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Sweet Relief for Allergies

Mar 21, 2013 11:42AM ● By tina

Locally grown honey can bring sweet relief during allergy season

By Tina Auten, Staff Writer

All it takes is a quick look outside to see that spring has arrived.  Bradford pear trees are covered with tiny white blooms, the grass is not only green but needs to be mowed, and many of us have itchy watery eyes and a red nose.  For just as surely as spring brings warmer temperatures, wild flowers, and budding trees, spring also brings seasonal allergies to many North Texans.

Due to the increased pollen in the air as grass comes in and flowers begin to bloom, spring is the most common time of the year for people to be impacted by allergies such as hay fever.  The cold-like symptoms include nasal congestion, runny nose, and itchy, watery eyes and can be miserable.  For those with mild to moderate allergies, a trip to the drug store for over-the-counter antihistamines does the trick even though it means putting up with the side effect of drowsiness common with antihistamines. 

Fortunately, there are natural remedies for allergy sufferers that can work as well as the over-the-counter variety without the side effects of drowsiness.  According to WebMd, the European herb butterbur has been tested in clinical trials and alleviates common hay fever symptoms.  It can be purchased online or in stores such as The Vitamin Shoppe.

Hot spicy foods such as cayenne pepper, hot ginger, horseradish, and wasabi can thin mucous secretions and open sinus passages.  Drinking hot peppermint tea can also provide relief for congestion.  The essential oils in peppermint act as a decongestant and also contain mild antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Eating small amounts of locally grown honey each day is thought to be a form of immunotherapy and is similar to gradually vaccinating the body against allergens.  Small particles of pollen spores (allergens) are present in honey.  Over time and with repeated exposure the body becomes accustomed to the presence of allergens and instead of triggering an immune response (releasing histamines which trigger an allergy attack), the body produces antibodies.  Just one-two teaspoons per day of local (no more than 50 mile radius of your home) honey can fight common spring allergies.  Local honey can be found at farmers markets as well as grocery stores such as Central Market.

Note: A child under the age of one should never ingest honey of any variety, as the intestinal tract isn’t mature enough to inhibit the growth of Clostridiumm botulinum, a type of botulism that produces a paralytic agent, and can be fatal.  Always seek advice from a medical professional.