Editor’s note: Wellness Word is an informational column which is not meant to replace a healthcare professional’s diagnosis, treatment or medication.

Allergy season has arrived. While prescription and over the counter medications can help, many come with unwanted side effects like dry mouth and drowsiness. As many allergy sufferers can attest to, oftentimes medications alone don’t fully solve the symptoms. That is where natural remedies can come be utilized, as either a complementary therapy or primary therapy depending on each individual.

The first thing to look at in allergy patients is diet. Cutting out inflammatory foods like dairy, sugar, alcohol and gluten, can make a noticeable difference in symptoms. Dairy is the number one food to avoid because it increases mucous production and makes allergies worse. Patients are advised to do a two week anti-inflammatory diet and notice how they feel. They usually feel so much better that they stick to it, at least through allergy season.

Another simple tip is to increase water intake. Many of us are chronically dehydrated, which can elevate histamine levels in your body and make allergy symptoms worse. When the body becomes dehydrated, histamine levels rise to help preserve water in the body. On top of this, allergy medications can be drying. So it is important to make a conscious effort to stay well-hydrated during allergy season to avoid aggravating symptoms further.

Another simple, effective tip to lessen allergy symptoms is to change out of your clothes and shower after spending time outside on a high pollen day. Pollen collects on clothes, skin and hair and can continue to cause allergic reactions for hours after outdoor exposure. It can also be helpful to shower before going to bed, to avoid transferring pollen onto sheets and aggravating symptoms throughout the night.

Herbal medicine can provide powerful allergy relief, without the associated dryness or fatigue that can come from medications. However, avoid self-prescribing herbal medicine. Chinese medicine is an individualized system of medicine, so it is important to see a licensed acupuncturist or certified herbalist to get a formula created for your unique constitution and symptoms.

However, there are a few immune boosting herbs that everyone can benefit from. Ginger root, or Sheng Jiang as it is called in Chinese medicine, has proven anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and antihistamine effects. Since ginger is so readily available and effective, patients should try to drink ginger-infused water or tea daily during allergy season. Add local honey to tea to help your body build a tolerance to the local pollen.

Emily Bartha, LAc

Lastly, acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for allergies. A recent study out of Germany found that acupuncture alone beats antihistamines for reducing symptoms of allergic rhinitis, reducing the need for medication and improving quality of life scores.

Emily Bartha,LAc, Licensed Acupuncturist and Chinese Medicine Practitioner, 971.302.7039 or: turningpointeacu.com.