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Several Non-Drowsy Natural Agents Essential for Allergy Season

Seasonal Allergies

Allergic rhinitis, also known as “hay fever,” is a prevalent condition in the United States that occurs in about 20% of individuals. According to the CDC, about 6.1 million children and 20 million adults were diagnosed with seasonal allergies aka allergic rhinitis last year. Seasonal rhinitis is the most common type and is caused by pollens and spores through the various seasons. Perennial rhinitis results from a reaction to dust, mites, pet dander, and air pollution (indoor and outdoor) which may produce symptoms all year. These “allergens” ultimately irritate the nasal membranes which cause the characteristic signs and symptoms of clear nasal discharge, congestion, itching, tearing, and eye irritation. Other symptoms that may present include a cough, bronchospasms (asthma), or dermatitis (eczema) presentations. Although it is often called “hay fever,” it is important to note that rhinitis never has an accompanying fever. Allergic rhinitis by itself does not carry any significant risk of death unless it occurs concomitantly with anaphylaxis. However, it may cause considerable morbidity (i.e., missed days of school and work or generalized discomfort). [1-3]

Usually at the first sign of warm weather, especially what we have recently been seeing in the northeastern United States, the pollen counts begin to explode and so do the pesky symptoms of allergen exposure noted above. Well, the Healing Duo is here to give you some tips that you can do at home to help you and your family get through allergy season like a breeze. 

What can you do now?

Removal of Food Sensitivities:

According to the current conventional view, food allergens are an uncommon cause of allergic rhinitis. Much research has been done and has identified food allergies/sensitivities as a cause of allergic rhinitis. In a susceptible individual, some of the most common foods that may trigger a symptom cascade are wheat, chocolate, egg, milk, peanuts, pork, and citrus fruits. Food lectins are also a possible mechanism of sinus inflammation and mucus changes. Also, dairy, wheat, and corn have been noted to promote the development of thick mucus that clogs and ultimately decreased drainage of the sinuses. Food allergen-induced allergic rhinitis may be a causative factor in about one-third of the patients with perennial rhinitis and should be considered, worked up, and ruled out via an elimination diet. [4,5] This is important because the foods that you are eating may be contributing to the severity of the symptoms associated with seasonal allergies. 

Fresh Fruits, Vegetables, and Nuts: 

The Mediterranean diet has been shown to have a protective effect for people suffering from allergic rhinitis. Ingestion of large quantities of nuts with locally farmed fruits and vegetables has been shown to have a positive impact on symptoms of allergic rhinitis. The high intake of fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of bioflavonoid polyphenols which have been shown to block the formation of inflammatory cytokines. Nuts are also a vital source of vitamin E and magnesium. Vitamin E is one of the most important antioxidants in the tissues. [6]

Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids: 

Another consideration is omega 3 fish oils because they can decrease the prevalence of allergic rhinitis when the intake of fish is high. As the intake of omega six fatty acids increases, there is an inverse association with allergic rhinitis development. [7] Omega 3 fatty acids are well known for their ability to be anti-inflammatory, in particular, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) fraction. Two to three servings (cooked: each serving is 3.5 ounces) of oily fish per week can provide 1,500 – 3,000 mg.


Quercetin along with other flavonoids have been shown to suppress inflammatory mediators, block histamine release, improve Th1/Th2 balance (essential for adequately functioning immune system), and block lipoxygenase (LOX) enzymes. Also found in an array of foods, quercetin is one of the best polyphenols which is a flavonoid subgroup. The highest source of quercetin is found in onions (Allium cepa) and shallots but are found in other fruits and vegetables as well (i.e., broccoli, green peppers, tomatoes, apples, berries). The protective flavonoids are concentrated primarily in the skin of various plants.

Stinging Nettles:

Urtica dioica (Nettles) has been shown to provide symptom improvement in at least one randomized placebo-controlled trial. U. dioica may work on downregulating the proinflammatory cascade by antagonizing H1 receptors, inhibiting mast cell degranulation, and blocking prostaglandin formation. Drinking nettle leaf tea throughout the day is not only tasty but may help to decrease the symptoms of allergies similar to taking an antihistamine. [5,9,10]

Additional Considerations:

Several other simple lifestyle modifications may be able to reduce the prevalence of allergic rhinitis. One such lifestyle choice is the avoidance of trans fats. It has been shown to provide benefit in several observational studies. As the intake of trans fatty acids increased, there was an increased correlation of allergic rhinitis. Correlation does not mean causation however removal of trans fats from the diet may provide symptom improvement in a subset of the allergic rhinitis population. [4] 

Air quality modification is an essential recommendation for individuals with complaints of allergic rhinitis. Indoor use of HEPA filters reduces the presence of allergens from common triggers. Portable air purifiers are capable of providing benefits to the room they are running in. Also, consider removing carpeting and feather bedding from your home. These items are capable of trapping allergens and increasing the total exposure leading to perennial rhinitis. [5,8]

In addition, acupuncture has also been reported in several studies to demonstrate clinically relevant benefits that persist for several months even after the treatment has stopped. Symptom improvement has been noted in both nasal congestion and eye complaints but may not be as beneficial for seasonal rhinitis as it is for perennial rhinitis.


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Important Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only; it is NOT meant to substitute professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should NOT use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem/disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please see your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.Please schedule an appointment or call 203-693-1429 for individualized natural medicine.



Dr. Pamela Santapaola Dr. Pamela Santapaola Dr. Pamela Santapaola (AKA Dr. Pam) is a licensed naturopathic physician in the state of Connecticut and co-owner of Healing Duo Integrative Family Medical Practice. Dr. Pam has a passion for educating, whether it be through her writings or in her office in a one-to-one setting. She is an advocate of making small lifestyle changes that can make a big impact in the future. Her goal is to enlighten individuals about holistic medicine and empower them to make the changes necessary to live a healthier life. As her saying goes, "It’s time for you to start feeling like your best self.”

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