Allergy season: worse…and longer…than ever
If you feel like your seasonal allergies are starting to act up earlier with each passing year…or if you’ve never been an allergy sufferer yet suddenly you’ve started to wonder, “Could all these symptoms be allergies?”…you’re probably right, on both counts.
In a report released last year, experts explained that not only is allergy season starting earlier than ever, it’s migrating to areas of the country that typically saw fewer complaints of allergies, leading to many new, first-time cases.
It’s widely believed that climate change is to blame. Global warming is extending the amount of time many parts of the country goes without a freeze, which gives plants more time to grow and produce pollen. Warmer temps allow trees and plants to pollinate earlier, and for longer periods of time—in many cases by several additional weeks or even months!
The researchers looked at decades of temperature data for 201 cities. Eighty-three percent of those cities saw the amount of time they went without freezing temps lengthen since 1970. On average, the time between the first freeze in autumn to the last freeze in spring grew by over two weeks. In 34 cities—including large metropolitan areas like Minneapolis and Philadelphia—that freeze-free time increased by at least four weeks.1
Research also shows that warmer temps cause certain allergens, like ragweed, to migrate further north than ever before.2 Folks as far north as Connecticut are experiencing ragweed allergies for the first time in their lives.
An excess of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is also contributing to the lengthening and increased severity of allergies—independent of global warming. Plants love carbon dioxide. The more there is in the atmosphere, the longer they flourish. In fact, studies show that the amount and potency of ragweed pollen doubles with higher levels of carbon dioxide in the air.3
This isn’t exactly the best news…but there’s hope.
To understand how allergy medications and supplements provide much-needed symptom relief, it helps to know what happens in your body when you come in contact with allergens like pollen.
The body reacts to pollen by releasing billions of IgE antibodies into the bloodstream. The antibodies combine with mast cells, which are storage sites for histamine, leukotrienes, and prostaglandins—all chemicals involved in the inflammatory process. The IgE antibodies activate the release of these chemicals, which tells your immune system to attack.
Believe it or not, this cascade of events is designed to be helpful—a protective reaction to harmful pathogens. But, in the case of allergies, it’s essentially a miscommunication within your immune system. It sees things like pollen, ragweed and pet dander as “dangerous”.
And, with that, your allergy symptoms—sneezing, watery/itchy eyes, runny nose/congestion, and coughing—begin.
Billions of dollars are spent each year on over-the-counter and prescription drugs, allergy shots, and other measures to alleviate symptoms. Traditional medicine can offer temporary relief but with some drawbacks, including drowsiness, dry mouth, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, and upset stomach.
If these methods don’t work well for you, or if you just can’t tolerate the side effects, you have plenty of other options. The following natural alternatives work well and have few, if any, harmful side effects.
One caveat though…
According to the report referenced earlier, “For Americans with pollen allergies, it’s not just the length of the growing season that matters, but when the growing season starts. Managing allergies effectively can require that treatment begins several weeks before the allergens proliferate in the air.”1
In simple terms, this means if you’re one of the millions in this country who suffers from allergies, now is the time to start treatment so that your body is prepared and your immune response is lessened for when the season is in full swing.
- Quail egg powder should be your #1 go-to for allergies. This unique substance has been demonstrated in several studies to relieve several allergy symptoms, including stuffy/runny/itchy nose, watery/itchy eyes, and asthma. In one clinical trial, 43 people were exposed to common indoor and outdoor allergens, including grass and tree pollen, dust mites and animal dander. They then immediately took two tablets of either a proprietary quail egg extract or placebo. Those who took the quail egg experienced significant relief from nasal symptoms and itchy/watery eyes within just 15 minutes.4
Plus, unlike so many other remedies, it actually works better the longer you take it. In double-blind, placebo-controlled, human clinical studies (the gold standard in medical research), 80% of the people taking quail egg powder were completely symptom free after just 90 days.
Safe for both adults and children, this impressive allergy fighter is the main ingredient in Newport Natural Health’s Breathe EZ product.
- Butterbur is an herb that stacks up against one of the top-selling antihistamines on the market. In a study that compared butterbur to the antihistamine cetirizine (Zyrtec), both treatments were similarly effective, but butterbur didn’t produce the drowsiness and fatigue felt by two-thirds of those taking Zyrtec.In another study, 90 percent of butterbur users saw significant improvement in their symptoms and rated the herb’s efficacy and tolerability at 80 percent and 92 percent, respectively.5-6 Typical dosing is 50 mg twice daily.
- Quercetin is a bioflavonoid that works by preventing mast cells from releasing histamine, and decreasing production of inflammatory leukotrienes.7 Typical dosing is 400 mg twice daily on an empty stomach, taken with a digestive enzyme like bromelain to help with absorption.
- Stinging nettles is a medicinal herb that comes in many forms (tea, extract, tincture, etc.). It inhibits histamine receptors and prostaglandin formation. In one study, allergy sufferers rated a freeze-dried preparation of stinging nettles much higher than placebo in reducing symptoms.8-9
- Probiotics. Up to 80 percent of our immunity originates in our gut, so it makes sense that taking a probiotic supplement can help prevent and treat allergies. A great high-quality probiotic product to try is Newport Natural Health’s Microencapsulated Probiotic. Not only does it include several different strains of beneficial bacteria, it contains prebiotics, which feed the bacteria.
Along with taking these supplements to minimize allergy symptoms, become familiar with using a neti pot daily. You won’t regret it! Nasal irrigation has been shown to minimize allergy symptoms like nasal congestion, runny nose, and sneezing—fast.
To use a neti pot (which you can find online and at all pharmacies), fill the pot with one cup of warm distilled/filtered (not tap) water. Mix in ¼ teaspoon of table salt. Stand over a sink, tilt your head to one side, and insert the spout into your upper nostril. Pour the solution into your upper nostril and allow it to drain out of your lower nostril.
Repeat on the other nostril, then blow your nose to fully clear your sinuses.
Minimize Your Exposure
During allergy season, you should also do what you can to reduce your overall exposure to allergens:
- HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters are designed to trap pollen and other irritants. Use them in your home and vacuum.
- Sprinkle your entire home with indoor plants, which are basically Mother Nature’s “air filters.” Nearly all indoor plants clean the air, but some of the best-known options are aloe vera, spider plants, snake plants, weeping figs, philodendrons, peace lilies, and bamboo palms.
- While getting some fresh air in your home can be tempting, avoid opening windows during allergy season.
- Take your shoes off before entering your house. Rinse them off outside with a hose or in your laundry room utility sink.
- When pollen counts are especially high, wear an allergy mask while outside.
- Shower before going to bed to wash away pollen that may have gotten trapped in your hair or on your body.
There’s no doubt that seasonal allergies are miserable. And by all indications, they’re not going to let up anytime soon. Be proactive and take protective and preventive measures now, so that you can stop and smell the flowers this spring—without sneezing all over them.
- Climate Central. POLLEN PROBLEMS: Climate Change, the Growing Season, and America’s Allergies. 27 March 2019. Last accessed February 5, 2020.
- Singer B, et al. Increasing AMB A 1 content in common tagweed pollen as a function of rising atmospheric CO2 concentration. USDA Agricultural Research Service. 2005 Jul 1. Last accessed February 5, 2020.
- Case MJ and Stinson KA. Climate change impacts on the distribution of the allergenic plant, common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) in the eastern United States. PLoS One. 2018 Oct 31;13(10):e0205677. Last accessed February 5, 2020.
- Benichou AC, et al. A proprietary blend of quail egg for the attenuation of nasal provocation with a standardized allergenic challenge: a randomized, placebo-controlled study. Food Sci Nutr. 2014 Nov;2(6):655-63. Last accessed February 18, 2020.
- Schapowal A. Randomised controlled trial of butterbur and cetirizine for treating seasonal allergic rhinitis. BMJ 2002 Jan 19;324(7330):144-6. Last accessed February 5, 2020.
- Kaufeler R, et al. Efficacy and safety of butterbur herbal extract Ze 339 in seasonal allergic rhinitis: postmarketing surveillance study. Adv Ther 2006 Mar-Apr;23(2):373-84. Last accessed February 5, 2020.
- Micek J, et al. Quercetin and its anti-allergic immune response. Molecules 2016 May 12;21(5). Last accessed February 5, 2020.
- Roscheck B Jr, et al. Nettle extract affects key receptors and enzymes associated with allergic rhinitis. Phytother Res 2009 Jul;23(7):920-6. Last accessed February 5, 2020.
- Mittman P. Randomized, double-blind study of freeze-dried Urtica dioica in the treatment of allergic rhinitis. Planta Med 1990 Feb;56(1):44-7. Last accessed February 5, 2020.