Allergies. Those who suffer from them know the anguish and misery they cause. For individuals with food allergies, it may mean that you may never get to taste a peanut or a shrimp. Otherwise, you run the risk of anaphylactic shock, or even worse- death. If you are allergic to pet fur and dander it may mean that you may never have the chance to have Fido be your best friend. For those with pollen or grass allergies, it may mean you may be blowing your nose from February until August depending on where you live. I belong to the last group. As I mentioned in previous blogs, I am highly sensitive to a plethora of things. Pollen and grass are included in that group. From the time I could remember, I was always the kid that could be found blowing his nose. It seemed like I had a cold year round, because I was always congested, coughing, and full of mucus. At times, my allergies were so bad that it even affected my ability to sleep. Not until I became an adult, was I able to treat my allergies with a natural remedy that I will discuss a little later.
What is an allergy?
An allergy is your body’s immune response to an antigen or foreign substance that does not cause disease. As you may already know your immune system’s primary function is to protect your body from pathogens, which are disease-causing antigens or organisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi etc. Your body is able to carry out this function because your cells (which are the building blocks of your body) have something called marker proteins, which help your body to identify its own cells. For example, my body has Andre marker proteins, which help my immune system identify cells that belong to my body. This is important because when a pathogen such as a cold virus enters my body, my immune system knows to only attack the cold virus (which has different marker proteins) and not Andre cells. When my immune system detects that the cold virus is in my body, it releases chemicals called histamines, which trigger the production of extra mucus, tears and coughing to help trap and expel the virus or pathogen from your body. This is why you may get a runny nose, teary eyes or start coughing when you are sick. In the case of an allergy, the immune system detects the foreign substance which in this case may be pollen, grass etc., and releases histamines which trigger the series of reactions we discussed previously. But unlike pathogens, pollen and grass do not cause diseases. However, since the immune system of allergy sufferers, cannot distinguish between disease-causing antigens (pathogens) and non-disease causing antigens, it produces the same response for all antigens. This results in the ill effects allergies have on those who endure them. In a sense, it is your body “overreacting” to something you are exposed to in the environment.
How can I treat my seasonal allergy?
In years past, during spring time or my allergy season, I would try virtually all products on the market, to try to get some relief, since this time of year was particularly debilitating to me. Some products would work for a couple of days, but after a while, they would eventually stop working, and my allergies would come back with a vengeance. Other products would work, but would make me extremely drowsy, which affected my productivity on the days I would take them. No matter what I tried, my allergies would always return. I had virtually given up hope until I learned about this natural remedy which I will discuss next.
Natural treatments for allergies
One day, I was speaking to a colleague of mine about my allergies. She recommended that I try a natural remedy that worked for her, that consisted of mixing a teaspoon of local wild honey and a teaspoon of Turmeric powder. I decided to give it a shot, and that decision has changed my life for the better.
Turmeric powder is a yellow powder widely used in Indian cuisine, including the popular curry dishes you may have heard about or even tasted. In India, turmeric is also used medicinally because of its anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric contains a substance called curcumin (the active ingredient in Turmeric powder), which is known for its ability to suppress inflammation. Turmeric is often used in India to treat arthritis and other chronic conditions related to inflammation. Curcumin is also an antioxidant which helps fight free radicals which are chemicals that accelerate the aging process. Furthermore, studies have shown that curcumin is an effective antidepressant, and may even stop the growth of cancer cells. Honey, as I have discussed in a previous article, has anti-inflammatory properties.[i] Additionally, by consuming local wild honey, that has not been commercially filtered, it may contain the antigens your body is allergic to. This allows your body to build up an immunity to these antigens when exposed to them, which suppresses your allergic response.
Overall, Turmeric is safe to use for most individuals but may cause the following side effects in certain people: diarrhea, indigestion, and nausea. Additionally, if you are taking a blood thinner or any other similar medication, you should consult your doctor about the possibilities of an adverse reaction when using these medications along with Turmeric. Pregnant women should also consult their doctor before using turmeric, as it may have a stimulating effect on the uterus.
When I first started using Turmeric, the only effect I noticed (besides it unusual taste) was that it made me go to the bathroom within minutes of ingestion[ii] However, let me warn you. This is not a quick fix remedy. You have to consume this mixture every day to achieve your desired allergy relief. One time, I got cocky and decided that since my allergies were no longer present (because this natural treatment was so effective) I would stop using this treatment. The first day after I stopped using the treatment I did not observe any changes, but on the third day, my allergies came back. My nose started to drip like a faucet, my throat became sore, and my eyes were tearing. I coughed all night and could not sleep well as a result. Needless to say, I immediately started back my honey and turmeric treatment and within a few days, my suffering ceased.
In addition to the aforementioned treatment for allergies some other natural treatments include:
1 Using quercetin which is a chemical found in plants (apples green tea, onions, and berries to name a few) which have been found to have anti-inflammatory properties, and can be taken as a dietary supplement.
2 Stinging nettle which is a type of plant that has been found to have an allergy suppressing effect. Stinging Nettle is available as a powder, tea, or in capsule form. Some individuals grow the plant for their own personal use but it must be handled carefully or it may inflict pain (hence the name stinging nettle.)
3 Saline solutions are also widely used as an allergy treatment and can be purchased at your local pharmacy.[iii]
4 Vitamin C which is found in citrus fruits, and other fruits and vegetables may also help with allergies as it may act as an antihistamine. It can be found as a dietary supplement, or some individuals opt to go to health professionals to have vitamin C administered intravenously.[iv]
I have only used the turmeric and wild honey treatment for my allergies, so I cannot personally attest to the efficacy of the other natural treatments I listed. However, based on my research, these are some of the other natural options available, and they may be worth trying if you cannot tolerate the taste and consistency of the honey and turmeric treatment.[v]
Always Remember– Foods are like friends. Choose them wisely!
[ii] You may want to try this remedy on a day where you are not in a rush to leave your home as it can stimulate bowel movements
[iii] You flush out your nasal cavity or nose using the saline solution to provide allergy relief.
[iv] Make sure you go to a qualified doctor and health professional before having vitamin c or any other chemical given to intravenously as having substances injected into your bloodstream can have a drastic impact on your health.
[v] The honey and turmeric natural remedy have an unusual taste and texture which some individuals may find offensive.
Sources of information for the article are below:
1 van Drimmelen, Meghan. “Natural Treatments for Seasonal Allergies.” Alive: Canada’s Natural Health & Wellness Magazine, no. 402, Apr. 2016, pp. 55-59.
2 Biali, Susan. “Spring Allergies.” Alive: Canada’s Natural Health & Wellness Magazine, no. 331, May 2010, pp. 42-45
3 Marcel, C, BS. “Turmeric.” CINAHL Nursing Guide, 08 Apr. 2016
4 Thalheimer, Judith. “Turmeric Buzz.” Environmental Nutrition, vol. 40, no. 1, Jan. 2017, p. 4.
5 Tweed, Vera. “Today’s Top Herb.” Better Nutrition, vol. 77, no. 2, Feb. 2015, pp. 22-23.