Spring is upon us with the equinox due around September 21st. For many this marks the beginning of hay fever season and an unpleasant time ahead. As well as the arrival of spring, increasing pollution and chemicals in our environment is leading to a rise in the number of people who suffer various forms of nasal congestion and respiratory illnesses.
Allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, affects around 1 in 5 people in Australia. Symptoms can range from mild to severe including stuffy or a runny nose; sneezing; postnasal drip; red, itchy, watery eyes; swollen eyelids; itchy mouth, throat, ears, and face; sore throat; dry cough; headaches; facial pain or pressure; and partial loss of hearing, smell and taste. All of this can lead to more frequent sinus infections, may aggravate asthma or may disrupt your sleep so you feel more fatigued and find your productivity and performance impaired
As spring approaches, you see more and more ads for antihistamines but did you know that antihistamines, if taken long term, can affect your liver, impair motor function, cause dizziness, dry mouth & throat, blurred vision, urinary retention and constipation? It is ok to take one now and then but if you are needing them on a daily basis perhaps you should be looking at resolving the root of the problem which is to help your immune system stop overreacting.
What can you do to better manage your hay fever this spring?
- Classical literature indicates that acupuncture has been used for millennia to treat numerous inflammatory conditions, including allergic rhinitis.
- Sinus problems respond very well to Chinese herbs. A number of herbal formula are available to reduce the effects of hay fever, clear sinus infection and boost your immunity if you have a history of chronic sinus problems.
- Boost your immune system with Vitamin C, Zinc and probiotics.
Vitamin C is very important in the management of allergies as it is a natural antihistamine
Taking a zinc supplement can boost your immunity and stimulate the production of white blood cells, which target and destroy all types of pathogenic microorganisms. Zinc is also necessary for the health and maintenance of your mucous membranes, which are the main substrate for sinus infections.
With the right balance of beneficial microflora, you can fight off allergens and infections. Taking a probiotic restores the balance of your inner ecosystem. Scientists agree that in order for probiotics to have an effect, there needs to be at least 1 billion active cultures in the supplement you are taking, and more is better. You also want to ensure a mixture of different good bacteria.
- Stop feeding the phlegm. While you are suffering from any form of mucous congestion it can be beneficial to temporarily stop eating phlegm aggravating foods such as dairy milk (including ice cream, yoghurt, cheese, etc), bananas, peanuts, fried greasy food, cold raw food, too much fruit or sugar. For more information about using food as medicine watch my Eat Well, Be Well webinar.
- Practice the art of saltwater irrigation with a Neti pot, which has been used by practitioners of Ayurveda and Yoga in India for thousands of years. A simple yet very powerful technique, neti works wonders for chronic sinusitis, and allergies. Used on a daily basis it helps to keep your sinuses clear and makes your breathing free and easy. The nasal passages, with their finely-tuned mechanism of hairs and mucous membranes intended to catch and restrain foreign entities from entering our bodies, is one of the ways nature protects us from diseases. Unfortunately, this filtering mechanism can become overloaded so cleansing regularly allows it to operate more efficiently. You can make your own saline solution to use in a neti pot by fully dissolving ¼ teaspoon sea salt with 1 cup of warm water (more or less salt can be used depending on what feels best with experimentation. If the salt concentration is right it does not burn or hurt). Neti pots can be purchased online or in the clinic or use a Flo sinus care bottle.
Your feedback and questions are welcome so please leave a comment below.
For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Tania Grasseschi (Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs and Wholefood counselling). Tania is a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (AHPRA registered) in Kingsford and is a Contract Academic at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Sydney campus.