You may think that allergies are for seasons in which dormant plants spring back to life by opening their buds, spreading their pollen-rich petals, and perfume the air with all kinds of irritating spores. Yet, allergies can hit you during any season of the year and with fall upon us, some of you may be noticing creeping symptoms such as itchy eyes and a runny nose.
What’s making you run for the box of tissues in the Fall? In particular, it’s most likely ragweed, — an allergy-inducing plant that thoroughly enjoys warm days and cool nights — mold and mildew, — as the days get mistier and wetter — and, surprisingly, dust mites.
This combination of Fall stimulants may have you running to your local drug store for allergy medication, yet have you ever tried some natural remedies? Over-the-counter medications can cause drowsiness and stomach upset, which, on a daily basis, can be incredibly inconvenient.
Luckily, plant-based remedies are here to help!
Here are some of the most popular natural remedies to help you get through the Fall allergy season. Before making any dietary changes or integrating natural remedies, it’s incredibly important to speak with a medical professional!
Most likely, when you hear people talking about ragweed, it’s not in the sense of how beautiful the plant is, but instead how irritating it can be for most of us with allergies. It doesn’t help that there are “17 types of ragweed that grow in the United States, typically releasing pollen between August and September,” with a single ragweed plant releasing “as many as 1 billion pollen grains, which create future ragweed plants and cause significant seasonal allergies.”
What You’ll Experience
It starts with the blooming of ragweed and its release of pollen, which is then inhaled. When ragweed pollen is inhaled our “immune system may react as if it is an illness-causing substance, and they may experience allergy symptoms.” Simply put, in an attempt to protect us from ragweed, our bodies create allergic symptoms including itchy eyes, nose, and throat, puffy eyes, runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, all of which may lead to difficulty sleeping.
To begin a treatment plan, make sure to “wash your clothes, linens, and curtains regularly,” keep windows closed, and “bathe your pets — especially outdoor dogs and cats — frequently.” Secondly, if you’re allergic to ragweed you may also want to avoid certain foods that can cause similar allergic reactions such as bananas, cantaloupes, chamomile tea, cucumber, sunflower seeds, and zucchini.
Lastly, try using some natural remedies to treat your ragweed allergy. Stinging nettle tea is a popular remedy. Stinging nettle naturally produces scopoletin, a “natural antihistamine,” that is used for prevention of fever, sneezing, congestion, and eye discomfort. Eat some pineapple! Primarily, you’ll be wanting to get bromelain, an “enzyme found in pineapples” which is a “powerful anti-inflammatory that relieves swelling (especially in the nose and sinuses) and aching joints.” If you’ve got a deep, mucus-filled cough, it’s time to get some eucalyptus. Eucalyptus is a “sharply fragrant leaf (Eucalyptus globulus)” which has been shown to “‘thins mucus and is excellent for a deep, heavy cough.'”
When it comes to eucalyptus, try an essential oil — such as this NOW Vegan Essential Oils Eucalyptus Oil — mixed with a carrier oil or lotion product for your body or in an aromatherapy diffuser.
Luckily, you can integrate these products easily into a plant-based diet! If tea is not your jam, try this super unique Foraged Stinging Nettle Soup. Get a dose of bromelain with these Pineapple Pizza Tacos or in this healing Basil Pineapple Ginger Smoothie.
Mold and Mildew
If you haven’t encountered mold or mildew outdoors or indoors, then count yourself lucky. Most likely, we have all encountered this common form of fungi at one point in our lives. Mold and mildew “grow from and produce spores that, like pollen, are spread by the wind or indoor air.” While this fungus tends “to grow year-round,” it is fairly prevalent in the Fall as the season begins to dampen. In particular, mold and mildew grow “on damp fallen leaves and compost piles,” thriving in “damp areas indoors like basements, bathrooms, and kitchens.”
The real kicker about this form of allergy? While pollen is “killed by the first frost,” mold and mildew are true survivors and can continue to grow through cold weather. Plus, while the temperature may drop outdoors, your house stays nice and warm.
What You’ll Experience
Like other allergies, those who react to mold and mildew will experience “sneezing, itching, runny nose, congestion and dry, scaling skin.” If mold spores make their way into your nasal cavity, they can “cause hay fever symptoms … [such as] … severe wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.” Some people liken it to the feeling of asthma.
To avoid mold and mildew allergies, “rake your yard of fallen leaves and remove leaves from gutters” and make sure that these piles are far away from your home. Indoors, try using a dehumidifier “especially in the basement,” and regularly clean your bathroom and kitchen.
Once you’ve attacked the environmental factors, try a few natural agents to remedy those mold and mildew symptoms.
First off, avoid “fermented foods, such as red wine, [which] can trigger the release of histamine by constricting blood vessels, resulting in increased allergy symptoms.”
Next, integrate herbal remedies that contain anti-fungal properties such as garlic, — Pure Mountain Botanicals Vegan Garlic Pills — tea tree oil, — Garden of Life Essential Tea Tree Oil — and oregano oil, — Gaia Herbs Oil of Oregano, as well as supplements that can boost the immune system including vitamin C — such as this Deva Vegan Vitamin C Supplement — and selenium — such as this Nested Naturals Vegan Selenium supplement.
If you’re looking to integrate these mold and mildew fighting agents in your diet, try out a few of these recipes: Quick Rise Garlic Breads, Potato Oregano Rolls, Nut-Free Strawberry Vanilla Crumble Bars (contains vitamin C), or this Brazil Nut Fudge (contains selenium).
You’ve heard of them. You know they live all around us. But, what in the heck are dust mites and are they causing you to sneeze?
Similarly to other Fall allergies, it may be caused by the increased amount of time you’re spending indoors. This is true for dust-mite allergies. Dust mites are “microscopic arthropods that feed primarily on flakes of human skin that are shed naturally around the home.” While these critters live year-round, generally in climates with temps “ranging from the high 60s to mid 70s,” they may not cause you issues until you are forced to stay indoors. Unless you live in a bubble, it’s impossible to kill off every single dust mite in your home, yet with the right management tips, you can definitely manage them.
What You’ll Experience
The most pronounced symptoms of a dust mite allergy also mimic hay fever. With that said, dust mite allergies generally begin with symptoms that look exactly like a common cold such as sneezing, runny nose, itchy and red eyes, nasal congestion, postnasal drip, cough, and facial pressure. From there, if left untreated, the allergic reaction can steadily worsen beginning with swollen and blue-colored skin under the eyes, difficulty breathing, tightness and pain the chest, audible whistling upon exhale, sleep troubles, shortness of breath, and bouts of coughing.
First off, as the temperature drops “clean air vents throughout the house before turning the central heating unit on for the first time after summer.” It’s also recommended to “cover your mattress and pillows in dust-proof covers (dust mites love the bedroom),” regularly wash your bedding “in hot water (130°F or higher),” dust, vacuum, and, if possible, opt for hardwood floors over carpeting.
Treatment of dust mite allergies is similar to treatment of pollen-based allergies. You’ll want to incorporate a natural decongestant — the most effective seems to be a Neti Pot, such as this SinuCleanse Nasal Wash System — an air-purifying agent — such as a dehumidifier like this Hysure Dehumidifier — and a natural agent to help stop that nasal flow — such as capsaicin, which is a natural component of spicy foods.
When it comes to capsaicin, you can integrate this super easily into your diet by making some of your favorite spicy foods! Start out with chili peppers such as this Baked Jalapeno Popper recipe or this Raw Habanero Pepper Crackers. Also, try incorporating some cayenne pepper such as in this Healthy Chili recipe.
We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 15,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!
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