Most of us associate allergies with springtime. But late summer and early fall can be just as bad, if not worse, for allergy sufferers. The reason? Ragweed pollen. The season for ragweed typically runs from August until mid-September. This pesky weed produces roughly 1 billion pollen grains that float through the air and fertilize other plants. In North America, there are several different species of ragweed, with an estimated 15 percent of Americans who are allergic to it.1
It Starts with Histamine
Seasonal allergies, including ragweed pollen allergies, are caused by an abnormal production of histamine and other substances. Essentially, the body produces histamine in reaction to ragweed and other problematic pollens that enter the respiratory system. This is what causes the typical allergy symptoms (see below). Histamine also increases the permeability of blood vessels near the allergic site, causing swelling. And it also has an indirect inflammatory effect.
Symptoms of Ragweed & Other Allergies
Allergy symptoms are often confused with colds. In general, cold symptoms are short-lived and include sore throat, cough, fatigue or general malaise, and aches and pains. Allergies, on the other hand, are ongoing unless the allergen is removed from someone’s environment. Allergy symptoms include:
- Runny nose and congestion
- Excessive sneezing
- Sinus pain and pressure
- Dark undereye circles
- Reduced sleep quality
- Watery and itchy eyes
- Scratchy throat
When continual, these symptoms can diminish your quality of life in multiple ways, from interfering with work and school performance to limiting social activities. And when allergies become chronic, they can increase the risk of other conditions such as sinusitis. Inflammation and/or infection of the sinuses is very painful and risky, due to its proximity to the brain. Asthma, ear infections, and poor sleep are also linked to chronic allergies.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 75 percent of people allergic to pollen also have a ragweed allergy.2 Certain foods are associated with triggering symptoms in ragweed allergy sufferers.3 Consider avoiding the following foods:
- White potato
- Sunflower seeds
Are Allergy Drugs ‘Drying’ You Out?
It is not surprising that billions of dollars are spent each year on over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription allergy drugs, including antihistamines (which block histamine production to reduce symptoms), nasal steroids to reduce inflammation, and immune modifiers. While these drugs usually relieve symptoms, they come with multiple side effects.
Antihistamines, for example, are notorious for having a ‘drying’ effect on the body, often leading to dry eye, constipation, dry mouth, and/or urinary retention. Other side effects include impaired thinking and anxiety. These may be pronounced in older adults who can have a harder time eliminating antihistamines from the body.4,5
Newer findings suggest that certain antihistamines can cross the blood-brain barrier. And they might even raise the risk of dementia. According to a 2019 study, anticholinergic drugs were associated with a whopping 50 percent higher risk of dementia.6,7 Diphenhydramine, the active ingredient in Benadryl and other antihistamines, is classified as an anticholinergic. These medications inhibit acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in memory, learning, and retention.6,7
Simple 3-Step Plan for Allergies
Natural therapies help address allergies at the root. The goal of holistic medicine is to balance immune function and regulate inflammatory responses for reduced sensitivity to all types of allergens. Here are three ways to address ragweed and other allergy symptoms naturally:
1. Acupuncture: Needle Your Way to Allergy Relief
Acupuncture has a harmonizing effect in the body, and it also helps control excess histamine production, as well as allergic responses to outside stimulus. Essentially, acupuncture works by helping to calm your body’s sensitivity to allergens.8
Acupuncture can also decrease the expression of inflammatory proteins. Several studies have explored these effects in people with hay fever. A series of acupuncture treatments over time can help balance the immune response, providing lasting benefits for allergy patients.
Developed thousands of years ago in Asia, acupuncture is a comprehensive system of energetic medicine that affects physical, emotional, and psychological imbalances. When your energy is in a state of equilibrium, you are more likely to experience a deep sense of well-being and relaxation. Proper stress management has been shown in numerous studies to provide significant health benefits. In fact, stress reduction can help reduce the body’s over-response to allergens.9
2. Anti-Allergy Foods to Feast On
Improve your diet by emphasizing nutrient-dense, anti-allergy foods, such as brightly colored fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and lean protein. This can help reduce allergic reactions over time. To tame your allergy symptoms, look for foods high in nutrients with natural antihistamine-like qualities such as vitamin C, quercetin, essential fatty acids, and bromelain. Some great choices:
- Onions, garlic, turmeric
- Fruits: Oranges, strawberries, blueberries, red grapes, mango, apples, pineapple, papaya
- Green veggies: Broccoli, kale, collard greens
- Sweet potato
- Shiitake mushrooms
- Local honey
- Chia seeds
3. Supplement Formulas that Balance Immunity, Ease Allergy Symptoms
Medicinal mushrooms are at the top of the list. They excel at immune modulating, aka balancing the immune system.10,11 Additionally, they help reduce systemic inflammation and provide antioxidant support, among many other benefits. Look for products that contain a blend of mushrooms, such as MycoPhyto Complex and 10 Mushroom Formula.
For further immune protection, consider Padma Basic, a Tibetan Herbal Formula based on decades of clinical research.
Also consider adding Modified Citrus Pectin to your daily supplement regimen. This well-researched ingredient offers multiple health benefits, including immune system support and anti-inflammatory properties.
Lastly, quercetin, a bioflavonoid compound, and bromelain, a natural anti-inflammatory enzyme from pineapples and other fruits, can help reduce allergy reactions and symptoms when taken in supplement form. High doses of vitamin C can also provide support.
You do not have to wait for allergy season to begin your anti-allergy program. By balancing your system with the right healthy foods, supplements, and stress relief practices, you can optimize immunity and reduce — or even eliminate — allergic reactions for lasting energy and vitality.
The allergy forecast site Pollen.com is a good resource for looking at the pollen counts in your area.
Your Anti-Allergy Supplement Protocol
Along with quercetin, bromelain, and vitamin C, the following formulas can help alleviate allergy symptoms, including those caused by ragweed pollen.
MycoPhyto combines six powerful mushrooms with beta-glucans, compounds that help train, balance, and fine-tune your immune function and maximize your defenses — without triggering an overreaction of the immune system. This works great when you need extra support.*
10 Mushroom Formula is ideal for everyday immune support. It features, as the name implies, 10 functional mushrooms, including turkey tail, cordyceps, and reishi. Every mushroom is packed with powerful therapeutic compounds and beneficial properties that promote immune health, as well as support detoxification and enhance total-body wellness.*
PADMA Basic is backed by more than 50 years of published research, including over 30 clinical studies on the formula’s benefits for immune, cardiovascular, joint, and dental health.*
PectaSol (Modified Citrus Pectin) is a powerhouse immune health supplement that works synergistically with both medicinal mushrooms and Padma Basic. This extract from the pith of citrus fruits optimizes your body’s responses to allergens and other stressors — your immune system will work smarter, not harder.*
You May Also Like:
- Salo, PM, SJ Arbes, Jr., R. Jaramillo, A. Calatroni, et al. C.H. 2014. J. Allergy Clin. Immun. 134(2):350–359.
- Chan, Helen HL, Ng, Tzibun. 2020 Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. Sep; 2020(11):67
- Marshall, Gailen D, Tull, Matthew T. 2018 Clin Immunol. Dec; 2014(12): 1065–1079
- Jung, Ga Hyeon. 2020 Medicine (Baltimore). Jan;99(3):e18829
- Benson, Kathleen F, Stamets, P, et al. 2019 BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Dec2; 19(1):342