Don’t Sneeze Your Way Into Spring!

Holistic medicine is more than treating the body as a set of interconnected systems as opposed to a set of individual parts. It’s also considering the body as it is connected to the world and the communities around us. A few months ago, I wrote about how to live happily and healthily in the winter. Now, as the days get longer and the world turns green again, it’s time to consider the steps we can take to embrace Spring to both get the most out of this lively season and keep those nasty Missouri allergies at bay.

In spring, the first stems rise from the ground and buds appear on trees; it is a time of upward and outward expansion.  It’s important that our energy also move upward and outward. One classic Chinese text, the Nei Jing, suggests a vigorous morning walk with long strides and aligning ourselves in such a way that “the mind orients itself on life”. The longer, warmer days give us an opportunity to reconnect not only with nature, but with friends and neighbors too. Whereas winter was the time of slow cooking and roasting, spring is a time for quick heating. It’s no coincidence that the earliest vegetables of spring are best-enjoyed sautéed and stir fried. One of my favorite ways to enjoy early spring veggies is with this recipe for asparagus and carrots in a light lemon sauce.

Unfortunately with the flowers and budding trees come congestion, sneezing, rashes and more. While nasal sprays and Claritin-D can all offer some relief, there are effective steps you can take to boost your immune system and treat daily allergy symptoms, particularly if you suffer from chronic sinus congestion and  infections: 

Local honey & apple cider vinegar:

Many allergies stem from reactions to local flower pollen. Consuming a tablespoon of local, raw honey each day helps your immune system build a tolerance to the pollen that’s clogging your sinuses. Daily consumption of apple cider vinegar might not be as pleasant as honey, but it helps boost your immune system, reducing the release of inflammation causing histamines.

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine:

Acupuncture regulates and boosts the immune system and can help with just about every symptom of allergies, from itchy eyes to post-nasal drip and rashes. Where it’s particularly strong, however, is treating congestion. If you suffer monthly sinus infections or daily sinus congestion, acupuncture might be your new best friend. Acupuncture removes obstruction in the sinuses and nasal passages, which brings immediate relief and can prevent the need for antibiotics and nasal sprays.

Keep your house, and your pets, pollen free:

One way pollen spreads is by being sticky. Vacuuming and dusting your house, washing your hair more frequently and taking a moist towel to your dogs and cats can help keep your house allergen free.

Lastly: start early!

I find that my clients who come at the start of spring have far fewer sinus infections and  ‘allergy days’ than those who come in already having suffered. Additionally, studies show that almost all allergy interventions are more effective when you start them before the symptoms really set in. So this weekend go find some local honey or [make an appointment to come see me].