6 Nontraditional Allergy Relievers
Heads up: Spring fever is starting earlier than usual this year.
Spring brings longer days, milder temps and the start of rooftop season. But for the estimated one in six Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies, it also ushers in a wave of sneezing, itchy eyes and fatigue.
Thanks to the effects of El Nino and a mild winter, spring allergies are blowing up early this year—with certain parts of the country seeing an uptick in pollen counts an entire month sooner than usual. But before you start stockpiling meds, try one of these reliable natural allergy remedies:
Butterbur, a shrub that grows in Europe, parts of Asia and in North America, is sold in tablet form and blocks chemicals that trigger swelling in your nasal passages. Several studies suggest that butterbur is just as effective at relieving nasal symptoms as antihistamines—without the common side effect of drowsiness.
The spa cure
The wellness-promoting power of a salty room dates to the mid-19th century, when a physician in Poland noticed how healthy workers in a nearby salt mine were. The treatment rooms use a halo generator, a machine that grinds salt into a superfine powder and disperses it into the air. The salt then pulls moisture from your bloodstream and into your airways, temporarily thinning mucus.
Hear us out: We know the last thing you want to do when you’re stuffed up is to go for a run. But research from Thailand found that when allergy sufferers exercised at a moderate intensity for 30 minutes, they saw an 83 percent decrease in congestion, itching, and sneezing. The researchers suggest that moderate exercise has an anti-inflammatory effect on nasal passages.
For some people, the allergy antidote may come in needle form. In a recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, patients who got weekly acupuncture for two months said their symptoms improved and they could cut back on allergy medicine, compared to those who received only medicine and those who got placebo acupuncture.
What you eat may stop symptoms before they start. A 2007 study found that children who ate a Mediterranean diet—lots of fruits and vegetables, fish, olive oil, and nuts—were less likely to develop allergy and asthma symptoms. Snack on nuts, since they are rich in magnesium (to protect against wheezing) and vitamin E (an immunity-booster protects the body from inflammation-causing free radicals.)
The strong aroma opens up sinuses and nasal passages. Research suggests the essential oil has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial benefits. Add a few drops to the floor of the shower before you turn on the water, or take a chilled eucalyptus towel into the steam room.