It’s that time of year. Allergy season has begun. Here in the Pacific Northwest we have tree pollen – on our house, on our car, in our hair, on our clothes, in our house and right up our noses. It’s like a light snow of magnetic yellow particles has coated everything.
We all react a bit differently of course. My 3 year old daughter, for instance, coughs. She coughs during the day and worse, she wakes up at 2 in the morning coughing and for several hours sleep becomes impossible for all of us. For my husband, his sinuses get clogged and he feels run down. For me, I just get a bit stuffy in the morning and feel worn out because of lack of sleep.
Now, you may want to reach for Claritin and I wouldn’t blame you if you do but I’d also love for you to consider adding some longer term solutions as well.
Step 1 – Clean Your Environment
Pollen can come in through your windows, tracked in on your shoes and clothes, camp out in your hair and get embedded into your carpet. Inevitably, it starts to coat just about everything in your home.
- Leave shoes at the door and consider taking your clothes off and throwing them in the laundry after working outside in your garden for any length of time. This may sound a bit extreme but reducing how much pollen gets inside will reduce the amount of cleaning you have to do.
- Dust and vacuum daily or as frequently as you can stand. Use a wet cloth for the dusting so the dust doesn’t just coat something else. Dust the window sills, tables, floor boards, lamps and anything else that collects dust normally. Vacuum your carpets, area rugs and hard flooring. This is way easier if you’ve already decluttered!
- Wash your bedding more often than you normally would. I typically wash bedding once a week but right now, doing an extra load of bedding laundry during the week is helpful. Also be sure to shake out any pillows or comforters you have when you launder your bedding.
- Consider rinsing your hair before bed. This will help reduce pollen that ends up on your pillow and rubbed in your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Use an air filter, like an Air Doctor, that’s effective at removing pollen from your rooms. Begin with your bedrooms.
Step 2 – Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation can be caused by a number of factors including stress, inflammatory foods, lack of sleep and gut health issues.
- Reduce stress. I don’t want to disregard real external stressors some of you may be facing right now but most stress is actually internal. What I mean by that is, it’s your reaction to what’s happening around you or in some cases, your reaction to stories you play in your head. But there are ways for you to begin to identify these reactions and stories. Journaling and meditation are both great ways to become more mindful of your thoughts and reactions. One of my clients had begun using the Headspace App after our first session. She started to notice some immense improvements in how she reacts to situations and news in just a few days. Her sleep also improved.
- Which brings me to, you guessed it, sleep! When you don’t sleep well, you don’t make good decisions during the day, your body doesn’t detox well, increasing the accumulation of toxins in your body and you just feel inflamed right? Sort of like feeling hungover. Besides meditation or using an app to help lull you to sleep, stop screen time 1 to 2 hours before bed time. That includes work emails and social media! So leave your phone outside your bed or turn it onto airplane mode and my favorite rule, no computers in bed. I had asked one of my clients to do this and it made a world of difference in her ability to get a good night’s rest.
- Cut out inflammatory foods. This is an effective step that adults and children can take to help reduce seasonal allergy symptoms. You can either try an elimination diet to identify what foods cause problems for you or you can cut out some of the most common allergens and inflammatory foods to see how it helps reduce inflammation. Common inflammatory foods include sugar, alcohol, gluten, dairy, nightshades and fried foods.
- Balance your gut microbiome. If you suffer from eczema for instance, this can really help. Taking a good quality probiotic, increase fiber, eliminating yeast and sugar can all help rebalance your gut. Since 75% of your immune system is in the gut, this step can greatly reduce your reactions to seasonal allergies. This is also something that both adults and children can do.
Step 3 – Consider Natural Support
There are several ways to support your body during allergy season. In addition to the above steps, here are some additional options you might explore.
- Chiropractic care. There is anecdotal evidence that by releasing tension on your nervous system through chiropractic care, you can improve your body’s immune system function and reduce inflammation. Chiropractors have seen allergy and asthma symptoms decrease in their patients and so this may be worth exploring. Chiropractic care can be given to adults as well as children. My daughter and I both go to our local chiropractor. My daughter loves it.
- Naturally occurring antihistamines. Quercetin is a compound found naturally in some foods but is also available in a supplement form. Nettles are also a great option for lowering inflammation and happen to appear naturally right now. I usually get my nettles dried and make nettle tea from them. Before supplementing be sure to check with your healthcare provider to make sure there are no contraindications with what you’re currently using.
- Detoxing. The more toxins you have accumulated, the higher your body’s inflammation and the greater your reactions to allergens is. There are many detoxing strategies that you can do starting today including oil pulling and tongue scraping first thing in the morning, dry brushing before taking a shower and drinking plenty of water. If you’re lucky enough to have a sauna, now’s the time to use it. It’s one of the most effective ways to detox your body. Children can also do these as well depending on their age. My daughter, who’s 3, can use a tongue scraper but isn’t quite ready to do oil pulling for instance.
- Lymphatic neck massage. Your lymphatic system is responsible for getting rid of toxins in your body and delivering lymph fluid which is rich in white blood cells needed to fight infection. This can be lumped together with detoxing but I wanted to give it it’s own spot. I’ve been giving myself a lymphatic neck massage every morning for the past couple of weeks in the morning after my meditation. It takes about a minute and is amazingly helpful in draining what feels like my sinuses, in the morning. To do this, press along the underside of your jawline from your chin to your ear lobes. Do this several times. Next, using your fingers, press along each side of your trachea from your ear lobes to your collarbone. Do this several times as well.
Allergy season can really knock us on our behinds and this isn’t the time to be coughing and sneezing while we’re out grocery shopping. By cleaning up your environment, lowering inflammation and adding in some additional support like detoxing, herbs or chiropractic care you can reduce your allergy symptoms.
As always, please consult your healthcare practitioners before adding in supplements or sauna into your routine to be sure there are no contraindications.
To learn more about ways you can balance your body, join my 5 Day Summer Detox for Beginners. This program starts on August 17th but registration closes on the 15th. Hope to see you there!