Hay Fever Relief
Springtime is here and with it comes pollen season, which is bad news for hay fever sufferers. Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is typically a reaction to pollen from trees, grasses and weeds that makes the immune system believe pollen is a harmful invader, triggering production of the antibody immunoglobulin E. This stimulates release of histamine, causing inflammation and swelling of the nasal passages, along with excessive mucus production and other symptoms such as sneezing, itching nose and throat, watery eyes and a clear, runny nose.
However, before you reach for anti-histamine medications this spring, there are a number of foods, nutrients and herbs that are extremely beneficial for alleviating hay fever symptoms.
Kiwifruit contain more vitamin C, gram for gram, than oranges (especially the yellow kiwifruit variety). Vitamin C is an effective natural anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory, and it also supports healthy immune function and protects from secondary respiratory conditions. This can be very beneficial in achieving hay fever relief naturally.
Pineapple is a rich source of bromelain, an enzyme with strong systemic anti-inflammatory effects, which helps decrease common hay fever symptoms such as mucosal inflammation and nasal congestion.
Commonly used in Middle Eastern and Asian cuisine, this spice contains curcumin, a phytochemical with powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions that are comparable to steroidal and nonsteroidal drugs. Curcumin has been found to have anti-allergy properties, which inhibit the release of histamine. This has proven to be effective when treating allergic rhinitis naturally.
Having an onion a day can help keep your hay fever at bay. Everyone who’s chopped onions has probably experienced the fact that onions can make you cry. As a result, cooking with fresh onions can naturally help with opening and draining your sinuses. Additionally, onions contain quercetin, a chemical compound that has antihistamine properties and aid in the reduction of inflammation and nasal congestion.
Make yourself a fresh veggie juice with a good slice of fresh ginger. Ginger is a powerful natural anti-inflammatory that helps reduce nasal swelling and associated hay fever symptoms. In fact, research from a 2008 study published in International Immunopharmacology suggests that ginger can modulate the immune response to inflammation associated with allergic asthma.
Lastly, Avoid Certain Foods
Limit or avoid cow’s milk and other dairy products as they can increase the production of mucus in the respiratory tract and exacerbate hay fever nasal congestion. Try alternatives such as rice, almond, quinoa and coconut milks.
Article by Lisa Guy
What Is Asthma?
Asthma is a condition characterized by difficulty breathing and narrowing of the airways leading to the lungs (including the nose, nasal passageways, mouth and larynx). Common symptoms of asthma include coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and pain or pressure in the chest. In people who have asthma or allergies, the blocked or inflamed airways that cause asthma symptoms can usually be cleared with help from certain lifestyle changes and treatments. Eating a healthy diet supplies asthma sufferers with antioxidants and nutrients to combat environmental toxins, control inflammatory responses and reduce dietary triggers.
Some of the most beneficial foods to include in your asthma diet plan are:
Brightly colored carotenoid foods: This compound gives fruit and vegetables their orange or red color and can help reduce asthma attacks. Carotenoids are the basis of vitamin A, which is involved in the maintenance of healthy mucous membranes that line the air passageways. Severity of asthma correlates with low vitamin A, so increase your intake of things like root veggies, sweet potatoes, carrots, leafy greens and berries.
Vitamin E and vitamin C foods: Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and helps detoxify the body, which is why some research suggests that consuming more vitamin C reduces wheezing and inflammation. Vitamin C is found is leafy greens, citrus fruits, cruciferous veggies and berries. Vitamin E is another powerful antioxidant found in nuts, seeds and healthy plant oils.
Foods with magnesium: Low levels of magnesium are associated with increased risk of developing asthma, and increasing magnesium has been shown to reduce severity of asthma attacks and symptoms like muscle-spasming anxiety. It’s been found that magnesium can induce bronchial smooth muscle relaxation and allow air to get into and out of the lungs more easily. Sources include greens, nuts, seeds, beans, cocoa and certain ancient grains.
Broccoli, broccoli sprouts, Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables: These contain many antioxidants and a key compound called sulforaphane. Researchers from UCLA state, “A major advantage of sulforaphane is that it appears to increase a broad array of antioxidant enzymes, which may help the compound’s effectiveness in blocking the harmful effects of air pollution. This strategy may offer protection against inflammatory processes and could lead to potential treatments for a variety of respiratory conditions.”
Omega-3 foods: Omega-3 is mostly found in oily fish, such as mackerel, sardines, orange roughy, salmon, trout and tuna. Nuts and seeds can also provide a good dose. Omega-3s help lower the incidence of asthma significantly because they reduce airway inflammation and immune system reactivity.
By Dr. Josh Axe, DC, DMN, CNS
Seasonal Allergy Relief
Oh, seasonal allergies. They truly can make life miserable. Some allergy symptoms include excess mucus, sneezing, runny nose, itchy and watery eyes, etc. The good news is, there are things we can do (without allergy medication)! These simple natural remedies have been very effective for allergy relief in our family.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is an age old remedy that is often recommended for a variety of health conditions. I’ve personally used it for allergy relief (and heartburn relief) with great success. The theory is that its ability to reduce mucous production and cleanse the lymphatic system makes it useful for allergies. It is also said to help digestion, weight loss, and more so it is worth a try.
Quercetin is a natural bioflavonoid that is said to help stabilize mast cells to keep them from releasing histamine. It is also a potent antioxidant that is said to help reduce inflammation. It is best used as a long term remedy and many people start taking it about 4-6 weeks before allergy season to help prevent allergy symptoms. As with any herb, you should check with your doctor before using, especially if you have a liver problem, are pregnant, or are on hormonal contraceptives.
Allergies are the result of an imbalance in the immune system that causes the body to react too strongly to a stimuli. Many studies link the presence of beneficial bacteria in the gut with reduced incidence of allergies. Evidence is even emerging that a mother’s gut bacteria during pregnancy and nursing can impact a child’s likelihood of getting allergies throughout life, as can exposure to overly sterile environments. While we can’t do much about our mothers’ diets while they were pregnant, balancing gut bacteria now and consuming enough beneficial bacteria can help easy allergy symptoms.
4. Local Honey
There isn’t much scientific evidence to back this one, but there seems to be a lot of anecdotal evidence from people who have tried it. (Even Mark Sisson weighed in on the subject here). The theory is that consuming local honey from where you live will help your body adapt to the allergens in the environment there. This is supposed to work like a natural allergy “shot” and doesn’t seem to have a downside.
5. Anti-inflammatory Foods
Foods, teas, and spices with known anti-inflammatory benefits may play a role in reducing unpleasant allergy symptoms. A 2016 study in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that ginger given orally to mice reduced sneezing and congestion as well as lowered mast cell response. Green tea shows similar effects for allergy relief.
Different people seem to benefit from different remedies depending on certain genetic factors and which allergens you are reacting to, so it might be worth trying more than one of these to see which works best for you. We wish you the best in health!
Article by Katie Wells
Herbs & Spices To Ease Pain
Did you know that the solution to your toothache, muscle pain or stomach upset might be sitting in your spice rack or window box? It’s true! Aside from the fact that herbs and spices have been used medicinally for thousands of years, countless scientific studies show that most have unique healing qualities and anti-inflammatory benefits. Before you head out to the drugstore for some narcotic painkillers, check out this list of herbs and spices which kill pain fast!
Known as ‘the stinking rose’, garlic has been used since ancient times as both a food and a natural medicine thanks to its ability to enhance the immune system with its antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, garlic cloves contain chemicals that shut down inflammatory pathways in ways similar to ibuprofen. Make sure to always use fresh garlic, either chopped or crushed, for best results.
Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, ginger is an amazing and tasty pain reliever. If you suffer from frequent headaches or migraines, try out some ginger and see if it quells the pain. In a study of 100 migraine sufferers, it was found that both ginger powder and the drug sumatriptan had comparable pain relieving effects. And a six week trial of patients with osteoarthritis saw them swap their pain medication for ginger extracts twice daily. Participants felt less pain when standing and walking after taking the ginger. Of course, ginger doesn’t cause any of the negative side effects that medications do.
Used in both Eastern and Western medicine for thousands of years, licorice root is used for a variety of illnesses. One particular type, known as DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice), is used to treat peptic ulcers, canker sores and acid reflux. When licorice root fluid extract was used on 100 patients with stomach ulcers (86 of whom had not improved with conventional drugs), after 6 weeks 90% of the patients improved, with ulcers completely disappearing in 22 people. Licorice gel applied to the skin is known to relieve the itching associated with eczema, while gargling with DGL in warm water can stop the pain of canker sores and other mouth problems.
One of the most anti-inflammatory spices around, turmeric contains the powerful compound curcumin, which is responsible for its inflammation fighting super powers. Rats who were suffering from neuropathic pain were given curcumin. Shortly afterward, they were described as exhibiting a decline in behaviors associated with pain. Researchers, looking at the effects of curcumin in obesity, suggest including curcumin (turmeric) as part of a healthy diet, given its low cost, safety and proven efficacy.
Black pepper contains piperine, a chemical which helps to counteract pain in the body. In fact, piperine extracted from black pepper can be mixed with other ingredients to make an analgesic cream for pain relief. This inexpensive seasoning is thought to reduce the perception of pain, inflammation and even arthritis.
A Word of Caution
Even though herbs and spices are natural products you can find in the store or garden, don’t underestimate their potency and never consume them in excess. If you suffer any medical conditions, are pregnant or are taking any medications, it’s important to consult a professional before using herbs and spices to treat ailments.
Article by Jayne Leonard