What to know about home remedies for allergies

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Angela Dirmeyer is glowing. She’s 22 weeks pregnant and, like many right now, is dealing with an early onset of allergies. Normally she suffers from a runny nose, congestion and sometimes a headache or watery eyes. She doesn’t want to stay inside, and neither does her outdoorsy one-year-old.

Typically, Dirmeyer would take some kind of medication like Zyrtec or Claritin, but right now, she wants to avoid those mainly for health benefits for the baby. She doesn’t want to put medication in her body that she doesn’t have to.

Dr. Ty Prince
Dr. Ty Prince

“There isn’t any type of research that could affect it, but it’s better to be safe as a momma,” Dirmeyer said.

A lot of people, pregnant or not, don’t want to turn to medications to fight allergies. Thankfully for them, there are alternatives.

Health coach and founder of “Mommas Organics,” Madeline Blom, is a true believer in letting “food be thy medicine and thy medicine be food,” according to Hippocrates. Her company and lifestyle focuses on all things natural. “Unfortunately, we live in a world where Americans are eating the standard processed diet. All of these things are just suppressing our immune system. We need to fuel our system with immune boosting foods,” Blom said.

For instance, Blom encourages eating local raw honey; bone broth, like chicken or beef soup, raw pineapples; apple cider vinegar; and organic vegetables. To help with digestion she recommends probiotic rich foods, like kimchi or kombucha. Blom also suggests staying away from allergy prone items like dairy, caffeine, wheat, peanuts, sugar, processed foods, shellfish, artificial sweeteners and chocolate.

Madeline Blom
Madeline Blom

Dirmeyer has tried local honey before, but didn’t see as many results from it as she was expecting.

“Most of the pollen in local honey is going to be some of the larger pollen particles like flower pollen that doesn’t actually cause allergic reactions. It’s the tiny particles like pine, cedar and tree pollen that triggers off true allergic reactions,” Dr. Prince said, “It’s hard to say they’d have a benefit if they don’t have that and I understand they have a lot more flower pollen than tree, grass and rag weed pollen.”

While everyone might not be allergic to these things, she says that those with allergies may have a sensitivity that could be causing some discomfort. Blom encourages people to eliminate foods for a minimum of two weeks.

“You can eliminate a variety of foods but it’s harder to tell which foods you’re sensitive to, so that’s why I encourage people to eliminate one item for two weeks. Surprisingly they’ll notice they feel better.”

Angela Dirmeyer
Angela Dirmeyer

A simple concoction someone can make at home, Blom suggested, consists of a medium sized red onion, filtered water and honey. She said to cut up the onion and let it ferment in 8-10 ounces of water over night, then in the morning add a quarter of a teaspoon of honey.

In order to get another opinion, Dirmeyer also sat down with Dr. Ty Prince, a board certified allergist with The Allergy, Asthma and Sinus Center in Knoxville. He told Dirmeyer that if she didn’t have to take a medication, it’s best not to take any while she’s pregnant.

“Some of the home remedies, we don’t know if they’re working because the patient is just not getting enough exposure, or that they’re actually working, but I’m not foolish enough to think I know everything about those home remedies, so you just have to try them and as long as they’re not harmful to you,” Dr. Prince said.

Dr. Prince said other options to help with allergies include saline spray, Breathe Right strips, elevating the head of the bed or showering off pollen after coming in from outside. Avoidance is key, so he suggested staying inside more often, keeping windows and doors closed and making sure a clean air filter is installed in a home.

For those who are interested in or use essential oils, Dr. Prince says there hasn’t been a lot of research done on its affects, but warns against using them if someone has asthma.

He says milk makes mucus a little thicker, so cutting it out of a diet could make sense. With wheat, unless someone has celiac disease, he said there’s nothing that supports cutting it completely. Although he said a couple of his patients claim their arthritis is better since eliminating gluten.

Dirmeyer is excited to have several options that might work for her now. Being pregnant, she’s just looking for “something that will help out so we can be outside, and have fun and play.”

Credit: WATE
Credit: WATE
Credit: WATE
Credit: WATE

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