An over-the-counter allergy tablet may keep you from dripping, coughing, or sneezing your way through that important meeting or social event, but everyday reliance on allergy medications can be problematic for many people—especially when the side effects of various allergy drugs can include everything from grogginess and oral yeast infections to nosebleeds and cataracts. If you'd like to get your allergies under control without surrendering control to your medicine cabinet, take a look at these four drug-free alternatives.
1. Chiropractic Adjustment
Believe it or not, your local chiropractor can play a significant role reducing out-of-control allergy symptoms. To understand how this is possible, consider that an allergy is a grossly exaggerated immune system response to a supposedly dangerous contagion—even when that "danger" is nothing more than a particle of dust or pollen. These runaway responses can stem in part from poor communication between the immune system and the brain due to impaired nerve function. Spinal alignment problems can disrupt normal nerve signaling, and this in turn can cause any systemic function in your body to go haywire, including immune response, especially when the misalignment is in the upper cervical region of the spine.
An experienced, competent chiropractor will always conduct a detailed spinal screening and physical examination, listening to your symptoms and checking for any signs of a misalignment that might be making things worse. A series of adjustments may then be prescribed to relieve any nerve impingement that might be affecting your immune system's ability to do its job more normally.
2. Essential Oils
If you'd like to enjoy fast-acting allergy relief without dealing with the potential dangers and side effects of pharmaceuticals, try reaching for some essential oils instead. These natural substances can reduce inflammation and help balance immune responses to outside stimuli. Essential oils may be added to your favorite foods or beverages, placed in a vaporizer to create soothing (and sinus-opening) steam, or even applied directly to the body as a topical ointment.
Essential oils that can ease allergy symptoms include lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, lemon, and roman chamomile. It should go without saying, or course, that you should avoid any of these oils that you already have a known allergy or sensitivity to!
3. Diet and Nutrition
You are what you eat, they say—but many people are allergic to what they eat without even realizing it. If your allergies seem to correspond to mealtimes, you may be suffering from a food allergy of some sort. Milk, soy, wheat, nuts, and fish (including shellfish) are all well-known triggers of allergic reactions. An allergy specialist or nutritionist can put you on an elimination diet, replacing these known triggers with other foods, to see whether your runny nose and itchy throat stem from something on your plate instead of something in the air.
Proper nutrition may also help your body fight allergies. For instance, magnesium and Vitamin C can both improve respiratory response, magnesium by relieving airway constriction and Vitamin C by speeding the breakdown of histamine. Bioflavonoids can also help with the reduction of histamine levels; you can get more bioflavonoids by consuming broccoli, peppers, grapes, cherries, and citrus fruits.
4. Massage Therapy
Massage therapy may not be on anyone's list of standalone allergy relief methods, but it should be considered as a useful complement to other natural treatment solutions. Massage addresses an important aspect of the allergic response: stress. Stress is known to worsen allergy symptoms, and it often remains bound up in sensitive areas of the body known as trigger points. By loosening the tissues in these trigger points, a skilled massage therapist can release pent-up stress, reducing cortisol levels and lowering the severity of allergic reactions.
Since many of the trigger points associated with sinus problems are found in the shoulders and upper back, your massage therapist may have you lie on your stomach while these points are worked on. This position produces another helpful benefit by helping blocked sinuses drain.
One important note: If you or someone you love is suffering an extreme allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis (airway swelling that makes breathing difficult or impossible), you need to use whatever emergency medicines your physician has prescribed and get yourself or the sufferer to an emergency room. But for more routine circumstances, you may find these natural alternatives to allergy drugs surprisingly effective. Give them a try!