Monday, July 6, 2009

Sniffles and Snots and Snorts oh my!

I am a horrible blogger. Quite possibly the worst in the world if you ask me. I always have these awesome ideas for posts and never post them for whatever stupid reason invades my common sense at the moment. I did promise a blog on allergies and honest to God (gods, Diana, Nature, Jeshua, whoever you dig) I started writing it one night and blogger would not have any part in publishing it and told me to try another time. You would think that I'd be smart and save it somewhere... you'd think that if you didn't know me personally. Anyway, here's some info for you less fortunate souls who are plagued with seasonal allergies and don't feel like taking the chemically poisoning way that the FDA so strongly suggests in form of pills and shots (which I got for years as a kid. Not awesome.)

I was lucky enough that when I finally quit dairy completely, after about eight months of it working itself out of my system, my allergies disappeared. I have no clear, concrete idea how this happens except that possibly all the hormones and crap in milk keep your body from being able to produce the correct amount of anti-histamines to fight off the allergens. I'm not an expert, just a snarky little know-it-all but not really. I wish I knew it all.

Anyway, here are some natural remedies that helped me for years and also a lot of what the professionals in the health food store I work in suggest.

1) Stinging Nettle. It's a weed. Most natural cures are. But, it can be traced back thousands of years as being used to help with colds, puffy eyes, and sore throats (most likely all caused by allergies.) Stinging Nettle (or just "Nettle") comes in a variety of forms. It works naturally with your body to produce anti-histamines to help with the inflammation caused by nasty little allergens that get into your sinuses and wreak hell on your system. You can get it in loose tea form, capsules (make sure they're V-caps), tinctures and teas. I love Traditional Medicinals Organic Nettle Leaf Tea. I am not into sweet drinks and if you like more bitter teas like I do, you'll like this. I would suggest not sweetening it with sugar. If you need it sweetened, maybe some agave or local honey, which brings me to my next love.

2) Local Honey. If you are a strict vegan, you might not use honey. I have visited the local apiary where my boss buys the honey we sell in the store. They are extremely compassionate and natural in the way they produce their honey. The man loves his bees. Honey contains bits of pollen. Keep reading, Sniffles, I'm not crazy. When you introduce LOCAL pollen to your system on a constant basis, your body begins to get used to it because it's not being overloaded. Honey acts as an immune shot if you use it on a constant basis (once or twice a week for me). Your body consistently has it in its system so it is not slacking on building up an immunity to it. The more local, the better because local honey is going to have what YOUR body needs to fight off the over-exposure of pollen when it happens (say... Spring and Summer). Stir a little in your tea, drizzle some on a baked sweet potato, or spread some on toast. If you are a militant vegan (honey is the ONLY animal bi-product I consume personally) and refuse to consume honey, then you're out of luck on its healing qualities. If you go for local honey, try to find one that says "Free Apiary." That means that the bee-keeper is working together with local farmers to pollinate their crops when they bloom. Like I said and I can't stress it enough- LOCAL.

3) Neti Pots. I love mine. Actually, I have two. I have a nice white porcelain one for at home and a kitchy teal plastic one to travel. If you've never heard of a Neti Pot, check this out. CLICK HERE (This is the one I have.) It looks like a little tea pot but you mix a warmish saline solution in it and stick it in your nose. Watching a video a few times is helpful. The water goes in one nostril, fills your sinus, and comes out the other nostril. It's like what the gross boys at lunchtime in school did with spaghetti noodles but so much more beneficial. What the saline water does is warms and releases allergens, pollens, dirt, etc that you breathe in on a daily basis and washes them right out the other side. You can also massage your sinuses a bit before use to help loosen everything up. I use mine almost daily during the Spring and Summer, especially after hiking. If you live in a city, they're wonderful even if you don't have allergies. Think of all the dirt and pollution bits you can wash out of your sinuses at the end of the day. With allergies, you can use this as much as possible to help keep your sinuses clear. And, if you have a good sense of humor, you'll get a good laugh out of using them too. They make you feel pretty undignified but they're fun.

4) Apple Cider Vinegar. My mother hates this stuff. My housemate and I love it. I love vinegar anyway, on anything so it is awesome. You can take it as a daily tonic. An ounce or two in a glass of water a day is a great way to keep taking it regularly. My favorite is BRAGG'S. They are as natural, live, and organic as I've been able to find and they have the tackiest website I've seen in a long time. They have a lot of other great products too (their Ginger salad dressing is to die for). Apple Cider Vinegar is said to help stop histamine response and allergic reactions if you take it immediately when you feel it coming. I've been using it for a while as my vinegar for salads (goes great with flax oil) and never knew it helped with allergies until recently. It's good stuff. Found at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, or anywhere that sells things of the more natural persuasion.

5) Turmeric. This is one of what I call my "magic spices". It tastes amazing, I use it in tons of dishes, but it also has amazing medicinal qualities to it. My mom makes her own capsules of it to help with her joints. It also helps with allergies. This awesome little ground up goody spice is an anti-inflammatory and helps calm your immune system. You can find it in your favorite Indian dish (the spicier the better to help release the pressure in your sinuses) or in capsule form. Buying it in a bulk spice section is most likely the cheapest. From there, you can mix half a teaspoon in water twice a day if you can handle the taste or make your own capsules with empty V-caps. I just like it sprinkled on rice or popcorn. Try and get organic. If not, you run the risk of getting chemicals and pesticides in your system- not awesome. It also makes a great food coloring for icing on cakes too. Gives a great yellow color.

So there are some natural cures that I used for allergies for years. Like I stated before, mine are mostly gone but every now and then, if I get overloaded with pollen and start sneezin and getting all swollen, I use these natural cures and they definitely help.


  1. Hello Herbivore, I am a friend of Lisa's. I like your ideas, I'll give them a shot. Any suggestions for moderate-severe allergic reactions to guinea pigs?

  2. I know it sounds traumatic, but try cutting out dairy for about two weeks and see what happens. I'm reading more and more about how dairy can inhibit our ability to fight off allergens. The hormones, antibiotics, and mucus-thickening agents really wreak hell on the human system because our bodies are not programmed/designed/evolved to be able to process breast milk from another animal.

    It could also be chemicals or mold spores in the litter if you buy processed wood chips (don't think that's ONLY wood in there). Other than that, I'm not sure. My allergies went away when I hardcore quit dairy. I've found three other friends that the same thing happened with them.

    Good luck.