Natural Remedies for Common Allergies
Allergies are thought to be very common, affecting about 25% of the population in the UK. When we experience allergic reaction symptoms, it’s our immune system’s way of attempting to protect our bodies from a foreign substance. These substances are normally harmless and can range from pollen to insect stings and certain foods.
Although allergic reactions are usually considered to be mild, they can be bothersome. So how best can we remedy their symptoms so they don’t intrude as much on our daily activities? Here are a few natural ways that you can consider at home.
What are the causes of allergies?
Our immune systems produce antibodies which are a type of protein found in the blood. They are produced as a response to a substance that the body recognises as foreign and potentially harmful, such as viruses, bacteria, and in this case, allergens.
Antibodies chemically combine themselves with the foreign substance in order to remove it from the system. When this happens, our bodies release a chemical called histamine and as a response can react with inflammation to the skin, sinuses, digestive system or airways.
Who is affected by allergies?
It is not clear why people are affected by allergies, but most people that have a family history of allergies or related conditions are prone to experiencing them. This can include asthma and eczema.
Allergies are most common in children and can be outgrown, though most are lifelong. There is also a possibility of them developing in adults that were previously not affected.
What are the most common allergies and their symptoms?
Also known as allergic rhinitis, hay fever is the most common type of allergy. Its symptoms are experienced at their worst when pollen counts are high, and may last weeks or months.
- Sneezing and/or coughing
- Runny, stuffy nose
- Itchy, red and watery eyes
- Itchy throat, mouth, ears or nose
- Feeling tired
These occur within minutes of ingesting food that one is allergic to. It is very important to avoid foods that cause allergic reactions as they could be severe. You may experience the following:
- Swelling of the mouth, tongue, face or throat
- Difficulties in breathing
Foods that most commonly cause an allergic reaction are:
- Tree nuts
- Some fruit and vegetables
Getting stung by an insect, for example, a bee can cause normal swelling and pain around the area or surrounding areas. However, an allergic reaction may result in more severe symptoms such as :
- Wheezing or difficulty in breathing
- Swelling of the mouth, tongue, face or throat
- Rapid pulse
- Difficulty swallowing
These can occur with any prescription or over the counter drug. The most common drug that causes allergic reactions is penicillin and other antibiotics similar to it. Symptoms include:
- Itchy skin or rash
- Swelling of the face
Coming into contact with an allergen such as pet dander, certain soaps and cleaners or plants such as poison ivy can irritate the skin. It can take anywhere between a few hours and 10 days to be relieved of symptoms that include:
- Itchy, red or flaky skin
How to ease allergy symptoms naturally?
It is best to avoid contact with the allergen to limit reactions. This isn’t always possible or ideal so the following can be used to help keep them under control.
These are plant-based chemicals found in citrus fruits and blackcurrants which may act as natural antihistamines. They are naturally occurring with antioxidant abilities that work to neutralize free radicals in the body and have beneficial anti-inflammatory effects.
Foods that contain bioflavonoids are:
- Berries such as blackberries, blueberries, cherries, and raspberries, strawberries.
- Red cabbage
- Red wine
- Tea- Green, Oolong and black
- Dark chocolate
- Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, lemons
It is thought that the more colourful food is, the higher its bioflavonoid component.
2. Saline rinse
This can thin mucus as well as wash out bacteria and allergens from the nasal passage. To make a solution, mix together:
- 3 teaspoons of salt (without iodide),
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1 teaspoon of this mixture to 8 ounces of boiled water
Tilt your head over a sink and pour or squeeze the solution slowly into the upper nostril, allowing it to run out the other nostril.
Ginger can be used fresh, dried, powdered, or as an oil or juice.
Its main compound, Gingero, has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. According to research, 1–1.5 grams of ginger can help prevent various types of nausea, including chemotherapy-related nausea, nausea after surgery, and morning sickness.
Found naturally in fish oils, flaxseeds and walnuts, these fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties. Its supplementation during pregnancy has shown preliminary protective effects against allergies in childhood.
A combination of the probiotics lactobacilli and bifidobacteria are known to help maintain digestive health and the immune system.
Their aim is to deliver good bacteria to the gut and are said to decrease rhinitis, sneezing, or nasal blocking significantly.
They can be found in foods such as yoghurt, kombucha, pickles, bananas and grapefruit.
6. Apple cider vinegar
This can be used to treat skin inflammation by soaking gauze in 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with 1 cup of water and applying it to the affected area.
It also helps boost the immune system, clear mucus and improve gut health.
7. Epsom bath
Soaking in an Epsom salt bath can help relax the muscles aiding in pain relief and reducing inflammation.
It also soothes skin irritations and itching. It is recommended to soak for about 15 minutes in a solution of 2 cups Epsom salt for 1 gallon of warm water.
8. Stinging nettle
Usually consumed as tea, this plant contains a wide variety of nutrients including Vitamins A, C and K, calcium, iron and flavonoids. Many of these act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that may reduce hay fever symptoms such as nasal congestion.
Acupuncture treatments may help some people to find relief from their symptoms. A nervous system with low levels of stress is said to function more effectively.
10. Regular cleaning
Regular cleaning and/or the use of an air purifier can help remove dust and other common allergens such as pollen, reducing risk of exposure and reaction symptoms.
What is the most severe reaction to an allergy?
Although most allergies are considered to have mild reactions, some can be life-threatening. Anaphylaxis is a severe reaction that needs to be treated straight away, usually with a shot of Epinephrine to reverse the symptoms. If left untreated, anaphylaxis can be deadly.
You should seek medical treatment immediately if you experience the following:
- Feeling lightheaded or faint
- Fast, shallow breathing or severe shortness of breath
- Clammy skin
- Confusion and anxiety
- Collapsing or losing consciousness
- A sudden drop in blood pressure
- Skin rash
- A rapid, weak pulse
- Nausea and vomiting
Allergies are usually considered as mild reactions to substances that the immune system treats as foreign and attempt to remove.
The best remedy is to avoid exposure to the allergen, especially when it comes to food allergies, but these natural remedies can be used at home to help ease and alleviate some symptoms.
Remember that allergies can also pose as life-threatening and should be treated by a medical professional if symptoms are severe.