Jamison Guice, Campus Carrier features editor
Arielle Fischer, Campus Carrier asst. features editor
For many, spring means more than just blooming flowers and rain. Allergies can ruin anyone’s beautiful day, but over-the-counter medicines are not for everyone. While there are proven benefits to prescription and generic allergy drugs, many people would rather save their money and use items they have at home. In recent years, some people are keener to try natural or herbal remedies. But to decipher the advantages and disadvantages of both medicine and natural aid, we must ask ourselves what allergies are and how they can be relieved.
Melanie Merrin, Health Center assistant director and a registered nurse, discusses what allergies are, their causes and how to avoid reactions.
“An allergy is when you’re exposed to a trigger your immune system recognizes as something that doesn’t belong,” Merrin said. “It puts out histamine and that histamine reaction causes symptoms like sneezing, congestion, runny-nose, watery eyes and cough. With seasonal spring allergies, it’s more just a quality-of-life issue where allergies are just a nuisance, not so much a health hazard. Most of the time with seasonal allergies it’s caused by pollens, trees, grasses and weeds.”
Merrin said to be cautious when taking natural remedies, suggesting that they are more useful for temporary precautionary measures, versus scientifically proven medicine with long term functionality.
“Some homemade and natural medicines aren’t really remedies; they’re more preventative,” Merrin said. “For instance, sometimes it’s not really practical to stay inside, but with the weather forecast in the south, the pollen count is a part of our weather forecast and they will talk about that every day. Someone who has allergies can pay attention to that and avoid doing outdoor things when the pollen counts are high.”
If looking to explore some options, Dominic Qualley, director of One Health studies, provides various examples of home remedies that may beat spring allergies, items or actions that can either be done or found at home. Qualley said these are things that can be easily obtained if looking for a quick fix for your runny or stopped-up nose.
Starting simple, Qualley recommends that anyone who suffers from spring allergies should always wash their hands and avoid touching their face.
“The pollen is kind of flying around in the air and you get it on your hands without realizing it and, if you start touching your eyes or rubbing it in your eyes, I know for me that’s one of the worst my worst symptoms is my eyes get all swapswollen and itchy, so I would say just if it’s something like that then washing your hands is good,” Qualley said.
Other examples of remedies include drinking orange juice for Vitamin C, which helps the body’s immune system and bone growth, as well as honey and peppermint essential oil. Similar in smell to Vicks VapoRub, an over-the-counter ointment intended for aches and pains, Qualley suggested rubbing dabs of the oil on the chest if congested.
“Most of the home remedies, if it’s something that you’ve had before, then chances are that you’re probably not going to have a bad reaction to it,” Qualley said. “I can’t think of any harmful effects of doing home remedies if it’s something you’ve done before.”
Just to be careful, according to Allure magazine, dilute the essential oil before dabbing it on the skin with something called a carrier oil, which can be coconut or argan oil. Whether with essential oils or anything else on the skin, feel free to do a patch test before putting it on a large area.
If adverse to over-the-counter medicines, Qualley does recommend that anyone wanting to experiment with at-home remedies should do their research, especially if they have never taken the substance before.
“If somebody says, ‘Oh yeah, try rattlesnake venom it worked wonders for my allergies,’” Qualley said. “Before you take something that you’ve never taken before, I would definitely look for more information on it.”
So, whether you are taking your grandmother’s herbal concoction that supposedly cures all diseases, or you are buying Claritin from your local CVS, make sure your prevention methods are safe and effective when trying to cure springtime allergies.