Tag Archives: Allergy

Foods That Help Fight Allergies

The leaves are starting to fall. The hot, humid days of summer are giving way to crisp, cool, throw-an-extra-blanket-on-the-bed nights.

And your ragweed allergy has you running for the protection of your well-sealed home and slamming your windows shut. If you feel like your allergies are worse, or lingering longer than normal this year, it’s because they are. Climate change, and the resulting higher temperatures and increasing carbon dioxide, allow pollen-producing plants to live longer and to produce more potent pollen. And this year, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology announced that the season will extend through October, rather than ending in September as it normally does.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to suffer for 4 more weeks. The foods you eat (and don’t eat) can help stifle your sniffling, particularly seasonal foods that are available now from your farmers’ market. So grab your reusable shopping bags and hit the market for these nine fresh finds.



This precious piece of produce serves two purposes in annihilating your allergy symptoms: It’s high in allergy-relieving vitamin C and it’s a member of the crucifer family, plants that have been shown to clear out blocked-up sinuses. Researchers have found about 500 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C a day can ease allergy symptoms, and just 1 cup of raw broccoli packs about 80 mg. For another fall-flavored vitamin C boost, try cabbage or cauliflower, two other, related cruciferous vegetables. Both pack 56 mg of vitamin C per cooked cup.



Don’t just admire kale as a garnish. Eat it! This superfood packs a one-two punch against allergies. Like broccoli, it’s a member of the crucifer family, but it’s also rich in the carotenoid department, packing a form of vitamin A thought to improve allergy symptoms. A number of studies have shown that people with low vitamin A stores are more likely to have asthma and allergy problems.


Collard Greens

Hijacked by hay fever? Put collard greens on the menu. Their phytochemical content, mainly carotenoids, eases allergy issues. The darker the leaves, the higher the carotenoid content. They do require some patience to cook, however. Tough, fibrous veggies like collards need to cook anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour in order for your body to absorb their nutrients easily. Some vitamins will leach out into your cooking water, or “pot likker,” as Southerners call it. Use that water in soups or stews, or use it to cook some rice to serve with your leafy greens in order to maximize the nutrients your body absorbs.


Onions and Garlic

Onions and garlic are packed with quercetin, another secret weapon that helps fight allergies by acting like an antihistamine. Quercetin also acts like vitamin C and quells inflammation in your system, which helps stem the side effects associated with allergic inflammation, such as stuffy noses. However, quercetin isn’t absorbed very easily from food. So, although eating lots of onions and garlic may ward off some symptoms, you might consider a 400 to 500 mg supplement if you have severe fall allergies.



Like broccoli and leafy greens, pumpkins are rich in allergy-fighting carotenoids, the form of vitamin A that you need to stockpile in order to better ward off allergies. If your only dietary experience with pumpkin has been in breads or pies, you may not know how versatile it can be. Try it in a main dish, as in this recipe for Beef and Pumpkin Stew, or in Pumpkin Kugel.



Another carotenoid powerhouse, carrots contain lots of healthy beta-carotene to help ward off your ragweed misery. You’ll get more of the valuable vitamin if you lightly steam your carrots, rather than eating them raw, or sauté them with a healthy fat, such as coconut oil or ghee, a form of clarified butter.



Celery is full of vitamin C and anti-inflammatory compounds, making it a great tool in fighting not just allergies, but also high blood pressure and chronic pain. It’s one vegetable that you can eat raw or cooked without losing access to its nutrients. And don’t ignore the leaves; chop those up for use in soups and stews to get their vitamin C content, as well.


Stinging Nettle

Even though it’s not necessarily a food, or a fall-specific herb, you can’t discuss natural allergy remedies without hailing stinging nettle. It helps stifle the inflammation that occurs when you’re experiencing allergy symptoms. Stinging nettle contains histamine, the chemical your body produces during an allergic reaction, so it helps you acquire tolerance. Look for 500 mg freeze-dried nettle capsules in your natural health store, and take three times a day. That’s the best form for allergy relief; it won’t sting because it’s freeze-dried. Long-term use of the herb is not recommended, since it can deplete your potassium stores.


Antiallergy Soup!

There’s nothing like a warm bowl of soup when you’re feeling sick, and while this usually pertains to chicken soup for the flu, an expert on herbs developed this soup to naturally battle allergies. In The Green Pharmacy Guide to Healing Foods: Proven Natural Remedies to Treat and Prevent More Than 80 Common Health Concerns (Rodale, 2008), herb expert James Duke, Ph.D., recommends this allergy-fighting soup recipe:

Boil an onion (with skin) and a clove of garlic.

Add ½ cup chopped leaves and diced taproots of evening primrose.

After boiling for about 5 minutes, add a cup of nettle leaves and a cup of diced celery stalks, and boil gently for another 3 to 10 minutes.

Before eating, remove the onion skins and eat the soup while it’s still warm.

Season with wine vinegar, black pepper, hot pepper, turmeric, curry powder, or celery seed.


What Not To Eat

Even though foods can be great natural allergy cures, some can actually trigger allergy symptoms. The condition is called “oral allergy syndrome” and occurs when your body mistakes proteins in certain foods for the same allergic proteins in ragweed. On the upside, cooking those foods neutralizes the offending proteins. So if you’re a fall allergy sufferer, here are few foods to either cook first or avoid entirely during allergy season: apples, bananas, melons (watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew), cucumber, zucchini, chamomile tea, echinacea, honey, and nuts.



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Posted by on October 11, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Remedies For That Dang-Nabbit Itch


To scratch or not to scratch, that is the question. When confronted with an itch, most of us tend to throw self-discipline out the door and scratch to our skin’s content. While that may prove momentarily satisfying, scratching excessively can injure your skin. And if you break the skin, you leave yourself open to infection.


Itching, medically known as pruritus, is caused by stimuli bugging some part of our skin. There are a lot of places to bother on the body, too. The average adult has 20 square feet (2 square meters) of skin, all open to the world of irritants. When something bothers our skin, an itch is a built-in defense mechanism that alerts the body that someone is knocking. We respond to an itch with a scratch, as most people want to remove the problem. But the scratching can also set you up for the “itch-scratch” cycle, where one leads to the other endlessly.


An itch can range from a mild nuisance to a disrupting, damaging, and sleep-depriving fiasco. Itches happen for many reasons, including allergic reactions; sunburns; insect bites; poison ivy; reactions to chemicals, soaps, and detergents; medication; dry weather; skin infections; and even aging. More serious itches, such as those caused by psoriasis or other diseases, are not covered here.


Scratching isn’t the only solution to an itch. The kitchen cupboards hold a few more.


Home Remedies from the Cupboard

Baking soda. Baking soda battles itches of all kinds. For widespread or hard-to-reach itches, soak in a baking soda bath. Add 1 cup baking soda to a tub of warm water. Soak for 30 to 60 minutes and air dry. Localized itches can be treated with a baking soda paste. Mix 3 parts baking soda and 1 part water. Apply to the itch, but do not use if the skin is broken.

Oatmeal. Add 1 to 2 cups finely ground oatmeal to a warm bath (not hot or you might have breakfast for the next month in your tub) to ease your itches.


Home Remedies from the Refrigerator

Lemon. Many American folk remedy recipes call for using a lemon to treat itchy skin — and rightly so. The aromatic substances in a lemon contain anesthetic and anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce itching. If nothing else, you’ll smell good. Squeeze undiluted lemon juice on itchy skin and allow to dry.


Home Remedies from the Spice Rack

Cloves and Juniper Berries. The American Indians of the Paiute, Shoshone, and Cherokee tribes knew how to stop an itch in its tracks. They used what nature provided, namely juniper berries. (No need to run out in the wilderness to gather berries. They are available in some grocery stores.) These berries contain anti-inflammatory, volatile substances. When combined with cloves, which contain eugenol to numb nerve endings, the result is no more itch. To make a salve of both spices, melt 3 ounces of unsalted butter in a saucepan. In a separate pan, melt a lump of beeswax — about the amount of 2 tablespoons. When the beeswax has melted, combine with butter and stir well. Add 5 tablespoons ground juniper berries and 3 teaspoons ground cloves to the mixture and stir. Allow to cool and apply to itchy skin. Note: It is best to grind the spices at home because the volatile substances are preserved better in whole berries and cloves.

Basil. Splash your skin with refreshing basil tea. Like cloves, basil contains high amounts of eugenol, a topical anesthetic. Place 1/2 ounce dried basil leaves in a 1-pint jar of boiling water. Keep it covered to prevent the escape of the aromatic eugenol from the tea. Allow to cool. Dip a clean cloth into the tea and apply to itchy skin as often as necessary.

Mint. If you’re saving that basil for spaghetti sauce, try a mint tea rinse instead. Chinese folk medicine values mint as a treatment for itchy skin and hives. Mint contains significant amounts of menthol, which has anesthetic and anti-inflammatory properties when applied topically. In general, mint also contains high amounts of the anti-inflammatory rosmarinic acid, which is readily absorbed into the skin. To make a mint tea rinse, place 1 ounce dried mint leaves in 1 pint boiling water. Cover and allow to cool. Strain, dip a clean cloth in the tea, and apply to the itchy area when necessary.

Thyme. If you’re saving that mint for a glass of lemonade, there is one more spice on the rack that makes a good anti-itch rinse: thyme. This fragrant herb contains large amounts of the volatile constituent thymol, which has anesthetic and anti-inflammatory properties. In other words, it numbs that darn itch while reducing inflammation caused by all your scratching. To make a thyme rinse, place 1/2 ounce dried thyme leaves in a 1-pint jar of boiling water. Cover and allow to cool. Strain and dip a clean cloth into the tea, then apply to affected areas. Note: In Chinese folk medicine, dandelion root, easily plucked from most yards, is added to this rinse. If in season, place 1 ounce dried dandelion root and 1/2 ounce dried thyme leaves into 1 quart boiling water and proceed as directed.


Home Remedies from the Windowsill

Aloe vera. Aloe vera is a must for burns, but how about itches? The same constituents that reduce blistering and inflammation in burns also work to reduce itching. Snap off a leaf, slice it down the middle, and rub the gel only on the itch.




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Posted by on September 12, 2012 in Health and Science


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Beat Fall Allergies – I So Need This!

Fall means apple cider, back to school, the fresh smell of fallen leaves—and the return of allergy season. Approximately 10 to 20 percent of the public is allergic to ragweed, the most common culprit in fall seasonal allergies, and thanks to global warming, studies are finding that ragweed season is lasting as much as 15 days longer in some regions of the country. Rain, which washes pollen out of the air and so is generally welcomed by ragweed allergy sufferers, leads to the proliferation of mold, another seasonal allergy trigger.

Whether it’s ragweed, mold—or both—that gives you the allergy blues, here are five ways to prep yourself now, before fall allergens have a chance to make you miserable.

#1: Stock up on butterbur. If mold, but not ragweed, makes you teary-eyed, try butterbur tablets, a botanical remedy. The British Medical Journal published a study in 2002 finding that leaves and roots of the butterbur bush, native to Europe, northern Africa, and parts of Asia, worked just as effectively at reducing hay fever symptoms as cetirizine, the active ingredient in Zyrtec, without causing drowsiness. Butterbur belongs to the same family as ragweed, however, so people allergic to ragweed may actually get worse after taking it.

#2. Plant cover crops. Ragweed really is a weed; it flowers from mid-August to late October, before the first frost. One plant’s pollen can travel up to 400 miles, so it’s unlikely that you can avoid it completely. However, you can keep ragweed from taking root in your yard or garden by planting cover crops after you harvest your garden’s summer vegetables. Cover crops also keep your soil healthy for next spring’s planting season. Try clover, rye, buckwheat, or a mix of field peas and oats.

#3: Put dead leaves to use. Wet piles of fallen leaves are prime breeding grounds for leaf mold, and while leaf mold is valuable to your soil, it can send you into a frenzy of sneezing fits if you’re allergic. Clean up fallen leaves promptly, before they get wet and moldy; better yet, get someone who’s not allergic to do it. Pile up the leaves in an out-of-the-way place so you can use them for mulch next spring, or make a true compost heap to transform them into fertilizer for your garden and lawn. (Shred them so they’ll compost quickly; run them over with a lawn mower.) Keep your pile covered so any mold spores will stay put.

#4: Clean your filters. Staying indoors when pollen counts are high is the most effective way to cut down on both mold and ragweed reactions—but not if you’re pumping in pollen from outside. Take the time now to clean or change your air conditioner and furnace filters, since ragweed pollen persists long after the hot temps turn cold. You’ll cut down on pollen inside your house, and you’ll lower your energy bills; clean filters allow both your heating and cooling systems to run more efficiently. Which uses less fossil-fuel-powered energy, which generates fewer global-warming emissions, which may, eventually, mean a return to shorter ragweed seasons.

#5: Head to the beach. Humid beaches can be problematic for mold-allergy sufferers, but they can make a welcome respite for the ragweed-allergic, as the humidity levels generally keep pollen counts to a minimum. The National Allergy Bureau maintains a database of pollen counts online, so you can check allergen levels in both your hometown and beach or vacation destinations.



Posted by on September 5, 2012 in Health and Science


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10 Million People In The USA Have Corn Allergies?

English: A display of six ears of field corn w...

Recently, some family friends of ours have been dealing with some difficult food allergies that their children have. Because of this, my interest was really piqued when I came across a little snippet in “The Stockman Grassfarmer” about corn allergies.

According to the article, there are an estimated 10 million people in the United States with a corn gluten allergy. That alone isn’t very interesting until you realize that 75% of all processed foods have some form of corn in them, and 50% of the sweeteners are made of corn. When you put all of that together, you can see that it is difficult for those 10 million Americans to find food they can eat.

This news also highlights another one of the benefits of grass-fed beef, although it is important for everyone involved to know that it is 100% grass-fed because sometimes even trace amounts of corn can cause a reaction. If you are interested in reading more about corn allergies, check out this site and its list of corn allergens. You will see that it is a very long list.

Also, if you are someone who deals with a corn allergy, I would like to hear about how you deal with it.

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Posted by on August 28, 2012 in Health and Science


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Like Burgers? Avoid Getting Bit By This Tick

English: The tick Amblyomma americanum (Lone S...

This just in from the freaky news department: Researchers from the University of Virginia have discovered that a bite from a certain variety of tick could make you allergic to red meat.

The lone star tick, native to the Southeast but spreading to the north, is a distinctive-looking tick, so named because of the single white dot on its back. Unlike black-legged (deer) ticks, lone star ticks don’t transmit Lyme disease, the bacterial illness that can wreak havoc on people’s nervous systems, but they do transmit other tick diseases, namely ehrlichiosis, a bacterial disease that can be fatal if not treated properly.

It also appears that their saliva carries an antibody that causes the immune system to overreact in the presence of sugars found in red meat, leading to an allergic reaction that usually shows up as itchy, burning hives all over your trunk and back.

“Meat allergies are not very common,” says Thomas Platts-Mills, MD, professor of medicine and head of the division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology at the University of Virginia Medical Center, and the doctor who stumbled onto this discovery. “And this is truly the first example we’ve found of a food allergybeing cause by a bug bite.”

He discovered the relationship after doing some research into why people were having allergic reactions to a cancer drug that was introduced in 2005. Nearly 20 percent of people receiving the drug developed hives after their injections, similar to those experienced by people with meat allergies. The drug contained the sugar found in meat. All of the reactive people had the antibody carried by the lone star tick. But he didn’t know the tick was the vector until he himself was bitten and noticed his levels of that particular antibody spiked. After he started asking his meat-allergic patients if they’d been bitten by ticks prior to becoming allergic to meat, 90 percent reported that they had.

“Have we proven that ticks are the cause in a formal, scientific sense? No,” says Dr. Platts-Mills, “but I’m 99 percent positive that they are.” He published his findings in the Journal of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Dr. Platts-Mills thinks that lone star tick larvae could also be vectors for this allergy. Most people know their larvae by their more colloquial name, chiggers—tiny critters that burrow under your skin and itch like crazy. And he’s also interested at looking at other biting insects, such as biting black flies and no-see-ums, to determine whether their bites could transmit food allergies.

Meat allergies are difficult to diagnose. It usually takes between three and five hours for the body to have an allergic reaction, and in some people, the allergy will go away not long after a tick bite, while in others, the allergy could persist for up to 20 years, Dr. Platts-Mills says. “We can’t predict accurately how long it will last,” he says, and subsequent tick bites could make it worse. “We’ve seen some people [whose antibody levels] are going lower, then they get a bunch of tick bites, and they’re way higher.” He also notes that African Americans seem more susceptible to the allergy-creating bites.

Your best bet? Just avoid ticks—especially if you love red meat. Here are some commonsense ways to cut down on tick-bite risk:

• If you’ve spent time outside—even in your yard—take a shower as soon as you go into the house. Research has shown this tactic to be very effective in knocking ticks off of your body before they can attach and transmit disease (or food allergies!).

• If you live near woods or a meadow, install a strip of gravel between your yard and those habitats. First of all, ticks don’t like crossing rocky surfaces. But since gravel also cuts down on the mice that run into your yard, the ticks have more difficulty coming into your lawn and garden without rodents to catch a ride on over that rocky area.

• Mow your grass regularly, as tall grass and brush are a tick’s favorite hiding spots.

• Keep woodpiles in bright, sunny locations. Ticks don’t like hot or dry conditions, but they love wood, and wood in shaded areas is a perfect home for them.

• Tuck your shirt in and tuck your pants into your socks on long hikes, to keep ticks from crawling inside your clothing. Insect repellents containing DEET are the most effective chemical protection against ticks, but they’re also toxic. Only as a last resort when you’re in areas with heavy tick populations should you use them, and apply them only to your clothes, not to exposed skin.




Posted by on July 10, 2012 in Health and Science


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Allergy HELP

Original caption: Not faked. I was trying to t...

Allergies and asthma affect millions of Americans. The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) is a professional association of allergists and the leading authority on allergic conditions such as allergies and asthma. If you suffer from either or both, allergists are the experts with the training to stop your allergy and asthma symptoms at the source.

You can learn more about allergies and asthma, read about people who found relief from symptoms just like yours and check back for updates on how you can feel your best all of the time.


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Posted by on April 24, 2012 in Health and Science


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