From Washington D.C. to sunny Los Angeles, El Nino looks like it's bound to cause some serious weather issues throughout the country this winter.
While the warm ocean current might give the West Coast some much-needed moisture , but El Nino could also have a major effect on something that affects 50 million people across the United States: allergies.
Puffy and watery eyes, uncontrollable sneezing, skin rashes, and a sore throat are just a few of the symptoms that strike those affected by rhinitis, either seasonally or year round.
Notice that your allergies have been a little more aggravating in the past few years? Blame climate change. Research shows that with weather changes over the past few years, more pollen and allergens have been released into the air for a longer period of time; the result is a super-long allergy season that's even more aggressive than usual.
This year will be even more difficult for allergy sufferers because of El Nino and the recent phenomena of "thunderstorm allergies". Climatologists and immunologists have linked severe thunderstorms to an increase in hospitalizations of those with allergy induced asthma, indicating that tempestuous weather stirs up pollen and allergens in the air and causes even worse reactions for those who battle allergies.
Instead of running for the drugstore allergy aisle and overloading your body with some combination of antihistamine pills, nasal sprays, eye drops, and soothing lotions, there are a few painless natural remedies you can try to keep hay fever from ruining half of your year.
Throw back some spirulina
Spirulina, the blue-green algae superfood that contains many essential vitamins, minerals, and proteins, has been linked to beneficial effects for those who battle with allergies. A dosage of 2000 mg daily has been proven to help abate symptoms of hay fever. Spirulina helps boost immune function and the production of antibodies, which could explain why it's so helpful in fighting allergies.
Probiotics fight cold and allergy woes
Probiotics are most well known for strengthening the immune system and supplementing the good bacteria in the gut, but it turns our probiotics could also have a positive effect on histamines. The addition of probiotics—either in pill form or through eating fermented foods and yogurt—improve overall wellbeing and lessen the reaction to seasonal allergies.
Get a daily dose of Vitamin D
It can be hard during winter months—not to mention during thunderstorms—to score a few moments in the sunshine. But try to get in at least 15 minutes of sun at least twice a week, if you can. If rain clouds stand in your way, try a dose of vitamin D in pill form. Vitamin D supplementation has helped patients with allergies recover more quickly from allergy attacks, and it seems to alleviate symptoms for those who continuously supplement with vitamin D throughout allergy season.
Go local when it comes to the sweet stuff
Grab a pot of raw honey from the local farmers' market next time you shop for produce. If pollen is your (seasonal) archenemy, ingesting raw honey that's populated and harvested by local bees can lower your immune response to the offensive pollen in the air. The basic idea is that if you can slowly introduce pollen into your system, your antibodies won't go berserk when you step outside on a day with a high pollen count! There's not a lot of real scientific evidence to back this one up, but many seasonal allergy sufferers swear by old trick.
Instead of riding through allergy season over-medicated and under the weather, try out these natural allergy hacks. You'll notice a difference in your overall health and immune response, and you may even have your healthiest winter yet!
Photo credit: Alicia Cho