Friday, 30 May 2014

Living the Life with Allergies (Guest Post- Mike Noblin)

I am very pleased to share with you this Q&A which Mike has gladly participate. Mike is my twitter friend and has been suffering from allergies for a long time. He is an ACE certified personal trainer and you can find him on twitter.  We hope you find this sharing useful!

Q1 Can you give us a background of your allergies?

Mike: I’m mildly allergic to dust, grass, and ragweed, but HIGHLY allergic to tree pollen.  I first started having allergic symptoms in my late teens (I’m 31 now).  As time has gone by, my allergies have gotten progressively worse each year.  I don’t know if global warming is to blame, but it seems that each spring is a little more miserable with higher pollen counts.  My allergies are by far the worst in the spring! I’m from TN so things start blooming (and I start sneezing) in February each year.  February until June is full of itchy, watery eyes, and insane, uncontrollable sneezing fits.

Q2 What medications have you tried (& doesn’t work) and what are you currently taking now?

Mike: I tried Claritin years ago when it first came out and got absolutely NO relief.  Zyrtec has worked decently for me in past years, but this year it’s only providing about 4-6 hours of relief.  I finally switched to Allegra a couple weeks ago and it’s working pretty well (I still start sneezing after about 8-10 hours though L )

Q3 How do allergies affect your life/lifestyle and how do you cope with it?

Mike: I try not to let it affect my lifestyle as much as I can. I love being outside, so usually I’ll just medicate as much as possible and bring lots of tissues J

Q4 How do your family respond to your allergy attack?

Mike: Some give me a hard time about my constant sneezing fits, but it’s all in good fun.  They’re so used to me sneezing all the time now, so it’s part of the background noise. J Luckily my wife is extremely patient and supportive. She even thinks my fits are cute (which is good because they happen often).

Q5 If you could use 3 single words to describe an allergy attack, what would they be?


Q6 Which is the most annoying symptom of your allergies you wish could just disappear?

Mike: Obviously sneezing!!! It’s the most annoying symptom by far.  I feel my nose start to burn, and I try desperately not to let the first sneeze out. I know after the 1st one I’m in for a fit of 20-40 sneezes over the next few minutes.  I’ve had fits as long as one hour with over 200 sneezes.  Needless to say, I’m usually exhausted and laying down after that.  Itchy eyes would be 2nd most annoying, but I get pretty good relief with eye drops.

Q7 Have you tried any alternative healing / natural remedies / supplements for your allergies? If yes, which have you tried and what is your response?

Mike: The only natural remedy I’ve tried is local honey, but unfortunately I didn’t get any results from it.

Q8 If no, which one of these alternative healing / natural remedies / supplements are you most willing to give it a try and why?

Mike: I definitely want to try quercetin!  I’ve heard from you and read on your blog that it can be a great natural anti-histamine. 

Q9 What is the best allergy advice you have ever received?

Mike: The best allergy advice I’ve gotten so far is to stay indoors as much as possible between 6:00AM-10:00AM.  Pollen is usually highest during those hours.  Also, learning to take my antihistamines BEFORE my symptoms arrive (usually February 1st each year).

Monday, 26 May 2014

7 Tips for Protecting Your Eyes During the Hay Fever Season

During the hay fever season, other than your nose wrecking havoc with the constant sneezing and mucus dripping, your eyes are likely another part of your body that gets affected. Itchy. Watery. Red.

What can you do about it? Here are 7 tips to protect your eyes during the hay fever season:

  • Wear wrap around sunglasses to protect the eyes from pollen in the air. 
Besides, you look more cool wearing them than having to squint your eyes in the bright sunshine. :)

  • Rinse your eyes regularly to get rid of pollen.

  • Wash your hands regularly to ensure they are pollen free.

  • Avoid touching your eyes and rubbing them is a big NO-NO. 
Admittedly I know this can be quite challenging especially with your eyes itching. But rubbing them really does nothing for you other than easing the itch momentarily, only to have it feel itchier awhile later. Rubbing the eyes may also cause redness in them. You already look like a reindeer with the red nose from the constant wiping of mucus, you don't need the red eyes to match with it!

  • Refrain from wearing your contact lenses when you are suffering from the allergic symptoms. 
I feel more discomfort in my eyes when I wear my lenses during my allergic rhinitis flare up and it will usually end up looking red. Spectacles is the way to go. Comfort first, glamour second. I'm a pretty practical person :)

  • For ladies, avoid heavy make-up around the eyes area. If possible, go make-up free around the eyes area when your hay fever symptoms appear. 
The reason for this is two-fold. Firstly, your watery eyes will smudge your eye make-up and you end up looking like a panda. Secondly, some eye make-up contain fragrance, alcohol or other ingredients that may possibly irritate your eyes further. Again, I go with the principle of comfort first, glamour second.

  • To minimize coming into contact with pollen:
a) Turn on the air con and shut the windows when you are driving.    
b) Keep the doors and windows closed at home.                
c) Change your clothes when coming home from outdoors and take a shower to prevent spreading of pollen within the house.                                                                                                              
d) Avoid gardening work where possible.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Nettle & Peppermint Tea for Allergy Relief

Nettle is known to be a natural antihistamine and used widely to fight allergy naturally. According to University of Maryland Medical Center:
"One preliminary human study suggested that nettle capsules helped reduce sneezing and itching in people with hay fever. Researchers think that may be due to nettle's ability to reduce the amount of histamine the body produces in response to an allergen."

Peppermint supports the upper respiratory system and helps to open up the airway. Great for decongesting that stuffy nose during an allergic rhinitis flare up. According to University of Maryland Medical Center:
"Peppermint and its main active agent, menthol, are effective decongestants. Because menthol thins mucus, it is also a good expectorant, meaning that it helps loosen phlegm and breaks up coughs."

So with this in mind, here is a simple tea that you can make at home for coping with your allergy symptoms this season. 

Here's what you need:

  • For an 8-ounce serving, use 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs. 
  • Pour boiling water over your herbs, cover and let it steep for about 10 minutes. 
  • Add in sweetener if necessary. 
  • Strain and drink. Easy!

You can buy these herbs in bulk from Mountain Rose Herbs for cost savings. Herbs sold by Mountain Rose Herbs are certified organic and certified Kosher

For best results, drink several servings throughout the day. As with all natural supplements or herbal remedies, it is best to start consuming them ahead of the allergy season as the herbs work best as a preventative. But even if your allergies have already started, this tea can still help to bring some relief.

According to Mountain Rose Herbs, nettle leaf may lower blood pressure due to its diuretic and hypotensive actions. Please consult your doctor if you have a medical condition before using. This post is for educational purpose only.

Monday, 5 May 2014

How to Make Elderberry Syrup to Fight the Cold and Flu

Elderberry (Sambucus Nigra) contains high amount of vitamin C and flavonoids and is known to boost the immunity. It has been used as a natural remedy for many years to treat cold and flu as it can help shorten the duration of respiratory illnesses. Some evidence suggests that it may help reduce swelling in mucous membranes and help relieve nasal congestion. This could be useful for those suffering from allergies.

I first started buying Sambucol (elderberry syrup) for my son as a natural remedy for cold and flu. But it does not come cheap, so I only gave him the syrup when he is down with the cold or flu. Recently, I did some research online and found that the elderberry syrup can be easily made at a much lower cost! With this affordable homemade elderberry syrup, he can drink it on a regular basis to boost his immune system. This is the recipe that I used to make the syrup.

Homemade Elderberry Syrup Ingredients:
  • 1 cup dried organic elderberries*
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 cup raw honey (preferably organic)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp cloves or cloves powder (optional)
  • 2 T fresh or dried ginger (optional)

How to Make the Elderberry Syrup:
  • Pour water into saucepan and add elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and cloves (do not add honey yet!)
  • Bring to a boil and then cover. Reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour until the liquid has reduced by almost half. Remove from heat and let it cool.
  • Pour through a strainer or cheese cloth into a glass bowl. You can quash the berries in the strainer to get as much juice out of them as you can.
  • Discard the elderberries and let the liquid cool to lukewarm.
  • Add the honey in and stir well.
  • When the mixture is done, pour the syrup into a glass bottle for storage to be kept refrigerated.

*For those residing outside of U.S.A or Canada, you can buy organic dried elderberries here

I made one batch of this syrup recently and its not difficult to do at all! However, I omitted the optional items as am not sure how my son would like it as the Sambucol that he drank previously do not contain these ingredients. Moreover, for a first time making it, I preferred to keep simple :)

The maintenance dose for kids is 1 tsp (5ml) daily and for adults is 2 tsp (10ml) daily. When you are down with a cold or flu, you can try to increase the dose to 2 tsp (10ml) twice daily for kids and 2 tsp (10ml) four times daily for adults.

Have you ever taken elderberries or tried making your own elderberry syrup? Love to hear from you!

Note: This post is for educational purposes only, and is based on my personal experience. Always consult your doctor before consuming any health remedies.