Honey for Allergies
8 Solutions Real Allergy Sufferers Swear By
For some people, allergies are nothing more than a mild nuisance. For others, they're a major impediment to daily health and happiness. If you're in the latter camp—maybe you're prone to uncontrollable sneezing fits, allergy-induced asthma attacks, or eczema—you'd probably like to know the secret to dialing down your symptoms. But there's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution.
Allergies hit everyone differently, says Andrew S. Kim, MD, a board-certified allergist and medical director of the Allergy and Asthma Center of Fredericksburg, in Virginia, and because of that, "there needs to be some trial and error to find out what relieves your symptoms." We asked allergy sufferers to share their best coping strategies. Maybe one will help you find relief a little faster. (Want to pick up some healthier habits? Sign up to get FREE healthy living tips delivered straight to your inbox!)
"I exercise in the early AM."
Seasonal pollen allergies have plagued John Turner, 33, since he was a teen. To minimize his discomfort, he works out first thing in the morning. "It's always better for me to exercise early, before it gets hot," he says. If he has to head outside in the afternoon heat, "I'll do something lighter," says Turner.
"Warm and dry weather are the worst for allergies because they disperse pollen a lot farther," explains Jeremy Allen, MD, a board-certified practitioner with American Family Care, a national urgent care provider. If you exercise outside when pollen is high, "you'll be more comfortable planning a workout that won't involve a lot of heavy breathing," Allen adds. (Follow these tips for exercising during allergy season.)
"I shower at night."
After moving to New York from the Caribbean several years ago, Edmee Cherdieu D'Alexis, 41, developed severe seasonal allergies. One thing that helps: showering at night. "From April until August, the shower is my best friend," she says. "Washing off dust and pollen keeps my sinuses clear and helps me have a good night's sleep."
"Acupuncture staves off my symptoms."
Cynthia Besteman, 51, has suffered from allergies for the past 30 years. "I'm allergic to pollen and pretty much anything that blooms in the spring," she admits. While she's tried a variety of remedies, only acupuncture has worked for her. "After two or three sessions, I'm almost new again," she says. "And if I start up preemptively before spring hits, I don't have any symptoms."
Acupuncture, an ancient healing technique of Chinese medicine, is thought to release blocked "qi," or energy, in the body that causes illness. While research is limited, studies show that some people with seasonal allergies see a significant improvement in their symptoms.
"I rinse my sinuses."
One thing River Quane, 22, swears by to manage her severe tree and weed allergies: sinus rinsing. "At least twice a day, I use the Neil Sinus Med Nasal Saline Rinse kit, which is like a Neti pot with a squirt bottle," she explains. "I rinse in the morning as soon as I get up and in the evening before bed. If I spend time outdoors with my dogs, I also rinse as soon as I come back inside."
Sinus rinsing works by thinning extra mucus that causes a stuffy nose. It can also wash away allergens from your nose and sinuses.
"A daily dose of honey keeps my allergies in check."
Emily Pellerin, 25, relies on honey to alleviate the seasonal allergies she's had as far back as she can remember. "I make sure to source my honey locally, and mix it into hot water with lemon juice and apple cider vinegar," she says. She also uses Zarbee's 99% honey cough soothers when her allergies spread into her throat. (Here are 7 natural allergy remedies that work.)
Many people believe honey—which contains small amounts of pollen—can desensitize your immune system to outside allergens. Although clinical studies have yet to show that's the case, honey does have anti-inflammatory effects and can ease coughing. Just don't give it to a child under 12 months, and check with your doctor first if your allergies are severe because it could trigger a nasty reaction in sensitive individuals.
"I stay away from dairy."
Many people believe milk causes the body to produce more mucus, which can worsen allergy symptoms. That was the case for Cindy Santa Ana, 46. Once she eliminated dairy products from her diet, she was able to stop taking all three prescription medicines she was using to manage her allergies. "Now I see symptoms return if I indulge in a slice of pizza," she says. (Try this vegan pizza if you're avoiding dairy.)
More research is needed to link dairy products with allergies, but a placebo effect of sorts may be at play: Studies show that people who believe there's a connection do indeed experience more symptoms after eating dairy.
"I start medicine before I need it."
Severe grass allergies used to prevent John Mueller, 34, from playing outdoors with his sons. "When I was outside, I was debilitated," he says. Now, 4 months before the start of allergy season, he starts a drug called Oralair. "I was finally able to build a swing set for my kids," says Mueller.
Medications like Oralair work much like allergy shots do. "They change your immune system by making it less reactive to pollen, but it takes 4 months to make that change," explains Brian Schroer, MD, an allergist at Cleveland Clinic Children's.
Other types of allergy medicines also work best if taken before you need them. Nasal sprays take 1 to 2 weeks to fully kick in, and although OTC antihistamines give some immediate relief, "they work better when used daily during pollen season," Schroer says. (Be careful about combining these medications, though.)
"I recirculate the air in my car."
Darren Rhodes, 50, is allergic to "almost every pollen there is," so when he drives anywhere during the spring, "I keep the air conditioning on and only used recycled air," he says.
"Recirculating the air in your car and keeping the windows closed helps to prevent more pollen from entering," agrees Allen.
Video: Seasonal Allergies Home Remedies for Allergies Relief Symptoms, Reaction with Natural Medication
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