This article originally appeared in Amazing Wellness magazine.
Ahhh, spring is in the air! The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, and the grass and trees are enjoying their post-winter thaw. But as you stop to smell the roses, you immediately start sneezing. Then, your eyes begin to itch and your nose becomes congested or runny. Oh, yeah, you almost forgot: Spring is synonymous with allergy season. In fact, according to the CDC, more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year.
“Allergies occur when our immune systems become hypersensitive to something like pollen or dust,” says Josh Axe, D.N.M., C.N.S., D.C., naturopathic doctor and member of The Vitamin Shoppe Wellness Council. “Our bodies react to these allergens by producing histamines in order to fight the allergen. Some of the most common allergens are substances that are most prevalent during springtime, like pollen or ragweed.”
Here are some things to consider for seasonal support:
1. Raw, Local Honey
Not only is raw, local honey tasty, but it’s great during allergy season. “Raw honey contains bee pollen, so when you purchase local varieties, you’re eating the same pollen that’s causing you to suffer,” explains Axe. “Over time, this helps you become less sensitive to the pollen in your area. It has also been proven to boost your immune system.” Try adding one tablespoon of raw, local honey to your tea, yogurt, or smoothie daily.
This pantry staple helps boost the immune system, thanks to the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants (called ‘polyphenols’) it contains. Axe recommends adding a tablespoon of an organic, unfiltered variety—like Bragg apple cider vinegar—to a glass of water each morning.
A strong immune system starts with a healthy gut, which is why probiotics—the good bacteria that reside in your gut—are so important. Axe recommends taking a probiotic supplement that totals 50 billion CFUs (we like The Vitamin Shoppe Ultimate 10 Probiotic) daily, in addition to eating probiotic-rich foods like kefir, yogurt and sauerkraut.
This funny-named plant is fantastic because of its immune-boosting qualities (it’s long been used to support sinus discomfort). “During allergy season, I recommend 300 to 500 milligrams of stinging nettle supplements daily,” says Axe. The Vitamin Shoppe Stinging Nettle offers 480 milligrams. Just be advised that this herb can interact with certain medications, so check with your doctor before adding it to your routine.
5. Neti Pot
During allergy season, a Neti pot (like Nature’s Alchemy Nasal Cleansing Pot) should be your new best friend. The device, which looks similar to a teapot, helps you pour a nasal rinse through your nostrils to flush out irritants like pollen and dust and thin out mucus. You can either use a pre-made sinus rinse or make your own solution using purified water and a quarter to a half a teaspoon of non-iodized salt. (The FDA recommends using distilled or sterile water, or tap water that’s been boiled for three to five minutes and then cooled.)
“This natural compound, which found in broccoli, onions and citrus fruits, slows down the production and release of histamine by the body,” says Dr. Axe. “Eating a range of colorful fruits is a good way to get your quercetin in, but if you’re struggling, try supplementing with 1,000 milligrams daily.” Solgar Quercetin Complex with Ester-C Plus provides 500 milligrams of quercetin, along with a number of antioxidants for seasonal immune health support.
When you need a quick fix, essential oils—especially eucalyptus, frankincense, and peppermint—can help clear your nose and help you breathe easy. Dr. Axe recommends adding a drop or two to your Neti pot or using an essential oil diffuser. Try Now Essential Oils 100% Pure Eucalyptus Oil or The Vitamin Shoppe 100% Pure Peppermint Essential Oil.