Supplement-Free Ways to Improve Your Seasonal Allergies
a bit OCD, but they sure do work
There are LOTS of things you can do for your sniffly, itchy allergies besides popping a pill– whether that pill be a supplement or a medication. These “things” are certainly not the easy way out, because they require brow-dripping-sweaty work. Most people do not want to do this kind of work, myself included. Sniffles or cheese? I’ll take the cheese.
I was forced into doing the brow-dripping-sweaty-no-one-wants-to-do-this work because of a little motivator called p-a-i-n. When you struggle with chronic pain, you get desperate. You’ll do anything. You’ll give up caramel lattes with extra caramel syrup and extra whip cream. You’ll give up granola with organic cow milk for breakfast. You’ll even give up cheese. Especially if doing the work means you could have a life without pain. Fortunately, the work I did to heal my interstitial cystitis, also drastically improved my seasonal allergies to where I no longer needed to take Allegra everyday.
Health is hard, hard work, specifically because it asks us to not only care about it but to do something about it. Supplements are not enough. You gotta do the work.
The beautiful thing about doing the work is that it gives back—you figure your body out. Maybe if you work on x, y, and z, you don’t even need to do a, b, and c. The lifestyle work you need to do will not look the same as the lifestyle work I need to do, and your diet falls under that same umbrella. When I got really serious about numbers 15-18 on this list, I didn’t have to be so anal about vacuuming daily and weekly washing my sheets. I would still greatly benefit from vacuuming daily and washing my sheets weekly, but going all out on numbers 15-18 is what got me off my allergy meds.
1. Buy an air purifier for your bedroom and run it at night. During the day, run it where you spend the most time.
If you’re sleeping 8 hours a night, that’s 25% of the day spent in your bedroom. An air purifier will enable you to breath the cleanest air possible while you sleep. The best brand for air purifiers is most likely Austin Air, and it shows in their cost. We use a Blue Air in our home, which we purchased at Costco, and I consider it to be in the top tier in terms of quality. We had it tested by an indoor air quality professional, and according to his tests, it worked really well.
2. Go scent free.
Synthetic fragrances are toxic volatile chemicals that you inhale. Those chemicals may smell nice, but they are not nice to your body. They are pro-inflammatory and make your allergies worse. They are another assault on your respiratory epithelium in addition to all the regulars: pollen, dust, dander, & mold. This kind of inhaled irritant can be easily fixed, but you can’t really get your neighbor to clean out all the ragweed from his lawn. Going scent free means nixing perfume, scented lotion, scented laundry detergent, scented dish soap, scented laundry soap, scented body soap, scented shampoo, scented candles, and those migraine bombs otherwise known as Glade plug-ins.
3. Buy a vacuum with a HEPA filter in it and use it often.
A regular ole’ vacuum won’t do. You need a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. Vacuum daily to rid your house of outdoor and indoor allergens, every single day.
4. Get rid of the wall to wall carpet.
Carpet is an allergen sink hole magnet. If you want your allergies to go down a notch (or 100), take the carpet out. It’d be better for you to live on the plywood sub-floor than to inhale all the allergic particles that have built up in your carpet over the years.
5. Wash your sheets in super hot water weekly.
I’m tempted to say daily, but you’re already vacuuming daily and soon you’ll be making all your food from scratch because you’re eating clean and then you’ll read that you need to cut out the dairy… who do I think you are? I think you have 40 hours a week devoted to working on your health. Just kidding. Let your weekly sheet washing be the imperfect thing. Daily is optimal, weekly will do.
6. Dust weekly, especially in your bedroom, and then vacuum afterwards.
Regular dusting increases indoor air quality, and you want that optimized where you sleep. If dusting flares up your allergies for 48 hours, ask a hypoallergenic loved one to dust for you (I’m sure your Wendy’s Eating Husband doesn’t have any allergies). Daily is optimal, weekly will do. Be careful with conventional dusting sprays that aerosolize chemicals. That would defeat the purpose. I like dusting with Murphy’s Oil Soap, but you can also use a fuzzy sock and some water.
7. Get an indoor air quality investigation by a professional associated with the Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA).
A professional can help identify poor areas of ventilation in your home, how much oxygen to carbon dioxide is in each room, and even measure how many particles are in the air. The more ventilation, the more oxygen, combined with the least amount of particles = the best environment for taking a load off your allergies. If you’re miserable outside, you really, really want the inside of your home to be a safe haven for your health.
8. Take off your shoes at the door.
I don’t need to tell you why you should do this, right? You know already. Keep those allergens at the door.
9. Cover your pillows & mattress with allergy covers.
This helps to keep the dust mites from building up in your pillows and mattress. It’s not 100% perfect, but it certainly will reduce the dust mite and dander build-up.
10. Wash your pillow in hot water weekly.
If you sleep on your pillow, it’s the closest thing to your face, so wash it in super hot water weekly. Remember NOT to use any scented products when you wash it because that’ll defeat the purpose (inhaling chemicals all night vs. dust mites and dander).
11. Use a netti pot, daily.
A netti pot is an instrument used to irrigate your nasal cavity with saline (saline = salt water). Saline water is placed in the netti pot, poured through one nostril while the head is tilted, and out it comes through the other nostril. This procedure rinses your nostrils from pollens, dust, dander, and mold that you inhaled throughout the day. By clearing your nasal passages from the allergens, you decrease the allergic response because there will be less allergen for your body to manage.
13. Take a shower & wash your hair everyday before bed.
If you go outside, you collect pollen, dust, & mold spores on your skin and in your hair. You don’t want to sleep with pollen! He’s terrible in bed. Wash those allergens off with a shower, everyday before bed.
14. Eat lots of frozen blueberry smoothies.
Blueberries are super high in antioxidants, particularly proanthocyanidins. They are stabilizing to capillary membranes, which usually dilate when you are all snotty and congested. The antioxidants in blueberries help to inhibit the release of histamine. The best way to get the most bioavailability from those blueberry antioxidants is via frozen blueberries that are pureed in the blender. The blender breaks down the cell wall, which allows your body to slurp up the proanthocyanidins like a dog licks up water.
15. Stop eating dairy.
I seriously wish my mom knew about this when I was a kid. Dairy = mucous. Period. Your allergies might magically disappear if you stop eating it.
16. Get tested for IgE food allergies.
Some people who have severe seasonal allergies may also have undiagnosed food allergies. IgE food allergies are the more serious kind. They are responsible for anaphylactic reactions and hives, but even if you’ve never experienced anaphylaxis or hives, you may still have a hidden IgE food allergy. Avoiding your IgE food allergies 100% could make your seasonal allergies disappear in a snap! I am feeling like I’m in the magic allergy genie business…
17. Get tested for food reactions (in other words – IgG food allergies).
There are two kinds of food “allergies”. A real food allergy is an IgE allergy. That’s what conventional docs consider an allergy. The “fake” food allergy is the IgG food allergy. That’s a different antibody with a different pathway, and does not result in hives or anaphylaxis. That’s why it’s technically not accurate to label IgG food reactions as a food allergy. I like calling them “food reactions” but, for sure, your immune system is involved, just in a different way. Identifying and removing the foods that you react to can deflate your allergies, like letting go of a balloon you blew up but never tied.
18. Eat a super clean diet (in other words, stop eating junk).
A super clean diet means eating mostly organic, whole foods. Note that I said mostly. We’re not aiming for perfection, we’re aiming for wellness. The more organic, whole foods you eat, the better you’ll feel. I have seen my own seasonal allergies drastically improve by the removal of white sugar from my diet.
I specialize in working with those with allergies, because I suffer from allergies myself. If you’re in the Seattle area, I’d love to see you. I can test you for both IgE and IgG food allergies in my office at Eastside Natural Medicine. The IgE food allergy testing is done through a blood test that is processed by Quest Labs. We do IgG food “allergy” testing through a company called BioTek. Don’t get too excited though, we can’t get to the food allergy testing in the first visit. There’s a lot to learn about you, and doing the testing in that little time, takes away from all I want to know about you. You can schedule an appointment with me online here.
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April 14th, 2014 at 9:12 am
I’m excited to try out these ideas once I move! (Hopefully to an apartment with no carpet…) I eliminated dairy from my diet two months ago, and I have never been happier. I can actually breathe these days instead of popping allergy pills. Who knew noses worked this well without dairy.
April 15th, 2014 at 6:52 am
Just catching up on your posts and wanted to let you know how beautiful your site is! I’m glad you’re doing well Dr. Archer :) I hope to see you again soon!
Dr. Archer Atkins
April 20th, 2014 at 8:41 pm
Aww, thanks Pragati! I need to catch up on yours as well!
Leah in Pittsburgh
April 4th, 2017 at 9:56 am
Excellent timely writing to help my am sneezing husband. Air purifier & yummy blueberries are on my next Costco list. Seattle is lucky.