How to Relieve Spring Allergies/ Hay Fever with Foods from your Kitchen, 3/ 17/ 11
As we are getting close to spring I wanted to talk a little about how to deal with the allergies that many people suffer from. There are many medications out there that deal with mild to severe reactions, yet they can often have undesirable side effects. Some people prefer to try more natural forms of medicine that will not have the side effects of conventional drug therapy.
There are several formulas of Chinese herbs that are great for dealing with allergies. The best thing to do is to consult an herbalist so you can get the appropriate formula for your situation. Some common ones include bi yan pian and jade windscreen. Yin qiao can sometimes also help relieve symptoms. Many natural food stores or natural medicine/ apothecaries (herb shops) will have a variety of herbal formulas in tea or pill form that can help relieve allergic symptoms such as hay fever (dry/ itchy eyes, runny nose, asthmatic breathing/ wheezing, itchy or red skin).
In terms of common kitchen items, I find strong mint tea to be one of the best. Use a large amount of mint and let it steep covered for 10 minutes. If you have chrysanthemum flowers to add, these are also good. Remember not to boil the leaves/ flowers. See my earlier post on making medicinal tea for more details about how to properly prepare medicinal tea. Improper preparation can harm the potency and effect of your medicine.
From a Chinese medicine perspective, allergies often involve an invasion of wind or wind-heat in the body, so we try to release it. Other foods that help clear (foods with a bitter flavor) are celery, radish, chrysanthemum flowers, and to a lesser extent apples, pears, and most leafy green vegetables. Depending on what type of allergy you have, many people find that local honey or bee pollen helps reduce allergic reactions. A little bit of lemon juice or high quality vinegar may also help the situation, and high quality olive oil is another good spring tonic. Sweating can be beneficial if you do not have a weak constitution, and if spicy food agrees with you it can help promote the elimination of mucus clogging up the respiratory system and promote sweating.
Acupuncture is also a great form of treatment for those suffering from allergies.