It’s time to open the windows and step outside! But like a poorly-timed dance routine, as soon as we can embrace the beauty of the season, allergies can force us back inside, grumbling about the very trees, grasses, and flowers we’ve been waiting for all winter. What can be done? I believe we need to lower our hyper-reactivity so we can tolerate the immune challenges of the season.
The first thing I recommend is a deep spring cleaning of your home. This means vacuuming every inch of your house, hopefully with a good HEPA filter, remembering to get under the couch, all the grooves in your upholstered furniture and mattress, and under the bed. Launder all bedding and get an anti-mite mattress cover. Remove dust- gathering books and magazines from the bedroom, and vacuum those on bookshelves. Also assess under sinks and washing machines for mold, and pitch old shower curtains.
Next, we need to clean-up the internal environment. This is the time to remove sugars and incorporate lots of mucous-membrane-stabilizing berries and detoxifying greens. Make some pestos to get their power-punch of nutrition. Parsley contains apigenin which decreases the allergenic lymphocytes and IgE.
We also need optimal gastrointestinal barrier function for balanced immunity. This is the perfect time to remove potential allergens from your diet and see how you feel. Gluten and dairy are the biggies but citrus, eggs, and yeasts can also play a role. Acid-blocking medications actually increase food-sensitivities and side-effects from medications. They stop our ability to fully digest proteins, which in turn enables allergy responses. Therefore, it is important to find other ways of calming acid reflux. Assessing the gastro-intestinal flora and checking for parasites is also important for those with long-standing GI or allergy concerns. This is where the right foods, herbs, and possibly probiotics can make a big difference.
Lastly, adding in a few supportive practices and supplements helps optimize our response. Zinc, quercetin, and N-Acetyl-cysteine all stabilize histamine-producing mast cells, support immune function and detox, and keep mucus thin so it can carry out any irritants. Nasal lavage after spending time outside can also help flush out pollens. Wipe down your hair (and your pets!) with a damp washcloth on returning inside.
As warmer, drier springs lead to longer pollen seasons with less rain washing it out of the air, we will need to bring in a multi-faceted approach. I hope this provides a helpful template! Here’s to free and clear breathing and to enjoying the great outdoors this spring season!