Natural remedies for allergies

Don't want to pop a pill or get a shot? Here are some tried-and-true ways to handle allergy season naturally. 

By Camilla Cornell

Natural remedies
©iStockphoto.com/g_studio
Dodge allergens
Reducing exposure helps, says Justin Lafreniere, a naturopathic doctor in Vancouver. Since pollen counts are generally highest in the morning and on warm, breezy days, plan your outdoor activities accordingly. 
On heavy pollen days (check theweathernetwork.com), opt to stay inside.

Make your home a pollen-free zone
Pets, clothes dried outdoors and even your own hair can capture pollen and drag it into your home. We all love the smell of line-dried sheets, says Antony Ham Pong, an allergist in Ottawa.

"But along with that fresh scent, you bring in all kinds of allergens. You're sleeping on a bed of pollen." He suggests keeping windows and doors closed during pollen season and turning on air-conditioning, as well as changing your clothes and washing your hair immediately after you've been outdoors. A HEPA filter for your bedroom can also be a good investment, says Lafreniere.

Rinse them away
Invest $15 in a neti pot. It resembles a mini teapot that you fill with a saline solution to rinse out your nasal passages. Lafreniere recommends buying saline solution at the drugstore and mixing it with distilled or filtered (not tap) water. "You're basically rinsing out the pollen and other allergens," he says. "And it can also help clear mucus from your sinus passages."

Stock up on supplements
Taking a vitamin C tablet (2,000 milligrams) several times a day, or a supplement made from the butterbur shrub may help reduce allergy symptoms. "Both are natural antihistamines," says Lafreniere. He also recommends taking quercitin (500 milligrams) twice daily and N-acetylcysteine (500 milligrams) twice daily. If you have allergy-related asthma, try a 150-milligram magnesium supplement three times daily. "Magnesium can help to relax the smooth muscle constriction of the bronchi," he explains.

Take custom-mixed allergy drops
Many naturopathic doctors offer customized drops – to take daily under the tongue – based on a patient's allergy profile. "They usually start about a month before pollen season," says Lafreniere.


This story was originally titled "Natural remedies" in the June 2013 issue.

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