Your eyes are itchy and watering, nose is either stuffed or running, you’ve lost your energy, have frequent headaches and the thought of going outside leaves you edgy. It must be spring. Or for approximately forty million Americans it’s simply known as allergy season, and the known enemy is pollen. Is there anything that can be done besides taking allergy medication or staying indoors? Well, some experts suggest honey may help.
The allergy symptoms you endure each spring happen because your body mistakes pollen as a dangerous invader and triggers the release of histamine, a natural chemical of the immune system, to fight it. The problem is that histamine causes inflammation and irritation of soft tissue, which brings on your suffering.
There are remedies available both over-the-counter (OTC) and by prescription. Most work by counteracting histamines and are called antihistamines. But there are side effects. The most common are dry nasal cavities and drowsiness. Other more serious side effects include a boost in blood pressure and flu-like symptoms.
The good news is that there may be other options worth trying. Honey from local bees may help with your hay fever symptoms. Here’s how it works: Your hay fever allergies are caused by pollen in your local area. The bees collect this pollen from the local plants, and small amounts of it are transferred to their honey. When you ingest this honey in small amounts, it works like a series of allergy shots, by slowly building up your tolerance to the allergen, and decreasing your allergy symptoms. The best way for this to work is to ingest 2-3 teaspoons of the honey daily for a few months before pollen season.
Caution: Never feed raw honey to anyone under one year of age because C. botulinum bacteria will survive in honey. While it’s okay for adults, it can be dangerous for infants. By the age of one, the immune system of most infants is developed enough to resist the bacteria.
Here are three other natural ways to combat your allergies:
Use a Neti pot. Fill it with a warm salt-water solution and pour it up each nostril. You’ll flood your nasal cavity and clean it out.
Stay away from dairy. Even if you do not have a milk allergy, many doctors believe dairy products may increase mucus production. It also tends to make mucus thicker, creating the perfect environment for bacteria and allergens to thrive.
Keep your windows closed and pollen out while you sleep. Even better, keep a Hepa filter running to clean the air in your home.
Robin Westen is ThirdAge’s medical reporter. Check for her daily updates.
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