Tuesday, October 19, 2010

'Tis the Season...

For allergies...

Many of us here in the Mid-West suffer from seasonal related allergies and turn to over-the-counter medicines or prescription medications to offer relief. However, there are several practices and tools you can employ to help reduce the symptoms of seasonal allergies, or in many cases, avoid them all together. The following tips have helped many of my clients overcome serious seasonal allergy issues and I'm confident they will help you as well. If you don't suffer from allergies, read on and incorporate these practices as well for good health!

Among other things, allergens trigger inflammation in the body. If you already have elevated levels of inflammation you are more prone to the symptoms of seasonal allergies. Additionally, if your immune system is deficient, you will not be able to naturally defend against the allergens present. Therefore, it is crucial to keep your immunity strong and inflammation low. Here are a few basics:
  • Clean up your diet - a diet that is high in starchy carbohydrates, especially grain-based carbs and sugar promotes inflammation. Wheat is a major culprit and should be avoided by seasonal allergy sufferers (or, in my opinion, avoided at all times!). I also suggest keeping dairy to a minimum if you suffer from seasonal allergies as milk can compound the problem of excess mucus.
  • Fish Oil - Omega 3 fish oil has many health benefits, including strong anti-inflammatory properties. I suggest taking 3-5 grams of high quality Omega 3 fish oil on a daily basis.
  • Train smart, rest well - As previous posts on this blog have suggested, recovery and knowing when to back off are essential to avoiding the pitfalls of over training syndrome (aka - under-resting). One of the many side effects of inadequate rest and recovery is inflammation. Include silent time/meditation into your weekly practice along with self-care and intelligent training to avoid unnecessary inflammation.
  • Green and/or White Tea - Both green tea and white tea are high in antioxidants which support immune function and good health. I suggest drinking at least 2 cups per day.
And, of course, I had to add my "secret weapon" for keeping the sinuses clear at all times, regardless of the season, yet it's also a powerful tool in the seasonal allergy fight...

Neti pot
- Well, it's not such a secret anymore, thanks to the likes of Dr. Oz, Dr. Andrew Weil, but just a few short years ago if you mentioned the neti pot people looked at you like you had two heads. If you told them what it was and what you did with it, they ran the other way. Looking much like a genie bottle, you simply add a mixture of warm water and sea salt, lean over the sink, insert the spout into your nostril, tilt your head to the side and pour. Allow the water to run into one nostril and out the other. It takes some practice and getting used to, but once you get the hang of it you will quickly see the value of doing the neti pot on a daily basis.
The dastardly Neti Pot. Get one, rub the side, and make a wish for clear sinuses and allergy relief. If that doesn't work, read the instructions on the box, use it, and see what happens.

The neti pot is a practice that stems from yoga and has been used for countless years by yogis to keep the nostrils and sinuses clear and healthy. For the yogi, this enhances the practice of pranayama (breath work) and the ability for one to uptake Prana (Prana, as in life force, not the climbing apparel). For us, the neti pot is a simple, drug free manner in which to flush allergens from the nostrils. Additionally, the high sodium content solution works to kill viruses and dry up mucus (lovely, right?). Of all the tips suggested in this article, the neti pot is superior to each and every one. Many of my clients/students have found total relief from allergies by simply using the neti pot on a daily basis.

Even if you do not suffer from seasonal allergies, I recommend using the neti pot year-round. Daily, we pick up dirt and debris from the air and environment. I find the use of a neti pot highly beneficial after a long trail run, after mowing the lawn, or after being outside for a long period of time where we are exposed to airborne particles. Along with keeping dust, dirt, and allergens out of the nostrils, keeping the breathing passages clear and healthy enhances nasal breathing during training sessions (running, gym workouts, yoga, meditation, et al.) which is vital to performance.

There was a time when you could only find a neti pot at a yoga studio, or perhaps a real-deal health food store. These days you can find them at just about any pharmacy - I've seen them in Kroger's, Marsh, CVS, and Walgreen's, so there is no excuse for you to not have one and get started using it today!

Let me know if you have questions!



  1. I swear by the neti pot. I've been using it daily for close to three years and have decreased my number of sinus infections to 1 a year, in the spring. I've had as many as 1 a quarter in past years. A side from that alone, I can breath better even with allergies aren't in full swing. Overall, an Improved quality of life.

  2. Amen to the neti pot benefits! Never miss a day of using it.