Spring is here, and with it comes itchy eyes, runny noses and constant congestion. That’s right — it’s allergy season. And you’re definitely not alone in your discomfort — more than 35 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies.
Trees, flowers, grass and other plants — the pollen from these is in the air right now, and causing you to constantly itch, sneeze and go running for the tissues.
But before you go running to the drugstore to grab some of those antihistamines that never seem to work as well as they do in the commercials — consider some alternative treatments.
A recently published Swiss study showed that taken four times a day, butterbur was effective against hay fever symptoms. It showed to be as effective as common drugs, but without the drowsy side effect.
An additional British study showed that butterbur is also effective against grass allergy symptoms. However it is not recommended that you use butterbur if you are allergic to ragweed, as it could only make symptoms worse. And studies have not yet been done to look at how safe butterbur is if taken for longer than two weeks.
You should also be careful about mixing butterbur, or any herbal treatment, with over-the-counter or prescribed drugs. You could end up with a double dose of say, an antihistamine — which could cause you further problems than just itchy eyes.
Butterbur is available in tablet form wherever herbal supplements are sold — be sure to follow dosage directions if you choose to try this herbal treatment. Another natural and easy treatment is a saline nasal spray. Which is basically salt water.
Dr. Hardy of the Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles recommends adding goldenseal to the spray. Goldenseal acts as an astringent and is antibacterial.
Combined with the salt, this spray will help wash the pollen out of your nose, and reduce or even thin the mucous.
Taking a look at what you eat may also be helpful against seasonal allergy symptoms. Hot, spicy foods will help to clear that mucous in your nose, allowing for much easier breathing. Now would be a great time to try out a delicious curry dish, or add some extra garlic to your burgers or pasta.
And of course there are foods to avoid. If ragweed causes your symptoms, Dr. Bassett of NYU suggests staying away from the following:
— sunflower seeds
No matter which treatment choice you opt for, at some point during allergy season you will probably be tempted to just stay indoors.
Once your symptoms have started you may find little relief from staying inside. Air purifiers and filters have not been shown to be helpful once you’ve started to suffer from your symptoms.
But if you do feel it’s helpful to stay indoors, be sure to close your windows and turn on the air conditioning. Make sure that all air filters have been recently changed or cleaned. And if you’ve just come in from outside, changing your clothes or even showering will help get rid of some of the pollen you’ve brought in with you.
And on a final note, just because you suffer from pollen allergies does not mean you can’t still enjoy some beautiful flowers. Hibiscus, magnolia, azalea, daisy and rose all make the short list of flowers that shouldn’t aggravate your allergy symptoms.