These 6 Natural Foods Can Help Fight Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal allergies can be treated with medication. Recently, certain natural foods have been found to be equally effective at suppressing allergy symptoms.

Woman sneezing into a piece of tissue with her eyes closed

Are you prone to frequent allergy attacks? You’re not alone. The prevalence of seasonal allergies has steadily increased over the last 50 years. In Malaysia, constant exposure to pollen, dust mites, and spores can trigger a physical reaction in some people.

Pet fur can also cause seasonal allergies. Cats and dogs shed the majority of their fur once or twice a year. This is especially common in double-coated breeds, such as Siberian and Russian blue cats, German shepherds, and Siberian huskies.

Over-the-counter or prescription medications can make an allergy become less severe. Certain foods are also capable of alleviating specific symptoms. Here are six dietary choices that may help you calm your seasonal allergies.

Woman holding an apple close to her lips as she smiles while holding the back of her head with her left hand
Apples are one of the few fruits that can provide allergy relief.

Fermented Vegetables 

In their raw form, vegetables are abundant in vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Fermented vegetables such as kimchi, pickled radishes and sauerkraut are a natural source of gut-friendly probiotics. Research shows that a healthy digestive system correlates positively to immune health and the management of allergies.

It has also been found that the ingestion of a daily probiotic supplement can relieve symptoms like sneezing, congestion, or a runny nose. 

Tropical Fruits 

Apples have antioxidative properties. They’re also a healthy source of a bioflavonoid – a compound produced by plants – called quercetin. Quercetin acts as an antihistamine and can be beneficial in addressing mild seasonal allergy symptoms.

Oranges are rich in bioflavonoids and vitamin C. Vitamin C helps to block the release of histamine, which can be found in bodily cells and provokes the onset of symptoms.

Pineapples are also chock full of vitamin C and bromelain. Bromelain breaks down the proteins that cause inflammation. It can reduce swelling in the sinuses’ mucous membranes and soothe a stuffy nose.

Spices 

Some spices are known to be effective against allergies. Cayenne pepper can be added to soups, stews or even baked goods. As a decongestant, it can help make the occurrence of a seasonal allergy less uncomfortable by lessening post-nasal drip – mucous that moves down the throat – and thinning secreted mucous.

Turmeric is a staple of Indian and Thai cooking. Animal studies show that curcumin, the spice’s active ingredient, can inhibit histamine release, suppressing inflammation. The verdict is limited on human studies involving turmeric use, but rest assured, the spice shows promise in doing away with allergy symptoms.

Slices of astragalus root on a wooden tray  
Astragalus can be mixed with other herbs to decrease the occurrence of seasonal allergies and keep the body healthy.

An Alternative Take on Treating Seasonal Allergies 

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) advises that lifestyle modifications can help prevent seasonal allergies by strengthening Lung fei, Spleen qi and Kidney shen.

“Herbal ingredients can be used to formulate decoctions that correct body constitution imbalances. Thus, it can be considered to relieve allergy symptoms”, explains Real Health Medical’s Chief Physician Chu I Ta.

Poria 

The spores of this fungus have long been used in traditional medicine. It’s believed that Poria (fu ling, 茯苓) contains chemicals that can reduce swelling and modulate the immune system‘s function

It can be combined with aconite (fu zi, 附子), Rehmannia (shu di huang, 熟地黄), Chinese yam (shan yao, 山药), Fructus Corni (shan zhu yu, 山茱萸), Rhizoma Alismatis (ze xie, 泽泻), Ramulus Cinnamomi (gui zhi, 桂枝), and Cortex Moutan Radicis (mu dan pi, 牡丹皮) to formulate a decoction called Jin Kui Shen Qi Wan (金匮肾气丸). Its primary action is to strengthen Kidney yang (active energy)

An animal model study shows that Jin Kui Shen Qi Wan is capable of regulating the immune system. It can also ease airway inflammation.

Astragalus 

For thousands of years, astragalus (huang qi, 黄芪) has been used in TCM alongside other herbs to protect a person’s body against disease, and physical and mental stressors. The plant is native to Northern and Eastern China, as well as Korea and Mongolia.

Its root is a core ingredient of a formula called Yu Ping Feng San (玉屏风散), which helps replenish qi (vital life force), fortify the external regions of the body, and halt sweating. Clinically, it’s recommended to treat allergy-related diseases and lower the frequency of attacks.

Astragalus is also utilised in a decoction known as Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang (补中益气汤), which treat Deficiencies of Spleen Yang and Qi. The formula boasts the dual effect of being able to prevent and treat seasonal allergies simultaneously.

Jujubes 

Warm and sweet-tasting, jujubes (da zao, 大枣) have a harmonising effect on herbal formulas. Thus, it can be a perfect addition to Gui Zhi Tang (桂枝汤). The decoction can regulate qiand eliminate the pathogenic factors that affect the skin. A combination of Gui Zhi Tang with tui na may also have a therapeutic effect on seasonal allergies in children. It can also induce calmness and cure fatigue, weakness, or a poor appetite.

Another ingredient that can be used to improve exhaustion and enhance skin health is royal jelly.

Acupressure Therapy

In addition to herbs and foods, you can add acupressure treatment at home to alleviate seasonal allergies. According to Physician Chu, “Acupressure point stimulation twice a day, and 1-2 minutes for each point can also have a therapeutic effect on seasonal allergy symptoms.”

A few of the points that can be worked on are:

  • Cuan zhu (BL2, 攒竹)
  • Fei shu (BL13, 肺俞)
  • Pi shu (BL20, 脾俞)
  • Shen shu (BL23, 肾俞)
  • Yu yao (EX-HN4, 鱼腰)  
  • Tai yang (EX-HN5, 太阳)
  • Feng chi (GB20, 风池)
  • He gu (LI4, 合谷)
  • Zu san li (ST36, 足三里)

Malaysia experiences four monsoon seasons annually and pets shed seasonally twice a year. It comes as no surprise that you can be prone to allergens like fur, pollen and spores. Use this guide to weather seasonal allergies and their accompanying symptoms. Be sure to also discuss herbal ingredient use with a TCM practitioner to ensure that they’re safe for your body constitution.

References

  1. Hill’s Pet Nutrition. 2017. Dogs That Shed: Why and What You Can Do. [online] [Accessed 15 July 2022]
  2. Hill’s Pet Nutrition. 2020. Dog & Cat Shedding Seasons and Cycles. [online] [Accessed 15 July 2022]
  3. National Library of Medicine. 2018. Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan, a traditional Chinese medicine, alleviated allergic airway hypersensitivity and inflammatory cell infiltration in a chronic asthma mouse model. [online] [Accessed 15 July 2022]
  4. PLOS ONE. 2014. Screening Active Components from Yu-Ping-Feng-San for Regulating Initiative Key Factors in Allergic Sensitization. [online] [Accessed 15 July 2022]
  5. Modern Roots Acupuncture. 2016. TREATING SEASONAL ALLERGIES WITH ACUPUNCTURE & TRADITIONAL CHINESE HERBAL MEDICINE. [online] [Accessed 15 July 2022]
  6. HealthCMI. 2015. Acupuncture Relieves Sinus Allergies. [online] [Accessed 15 July 2022]
  7. Scientific Malaysian. 2014. ALLERGIES AND WHAT WE NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THEM. [online] [Accessed 15 July 2022] 
  8. MyHEALTH. ALLERGIC RHINITIS. [online] [Accessed 15 July 2022] 
  9. SciTechDaily. 2022. 7 Best Foods for Seasonal Allergies. [online] [Accessed 15 July 2022] 

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