As we head toward the end of summer, you may be starting to feel the familiar itchy, stuffy, and sneezy symptoms of a ragweed allergy…especially if you stay up North during the summers, as I do.
Ragweed allergies affect up to 25 percent of adults and can range from mild discomfort to serious sinus infections. Most people who suffer from them usually manage their symptoms well enough without medical intervention.
But this year, it’s especially important to identify and tame allergies early—so as to distinguish them from early onset of a possible upper respiratory infection caused by the coronavirus or another microbe.
So, today, let’s discuss some simple steps you can take both inside your home and outside in Nature to reduce your exposure to all types of environmental allergens—including ragweed (“hay fever”).
But first, let’s back up to explore why more and more people than ever seem to be suffering from allergies…
Allergies are on the rise in modern society
In recent decades, there’s been a huge increase in the number of people who suffer from allergies, including food allergies. And in my view, this increasing rate strongly relates to diet…especially early childhood diet, as most allergies emerge during childhood.
In fact, feeding anything besides breast milk to infants stimulates the immune system. That’s because we encounter a rising number of toxic chemicals in our food—and environment—that further heighten an immune response. Not to mention, children today receive an alarming number of vaccines, which, by design, also stimulate an immune response in some ways that are known and many that are yet unknown.
As a result of all of this over-stimulation, some children tend to have a more pronounced immune reaction to something benign and harmless in the environment…such as ragweed or peanuts.
Of course, as you get older, your immune system slows down. So, you may find that some severe allergies you experienced during childhood and young adulthood begin to ease up later in life.
However, some adults seem to develop new allergies—including allergies to grasses, plant pollens, or pet dander—later in life. This new development can happen when you encounter allergens that are unfamiliar to your immune system, triggering a new allergy. (The allergy is triggered the second time you encounter it, after your immune system is sensitized on the first encounter.)
I experienced this phenomenon one spring about 20 years ago when I was giving a talk on my second trip to the University of Arizona in Tucson. I experienced some of the worst allergies of my life during that short trip—as some of the blooming desert plants there were, indeed, “new” to me.
Now, let’s see some steps you can take both inside your home and outside in Nature to reduce your exposure to potential allergens…
Indoor allergy protection
- Stay inside during peak times. As much as I recommend spending time every day outside in the direct sunlight, one of the safest tricks to keep allergies in check is to stay indoors as much as possible during high-pollen-count days. Daily pollen counts are reported on the daily weather forecast. But, it’s still important to try to get some daily sun exposure and make sure you’re taking 10,000 IU of liquid vitamin D3 daily.
- Close your windows and doors. This habit won’t completely eliminate pollen in your house, but it will help keep pollen counts lower. And if you have central air, consider adding a dehumidifier to keep inside air on the dry side. Just make sure to regularly clean or change the air filters. In addition, portable, high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters can help keep a room pollen-free. Many vacuum cleaners now come with HEPA filters to help keep things free of pollen (and other allergens, like dust mites and pet dander).
Outdoor allergy protection
- Create a barrier to trap pollen by rubbing a small amount of petroleum jelly under your nose.
- Wear sunglasses to keep wind from blowing pollen directly into your eyes.
- Wet a bandana and place it over your nose and mouth, tying it behind your ears to prevent breathing in pollen. You can also wear an actual hospital-grade filter mask or dust mask from your local hardware store. (Those are certainly in use lately, so it will be nothing out of the ordinary this season!)
- Wear long sleeves and pants to cover up the rest of your body to keep pollen from collecting on your skin. Then, take off and wash your clothing right away after coming back inside.
- Don’t hang your laundry outside to dry. Also, change your sheets and pillowcases frequently—both of which can host allergens.
- Wash your hands and face regularly throughout the day—especially after you return inside. Fill your sink or a small basin with lukewarm water and add some sea salt. Then, submerge your face, up to your ears, in the sink and blink several times. You can also try blowing air out through your nostrils. This technique will flush pollen away from your sinus cavity. (It will also help flush out any lingering microbes.)
- Blow your nose regularly into a handkerchief or tissue—that’s Nature’s simple way of clearing out allergens.
- Take a quick shower and wash your hair once or even twice a day. (But as I explained in the July 2018 issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter, you don’t want to routinely over-bathe throughout the year.)
Enjoying time outside also brings to mind another solution to seasonal allergies…
Escape to the mountains or the seashore
To help soak in all the benefits of being outside in Nature—even during peak allergy seasons—you may want to consider traveling to another location where your allergies aren’t as bad, like to the mountains or the seashore. Though, as I mentioned earlier, be careful about the location you choose, particularly if it’s “new” to you, as it could backfire.
For example, people used to move to the desert to escape plant pollens and allergens. But now—you find non-native plants in the desert (as I did in Arizona), particularly in the southwest “desert,” thanks to artificial irrigation.
So, if you want to try this option, choose a familiar place where you’ve safely visited before. I also suggest driving to your destination instead of flying to avoid the crowds and recirculated air on airplanes. (This year more than ever, I would be particularly careful to avoid flying on an airplane whenever possible.)
P.S. Tomorrow, I’ll tell you all about some nutritional and botanical remedies that can help combat seasonal allergies when they do flare up. Stay tuned!