Many of us are excited to have springtime in full-swing and the weather steadily heating up. But with new grass and budding flowers just around the corner, there comes a dreaded time for approximately 10-30 percent of the population. That’s right, it’s almost allergy season.
Over-the-counter medications like Claritin and Reactine can work wonders in many allergy sufferers. Natural remedies such as quercetin and Petascites hybridus (or butterbur) can do the trick for runny noses, itchy eyes and sneezing. But what else can we do to proactively calm the body’s immune system and lower our allergy burden? A good place to start is by looking at our homes and our bodies. Here are some tips and tricks to consider for your house and your diet as we enter the allergy season:
Purchase an air purifier
It has been proven that indoor air actually has more pesticides, solvents and chemicals vs. outdoor air. Although pollens and fresh-cut grass tend to be out in the yard, we bring those allergens inside with us on our clothes and on the soles of our shoes. Many people with asthma, allergies and sinus concerns will benefit dramatically from using an air purifier in their bedroom or main area. For the best results, ensure that your air purifier has a charcoal filter and a HEPA filter.
Do a thorough house cleaning and dusting
This may be an obvious tip but be sure to clean those hard to reach places that often get missed like the baseboards, above the fan blades, behind the headboard of the bed, on top of the fridge and high-rise appliances. Further, avoid toxic cleaning products, opting for the less harmful vinegar based solutions.
Consider removing your wall-to-wall carpeting
Carpeting is a haven for allergens, dust and chemicals. Whether you live in a new or old home, stop debating the benefits of carpet removal. It’s time to replace your carpets with hardwood or laminate flooring and alternately use decorative throw rugs that you can easily wash or shake out.
Don’t permit smoking inside your home or car
The chemicals and toxins in cigarettes are well known to seep into walls, carpets and household materials. This means that even if you are not the one smoking, you’re getting exposure and your immune system, liver, sinuses, lungs and all other systems are carrying that extra burden.
Reduce your cosmetic exposure, or find toxin free makeup brands
Most cosmetics are riddled with chemicals that can negatively impact your hormones and your overall health. When it comes to allergies, if you are using excessive amounts of cosmetics then your body will be busy focusing on detoxifying these chemicals and balancing hormones rather than fighting off allergens. These chemicals have names like parabens, pthalates, sulfates, FD&C and D&C (synthetic colors).
Avoid perfumes, scented laundry detergents and fabric softeners
The same goes for air fresheners with solvents like toluene, or shampoos and soaps with parabens and sodium lauryl sulphate. If you want yourself and your home to smell fresh, consider essential oils or all natural candles instead.
If you have visible mold, have a remediation company get rid of it
This can be costly depending on the extent of mold exposure, but it may be one of the best investments you ever make for your allergies and for your overall health! Mold exposure is linked to dozens of health symptoms including sinus congestion and allergy control. Start with the obvious mold that you can see and also places that would have lots of water exposure (such as the shower or the basement).
Increase your consumption of raw broccoli
Raw broccoli contains a highly potent antioxidant compound known as sulforaphane. This compound is one of the best natural ingredients known to stimulate liver detoxification abilities, meaning that it allows your liver to better fight off and eliminate the allergens that come through your system. Keep in mind, though, that the broccoli cannot be cooked because this kills the enzyme myrosinase which is responsible for activating sulforaphane.
Consider switching key produce items to organic
According to reports from www.ewg.org certain fruits and vegetables are well-known to be highly pesticide-laden. This is just more work for your liver to handle and is, once again, increasing your body’s toxic burden. Common examples of the most pesticide-laden foods include strawberries, apples, spinach, grapes and tomatoes.
If you follow these steps now and continue them throughout allergy season your body will be in a much better place to fight off the allergens and recover quickly when you do have exposure. As a side benefit, these changes will benefit your hormones and energy levels, meaning that your overall health will skyrocket! Many of these changes will improve the health of your family and house members, too!
Let us know if you have any natural tips and tricks that have made your allergy season more enjoyable – and less sneezy – by leaving a comment below.
By Dr. O'Brien