We’ve all been there. Sneezing. Coughing. Watery eyes. Normally this time of year would not be complete without an obligatory trip to the pharmacy for allergy medication and Benadryl tablets. But for the past few seasons, I have started investing in preparing my home with more holistic and natural alternatives to combat our families everyday ailments, including seasonal allergies.
So, today I wanted to share a little information with you all on seasonal allergies, how we help avoid seasonal allergies, and my DIY Benadryl formula for combating our seasonal allergy symptoms!
A little Biology 101 here. Most seasonal allergies are caused by pollen, the powdery, fine, microscopic, grainy film discharged from male plants, trees, and flower cones.
In pollination, each pollen grain contains a male gamete that can fertilize the female plant’s ovule, that when combined is how plant life has perpetuated the world over each Spring, and Fall season.
Pollen, that yellow, yucky, seasonal stuff that clings to your car windows each Spring is how flowers grow. Nature in action, my friends.
But often what makes nature it’s most splendid, can make us our most miserable. For when pollen in inhaled, tasted or enters our bodies, or immune system, our front line on defense, views pollen as a foreign invader and releases streams and streams of antibodies -substances that normally help your body fight bacteria and viruses. But with seasonal allergies, a flood of antibodies often leads our bodies to release chemicals called histamines into the bloodstream causing the sniffles, weepy eyes, hoarse voices, and all that other fun junk this time of year.
Worse still, pollen can travel for miles, spreading it’s path of flowery, fun-loving misery for allergy sufferers long and wide. The higher the pollen count, the greater the misery.
And in terms of allergies most wanted gangsters, often trees including Alder, Ash, Aspen, Beech, Box elder, Cedar, Cottonwood, Cypress, Elm, Hickory, Palm, Pine, Poplar, and Willow. Possible additional culprits include Bermuda, Fescue, and Timothy grasses. And flowers of most kinds. Yes, bulbs too!
Now before I dish the dirt on my DIY blend, I want to share this piece of advice. The best way to fight seasonal allergies is to know what to do to avoid allergy symptoms in the first place.
So, what are a few ways to avoid allergies?
Measure pollen counts daily: You can find out the daily pollen count in your area by watching your local weather forecast or by visiting weather.com and searching in their top toolbar for local pollen levels by region and state.
Plan outdoor activities around the weather: Allergy symptoms tend to be particularly high on breezy days when the wind picks up pollen and carries it through the air. Rainy days, on the other hand, cause a drop in the pollen counts, because the rain washes away the allergens. We try to plan outdoor activities a day after it has rained in the Spring. Mud over pollen is what I say!
Tell pollen to clean up its act: Take time to perform a deep Spring clean of your home. Making sure to wipe down walls, ceilings, banisters, and floor boards well with natural antiseptics. I like to use my DIY orange all purpose cleaner or a mixture of 1/2 cup vinegar and 10 drops tea tree oil, to one-gallon warm water.
Surround yourself with good air: Replacing home, car air filters, vacuum, and room air systems with seasonal allergy and HEPA filters will help reduce pollen, mold, and help lessen seasonal allergy symptoms.
Steam it out: Whether in a hot shower or a makeshift steam bath over a bowl of hot water, steam will help to loosen mucus and relieve congestion from your nose and chest. Intensify any steam bath with ten drops of the natural decongestant, essential eucalyptus oil.
Sleeping troubles: To aid with sleep when suffering from seasonal allergies, use a humidifier; it helps add moisture to the air, which will thin out mucus in your nasal passages. Adding ten drops of both lavender and tea tree oil can help ease allergy discomfort and help you sleep more soundly, too!
Grab a neti pot: Using a neti pot does wonders for relieving nasal congestion and pain — just ask any ear, nose, or throat doctor. Neti pots, when properly used with saline solution only, help to also thin out mucus and helps with nasal irrigation.
Stretch it out: Yoga has the power to lessen the symptoms of a host of ailments — including allergies. Poses such as a downward dog can help clear your mind, as well as headaches and allergy symptoms!
Serve them tea: Hot liquids like broth and herbal tea help to thin out and loosen mucus. Be sure to avoid dairy, though, as casein, the protein present in dairy, can increase mucus and congestion.
Give them shade: In times of seasonal allergies, over-sized sunglasses, and large straw hats are your best of friends. They help to shield eyes and tear ducts from build-ups of pollen and help to shield sensitive eyes from the sun at the same time. Think Weezer in Steel Magnolias. So, put on those specs and give those seasonal allergies the shade they truly deserve.
Containment: Avoid airborne pollen by keeping windows closed at all times. And if you do go outside, make sure to shower right after, throw your clothes directly in the washer, and wash them immediately to avoid pollen meandering around your home. Common sense, I know.
Check your fuzzies: This one is two-sided. Pets both carry allergens into your home and often suffer harsher allergy symptoms than humans. So be sure to monitor how your pet responds being outdoors this time or year, and if they have been outside being sure to wipe your adorable little paws (and their fur if yellow pollen is present) with an anti-bacterial wipe too!
Antihistamines: Now we’ve come full circle, you’ll. If all else fails, it’s time for antihistamines. As most know, the most commonly prescribed and relied upon treatment for allergies is the use of antihistamines. As antihistamines prevent the formation of histamines, the main cause of allergy symptoms and pain. The most commonly used brand in the states is Benadryl. While commercial Benadryl is not my first response to allergies, I’m certainly not knocking anyone who uses that comforting little pink box.
Keeping in mind that I have switched my family to a more natural, holistic, diy blend instead because Benadryl, the brand name of the common antihistamine drug diphenhydramine, can cause the following side-effects:
- Benadryl can cause delayed reactions and prolonged drowsiness. I like to in my right mind at all times.
- Benadryl can metabolize as a chemical stimulant in children. As if sugar and life aren’t enough to wind kids up?
- Benadryl can worsen symptoms of Asthma, Heart disease, and those with overactive thyroid conditions.
- For me, taking even the children’s recommended dosage of Benadryl causes me dizziness, to feel jittery, leg weakness, and loss of appetite. All but the later were not welcome side-effects.
- In a 2015 report published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers have shown compelling evidence linking the long-term use of medications like Benadryl to Dementia; as my grandmother passed away from stroke-induced dementia, this was my most compelling reason to discontinue my families Benadryl usage.
It was for those same reasons that I started my research into more homeopathic means to fight seasonal allergies, and through trial and error I came up with a blend of DIY Benadryl Syrup. Please note, while this blend is not the cheapest, as it costs us around $12.00 to make, it’s the most natural syrup one can make. This is what works best for us.
Here’s how we make our DIY Benadryl Syrup:
- 2 cups whole, fresh blackberries
- 1/4 cup raw, locally sourced honey
- 1/4 cup elderberry syrup
- 1/4 cup raw, apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon stevia
- Mash your blackberries into whatever container you will store your syrup.
- In a second bowl combine all other ingredients together. Stir to combine.
- Combine your berries and blend together in your storage container.
- This blend can be strained for pure syrup.
- Store blend, in a labeled container, until ready to use for up to one month in fridge.
- To use, administer 1 teaspoon every 4-6 hours as needed for seasonal allergy symptoms.
- Please note, additional honey or berries can be added to thicken and sweeten syrup, as needed.
- 1) This blend is what is used by my family to fight seasonal allergy symptoms. This blend is not meant to be used in place of epi pens for several, life-threatening medical, allergy conditions.
- 2) Contact your allergy specialist before starting this or any treatment. This goes double for kiddos, the elderly, and those with immune deficiencies.
- 3) I have given this blend in half it's portion one daily to my dogs as well, but please check with your vets office before doing so.
- 4) Always use raw, locally sourced honey. Locally sourced honey, or honey harvested within a 15-minute drive of your home, is the purest form of honey you can buy. Often raw honey when purchased in bulk can also be cheaper by the ounce. This step helps you to ensure that the honey you are ingesting contains some of the same natural pollen in your area, allowing your body to to naturally build-up allergy fighting properties to the pollen in your area. Thank you.
So, folks, that’s how my family and I fight our seasonal allergy symptoms. If you also have seasonal allergy symptoms or have found natural, frugal ways to treat your allergies I’d love to hear about them below.