Seasonal allergies can occur at any time of year, but they are especially common during spring, early summer and fall. They can be a real nuisance when you want to take advantage of outdoor sports and workouts because you face the risk of suffering through a runny nose, watery eyes and a cough on your run, bike or hike. The good news is you can relieve allergies naturally.
Most people tend to self-medicate with over-the-counter allergy medications that provide short-term relief. Instead, you can work on changing your body’s response to allergens by boosting your immunity and overall health through natural supplements.
Nip Allergies in the Gut
“The root cause of most allergies is an unbalanced digestive system,” says integrative health expert Taz Bhatia, M.D.
“When your microbiome is weak, or when you have inflammation in the gut, you will be more susceptible to allergies,” she adds. Simple dietary changes such as eating less sugar and more healthy fats (such as ghee) can help stabilize the microbiome.
Bhatia advises taking the ayurvedic herb triphala to help treat constipation and probiotics to keep your gut in balance. Stinging nettle extract is also known to inhibit allergy-related inflammation by blocking histamine receptors.
Eat Your Nutrients
While eating a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly is essential for overall well-being, there is also a direct link between nutritional deficiencies and increased allergic diseases.
Low zinc levels in the body can increase asthma, eczema and severity of seasonal allergies, for example. Decreased levels of magnesium, a key mineral that helps relieve constricted airways in the lungs, is associated with higher rates of asthma and allergies. Vitamin C protects those suffering from seasonal allergies by preventing cells from further damage, reduces the severity of allergic reactions and helps the body fight infections.
The best way to consume these nutrients is through natural food, but if you are extremely deficient, you may want to consider taking supplements.
Relieve Allergies Naturally
If you are already prone to certain allergies and need to take medication, try choosing a cleaner, additive-free, homeopathic option to relieve allergies naturally.
“When you look at most common OTC allergy medicines, they contain artificial colors, flavors and fillers,” says allergy specialist Amy Shah, M.D.
Shah recommends Allium cepa (derivate of onion bulb) for treating runny nose, sneezing, and watery and itchy eyes. Quercetin is a natural plant-based antihistamine that is also a main ingredient in several anti-allergic drugs. It is often found with the enzyme bromelain (which helps increase the bioavailability) in foods and supplements.
“Natural treatments take more time to react, but your goal should be to get your health to a point that you are not as dependent on the supplements long term,” Shah adds.
Bhatia also says that though some of the natural supplements are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, they are safe to take “as long as the product is labeled correctly and the brand is reputable. Make sure the label clearly states the amount of ingredients and has obtained third-party certifications.”
Adjust Your Lifestyle
If you are planning to be outdoors during allergy season, be proactive about taking a daily non-drowsy medicine — preferably one that doesn’t contain dyes and preservatives — so you can enjoy your warm-weather workouts.
Before taking any supplements, it’s best to get an allergy test first and consult with a board-trained allergist. They can provide a customized plan for you that will give results and not interact with any existing medications that you’re already taking.
“Allergies are specific to each person, so it is important to find the right dosage that works for you,” Shah says.