible to overdo it. My eye doc suggested flax seed oil capsules, because the Omega-3 acids can prevent dry, itchy eyes.

Alternative options.

I just booked my first acupuncture appointment after learning it can reduce multiple and acute allergy symptoms without side effects. Who knows? Maybe with a little luck, and a few pokes with a knowledgably-wielded needle, I'll be drug-free by next year.

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