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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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April 26 2010

Dear Mark: Seasonal Allergies

By Mark Sisson
112 Comments

By numerous accounts, this spring has been the most brutal in years for seasonal allergy sufferers. (Do I see some nodding heads out there?) As much as everyone looks forward to spring, some folks grit their teeth for several weeks or live on a steady dose of allergy pills. I always get questions this time of year from folks who are looking for ways to get through spring a little happier and maybe less medicated. Here’s one such email from reader Joyce….

Dear Mark,

I’m from the Upper Midwest where spring came early this year. No complaining about that, mind you – we earn our warm season! I’ve always had problems in spring, but this year I’ve been in really bad shape (like everybody what I hear). I’m relatively new to your site, and I’m slowly adopting elements of the Primal Blueprint. So far, it’s been going great! It’s got me thinking though about diet and whether what I eat/don’t eat can make any difference. What’s your take on this? I’d love any recommendations that could get me in the garden earlier!

Although the extent of people’s allergies (as well their sources) span a wide spectrum, anyone who spends whole months blowing through Kleenexes can likely benefit from a few adjustments – especially those new to the PB.

First, what to avoid… One of the best strategies to alleviate those miserable symptoms is to steer clear of alcohol and other histamine containing foods. As far as alcohol goes, wine (both red and white) seem to be the worst instigators. Sulfites are part of the issue with these drinks, but histamines that result during the fermentation process also wreak havoc. If you have allergy issues, consider avoiding other foods subject to aging and fermentation like aged cheese, pickles, and sauerkraut. And as for yeast, it’s one more reason to ditch bread. Grapes and ciders can be culprits as well.

Also, if you know the source of your particular allergy, you can further pinpoint foods that tend to trigger what’s called “oral allergy syndrome,” a reaction to allergen-related foods that affects primarily the lips and mouth. Check out the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia information on cross-reactive foods for those with seasonal allergies.

As for what to eat, think anti-inflammatory. It just so happens that the PB delivers just that. Research supports the particular benefits of fresh produce, fish and nuts for reducing both the symptoms of existing allergies as well as the development of allergies later in life. Research on the pregnancy and childhood diets of Spanish children found that a higher intake of certain vegetables (like tomatoes and eggplant) and fish offered protective benefit from allergies and asthma. Another study with Greek children linked high intake of nuts, fruits and vegetables with a lower risk for respiratory allergy. The EPA and DHA in fish and fish oils has been shown to be among the best preventative options for allergic disorders.

Want more? Tea, particularly green or white, offers a big flavonoid boost that reduces inflammation and supports general immune function. For raw dairy enthusiasts out there, farm milk consumption was shown to provide similar protective advantage against allergy and asthma whether or not the children drinking it lived on the farm or not.

Although antioxidants and flavonoids in general offer therapeutic benefit, certain nutrients like vitamin C and quercetin are potent natural antihistamines. An extra dose of magnesium can help alleviate wheezing symptoms. Some folks report success with spirulina as well. As for herbal remedies, butterbur shows good promise, but isn’t for women who are pregnant or nursing.

Another recommendation? Buy some wild – and local – honey. Because bees pick up the pollen of their environment, the resulting honey can offer something of a therapeutic dose for gradual desensitization – much like an allergy shot. It’s important to start small (1/4 teaspoon daily – max) and work your way up to gradually build tolerance.

Last, my own nearly debilitating seasonal allergies literally disappeared when I got rid of grains (and cut the chronic cardio). It may have been related to the autoimmune connection between anti-nutrients/leaky-gut and hypersensitivity to proteins in grass seeds and pollen (grains are grass seeds). Many MDA readers report a dramatic reduction in hay fever or allergy symptoms when cutting grains.

Good luck to Joyce and everyone else who’s laying low for another couple weeks. Let me know your thoughts, and do share any other anti-allergy strategies that have worked for you! As always, thanks for the great questions and comments, and keep ‘em coming. Have a great Monday everybody!

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112 thoughts on “Dear Mark: Seasonal Allergies”

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  1. One thing that has worked very well for me is MSM. I get mine from Trader Joe’s, but it’s a widely available supplement. It took a day or so to kick in, but it works better than an antihistimine for me. I take 1 tablet with each meal.

  2. Mark, it is like you’re in my brain. I don’t tend to have problems with allergies, but my husband has been MISERABLE since spring hit. It is definitely worse this year than in the past! I’ll have to let him know that he might feel better if he gave up the grains- one more thing to entice him over to The Primal Side.

    (Tricia, thanks for commenting- I am going to have to pick up some MSM too!)

  3. Ironically, I’m from Ohio, & this is the FIRST year I’ve not had horrible allergies. I don’t know quite what to pin this to, but I’ve made a lot of changes in the last year or so…

    – started daily magnesium & fish oil
    – went fully primal in January
    – started using a neti pot about a month before spring hit

    I’m still a bit sniffley from time to time, but nothing compared to what it used to be. So far, so good!! 🙂

    1. That’s describes me almost to a “T,” too (though I skip the neti pot). My allergies have been vastly better this spring since adopting PB. As happy as I am with the improvement, I kicking myself again and again for not figuring it out sooner. If I’d known it was this easy…..

  4. I have issues with spring tree pollen. What works for me is to mechanically remove the pollen when I’ve been outside on a high-pollen day. Take a shower, washing my hair, face, hands, and eyes out well. Also it helps to let the shower spray go down my nostrils back through my sinuses … probably sounds unappealing to many but it works.

  5. Funny about the fish connection, had a pretty bad bout of allergies this year and had a multi day craving for fish. Does anybody know where to get local honey for Houston?

    1. i find that the smaller health-food stores often have local honey. when i lived in Lake Jackson, there was a great one in a strip by the mall.

    2. Kroger has local honey in the Houston area, and check out your closest farmers markets!

  6. I know Mark has already talked about his position on the sugar/immune system connection, but I find that cutting out sugar works really well for mild allergy symptoms by strengthening the immune system (or more like, not abusing the immune system). Sugar seems to overload the immune system and make it more susceptible to allergy flare-ups.

    1. I’ve experienced this as well. I can be allergy free, but within 30 minutes of having a significant amount of sugar, I’m sneezing uncontrollably.

  7. There’s a lot of buzz in the news recently about reducing your allergy symptoms by use of intestinal parasites. These worms suppress the immune response for their own survival, but has been observed to have the side effect (first noticed in people living in debatably primal undeveloped conditions) of reduced allergy, asthma, and general inflammation. Found this article which is still available (the original NYTimes article I read is now login only), or just plug ‘allergies’ and ‘parasite’ into Google:

    http://abcnews.go.com/Health/AllergiesNews/story?id=8114307&page=1

    Personally I’m heavily against it. I see this along the same lines as taking cold medicine to suppress the body’s natural defenses. It’s a very extreme measure to intentionally infect yourself, considering these parasites are known to kill in high concentrations.

    1. Actually, it’s easily defensible by paleo logic. Everyone had hookworms until we all started wearing shoes and using indoor plumbing. Some hypothesize it’s a case of co-evolution; that in our modern life of artifice we have inadvertently eliminated an ancient and crucial biological life partner.

      Having too many is bad, but that doesn’t imply that having some cannot be good, cf. water poisoning.

  8. I used to live on Sudafed pretty much year-round since I live in Florida and something is always blooming somewhere! And I had real trouble with my sinuses whenever the weather (hi pressure/low pressure/humidity) changed – which it does a LOT in our area. This season has been particularly bad – especially the oak pollen. Within a couple of hours, your car has enough of the yellow stuff that you can write messages in it!

    I went from a really pathetic version of the SAD to low-carb paleo (WITH dairy) literally overnight 4 weeks ago and I have not had to use any decongestants at all since then. Since obviously it wasn’t getting rid of the supposedly “mucus-causing” dairy, then it HAS to be the grains and sugar. Just my 2 cents.

    1. I have had the exact same experience… recently cut back on grain/sugar, kept the dairy around, and have had absolutely no allergy symptoms this spring! Yay!

  9. I used to suffer from allergies. About 3 years ago I upped my EPA/DHA dosage to somewhere around 7.4g’s. I havent had allergies since. I dont know if its the fish oils that did it or what. Im not taking as much now. Everyone around me at work is dying from allergies, BIG TIME. Must be a bad year or something but thank god im not suffering anymore. *knocks on wood*

    1. I’ve had the same experience – I’m on about 5.4g of EPA/DHA a day, and if I hadn’t heard from other people about seasonal allergies, I would’ve forgotten I had them at all. (Two years ago, when I wasn’t on fish oil, I had horrible, debilitating allergies.)

      I’m guessing the fish oil is playing a large part in it, although I also am off grains now as well, and have been for a while.

  10. In addition to what many have said already, I’ve had great success with Sting Nettle, taken orally in capsule form. It has worked wonders for me as a natural antihistamine. It’s pretty easy to find if you live near a decent health food store or Whole Foods or Vitamin Shoppe.

  11. I find I can control my allergies better when I up my intake of fermented foods: yogurt, miso, fermented cod liver oil and pickled vegetables.

  12. You say vitamin C helps with allergies, ya?

    Yellow bell peppers are LOADED with Vitamin C. One pepper has 569% according to nutritiondata.com.

    I feel blessed that I have never had problems with allergies… and now that I am 100% primal – I shall never experience this problem 🙂

    1. Hey don’t be so sure, I didn’t start having allergies until I was in my mid twenties!

      Now I’ll have to stop everyonce and a while and blow my nose when I’m mountain biking.

    2. Peppers of any sort are inflammatory by nature so its better to look for other sources for vitamin c.

  13. I had mild allergic reactions generally anytime I mowed or worked outside, generally a day or two of sneezing, itchy eyes, etc. Adopted PB last spring, and had almost zero problems all of last summer and haven’t had any this spring either, even after several hours of clearing out overgrown brush/weeds. Losing 40 lbs in about 4-5 months certainly sealed the deal for the Primal Lifestyle for me as well!

  14. I used to live on Claritin-D from the end of March through October or whenever the first hard frost occurred. Here it is nearly May and I have yet to require allergy or sinus meds. The only difference is my diet.

    I have a full box of Claritin-D sitting in the cupboard and my inhalers have been lying around unused ever since changing my diet/lifestyle. The other day the weatherman was speaking about the ridiculously high pollen counts we’ve had these past few weeks and I laughed because my typical hay fever symptoms haven’t kicked in even a little bit.

  15. I live in the tropics and have lived for most of my life with a box of Kleenex and anti histamines near by. Then one day I started to use a product called “Body Mint” and an interesting benefit has been my allergies disappeared. Body mint is made with concentrated Chlorophyll and twice a day for me has kept all my allergies at bay. Aloha

  16. What about fatigue from allergies? I have tried green tea and am eating the primal diet but nothing seems to help. Any advice?

  17. My allergies drastically improved when I started severely limiting grains, specifically wheat products. My asthma disappeared as well.

    However, I still require allergy shots on a weekly basis. I tried going without for 3 months and it was NO BUENO!

    BUT, my allergies overall have improved dramatically since ditching grains (I have them in very small amounts every so often) and wheat products.

  18. I have had no seasonal allergies whatsoever since going Primal about a year and a half ago.

  19. After 15 years of serious seasonal allergies, and no luck with conventional drugs, I cured them with local honey, pollen, and sinus rinse (neti pot.) I started ingesting local, non-processed bee pollen along with a small amount of local wild honey. I would put 3-4 little kernels of pollen in the honey and eat it everyday and rinse every night. I am now up to a tablespoon of pollen and have had no issues, except for a little itchy eyes this year (none last year) do to the overwhelming amount of allergies. I did all of this before going primal with my diet this year.

  20. I wondered if anyone else had relief from allergies once they stopped grains. I did, BIG TIME!! I used to suffer most of the year with what I thought to be seasonal allergies. Since stopping grains, my allergies are 80-90% better.
    Could I stop the other 10% by giving up alcohol? Don’t know? Not sure I want to find out!!!

    1. my allergies have decreased significantly with a primal diet. I think that nasal cleansing with a neti pot ( ….or better yet, a squeeze bottle) has helped too.

  21. As someone who basically got a sinus infection every quarter, changing my diet has been amazing. For flare-ups, I have been using Xlear Nasal Spray, which has been terrific. Thanks for the advice on raising my Omega 3’s.

  22. NO seasonal allergies at all for 2 years now…no grains, dairy or legumes…good dose of quality fish oil and D3 daily…I REALLY used to suffer…amazing…

  23. I’m loaded on cetirizine as I type this…diet has given a mild improvement to my allergies. They’re severe so any improvement is good. I’ve tried every natural remedy I’ve read about and none offers the relief of a prescription. I don’t like taking it but otherwise I’d be stuck inside and absolutely miserable.

  24. I was just saying to my husband earlier today that I haven’t had allergy symptoms yet this year! Hooray! I just KNOW it from going primal!

  25. I’ve just started eliminating grains and legumes. My seasonal allergies have already dropped in strength. This information today may help me eliminate them. I think I need to keep a food log to monitor my allergies and see what the connections are. Does anyone know how this works with Dustmites? That’s my number one allergy.

    1. As for assistance with dustmites – I recommend vacuuming more frequently with a quality, bagless vacuum cleaner. I have a Dyson. Oh my has that thing drastically improved the air quality in our home!

  26. I’ve basically had no sense of smell or taste for the past 12 or 13 years, except for inexplicable periods which would last ‘minutes’ not days. Way in the past I was given steroid medications to ameliorate this and they worked, but only while I was on the meds. I’ve also used an anti-allergy inhaler for all of that time because giving it up at any time of the year always resulted in sneezing fits and constant runny nose; enough so that it would almost drive me insane.

    Since going primal just before Christmas ’09 my sense of smell and taste returned to some extent and I’ve given up the inhaler completely. Interestingly, I’ve noticed over the past few weeks (Autumn/Fall here in Oz) that the sneezing is creeping in (though nowhere near like it was before, only a few times a day – and always when I wake up in the morning) and the smell/taste senses are dulling again! I’m pretty strict with my diet (Primal 95% at least!) and do include dairy, and have since the beginning.

    A post above reminded me I used to take bee pollen just before I started on primal and then I stopped. I think I’ll start again and see if it solves the problem.

  27. I have had allergies year-round for years. For a while, I was on Zyrtec, Singulair, and shots all at the same time. I gave up the Singulair due to bad side effects, and I gave up the shots because after four years of them I wasn’t getting much relief. Now I pretty much avoid grains, and am not having many issues (although if I do slip up, the repercussions are severe and almost immediate). On occasion (usually after a slip up), I will take a Zyrtec (no more than once a week, usually).
    I suggested to several coworkers who have allergies to give up the grains – one actually did and he is not having his usual allergy issues. Unfortunately, he’s the only one who has taken the advice. Oh well, let them suffer…

  28. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the south to protect you, it was like nuclear Armageddon this year with the amount of pollen the pine trees put up.

    Flying (my job) around, pollen was up to 4,000 feet in the sky, and plumes were coming up from the trees like fallout. There is nothing you can do about it, just live through it down here and hope next year isn’t as bad.

    1. I know what you mean about the pine pollen in the south – lived with it for much of my life. However, strange as it may seem, pine pollen does NOT cause allergies. The grains are too large to trigger receptor sites. What DOES cause allergies are the other pollens that have a season that coincides with pine.

  29. I used to get seasonal allergies something. Ragweed was always my kryptonite.

    I have experimented in the past with removing breads and pastas and found the my symptoms had diminished significantly. This year should hopefully be a breeze with Primal eating.

  30. I’ve had a lifetime of seasonal allergies and several sinus infections per year. Since becoming gradually more and more committed to eating primally, I have not had any problems this year. Hmmm.
    I am allergic to fish (just fish I can eat shellfish) in the last 10 years or so, so I have been hesitant to supplement with fish oil. I also have not eliminated dairy, although I do not drink milk or consume dairy regularly. I do havea glass of wine most nights. So, it seems to be the grains! Is it wheat especially? I don’t know and don’t care to experiment with that! LOL..thanks for the timely post that gave me yet another reason to pat myself on the back!

  31. Given the number of things I’m allergic to, diet alone will likely not grant me much relief. However, I hope to see more improvement than I would with immunotherapy alone.

  32. I would put down a lot of problems with allergies to inflammation which obviously avoiding gluten could help with but the main culprit seems to be a omega 6 overload. You can either remedy this by taking fish oil or just steer clear of Omega 6 especially refined sources such as veggie oil. Since reducing my Omega 6 allergies have somewhat disappeared. Fingers crossed it will stay that way as my hay fever was pretty bad a few years back.

  33. Great thread! I stopped eating grains / pulses / potatoes in November 09 (stopped milk and cheese years ago) and also cut back entirely on vegetable oils so I could balance omega 3 / 6 better with fish and fish oils.
    Not only have I had NO seasonal allergies this spring; my asthma has virtually gone and I have stopped steroid inhalers for the first time in years. Next thing to cut out will be wine – which I do enjoy!
    People are actually commenting on how well I look – and with asthma gone, I’m able to take much more exercise.
    Call it paleo or call it primal – it works for me!

  34. If you have allergies, its your triple warmer meridian activating your system defenses against whatever it be, pollen, dust etc. Your triple warmer meridian is the part of your immune system responsible for defending you against anything it sees as ‘the enemy’. Good news is you can learn to control it and de-activate it. Google ‘sedate triple warmer’ and its the first link, a 2 minute exercise, it saved my arse on numerous occasions.

    Also, I would recommend looking into EFT for allergies. Google that too!

    B

  35. eliminating gluten has done wonders for my wife’s allergies. she can now spend time around cats. if you have a gluten intolerance and continue eating it anyway, your immune system has nothing left in the tank to fight off other allergens.

    improving gut flora through probiotics and fermented vegetables isn’t a terrible idea either.

    1. Good point, Greg. Google “intestinal candida” or “candidiasis” and you’ll get a good idea of how bad yeast can wreak havoc on our digestive systems (another reason I ditched grain products). Only one month into the diet change, but I already feel like I’ve received a stomach-lining transplant!

  36. Honey, apple cider vinegar and roobios work well for me. I never have pollen allergic problem until last year. I tried Zyrtec.. it works, but bad side effect (rashes). I stopped taking it and gave honey and apple cider vinegar a try. It works. Allergic reaction disappeared. Woot.

  37. I live in Austin, TX where we have terrible allergens.

    Elimination of grains and sugars has totally cured my allergies. I am off all Allergy medications, even while we are having a record bad Allergy season.

  38. I am ridiculously thankful that I’ve never had a problem with allergies. The closest I’ve ever had was staying at my MIL’s for a week, sleeping on an air mattress on the floor. She’s been living in her house for four years, and at the highest point owned three cats, three dogs, and no vacuum. I ended up mildly congested, but the worst part was the sleep I lost because of my husband’s allergies!

    However, my mom and my brother are allergic to absolutely everything. I wonder if some of these tips will help.

  39. What all of us allergy sufferers need is a good case of hookworms! No kidding. It’s the “hygiene hypothesis” that explains the prevalence of auto-immune disorders in developed countries. There are businesses that will ship a dose of worm eggs to inoculate yourself with. There is strong evidence that this works to cure allergies and asthma among many other auto-immune disorders.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hygiene_hypothesis

    1. One hypothesis is that hookworms and humans co-evolved, and that a moderate colonization by hookworms keeps our own immune systems from becoming so good at attacking that they actually harm us. Immune system self-attack is the problem in dozen of diseases, including MS, Crohn’s, and, of course, common seasonal allergies.

      WNYC’s Radio Lab did a great segment on that in their episode “Parasites” from Sept. 2009. The section on the beneficial aspects of hookworms begins during minute 31.

  40. Funny. I’m allergic to nuts – the things that are supposed to help me not not be allergic to other stuff. Damn! lol.

  41. strangely, this year, I’m doing pretty good…
    I have sneezed, had some itchy eyes and nose, but other than that I have felt good. Other years I get down pretty bad with a sinus infection. So far so good!!

  42. My former wife called an mentioned about the cost of my 14yr old son’s medication for his allergin, 120 bucks. I will look into the children hospital tip as well as honey source, thanks alot.

  43. I used to have terrible allergies. Sinus and migranes were often. I started taking raw honey with my tea, about six years ago. Every year since then the symptoms were less and less. This year, I didn’t even get a stuffy nose.

  44. This spring, I have had the worst allergies in my life. Went primal about 1.5 months ago. I also relocated to an area that has much more pollen in the air. I think I will give the honey idea a try. Apple cider vinegar helped out a little bit. Some people might want to try that. (Not sure if its primal or not)

  45. My chronic allergies (I’m talking work-stopping bouts of sneezing and Niagara Falls-like sinus drainage) practically came to a COMPLETE STOP after I cut all grain products (including my beloved rice milk). Yeah, I miss sandwiches with bread, but having a healthy upper respiratory system (probably for the first time in my life) more than makes up for it.

  46. Once I stopped eating GRAINS and PEANUT BUTTER (esp. peanut butter!!!) my seasonal allergies went from being 15 on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the worst) down to about a 3. Not only is severity improved, but instead of having the allergies from March to October, I now just get them starting in July. So, not perfect, but a heap better.

  47. I don’t qualify as true primal yet, but my husband and I are on our way. We’ve drastically reduced our grain consumption over the last few months.

    Everyone around me is complaining about how terrible their allergies are this year, which made me wonder what happened to mine? I wondered if it could be my change in diet, thanks to this post I’m more convinced 🙂

    1. I too have recently further cleaned up my diet by all but completely eleminating the grains and sugars and this is by far the best year I’ve had in what is around 30 years since I first developed the allergies.

      I am convinced that there is a direct correlation here!!

  48. I live in the Central Valley of California, which is one of the worst places to live if you have allergies. Think farmland/dust all over and lower elevations so every pollutant from the Bay Area and other surrounding areas settles in the Valley. I took Claritin daily for 10 years in addition to a nasal steroid spray. Every time I tried to go off the medication, I would end up with a horrible sinus infection and rounds and rounds of antibiotics to clear it up. So I figured I was stuck using claritin for the rest of my life. And with the side effects!
    A few years ago, I began to see an acupuncturist for help with stress of working full-time and going to graduate school. He was concerned with my reliance on daily allergy medication. So he began treating me for allergies. After about a year of seeing him, I was able to stop taking the Claritin daily. Now, I may take a pill or two during the spring or when the corn is being harvested, but not on a daily basis like before. Not even on a semi-regular basis. So for those of you who eating Primally has not cured allergies, I recommend seeking out an acupuncturist. And a neti pot. My mother has terrible symptoms, eats a SAD, and doesn’t see an acupuncturist, but has seen a reduction in her symptoms by 50% from adding the neti pot to her daily regime.
    It has been over 2 years that I have been free from my daily allergy medicine. I only started following the Primal Blueprint 2 months ago. So I can’t speak to the effect PB has had on allergies, but if you are still having issues, I highly recommend a good acupuncturist.

  49. I’ve been “crying” for 12 days now, since going back from dorm to home. Althought here they “lure” me with bad food on every step, wasting my vacation would be worse than not eating sandvich. Hope fasts and diet help soon

  50. Now that you mention it, my allergies have been pretty mild lately. Even though it’s been just a week since I’ve gone primal, my diet was rich in vegetables, fruits and nuts already. I just ditched the bread. Still, it’s been very mild and considering I was rushing for Kleenexes this time last year, I think it might have something to do with it. I still have the occasional sneeze or running nose but it’s still a major improvement.

  51. I suffered from ragweed allergy every fall in Texas for several years. I tried all the natural stuff like quecitin and other supplemnts to get relief, but no help. Then a friend told me that if you have seasonal allergies from pollen then you have parasites. I did a 90-day parasite cleanse with green black walnut hull, clove and wormwood and haven’t had an allergy since. I do short parasite cleanses in the spring and again in the fall to keep myself parsite free and allergy free. The reason you have to do a 90-day parasite cleanse in the beginning is so you can not only kill the parasites you have but also their larvae and eggs.

  52. I have seen a HUGE improvement in hayfever since eating primally. I used to get symptoms from january to june, with february/march/april being especially severe (daily antihistamines and steroid nasal spray, and still thick head, itchy eyes and disturbed sleep).

    However, I do still have some symptoms, even though they’re much less severe and more intermittent compared to what I used to have, and I’m currently experimenting and trying to figure out the reason for that. I think omega 6’s are definitely part of it; I had a big flare up after a weekend trip during which I was forced to eat a lot of nuts (for lack of better primal alternatives). I suspect carbs could be playing a part too – last spring I was eating lower carb than presently, about 70g/day as opposed to 100-120g, and had fewer symptoms than this spring. Or it could simply be that 80-90% improvement is as good as it’s going to get, which is still pretty damn good!

    For those still suffering and interested in drug free remedies, I have found that intranasal phototherapy works at least as well for me as antihistamines. It’s a battery powered device with probes that you stick up your nose, that emits light at a frequency that supposedly calms the mast cell reaction in the nasal membranes. Quite cheaply and readily available from pharmacies in Europe, though I’m not sure about US availablity.

  53. Lucy,
    That is interesting that you say that about intranasal phototherapy. I’ve been doing some reading up on that recently and it seems promising.

    Also, the idea of consuming honey is very common advice but has no evidence of actually working. In reality, it sounds good, but for most people the plants bees are pollinating (flowers) are not the same as the plants whose pollen they are allergic to (grass, weeds, trees)

  54. I’ve spent most of my life in the Midwest. The two periods I dreaded the most were winter and allergy season. I recently moved to the South to escape the cold. But I seem to have traded brutal winters for an extra allergy season. I was reluctant to see an allergist, but felt I had no choice. He told me I was allergic to just about every tree, grass, and weed in the area. Along with prescribing some medication, he recommended immunotherapy. Rather than go down that road, I looked at my diet to see what I could change. I was already following the PB lifetsyle, but not 100%. Occasionally, I would have some bread. I also had a major sweet tooth. Not a day would go by where I didn’t have something chocolate.

    After reading this and similar articles, I’m now convinced that I have to completely eliminate grains, alcohol, and sugar. During allergy season, I know almost immediately why I shouldn’t eat these foods. With sugar, it takes only 30 minutes for me to start sneezing uncontrollably. Grains seem to take longer, usually a few hours. Alcohol varies. It depends how much I have. But it’s remarkably consistent how all of these foods trigger allergy symptoms. So now I’m committing to eating Primal 100%. As hard as it’s going to be, I can’t cheat. My body just won’t let me.

  55. This article is excellent, IMO – as a perennial allergy sufferer. The one thing that I would add is that controlling for dust mites and molds (most common allergies) as well as other household/indoor allergens is helpful across the board. Any time we can reduce one source of allergens, it helps with reducing other allergies as well. Just as eliminating food allergens helps reduce inhalant/airborne allergies, reducing these household sources helps as well.

  56. Thank you for putting together such a great site!

    I have so many of the symptoms you describe and when I have gone to allergists (4 of them in the last 20 years) and they look in my nose and ears they say that I have very bad allergies and yet when they do all of the testing they say that I do not produce histamine, therefore I have no allgeries. When I remind them of their initial findings I am told that I have “sensativities” and that there is nothing that can be done except for steroids, both nasal and in pill form.

    So, I have most of the symptoms described on your site yet I apparently have no manufaturing of histimine. I have tries all of the allergy meds, both over the counter and prescription but none are effective.

    Any ideas? I am a mess.

    Thanks,
    Mark