Spring isn't the only bad season for allergies. For some people, the fall season is just as bad. "Fall is always is always a fun time of year for those of us that suffer from allergies,” said Drug Emporium pharmacist David Davis. “So I think this year probably won't be much different.” Davis says the two major culprits for this fall allergy season are mold and ragweed. "Even though it's not an illness, it can make you feel pretty bad,” said allergy specialist Dr. Paul Sharkey. Doctors like Sharkey says there are some things in your pantry that could help you fight for relief.
Dr. Sharkey says pineapples are high in bromelain, which has a natural antihistamine effect. Foods like cinnamon, ginger, strawberries, blueberries and tomatoes can have anti-flamatory effects. For supplement users, vitamin C, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids are your best choices. "We don't have really good well designed studies to say that eating this food really does this benefit,” said Dr. Sharkey. “But we know that those products are in the food and that they can be helpful." Sharkey says even though local honey is a popular home remedy, he thinks it's questionable.
"The problem is when you get into a branded medicine, you know exactly what you're getting,” explained Dr. Sharkey. “When you get bee pollen produced locally, each batch will have different pollen in it. You could get different amounts in it. Depending what someone's allergic to, that could be good or bad." One thing doctors say is certain - everyone should be prepared for a roller coaster of an allergy season.
CBC Radio's house doctor Peter Lin spoke to The Early Edition about the effectiveness of some of the natural treatments advertised to help stop the sneezing and sniffling.
- Saltwater and a neti pot. If you Google anything about allergies, plenty of results will say, "Put saltwater in a neti pot and pour it up your nose." A neti pot is like a teapot, and you pour this stuff into your nostril and basically wash out your sinuses. Remember though, it's not just anything you can put up there. Your body runs on 0.9 per cent salt solution. In other words, if you put tap water or seawater (in there), it will burn it. It also has to be bacteria-free, so be sure to either use distilled water or use water that has been boiled and cooled down. This is not for normal sufferers — it's for people who have tried everything and nothing works.
- Taking a shower. One thing about showering is there's the steam, which either gets rid of mucus or thins it out. The job of the nose is to humidify, to make air moist, so it's as if the shower is doing the nose's job for it. A shower essentially is washing away the pollens. It's a temporary solution, because we know you're going to be outside again eventually.
- Eating wasabi. We've all had that experience when you eat too much wasabi and your whole nose is on fire. It doesn't last very long, but it does have decongestant chemicals in it. We have pills that are decongestants, but the way they work is they squeeze your artery tight, in order to make more space in your nose to allow you to breathe. Unfortunately, they squeeze all your other arteries tight, so if you have high blood pressure or heart disease, we don't want you to being taking any decongestant pills. The good news is wasabi seems to be localized to your nose.
- Local honey. The argument is that local honey works because bees are harvesting local pollen from local flowers. So the idea is, when you eat the local honey, you're getting a small amount of local pollen, so if you're allergic to it, you're slowly getting desensitized to it. There are contradicting studies on the topic, so the bottom line is there's no consensus on this, but if you like honey, supporting your local honey farm is not a bad thing.