We are about 5 weeks into spring now, isn’t it lovely? Flowers are blooming, grass is green again and the trees are just starting to bud. I’m sure a good portion of us have been adventuring through the mountains already! I’m sure a lot of us are also feeling the beginnings of seasonal allergies.
Boulder is especially windy during this time of year. In fact Spring is the windiest time of year for everyone. It is a scientific fact that, globally, wind speed and power are strongest during Spring (mainly due to temperature changes). This is why Spring allergies are so common.
Elm, Oak and Maple are among the largest contributors to the pollen count in our area this month. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been feeling this in my sinuses, tons of head pressure!
Now, taking an allergy pill is easy enough. You just need to find the right one. You know, one that doesn’t make you sleepy, or take several hours to kick in, and takes care of all your symptoms, and lasts all day, or even just one that works! The trial and error of over-the-counter medication isn’t a fun process, especially considering the amount of effort you’re putting in.
It makes more sense to me that our efforts should be placed in taking care of the cause, not in fighting with symptoms.
Come in for an adjustment
Seeing the chiropractor may not be the obvious answer when you begin getting to the root of your allergies, but you would be doing yourself a favor by making an appointment.
The strength of your immune system depends on your body and your brain having healthy communication. If you have a misalignment in your upper cervical spine, that’s putting pressure on your spinal cord. This can have a direct effect on how well your immune system can function.
An upper cervical adjustment takes the pressure off your spinal cord and helps your brain and immune system speak more clearly. Having this free-flowing communication back, your body will have a much better chance at fighting foreign substances (like pollen) and you will be much happier.
These won’t cost you a dime
Aside from making sure our body is in the best shape to protect us from allergens, there are tons of external factors we can take care of.
If you’re out of the house and in the fresh air, you’re bound to get pollen all over you.
When you get back in from being out and about, hop in the shower and wash your hair (if it’s not a wash day, wipe it down with a clean t-shirt). Put your clothes from the day directly in the hamper. You don’t want to give pollen a chance to get all over your home.
Traditional Spring cleaning
Not only does it feel great to declutter and start fresh, but we can breathe a lot easier in a clean home.
Try setting a timer for an hour and start cleaning. You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done. Wash curtains and windowsills. Dust all the surfaces, don’t forget door frames and ceiling fans. Turn an air purifier on if you have one and enjoy the freshness in your home.
Clean air is unfortunately not something we often get to experience with no efforts. City living naturally means poorer air quality, but we can control our own spaces. Even if we can’t have sparkling clean homes everyday of our messy human lives, a little goes a long way.
If you have some change to spare…
Try a neti pot or a saline rinse
The town I grew up in was big on the neti pot craze. It seemed like half the people I knew used neti pots regularly during allergy season! These kind of rinses aren’t for everyone, stories of peoples first time often share mentions of anxiety and nervous laughter trying to figure it out, but those who do use neti pots, LOVE them. It’s literally a shower for your sinuses!
If neti pots aren’t for you, routinely cleaning out your nose is still a good idea. Regularly washing your nostrils can be harsh on the skin so I always use a soothing salve to prevent any skin irritation.
Anti-inflammatory diet changes
Increase your Omega-3’s to help lower internal inflammation and support brain function. Examples of foods rich in Omega-3; Salmon, oysters, flax and chia seeds, spinach, brussel sprouts.
Add more Vitamin C to your diet. Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine, helping your body handle allergens and keep reactions to a minimum. Think jalapenos, citrus fruit, kale, bell peppers, etc.
The Long Game
This can all seem like a lot of work to do every single year, so how can we implement long term, effective changes in our body? How can we strengthen and support our body for next season?
Only buy local honey
Local bees are making honey from the pollen of local plants. Eating this honey will introduce the pollen into your body slowly and gently. What you typically have a reaction to your body will slowly build immunity against! Plus, you’ll be supporting local businesses, it’s a win-win.
About two thirds of our total immune system is in our gut. When our gut flora is out of wack, it makes any recovery process that much longer and more difficult. Fermented foods, ACV, kefir, garlic, cutting out dairy, these can all help your gut flora thrive.
Our 4 legged companions could use a little help, too
Allergies aren’t exclusive to humans!
Give their bellies and paws a good wipe down with a damp cloth when they get back in from outside. Clean their bedding and make sure floors are cleaned regularly! And don’t forget to brush them to keep fur and dander in check.
When it comes to making permanent change and building strength in our body, it’s important to take a moment to accept the condition your body is in right now. Today, you may not have the immune system you’d like to have. You may get frustrated with the sneezing and watery eyes. When we can shift these things from something annoying to deal with, to our body communicating in the only way it can, we can begin to appreciate and find gratitude.
It takes time to learn our bodies language. It takes patience to listen and figure out our needs, especially when we haven’t always paid this level of attention.
There’s a balancing act in accepting and LOVING where we are in this moment, acknowledging where we imagine our healthiest selves to be, and finding excitement and joy in the process it takes to get there. Spring allergies can be much more enjoyable when we use it as an opportunity to try new recipes, better our health and support our loved ones.
It’s always a good idea to check in with your primary care provider before starting any new herbs or foods. Some herbs may have contraindications with some medications, it’s better to be safe than sorry!