Bob asked for info about successful living with seasonal allergies. I thought I’d spread the love and post my response as a blog.
The most important concept to understand when choosing what to do or not do to stay well is Total Load. The immune system is the opposite of all other body organs and systems. When we are stressed, all other systems slow down; the immune system revs up. Therefore, anyone with an autoimmune disorder (like seasonal allergies) needs to be extra careful to avoid unnecessary stresses.
The absolute easiest place to exercise total control is in your bedroom. For many people, creating an oasis is the ONLY thing they need to do. Having a place where the immune system can get a total rest is often enough for many people to get their total load down to where they are asymptomatic or able to control their symptoms with a minimum of medication.
Your best investment for allergy relief is a good air filter for the bedroom. I like the Aireox best. http://www.aireox.com/FAQ.html
We tried several other brands, but ended up giving them all away, because I much preferred the Aireox for looks, portability, quiet operation, and the ease and cost of cleaning the cartridges. I’ve got one in every room I use. They run continuously on low and apart from a funky switch (they replaced it free), I’ve had no problems with them, despite the fact that some of them have been running non-stop since 1984. I also don’t find a need to replace the cartridges anywhere near as often as they recommend, probably because I have to keep my house so allergen-free anyway. I put a date sticker on the top when I put in a new cartridge. The last time the air coming out of my bedroom filter started smelling less than fresh, the sticker was five years old!
Creating an oasis is a nuisance, but it’s worth it to do it right from the get go. We found it much easier to just move ourselves into the smallest bedroom. I have to have everything I use super safe anyway, so only my clothes are allowed in. They don’t even get laundered with anyone else’s stuff. The further you go from my air space (esp the bedroom), the less careful we need to be. Dearest’s clothes and shoes are in what normal people would use for outdoor coats. Coats and boots are in the basement. When anyone comes in smelly, they have to strip down in the basement and change.
But I’m extreme. Most folks get much better with JUST a really good oasis. That 8 hours a day of true rest with no immune stress gives them what they need to be well during the hours they’re out and about. But you really MUST NOT keep anything in the bedroom that you wouldn’t put in your baby’s crib. Seriously. I know a woman who knew better, but ditzed out and not only got her clothes dry cleaned, but brought them home and hung them in her bedroom closet. Then she laid down for a nap. Hours and hours later, after the paralysis wore off, she was able to remove the dry cleaning and air her room out. Lesson learned!
You can improve your breathing by using essential oils in the bedroom at night. This is another place the Aireox is really nice. The outflow is on top, so it’s easy to put an inexpensive “ghetto diffuser” on it, let the air filter push the essential oils around the room. I find about 4 drops on the gauze is plenty for a small bedroom all night.
I get an enormous amount of therapeutic benefit from essential oils. Learning the therapeutic benefits of each oil takes time. I was scared to even try them, because I was so allergic to fragrances. Then, one day, I met this lovely aromatherapist who was so compassionate about my fear that I was able to relax and let her teach me safe ways to try out just one oil at a time. This not only proved to be a safe way for me to find oils I tolerate, but also an excellent method for slowly investing in and learning about aromatherapy.
One bottle doesn’t cost much, usually less than $10. Some are more costly, including some I now wouldn’t be without, but there are plenty of good, inexpensive ones to get anyone started without breaking the bank. Essential oils are sold by the ounce and used by the drop. You get a LOT of bang for your buck with this stuff! AND it doesn’t harm you, the way drugs do. The right oil at the right time is just 100% good for you. Even better, aromatherapy has a nifty feature to help you self-prescribe. When an oil or oil mix is right for your body, it will smell appealing to you. With allergies, this can be a huge help in deciding what oils to test. If I find an oil offensive at first whiff, I just don’t bother going further.
For night time breathing relief, eucalyptus, any of the evergreens (e.g., pine) and tea tree are all good, easy to find and inexpensive. Before purchasing, read the sections in my album about safety and choosing a brand and vendor. I buy my oils from Aroma Thyme. It’s a woman-owned home business with good prices, fast service and a wide selection, including carrier oils, empty bottles etc. so I can mix my own blends.
Only one oil I know of has antihistamine properties, but I use it and get good results: Tansy Blue. It’s not as easy to find as the more common oils like Eucalyptus and Lavender, but Aroma Thyme has it. By itself, it has a kind of sickly sweet smell that I don’t care for but any other oil, even one drop, eliminates the cloying quality. Note: It’s seriously BLUE. I never use it in massage oils because it stains. But one drop in my diffuser at night with a few drops of Eucalyptus … it’s fantastic.
I do not use any prescription meds. I do use an OTC antihistamine (active ingredient: chlorpheniramine maleate). It comes in bulk bottles in a cheap generic form and it works well without side effects.
I boost its effectiveness with a good Vitamin C source. It’s essential to AND destroyed by the process of clearing an allergic reaction, so people who have allergies require much, much higher doses than RDA. I have been using and getting good results from this one for about 20 years.
The main thing to look for in choosing a brand is not cost, but purity and bio-availability. Some brands (cheaper ones) put so much binder in the tabs (so they stay together in shipping) that the pills do not dissolve in the right place in your gut for best absorption. NSP is really good about this, as are other companies. But NSP is the one I know, use and can recommend. (GP probably has some good recommendations too!)
You really cannot overdose on Vitamin C. It’s water soluble, so any extra is shed not stored. Actually, the worst it’ll do to you is give you the runs. I knew a guy once who took 8,000 mg after exposure to fresh paint. He didn’t get any sloppy poop, so clearly needed it all. (The vitamins you need to be cautious about dosage with are the oil solubles. They get put into body fat where they can become toxic.)
I like the taste of Vitamin C, so bite the tablet and hold it under my tongue for a half minute or so to get some of the C straight into my blood stream. It’s acidic, so not something to suck on for long, but when you’re hurting and need relief fast, this helps.
Another good OTC remedy is Alka Seltzer Gold. It’s just the salts without any aspirin or other extras. You probably have to special order it. Ask a pharmacist. It has an amazing ability to clear an allergic reaction with just body salts. It is salt, though, so if you’ve got blood pressure problems or whatever, consult your physician about what doses would be safe.
Take care to make changes that feel right. Change is hard. Go about it prayerfully. Avoid implementing changes that are more stressful than they are worth. We are each a complex organism composed of inter-related systems — physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Many studies (and common sense) have shown that we influence our bodies (esp the immune system!) as much with healthy or destructive emotions, thoughts and spirituality as we do with a bad diet, lack of exercise, etc.
Use as much care with feeding your mind and spirit as you do with feeding your body. It’s kind of pointless to go all organic in your diet, then read books or watch television that is filled with stuff that makes you feel angry or depressed. I saw a study once that showed people who had a favorite funny t.v. show to look forward to in the evening had more positive hormones in their blood ALL DAY. Laughter and positive emotions flood the body with good hormones so go out of your way to expose yourself to things that make you laugh out loud or feel all squishy inside.
Hope this barrage of information is more helpful than whelming! GD, feel free to add whatever you like. The rest of all y’all, ask questions. I’m happy to help!