Ask The Pharmacist: Best strategies to control seasonal allergies
I know so many of you suffer from seasonal allergies this time of year. In my teens and 20s, I was super allergic to cats, dust and pollen but by the time I hit 31, I was virtually perfect. Still, even today at 52 years old, I can wipe down the car and porch furniture from pollen, and play with cats. Sam says I’m still virtually perfect, lol!
Anyway, in my youth, my immune system was weak, I took all kinds of antihistamines to no avail, but I changed my life by giving my diet a complete makeover and changing the bed linens. I’ll help you right now too.
Doctors often prescribe antihistamines to block your body’s histamine reaction, which causes the breathing problems and runny nose. They also prescribe corticosteroids to reduce inflammation but unfortunately those further suppress immune function.
Some medications cause drowsiness and dry mouth while others cause ridiculous insomnia, stomach pain, aggression and psychosis. Children get attention deficit problems and nightmares. As much as I approve of quick-fix allergy pills for instant relief, they’re not ideal to take for the rest of your life. Do you want to cover it up or fix it once and for all?
The best alternative to medication is to revamp the way you eat. You have major control of your immune system health and the fury of its reactivity to antigens like pollen. Your immune cells reside in your gut and so you can control how touchy those cells are by feeding them better. When I say this out loud to people, I often hear “Ah whatever, I’ll eat what I want to, and just take this pill, it’s a lot easier.” True, but over time, your immune function weakens leaving you open to more and more allergies and major health problems.
If you truly want to get better, do what I did. Eat clean, organic fruits and veggies. Juice them, eat them and cook with them. They’re high in fiber and keep your digestion moving. Pineapple is particularly good due to the high content of bromelain, a proteolytic enzyme. Sprinkle ‘warm’ spices on your food like ginger, garlic, cayenne and cinnamon because these thin mucous. Local honey might be helpful to sensitize you to local pollens. Green superfood powder drink mixes are potent detoxifiers of the intestinal tract.
You’ll have to cut out or dramatically reduce intake of dairy products which have been tightly associated with allergies/asthma and consume less wheat and soy-based products. Those last two categories are heavily refined and may be genetically modified (GMO).
There is a longer version of this article at my website with more food tips, but right now I’ll share lifestyle strategies that could easily change your life. Buy new pillows and blankets and switch to something hypoallergenic, for example, exchange down for organic cotton. Wrap the mattress with a bed-bug cover. Take a shower before bed and if that’s not possible, at least run a wet brush through your hair (it gets the pollen out). And finally, when the season is upon you, keep your windows closed.
Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. The information presented here is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any condition. Visit SuzyCohen.com.