2017 has been generous with its pollen and allergens this year. Portland’s pollen counts have tipped the scales and they hit me HARD. I’ve had mild allergies since moving to Oregon, but this year I had it ALL: crazy itchy eyes, fatigue, brain fog, sneezing, runny nose, ear congestion, sore throat. Blech. My allergy regiment (below) helped tremendously, but it wasn’t quite enough – I needed acupuncture. I dilly-dallied about scheduling appointments, but once I added some allergy-focused acupuncture into the mix, my symptoms faded into the background. So for those of you also suffering from allergies, here’s what I recommend:
How does acupuncture alleviate allergy symptoms, you ask. First I boost up your Wei Qi – your Protective Qi that circulates at the surface of your body and protects you from environmental pathogens. Allergy symptoms increase when your Qi is deficient. This can result from stress, lack of sleep, external pathogens or illness, and acupuncture is a great way to revitalize your Qi. Next I consider your symptoms: If you have red, itchy eyes, a sore throat, rashes or inflammation, I’ll clear Heat and Wind from your system. If phlegm, fatigue, and brain fog are your primary issues, I’ll focus on draining Dampness, opening your sinuses, and supporting your digestion and elimination. And if you’ve got the whole shebang, well, you’ll get the Cadillac treatment to cover it all.
Vitamin C is a natural antioxidant, antitoxin, and histamine reducer. It supports the immune system, and is crucial for healthy skin, bones, and our nervous systems. Vitamin C also lowers the level of histamines in the blood stream, thus reducing allergy symptoms. When my allergies flare up, I take 3,000-6,000mg of Vitamin C each day.
The Omega-3s found in fish oil are powerful for quelling inflammation. During allergy season, they can be particularly helpful for skin rashes and sinus inflammation. I take 2,000mg per day.
For centuries stinging nettles have been used medicinally. The root is touted to treat joint pain, prostate and bladder disorders, and frequent, painful, or obstructed urination. The leaves are renowned for their effectiveness in treating allergies and inflammation, as well as skin conditions, asthma, anemia, bleeding disorders, and more. Nettles are rich in quercetin (natural antihistamine), Vitamins A & C (think immune system), iron (blood tonic), magnesium, potassium, and calcium, and are said to be 10% protein – far more than other leafy greens.
Nettles are my all-time favorite allergy recommendation because of their effectiveness and surprisingly delicious taste. Now for the tricky part…how to get stinging nettles past your sensitive little lips. It’s far easier than you think. You must wear gloves to handle raw nettles, but cooking or blending nettle leaves deactivates their sting, making the recipe possibilities endless.
1 handful raw nettle leaves (wear gloves to handle)
2-3 cups water
Bring water to a boil, add nettle leaves, cover and simmer for 10-20 minutes
You can strain out the leaves, or leave them in and eat them after drinking the tea
Add raw, local honey to sweeten 🙂
Simple Nettle Smoothie
2 (gloved) handfuls fresh nettle leaves
1 cup frozen berries
1/2 banana or 1/3 avocado for creaminess
Water, or almond/coconut/hemp milk (unsweetened) to desired thickness
Raw local honey if you have a sweet tooth
Now blend again for 1-2 minutes longer, just to make sure the sting has been deactivated.
Use fresh nettle leaves in soups, quiches, scrambles, pestos, sauces, and sautés, just as you would use spinach. Once cooked or pureed, nettles are safe to ingest, versatile in recipes, and powerfully beneficial for the body. And they’re INCREDIBLY delicious.
Stinging nettles are in season now, so look for fresh nettles at farmer’s markets, food co-ops, health food stores, and of course, your backyard. (Freeze dried and encapsulated nettles are beneficial too, but fresh, local nettles are far more potent.)
Because allergies create an inflammatory response in your body, be mindful of inflammatory foods in your diet that may exacerbate your symptoms. The most common offenders include: Dairy & Sugar – both increase phlegm production, Wheat, Corn, Coffee, Chocolate, and Nightshades.
Take care of yourself and come see me for allergy support 🙂
Wishing you a playful, sniffle-free summer!