If you’re a wheezing, sniffling, snotty mess during allergy season, and over-the-counter remedies aren't providing the relief you need, don’t despair. You may not be able to get rid of your tissue supply entirely, but there are numerous alternative remedies that have been proven effective in combatting allergy symptoms, especially when used in combination with each other.
Allergies are an over-reaction of the immune system to certain substances that normally should not produce a response, according to Dr. Linda Dahl, an Ear, Nose & Throat Specialist at New York Presbyterian/ Cornell Medical Center. She cites common allergens as mold, dust, ragweed, pet hair and pollen.
Here are some suggestions to combat that response, from one allergy-sufferer to another.
Saline Sprays or Neti pots
Dahl explains that the effects of environmental allergies can be greatly reduced by rinsing sinuses with saline solutions. “Since your nose acts as an environmental filter, it is important to keep it clear of mucous and allergens,” says Dahl, who recommends SinuSense.
Another, more exotic remedy used for sinus irrigation is the Neti pot, a ceramic device that looks similar to a tiny teapot. Originating thousands of years ago in India, its popularity has spiked recently. New Jersey-based Dr. Gregg Schneider, an expert practitioner of alternative medicine, says studies have reported that the Neti pot may be as effective as some allergy medicines. The only downside? “Patients complain they feel like they are drowning,” says Schneider. In that case, he suggests sticking with the saline sprays.
A friend alerted me to cayenne tea to alleviate congestion, as documented in the book “Healing with Whole Foods” by Paul Pitchford. Fill a mug with hot water and mix with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, a couple teaspoons of honey and a squirt of lemon juice. Drink up, and you will may feel nearly instantaneous relief as the congestion seems to melt away. Be warned, though: to avoid stomach aggravatoin, only consume this concoction after having eaten. Also, if you are sensitive to spicy foods, this may not be the remedy for you.
Andrea Lynn is a food and health lifestyle writer, recipe developer and cookbook author. Her writing can be found at Andrealynnfoodwriter.com.