As the spring weather warms, sinuses clog. It’s estimated that one in seven Americans experience some degree of seasonal allergies, triggered most often in the early spring when plants fill the air with pollen and other particulates. Luckily, there are a number of natural solutions to help address such seasonal discomforts. These approaches not only help calm seasonal allergies and support respiratory health — they play a role in overall vitality as well.
For those with seasonal allergies, spring is often the most challenging time of year, as a profusion of airborne plant allergens cause uncomfortable and energy-robbing symptoms that can persist for weeks or months. And while sinus congestion may not seem like a serious issue, it can potentially indicate imbalances in other systems, such as digestion and immunity. There is only a thin plate of bone between the sinuses and the brain, so sinus issues can also negatively affect the brain. In Traditional Chinese Medicine this is known as a “phlegm condition,” resulting in mental fog.
Addressing seasonal allergies is best done with an integrative health practitioner, using a dynamic approach that works to balance immunity, promote circulation and sinus drainage, and support digestion, among other areas of health. Top modalities include gentle detoxification, targeted herbs and botanicals, dietary changes, healthy stress relief practices, acupuncture, nutrients, and other approaches.
The Link Between Allergies And Digestion
It may seem like a stretch to link allergies with digestion, but in fact they can be closely connected.
One common source of allergies is intestinal inflammation, which over time, allows larger-than-normal food particles to pass through the gut wall and enter the circulation. When the immune system identifies these large, undigested particles, an immune attack is launched. This allergic reaction initiates an inflammatory process that can significantly impact allergies, sinuses and other areas of health.
Two types of food known to cause sinus congestion and allergies in many people are: dairy products and gluten (found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt and kamut). By avoiding these two groups, allergy-prone individuals can find significant relief from seasonal allergies, as well as acute and chronic sinus congestion.
Circulation And Drainage
Promoting healthy circulation helps to drain the sinuses and relieve chronic inflammation. When done with an experienced health practitioner, these therapies can help promote circulation and drainage:
- Infrared sauna: An infrared sauna gives off therapeutic infrared heat that can be absorbed by the body, promoting circulation in the sinuses.
- Craniosacral therapy: This gentle form of manual therapy can help improve sinus conditions, by softly massaging the space between the cranial bones, promoting normal drainage and relieving sinus pressure.
- Neti pot: Irrigating the sinuses with a traditional Ayurvedic neti pot is another way to promote drainage. A 5 percent salt solution may be used, or tea tree oil may be added to the purified water. For complete instructions on safe use of a Neti pot, go here.
Supplements And Herbs
A variety of herbs and supplements can be useful in reducing allergic reactions, decreasing inflammation, boosting immunity and helping to expel mucus from sinuses.
- Vitamin C has antihistamine, anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties.
- Zinc is a nutrient that is necessary for optimal immune function; a deficiency can impair immunity and increase inflammation.
- Quercetin and hesperidin are plant flavonoids that inhibit inflammation-producing enzymes and reduce the release of histamine from immune cells.
- Bromelain, a pineapple enzyme, has anti-inflammatory properties and helps thin and expel mucous. Clinical trials have shown that bromelain helps reduce inflammation of the nasal mucosa in acute sinusitis patients.
- Jin Yin Hua and Lian Qiao are two Chinese herbal combinations that can reduce inflammation and increase immune response.
Immune and Sinus Support Formulas
High quality botanical and herbal formulas can also offer support for seasonal allergies, by helping balance immune response and support respiratory health, among other important benefits.
- A highly researched Tibetan Herbal Formula, Padma Basic® has been shown effective in supporting respiratory health and immune function.*
- Medicinal mushrooms, particularly reishi and cordyceps, help modulate immunity, support digestion and circulation and offer other important benefits. ecoNugenics MycoPhyto® Complex includes these and other species of medicinal mushrooms, specially grown on a blend of immune-supporting herbs for additional support.*
With strategic, integrative health approaches, seasonal allergies can be successfully addressed for long-term relief. By understanding the underlying causes and developing a holistic plan that works on multiple levels, we can promote lasting respiratory and immune health, while supporting overall vitality in the process.