Friday, July 23, 2010

Alternative Allergy Remedies

When I was growing up I struggled with my allergies a lot, from the runny nose, itchy eyes, and frequent sneezing and sinus infections- I had it all. I tried medication after medication to try and get some relief with no luck...until about two years ago that is. I took a few drastic steps to try and change this allergy problem and I'm so glad I did, because my symptoms have gone from a 10 to a 1! On top of this, I've reduced my allergy medication from 3 prescriptions to only allergy "medication" now is the use of my neti pot, which I'll tell you about more later. So let me tell you about some of the "alternative" steps I took to alleviating my allergy symptoms and how you might be able to try some of them out.

Here's what I did:

1. I got a skin-prick allergy test- This was covered by my health insurance, but still ended up costing me $150. They basically scratch the skin on your back in a number of places, insert common allergens, and then see how you react. Aside from wanting to itch the skin right off your back, it can be a good test to see what exactly it is you are allergic too. Here is what my back looked like after I got home from the test. See that massive knot dead-ahead, that's ragweed, my "highest" rating allergen, what a massive knot!

On the test  you can see they rank the allergens on a scale from 1 being a low reaction, and a 3 being the most reaction. Would you guess that my ragweed was a 6++! Crazy! Guess that's why the knot on my back is so big.

The downside of this test (other than the cost) was that the doctor wanted me to come back in a few weeks so she could prescribe me a ton of prescription allergy no thank you! That's what I was trying to get away from! Needless to say, I didn't go for the follow up appointment. In the end, this test was helpful to make me aware of what exactly I was allergic to, and it turned out to be pretty good proof of how beneficial the next 3 steps have been in relieving my allergies.

2. I got a food-sensitivity test and as a result removed gluten, yeast, cow's milk, and eggs from my diet can read more about this test and see my results by clicking here. Here's a pic of me saying good-bye to it all...mainly gluten.

Downside to this test, it's expensive in how it costs around $300. Positives to this test, finding out what food was making me sick! Isn't it hard to believe how one food can be healthy to one person, but harmful to another? I think this test finally gave my body a chance to rest and recover, as opposed to fighting a battle each meal as I ate foods that my body didn't agree with. Although this is an expensive option, I feel it would be worthwhile for everyone to find out what food they have sensitives to, so they can reduce the inflammation in their bodies...thus decreasing their allergies.

3. I went vegan-cut out meat, cheese, and butter (milk was already out). I think this step was really the nail in the coffin for me. Because even though I had already stopped eating most dairy, I still ate cheese. I guess I thought it was "safe"...WRONG! It seemed like every time I ate cheese, I had a runny nose and congestion the next day. One of the main reasons is because of's a quote I read in Gabriel Cousens book, There Is a Cure for Diabetes: The Tree of Life 21-Day+ Program that stopped me cold in my tracks from ever eating dairy or cheese again:" Research cited by Robert Cohen has made the point that there is up to a gallon of extra mucus in the body created as a result of drinking dairy. The mucus problem is associated with the fact that 87 percent of milk protein is casein, the main ingredient of Elmer's Glue." Yes, you read that right- Elmer's Glue! Gross- a pound of that in my body! You've gotta be kidding me! Goodbye cheese!

Downside: missing the flavor of regular cheese, but oh well, at least you won't be sneezing and dripping with mucus! I couldn't have made this transition without Daiya favorite gluten-free, casein-free, lactose-free, vegan cheese! If you're interested, read more about some other easy vegan swaps here.

4. I began using a neti pot-you're going to think I'm crazy for this one, but it really worked for me! It's pretty simple, you put warm water in a little tea-pot looking thing and pour it up one nostril and it flows out the other, which cleans your nasal passages. You can find the one I bought here, but there are many others. Great prices too...mine was $7! Also, sometimes they sell special saline solutions, but I've had a lot of luck with just salt and warm water. Downside to this is that it might take you a few trys to get the positioning of your elbow, wrist, the actual pot itself right, but this won't take long.

Here's some of the benefits of neti pots (according to the flyer that came with mine):
-soothes dry nasal passages
-gently washes away dust, pollen, and environmental irritants like smoke and dust
-offsets the effects of breathing dry indoor or winter air
-removes excess mucus...naturally
-helps you breathe freer when practicing yoga or meditation.

Want to know how a neti pot works? Let me guide you through my "neti-routine" that I do twice a day: first thing in the morning and right before I go to bed.

1. Pour about 1 Tbs. Salt (I use sea salt) into a 1 cup measuring cup

2. Fill the measuring cup full with luke warm water- not too will burn, and not too will remind you of getting swimming pool water up your nose. Now pour 1/2 of the water/salt solution into the netipot.

3. Tilt your head and allow the tip of the neti pot to enter to your nostril. Relax and let the water flow through and out the other nostril...this took me a while to get used to but you just have to relax and truly "let it flow". Once the water is gone, blow your nose then repeat on the other side. Water may trickle out a tiny bit for a few minutes after you're done, just keep a tissue close by.

So that pretty much sums up my allergy journey. Looking back, it's hard to believe I suffered for so long with allergy symptoms and paid so much money for prescriptions! I'm glad those days are over. If there's any one treatment I would recommend to get this whole thing going, it would be to get a neti pot and give that a try. It's cheap, easy, and effective. Yes, it's a bit embarrassing, but it's well worth it to be breathing easy! Next would be to go vegan...but I'm a little biased I guess! ( :

Keep in mind, I am not a doctor, I've learned all of this from reading books, researching the internet, and talking to doctors/ although this all worked fine and well for me, it may not for you, so be sure to take your health into your own hands. Read some books, talk with some experts, search around for the appropriate care that fits YOUR needs, and don't stop until you feel better!

Do you guys have any alternative allergy remedies that have worked for you or that you have been wanting to try? Share your ideas here!


  1. Well Ashley that is pretty surprising about the casein ingredient in milk. I think learning that might be that extra little push for me to give up milk. It's too bad you couldn't find the picture of Dwight from The Office using the neti-pot. Great post Ashley and stay away from that Ragweed.

  2. Yeah pretty gross, about the glue right! Hope this post helps you get away from the milk ( : I know too bad I couldn't find Dwight's pic-that was great! Yeah ragweed is definently not my friend!

  3. I really want to do the food sensitivity test...there is always something I'd rather spend the money on...which is silly because I think it's more important. My stomach gets bloated, too - no other symptom, but I think it's definitely not normal. We did the test for my oldest son, but he didn't have anything he had to remove. There were only a few things they said to eat only once a week or something like that.

  4. Jenny,
    I agree that the food sensitivity test is a good splurge, I can remember that weird bloated feeling I'd get after eating something that didn't agree with me. I'm thinking about getting one for my husband for his b-day in Oct. I told him that I idea and he was lik "Oh great, just what I want!" LOL- I'll have to make him some of Averie's cookie dough balls to make up for it! Hehe! ( :

  5. I would really like to be formally tested for food allergies.

  6. J,
    It's the best $340 I've ever spent! Priceless information! ( :


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