While allergies may be year-round for some, spring is a special season for pollen allergy sufferers. Seasonal spring allergies in Portland, Oregon, and the Pacific Northwest begin as early as March with tree pollen and continue throughout the summer with grasses, ragweed, and other plants. To add to the problem, air pollution also worsens in the summer. Poor air quality, combined with pollen, amplifies the assault on your immune system.
Spring allergies are miserable and debilitating. Nasal congestion, watery eyes, and inflamed sinuses lead to poor sleep, mental fog, and reduced productivity. Most people don’t take time off from work, but allergies cause a 25% drop in worker productivity, costing millions. Moreover, oral antihistamines and over-the-counter medications may make people drowsy, adding to the mental fog and reducing productivity. Many people are dissatisfied with their allergy medications and feel they become less effective over time. Fortunately, natural treatment methods are available. Acupuncture, herbal medicine, nutrition, and wellness can be part of a natural treatment program for preventing and treating spring allergies.
Understanding OTC Allergy Medication Issues
Those who experience seasonal allergies often complain that Western allergy medications “dry out” the body and leave them in a mental fog. The dry body phenomenon is useful in stopping a runny nose but can result in painfully dry skin, eyes, and cottonmouth. The mental fog can be a productivity killer and keep lethargic people indoors when they’d rather be outside. Other common side effects of common allergy medications include anxiety, constipation, difficulty urinating, dizziness, blurred vision, increased heart rate, and more.
Boosting Immune Support Through Nutrition
By eating anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense foods year-round, you can prevent or reduce allergy symptoms. Foods that are especially effective in preventing allergies include nuts, apples, crucifers (broccoli, kale, cabbage), tomatoes, red grapes, and fish. Many people believe that including raw, local honey in your diet can also help by acclimating your immune system to allergens in your area.
Eliminating dairy products may help to reduce congestion. Dairy tends to promote the formation of mucus in the body. You can check for dairy sensitivities by eliminating it from your diet for one month. Reintroduce it slowly to see how your body responds.
Finally, reducing your intake of pro-inflammatory foods, including refined carbohydrates, grains, sugary drinks, and sweets can prevent or minimize allergy symptoms. Be sure to drink plenty of water to keep your body well-hydrated year-round.
Acupuncture, Herbs, and Nutritional Supplements for Allergy Relief
If prevention with whole-food nutrition isn’t enough to keep allergy symptoms at bay, consider the benefits of acupuncture therapy. Ideally, acupuncture treatment should begin several months prior to allergy season. While treatment during the season can reduce symptoms, treatment before the season can help prevent symptoms from developing and balance your body’s immune response. With regular acupuncture treatment and good wellness habits, allergies should diminish year by year.
Some people may want to add additional natural treatments, such as Chinese herbal formulas or nutritional supplements during the spring allergy season. Herbal formulas and supplements designed to treat allergy symptoms can help you avoid the use of pharmaceuticals, and they do not carry unwanted side effects.
Always consult a professional herbalist and nutritionist to diagnose and prescribe what is best for you. Correct prescription is complicated. In the long run, you will save money and time by consulting an expert and avoid buying a bunch of over-the-counter supplements that are really not right for you.
Inner Works Acupuncture, a NW-based Portland acupuncture clinic, offers full-service treatment for allergies, including acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and nutritional therapy. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (503) 227-2127 today.