Tame Your Immune System
At the same time that you try to keep pollens at bay, these techniques can help tamp down your immune system’s response to them:
ALLERGY-PROOF YOUR DIET Up to a third of allergy sufferers experience a worsening of symptoms after eating certain foods, Bassett says. Known as food-pollen or oral allergy syndrome, it occurs when the body mistakes the proteins in some raw fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, seeds and herbs for the proteins in pollen.
For some people who are allergic to ragweed, foods like bananas, melon, zucchini, cucumbers; certain herbs and spices (echinacea, chamomile, parsley, paprika, oregano, dill, coriander, tarragon, pepper); as well as caraway and sunflower seeds can cause symptoms. Avoid these foods and see if you notice an improvement.
To further sidestep symptoms, avoid eating any food that gives you an itchy or tingly mouth or an upset stomach during allergy season. Or, try cooking it—it’s only when these foods are raw that they typically cause trouble, according to the AAAAI.
GIVE ACUPUNCTURE A SHOT Acupuncture can help alleviate allergy symptoms by calming the immune system and decreasing inflammation. A study published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine found that it reduced symptoms in all the allergy sufferers studied, with no major side effects.
TRY HOMEOPATHY Choosing the right remedy depends on your specific symptoms, says Christopher Johnson, N.D., founder of Thrive Naturopathic in Alexandria, Va. Allium cepa can be effective if you have lots of burning nasal discharge, frequent sneezing when outside, and red, burning and watery eyes. Use Euphrasia for bland nasal discharge, burning tears, extremely watery, itchy or swollen eyes, and a daytime cough that improves at night. Sabadilla is for those with intense sneezing, a very runny nose and red eyes. You can buy each remedy separately ($4 for 170 pellets; rxhomeo .com) or get Sabadil, a mixture of all three ($11 for 60 tablets; amazon.com). Follow package directions to determine dosage. If you’re unsure which remedy to try, consult a homeopath or a naturopathic physician, Johnson says.
FEEL THE PRESSURE Like acupuncture, NAET (Nambudripad Allergy Elimination Technique) aims to rebalance your body’s immune system—only without needles. The acupressure treatment takes five to 10 minutes, says Suzann Wang, N.D., a naturopathic doctor at Natural Health California in Palo Alto. Afterward, you sit holding a glass vial containing the offending allergen for about 20 minutes and then are instructed to avoid breathing it in (by staying indoors or wearing a mask) for 25 hours. About half of Wang’s patients report that they no longer suffer allergy symptoms after just one treatment, while it takes several visits for others, she says.