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Spring and summer can be a difficult time for people with seasonal allergies. It’s estimated that 20-25% of Canadians have symptoms of allergic rhinitis, with a substantial increase in the past 30 years.

When the immune system detects an allergen, it releases chemical mediators such as histamine. Seasonal allergies are when the body overreacts to pollen or other allergens in the air. The increased histamine levels trigger common symptoms such as a runny nose, itching, red eyes and congestion. Managing histamine levels as a key factor in relieving symptoms during allergy season.

Holistic and natural approaches treat the underlying causes which can lessen reactions to allergens.

Antihistamines can be found in various naturally occurring sources, such as certain plants. Some of the most well known and studied are:

  • Nettle leaf (urtica dioica). A very safe plant particularly renowned for its natural anti-inflammatory and antihistaminic properties. Rich in vitamin C, it’s ideal if you suffer from respiratory problems and itching (e.g., eczema). It can be found in various forms: fresh, in capsules or tinctures and dried as a herbal tea.

    Herbal tea must be consumed for a period of at least 3 months to fully benefit from the anti-allergic effects. The end of winter is the perfect time to start preparing your body for allergy season.

  • Butterbur (petasites hybridus). Used for centuries in Europe and has proven to be effective against inflammation and seasonal allergies. Research has demonstrated its effectiveness in reducing nasal discharge, sneezing and rhinitis. Its effects are comparable to certain synthetic drugs, but it doesn’t have adverse effects such as drowsiness or habituation.

  • Probiotics. Gut health is the foundation of well-being. Dysbiosis (intestinal bacterial imbalance) has been shown trigger histamine responses (overreaction). Taking certain strains of probiotics seems to help prevent several types of allergies, including pollen allergies. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, when tested independently, appeared to prevent the recurrence of allergic rhinitis and reduce the severity of symptoms. For maximum efficiency, it’s suggested to take a probiotic containing several strains of bacteria in sufficient quantity (more than 10 billion), over a period of several months to give your microbiota time to restore balance.

  • Plantain (salve). If you suffer from itchy, irritated skin during allergy season, try an ointment or salve made from this plant. Often nestled in our lawns, this plant has powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties. Apply as needed to the affected area for quick relief!

Antioxidant foods to the rescue!

Food plays a critical role in preparing for seasonal allergies. Colourful fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants, such as berries and leafy greens, can help support the immune system. Foods rich in vitamin C, such as peppers, strawberries and kiwis, are also recommended for alleviating allergic reactions. Quercetin, an antioxidant found in foods such as onions, also has anti-allergic properties. Finally, honey containing local pollen can also help desensitize the body to regional allergens.

One more tip!

Saline nasal sprays and eyewash solutions can also provide relief. Remember to rinse your nose and eyes after coming in from outside when the pollen count is particularly high!

By eating certain things and incorporating natural products, you can relieve seasonal allergy symptoms while also improving your overall well-being. Get ready to welcome allergy season with vitality and resilience, in harmony with nature and your own inner balance.

Emma Lecky, Naturopath and ESNQ graduate

École d’enseignement supérieur de naturopathie du Québec

The health and medical information published or presented in this article is the opinion of the author only and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Readers should use their judgment. It is their responsibility to independently verify the information provided in the article. The contents of this article are for discussion and informative purposes only and should never be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. A medical professional is the only person who can evaluate your health and give you advice following a medical examination. Rachelle Béry will not be liable for any of the information presented in this article or in any associated links, nor the use or misuse of the information.

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