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Natural Approach to Springtime Pollen Exposure
Q. I have allergies to pollen, and I’m wondering if there is a more natural approach to help me feel better during the springtime?
A. Understanding your body’s response to allergens is important. Your immune system perceives pollen as “foreign invaders,” thus it kicks in its natural defenses. These include watering eyes, runny noses, coughing, sneezing and, at times, making copious amounts of mucous. The body also triggers inflammation to help ward off and limit the invasion, yet this causes us to get even more stuffy and have trouble breathing.
I recommend to my patients a blend of freeze-dried Stinging Nettles, Quercetin, N-Acetyl Cysteine and vitamin C. I use this formula in my clinical practice because it helps minimize the allergic response and helps cut the thickness of mucous.
I also use anti-inflammatory herbs to help deal with their “itis” issues, meaning rhinitis and sinusitis. A synergistic combination of botanicals that have been used for centuries to help with mild inflammation are Turmeric, Ginger, Oregano and Rosemary.
8 Ways to Reduce Pollen Exposure
Q. What other things can I do to help reduce my exposure to allergens, such as pollen from plants?
A. I’m happy to share my Top 8 Daily Tips to Victory during Allergy Season:
- Identify and eliminate cross-reactivity events
- Keep your home’s doors and windows closed
- Use the air conditioner rather than opening a window
- Replace your home’s air filters and use filters designed to capture small pollen
- Keep track of pollen counts in your area and don’t exercise outside during allergen peak
- Don’t go outside more than necessary on windy days, as the wind carries pollen from miles away to irritate your eyes, nose and lungs
- While driving, keep your car windows up, sun-roof closed and your air on recirculate
- Shower and rinse your hair prior to bed, because pollen will collect during day
Cross-Reactivity List for Pollen, Foods and Herbs
Q. I find myself sneezing with watery eyes, and it always seems like I have a tickle in my throat. I’ve found some relief by using herbs like freeze-dried Nettle, and herbal formulas containing Quercetin N-Acetyl Cysteine. My question is, can I take these herbs for long periods of time, or should I take a break? And are there foods that I should I avoid during this time?
A. You asked a great question, as there are herbs and foods that you might need to take a break from during the spring and summer months, when exposed to certain pollens. You may not know it, but the foods you eat can also be making your body respond more aggressively to inhaled environmental allergens. It is called “cross-reactivity” and it occurs when you consume foods that are in the same family of allergens as those floating in the air. Here is a brief list of foods to avoid if you are allergic to one of these plants:
Dr. Chris Meletis, N.D., has 24-years of experience practicing as a Naturopathic Doctor in Portland, Oregon. He is dedicated to using his vast knowledge about alternative medicine to help his patients and generously give to those in need. He has written over a dozen books and 100's of national articles, and was named Naturopathic Physician of the Year in 2003 by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. Read more about Dr. Meletis here. Or, visit our "Ask Dr. Meletis, N.D." page for additional articles.
*Statements herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, and are not intended to treat or diagnose any disease or health condition. The information on this website, and provided by Dr. Chris Meletis, N.D., is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is recommended that patients check with their doctors before taking herbs, to ensure that there are no contraindications with prescription medications. There is additional information linked within this site to HealthNotes®, a third party educational source, containing the latest research on health and supplements. Oregon's Wild Harvest will not be held accountable for this information and consider it an education reference only.