For years, I took an anti-histamine every day. I had chronic post nasal drip and suffered from classic bouts of allergy attacks – sneezing, itchy eyes and itchy face and scalp. I thought allergies were “just something I had.”
Then I began to live a healthier life. I pretty much got my allergies from being problematic all year long to just bothering me in late summer, early fall (ragweed?). In fact, whenever I would fill out a health form at a doctor’s office, I would write the word “August”, when asked about allergies.
This year, I noticed that my August/September allergy symptoms have been minimal. A couple of short-lived episodes of itchiness around the eyes and face, with a sneeze here or there, but I have not had to take an anti-histamine once!
For those of you who feel cursed by your allergies, I offer you my ideas as to how this major change has come about. Keep in mind that these changes did not come about overnight, but have been a long process. I am reminded by what Elizabeth Gilbert said when I saw her at a book signing following her smash hit, “Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia“. She reminded the audience that her success did not come easily – rather she spent years living on the edge of poverty and working odd jobs to support herself while pursuing a career as an writer. Also, keep in mind that what worked for me, may not work for you. Last, remember, I am not a medical doctor! I offer you thoughts regarding the improvement of my allergies. You must work with your own doctor to come up with a treatment plan that is safe for you.
My steps to allergy relief:
- Use a neti pot every day. It is my understanding that using a neti pot helps to rinse off excessive mucus from the sinuses. This is theorized to help the immune cells lining the sinuses to function more effectively. What I know for sure is that once I starting using a neti pot daily, my frequency of getting head colds dropped dramatically. (See, “How to Use a Neti Pot.”)
- Significantly reduced my intake of dairy products. I used to love to drink the milk from my cereal bowl in the morning, as well as enjoy a large glass of milk every day with my lunch. However, I had read that milk contains many allergens. If the immune system is busy taking care of the allergens I was putting into my body, it had less ability to deal with allergens in the air.
- Started practicing yoga. I don’t know about the specific research on yoga for allergies, but all that twisting and stretching has got to be good for the immune system.
- Started growing my own vegetables. There is the theory that consuming foods grown in the same spot on the planet that you live in has some extra health benefits. It makes sense that plant foods filled with microorganisms that are surviving in my little plot of land offer some special weapons against the environmental challenges I face.
- Significantly increased the amount of greens that I eat (drink!). Like most Americans, I ate plenty of broccoli and peppers, but rarely went near a leafy green. Now, (in large part, thanks to my garden!), I take in greens like spinach, kale, bok choy and Swiss chard on a daily basis. I started out eating more of them in salads and sauteed as side dishes, but then moved on to green smoothies and green juices. The health advantage to green leafy vegetables is that they both soak up nutrients from the sun and pull nutrients from the ground. It is their job to not only breathe for the plant but to keep it thriving in spite of radiation from the sun and other environmental onslaughts. All that plant-based self-protection enters my body when I consume these nutritionally power-packed greens.
- Eat a clean diet. I no longer eat like an average American. I eat lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean protein. I avoid junk food, processed food and fast food. It took me a long time to get to this point, (See, “Eating Clean: A Long and Winding Road“), but now this way of eating is natural and comfortable. It only stands to reason that giving my body the right fuel, as well as not making it work so hard dealing with the wrong food, has allowed my immune system to turn its energy toward helping me deal with any pollen in the atmosphere without making me suffer with undue itchiness.
What about you? What have you found helps or hurts your allergies? Which of my steps are you willing to try. I would love to hear from you – leave your comments below!