Natural options for treating seasonal allergies

I am 50 years old now and in great health in most respects. The most irksome problem I encounter every year is my summer allergies, which seem to be mild to moderate, then severe when the pollen counts really get up there. What natural options do I have for treating my allergies?

Outdoor allergies are a big issue, affecting approximately 40 million Americans. As you’re probably aware, allergies are an overreaction of the human immune system to a foreign protein (the allergen) that is, in your case, breathed in. The sneezing, itchy eyes, and runny nose are the body’s immune response trying to rid itself of this foreign entity. This is what is known as an inflammatory response, and antioxidants can help alleviate it. I have three main points of advice for you.

Eat your super veggies

The cruciferous family of vegetables—including broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, and bok choy—are super veggies. Along with being delicious, these vegetables are packed with vitamins and fiber. They’re also loaded with phytochemicals, naturally occurring compounds in fruits and vegetables that stimulate the production of antioxidants. Antioxidants help neutralize inflammation and compounds known as free radicals.

Sulforaphane, an important phytochemical found in broccoli, stimulates the body’s production of antioxidants in the airways, which may play an important role in helping protect us against diesel fumes, pollution, tobacco smoke, and airborne allergens. A 2009 study from the University of California’s School of Medicine published in the journal Clinical Immunology found that subjects ingesting 200 grams of broccoli sprouts had a 101-percent increase in an antioxidant enzyme called GSTP1 and a 199-percent increase of another key enzyme called NQO1. A diet rich in these vegetables may help protect your airways from airborne pollution.

Eat more avocados

This fruit does more than just make a perfect guacamole: it is also the best fruit source for vitamin E. Working as an immune booster, vitamin E is also an antioxidant which helps reduce inflammatory reactions from allergies. A 2004 study found that 800 IUs a day of vitamin E taken over a 10-week period dramatically reduced nasal stuffiness.

Get some sun

Low levels of vitamin D may be related to poorly controlled asthma and increased need for oral corticosteroids. A 2012 study published in American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine done on 1,024 children showed that supplementation with vitamin D may actually improve lung function. How can you make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D? Get at least an hour of sun and have several servings of dairy (milk, yogurt, or cottage cheese) every day. Worried you’re not getting enough? Talk to your doctor to get your levels checked and see if you need a supplement.

Despite eating properly, lots of people with allergies need medicine to control symptoms. Seek out a local allergist/immunologist to get a treatment plan tailored to your needs.

Spring and summer colds

Suffering through allergies is a pain, but another problem you may find yourself tackling during the warmer seasons are spring and summer colds. If you do feel a common cold coming on once the temperatures start to rise, try Cold-EEZE cold remedy, clinically proven to shorten the duration of the common cold by 42 percent.


Jennifer Collins, MD, is an assistant professor and physician specializing in allergy, asthma, and immunology in the Department of Otolaryngology at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary (NYEEI).