If you’re suffering from hay fever, most doctors will send you straight to the drugstore to pick up one of the dozens of medicines that are designed to treat allergy symptoms. But what if you could prevent your hay fever before it ever takes hold?
Well, that’s where my natural spring allergy prevention protocol comes in. If you start following the regimen below sometime in March or early April, you’ve got a much better chance of being stronger and more resilient when the pollen really starts flying in many parts of the US. All of these remedies can be continued throughout allergy season, though you may be able to reduce your dose if you’re not having symptoms.
My natural hay fever–fighting defense regimen…*
Flavonoids. These compounds, which are found in fruits (especially citrus and berries) and vegetables, help strengthen your nasal membranes. To prevent allergies, it’s crucial to keep irritating particles, such as pollen, from entering your bloodstream through the membranes of your upper-respiratory tract. Quercetin and hesperidin are my favorite flavonoids for allergy prevention. Typical hay fever–fighting dose: 300 mg of a product that combines quercetin and hesperidin, four times a day.
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Stinging nettle. Like flavonoids, nettle helps by strengthening your defenses against the attack of allergens. Unless you are allergic to the plant itself (it grows in the wild in many parts of the US and is in the Urticaceae family), nettle is safe. Commonly known as one of “nature’s best antihistamines,” it also contains lots of flavonoids, is rich in minerals and fights inflammation. You can purchase this herb in capsules, tincture and as a dried herbal tea. Typical hay fever–fighting dose: Two capsules or 60 drops of tincture in two ounces of water, three times a day, away from meals to increase absorption. If you prefer tea, use two teaspoons of dried nettle leaf per 10 ounces of water and steep, covered, for five minutes. Drink 24 ounces a day.
Pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5). This vitamin plays a key role in the synthesis of the adrenal steroid hormones that fight inflammation and allergic reactivity. Typical hay fever–fighting dose: 100 mg per day, taken in the morning with food when adrenal activity is highest.
Omega oils. You might already be taking omega-3 fatty acids—it’s widely known that they are good for the heart and brain and may even help prevent certain types of cancer. But few people realize that these healthful fats are also necessary to maintain healthy respiratory membranes. Omega oils help strengthen your immune system’s resistance to perceived threats, including pollen. Typical hay fever–fighting dose: At least 1,700 mg of fish, flax or borage oil daily. For best absorption, take this supplement with a meal.
*The remedies here are safe to take with conventional allergy medicine if needed, but check first with your doctor if you take other medications, such as blood thinners—these supplements could interact. If symptoms persist, see your doctor for advice.
Source: Jamison Starbuck, ND, a naturopathic physician in family practice and a guest lecturer at the University of Montana, both in Missoula. She is past president of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians and a contributing editor to The Alternative Advisor: The Complete Guide to Natural Therapies and Alternative Treatments (Time Life).