Indoor allergens can cause problems for your family year-round. Chronic sinus inflammation, skin issues, or even behavioral problems can often be attributed to allergies, and the symptoms can interfere with the quality of your sleep and your daily life. If you want to control your symptoms without the side effects of medication, you’ll need to eliminate the source of the problem. Here are the most likely culprits and some tips for combatting them.
Dust and Dust Mites
Image via Flickr by tinafranklindg
One of the most common, and often overlooked, sources of allergy symptoms is probably collecting around your baseboards and on top of your window frames. Dust is made up of minuscule bits of plants, dirt, fibers, insects, skin, and other matter, any one of which could be triggering your allergies. Dust mites are tiny creatures that thrive in dust, and their droppings are the most common source of asthma and allergy symptoms. They love dead human skin flakes and humidity and tend to settle in your bedding and rugs.
The biggest step to combat dust in your home is encasing your mattress and pillows in dust-proof covers. Keep dust down by washing your bedding regularly and vacuuming rugs thoroughly with a HEPA vacuum. Have your ducts professionally cleaned to remove any dust mite nests lurking there, treat your drapes and upholstery with a dust mite treatment, and install a dehumidifier to reduce the moisture content in your indoor air.
Contrary to popular belief, pet dander is not animal hair, but a protein that comes from the pet’s saliva. It’s a sticky substance that coats the hair and can also cling to people’s clothing and shoes, so dander is often present even in homes without pets.
If you are allergic to your best friend, there are some ways to minimize your suffering. Keep pets out of your bedroom and restrict them to rooms without carpeting if possible. Bathe your pets often and wash your hands after touching them. If you can’t keep your animals off your upholstered furniture, at least give them towels to lie on and wash those frequently.
Preventing mold is mostly a matter of controlling moisture in your home. Repair leaks promptly, waterproof your basement if necessary, and keep your gutters in good repair. Fix any ventilation issues that cause moisture to collect in your bathrooms or kitchen. Encourage airflow throughout your home by opening doors and installing ceiling fans as needed. If your home is prone to mold or mildew issues, a dehumidifier would be a good investment.
Like dust mites, the real problem with cockroaches is the droppings, which contain a protein that is a common allergen. If you choose not to use chemicals to control cockroaches, you can discourage them by sealing up cracks in walls, cabinets, doors, and cupboards. Take your trash out often and keep the kitchen floor clean of crumbs and spills that might feed them.
Controlling allergens in your home can feel daunting at first, but once you’ve tackled a few initial tasks, the maintenance work will be fairly simple.
Getting sick is the worst. Have you ever thought about what causes your illness? Diseases oftentimes spread due to unsanitary items with which you interact daily. Here are four hidden culprits that could be making you sick.
Image via Flickr by phphoto2010
While you may have confidence in your drinking water, recent events in Michigan demonstrate how easily water can become unsanitary. Since hydration is a key part of staying healthy, you need confidence that your drinking water is safe. Thankfully, methods are available to learn for certain that your water contains no harmful chemicals.
Your first step is to contact your local utility. Ask about the source of the water as well as the utility’s sanitation methods. Also find out how it tests the water to verify its safety. The second thing that you can do is test the water yourself. Finally, independent of everything else, you should add a filtration system for your drinking water. It’s the proactive step that allows your family to hydrate safely.
Unless you haven’t dusted in a year, you’ll never notice most of the allergens in your home. Dust mites, pollen, and bacteria are virtually undetectable unless they build up in huge numbers. These allergens are also the source of many illnesses and skin irritants. They could make you sick without your ever realizing the issue.
The best preventive step to take involves a bit of home maintenance. You want to improve your indoor air quality, or IAQ. Add a few plants throughout your home; they naturally cleanse the air. You should also remember to change your HVAC air filters, especially in spring when pollen starts to fall. Old filters restrict airflow, and your HVAC unit spreads those contaminants throughout the home. In fact, hiring a repair service to look at your unit might help identify potential IAQ problems.
In a cruel twist of fate, some of the foods that have a reputation as healthy are actually foods that can make you sick. Food poisoning occurs frequently, and some of the causes will shock you. Leafy greens can spread contaminants because they rely on water to grow. When the water is unclean, it spreads to the greens. Raw eggs and fish are other potential causes of food poisoning.
Even meat, whose processing the FDA regulates, still occasionally undergoes a bacterial outbreak. Generally, chicken is the culprit, but beef can have E. coli, too. Pay attention to the warning labels on all your foods and watch consumer sites for updates on food recalls.
Bacteria on Touch Devices
The items that you touch most often during the day are the ones most likely to cause infection. Whether you use a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, you’re at risk. Any unsanitary usage could cause bacteria to spread across your device. Each time you interact with it, you’re a carrier, moving the disease to a larger area. Clean your technological devices regularly to avoid hygiene issues.
As you can see, the potential for sickness is everywhere. Now that you’re alert to it, follow the suggestions above to safeguard your family.
Signs that Your Child has Gluten Sensitivity
Gluten sensitivity affects about 15 percent of the United States population. Some doctors believe that between 30 to 50 percent of people worldwide have a gluten sensitivity. The problem is that some people only have signs or symptoms of the sensitivity, while others will have antibodies in the blood that are caused by the immune response. If you think that your child has a gluten sensitivity, here are some of the most common indications to look for.
Skin rashes for children are common, and in many cases the cause is undiscernible. If you notice that your child is getting a rash within a 36 hour period of eating gluten, this could be the body challenging the gluten. Many times, skin that is red,itchy, or peeling, is eczema. Eczema is normally caused by an intolerance to food, or a chemical that is touching the skin.
Any digestive issues like bloating, gas, or constipation are a good sign that there is something wrong within the body. This is because the body is being challenged to try to break down the gluten. Many people who have a gluten sensitivity will have digestive issues until they eliminate gluten from their diet. When they completely cut out gluten, they become much better.
Brain Fog and Fatigue
When the body is not able to process gluten, the gluten is essentially able to gum up the body and creates a glue like residue that lines the digestive tract. This glue like residue will block the intake of nutrients, which the body needs for both mental and physical energy. The body will also use a lot of energy up trying to deal with this invader.
Dark Circles Under the Eyes
Dark circles can be a sign of a food sensitivity. Over time, the body becomes worn down by constantly fighting the foods that it cannot digest. This taxes the adrenal glands, and slows downs the proper absorption of other nutrients. Both can lead to the dark circles that can appear under the eyes.
Frequent Colds and Flu
If the colon and small intestine become gummed with the gluten that cannot be digested, the body is not able to create the amount of flora that it needs to break down other foods. If you add in the adrenal glands not working at their best, then your child’s immune system will end up being damaged. This will make them more susceptible to colds and flus.
Runny Nose That Does Not Clear Up
Many times, the body will try to discharge the mucus build up as it is going on. The mucus can be from the nondigested gluten, along with the other not so great foods that are in your child’s diet.
Dizziness and Loss of Balance
A gluten sensitivity can lead to inflammation within the nervous system. This inflammation can lead to symptoms like dizziness, loss of balance, and tingling in fingers and toes.
Headaches and Joint Pain
There are a lot of reasons for ongoing headaches and joint pain. Any inflammation that happens within the nervous system will usually lead to these problems, as the body will heat up trying to deal with the irritants. This lowers the amount of water in the body, and can trigger both headaches and joint pain.
Many children that have a gluten sensitivity will show their diet problems in their behaviors. Mood swings are a good sign that your child is having problems with their diet. Also, the onset of anxiety or depression can be a side effect of a gluten sensitivity. In some children, ADD has been linked to a gluten sensitivity. So, you may want to think about testing your child for a food sensitivity, if your child has any of these issues. If it is a food based problem, it is simpler to fix by eliminating gluten, than years of using medication.
So Why is Gluten Intolerance so Widespread?
There are many different theories about gluten sensitivities and intolerances. The main idea that is believed to be the cause of gluten sensitivities and intolerance is that our digestive tracts have started to degenerate from the vastly improper diets that most people around the world have.
The highly processed foods that many people eat on a day-to-day basis have been shown to destroy the digestive system’s integrity and wear down the tissues within the system. Another issue is that the soil is also being degenerated from over usage. This has led healthy foods to lose many important micro-organisms, and nutrients.
How Do You Test For Gluten Sensitivity?
The best option to find out if your child has a problem with gluten is to do an elimination diet. This means that you will cut out gluten from their diet for at least 2 to 3 weeks, and then add the gluten back in slowly and watch for any symptoms from before. As gluten is a type of protein, it could take months or years to be fully removed from the body. This means that the longer that you and your child can wait to add the gluten back into their diet, the better the results will be.
How Do To Your Treat a Gluten Sensitivity or Gluten Intolerance?
The simplest way is to eliminate gluten 100 percent from the diet. This means no gluten at all. In some cases the trace amounts of gluten that are found in medications and supplements, or from cross-contamination are just enough to cause a reaction in the body.
The 80/20 rule, or “not eating gluten at home, and eat gluten when you are out” is a huge misconception. For people with a gluten sensitivity, eating gluten even once a month can raise their risk of death by over 600 percent, as found by one study in 2001.
Having a child with a gluten sensitivity can be hard, as your child is able to take some of what they eat on a daily basis into their own hands. Children that are school age may not want to have their diet changed. Many of the foods that we eat on a daily basis have gluten in them. Even though there are gluten free options on the market, most do not have the same taste as the foods they are trying to copy.
The first thing that you need to do is to learn how to read labels, and make good choices about what you have in the house for both meals and snacks. The next step is to look into your child’s school. You will need a letter from your doctor that your child needs gluten-free options from the school’s cafeteria, so they will stock gluten-free options. Teachers and coaches should also be informed about your child’s dietary needs, so they can help create a safe environment for your child.
The earlier that you are able to teach your child about what foods are safe and what they should avoid is the best option. Reading labels is harder to teach, as there are many types of ingredients that would classify as gluten, which are hard for a child to remember. However, the main ones should be learned as soon as you know what they are, and that your child is able to read ingredients listed on labels. Learning how to speak up and ask if there is gluten in the food they order in a restaurant is another important skill that your child needs to develop. They will need to do this so they will be safe in their daily life.
The best option to be able to help your child with school and other events, where there may not be a gluten-free option, is to provide them with food. People that eat a gluten-free diet are the masters at carrying foods and snacks everywhere that they go. You can use an insulated bag that is easy to carry and is appealing to your child, to make this food carrying easier. There are a lot of different designs and sizes, but a book bag style is great for children. Make sure that the bag always has at least one main dish, and a handful of snacks. This helps lower the temptation for your child to eat unsafe foods.
Natural Allergy Remedies
Spring and summer are the worst times of the year, if you have allergies. Many people suffer from symptoms that range from itchy and watery eyes, congested sinuses that can lead to headaches, and sneezing. Millions of people worldwide have seasonal allergies, and many of them turn to either Claritin, Benadryl, or other chemical allergy relief options. These options have a lot of side effects. Antihistamines are what Claritin and other popular allergy medications have in them that will make one out of every five users drowsy, even if they are marketed not to. In other people, these medications are ineffective and can lead to people to turn to the allergy shots.
However, there are many, different natural options for allergy relief. Not all these remedies will work for everyone, as we are all different. You may have to try a few options before you find one that works. You should not give up on an option only after one use. Your body will need some time to adjust, especially if you have used many of the over the counter allergy relief medications in the past.
If you are looking for natural allergy remedies, here are the most popular options.
Neti pots are an important part of Ayurvedic medical treatment of allergens and other sinus irritants, and have been used for centuries in India. While Neti pots are still not popular with many people, the medical community has more than welcomed them to the market. There are several studies that were conducted by David Rabago, MD that have clinically proven that the use of a neti pot is both an effective method to prevent and treat a number of upper respiratory conditions. These conditions include acute and chronic sinusitis, seasonal allergies and the common cold.
When you are using a Neti Pot, you need to make sure that the water has been distilled and is as sterile as possible. Most tap waters are full of fluoride and chlorine. Fluoride and chlorine are able to aggravate your sinuses even more. If you do not have a Neti pot, and do not want to buy one, you can still use a salt water rinse to clean your sinuses. To do this you will need to mix sea salt with warm water, and suck the mixture up one nostril at a time.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is available just about everywhere. When you are looking for apple cider vinegar to treat allergies, you should look for one that is certified organic, GMO-free, raw or not pasteurized, and unfiltered to make sure that you are getting all the benefits of the apple cider vinegar.
To treat allergies with apple cider vinegar, try drinking a glass of water with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and some fresh lemon juice every morning. This is also a better way to starting the morning than coffee, as it helps give your digestive system a jump-start for the day. Another method is to use a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in a Neti pot solution at the first sign on an allergy attack.
Local Raw Honey
Eating local raw honey can seem too easy as it is so sweet; however, honey is one of the oldest natural remedies. A tablespoon of local raw honey each and every day can help your body build up the tolerance to the local area’s pollen that is causing your sinus problems.
In 2011, The International Archives of Allergy and Immunology published an article that tested how pre-seasonal use of birch pollen honey affected people that had birch pollen allergies. It was found that the use of the honey actually lowered the total symptom score by 60 percent. The users also used 50 percent less antihistamine than the control group who only used conventional methods of allergy treatments.
Stinging Nettle medical uses can be dated back to medieval Europe. During this time period, stinging nettle was to relieve people of their joint pain. Now, stinging nettle has been studied and suggested to be able to treat a wide range of health concerns, by the University Of Maryland Medical Center. They have found stinging nettle to be able to help with:
-Urinary problems, including urinary tract infection
-Benign prostatic hyperplasia
-Joint pain, strains and sprains
Research on stinging nettle has shown specifically that nettle leaf is able to naturally control the histamine. This is why more doctors have taken to recommending a freeze-dried preparation of nettle leaf before hay fever season starts. Nettle leaf can also be used to make a tea.
Eucalyptus oil can be used for seasonal allergy relief in a number of different ways. Eucalyptus oil can be added to a Neti pot. You can also inhale the eucalyptus oil from a diffuser, or you can add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to your laundry detergent as antimicrobial agent.
One of the studies about eucalyptus oil that was done is Egypt found that various essential oils were able to kill many of the highly allergic house mites. The study found that eucalyptus oil is one of the most potent essential oils.
Eucalyptus oil can be a great biodegradable addition to your natural detergents, you can add 25 drops of the oil to each load of wash during the allergy season to keep the allergies at bay. This can help if you or your children spend a lot of time outside during allergy season.
If you are having strong allergy symptoms, try mixing eucalyptus oils with coconut oil. You can then rub the mixture on your chest, and behind the ears. The mixture will diffuse the scent of the oil during the day, or when you are sleeping.
Butterbur is not related to butterbeer, even if they do sound similar. Butterburs name comes from what the plant was used for in the past. The large leaves were used to wrap butter. Nowadays, butterbur extracts are used to treat fever, headaches, and nasal allergies. Butterbur is able to block the chemicals that cause the swelling in the nasal passage. During 2002, a study was done on 125 patients and stated that butterbur had similar effects to the antihistamine that were on the market; however, butterbur did not have the drowsiness side effect. Butterbur can be bought in tablets at many health food stores, or you can buy butterbur leaves to make tea from.
Hot showers do not just help clear your sinuses for a short time. The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology has found if you are able to a shower right after you enter your home, you lower the amount of pollen inside your home. The shower and the change of clothing also gets all the pollen off of your skin.
Quercetin are naturally found in green teas, citrus fruit, onion/shallots, and cruciferous vegetables. Quercetin is a type of bioflavonoid that stabilizes the release of histamine, and is able to help control allergy symptoms.
There are a number of sources that suggest the best use of quercetins is for a long term allergy remedy. If you are prone to seasonal allergies, you should increase the amount of quercetin that is in your diet a few weeks before your allergy season starts. For many people, allergy season starts a few weeks before the beginning of spring, when the flowers and trees starting to bloom.
Living with allergies is no fun, and with everyone dealing with different triggers of their allergies, it can be hard to pin-point one method that works the best for everyone. Many people still think that the best way of treating their allergies is to take over the counter medications, which have many, different side effects. If you have tried a natural method in the past, and it did not work, you shouldn’t discount all the natural remedies out there. Remember that natural remedies take time to work and for your body to adjust to them, so give each option a few weeks to see if it works. You can also combine a few different natural remedies for a better solution for your allergies, until like over the counter medications.
Various products derived from the beehive have been studied and propolis has proved to be a product having beneficial results for human health.
Propolis (Pro-before, Polis-city = defense of the city), is the resinous substance that bees gather from the leaf buds of trees and certain vegetables.
The bee gathers this and transforms it in order to disinfect the beehive, seal cracks, build panels, as well as using it as a microbiocidal agent, disinfectant and also for embalming intruders otherwise difficult to expel due to their size.
Propolis, thus, is directly responsible for guaranteeing the asepsis of the beehives, locations prone to developing viruses and bacteria, given their conditions of temperature and humidity.
Due to the great number of active ingredients present, tincture (alcoholic extract) of propolis is well known and used for its therapeutic properties, principally for its stimulant action on the organism’s defense system. Notable amongst its properties are its antioxidant and anti-microbial action, its activity as a stimulant and its healing, analgesic, anesthetic and anti-inflammatory activity.
This Bee Product Has Enormous Benefits for Your Health
To date, in the literature consulted, no antioxidant capacity values have been found greater than those obtained for propolis, for any of the products/foods analyzed, using this type of methodology.
Dr. Mercola’s Comments:
Bees, by pollinating trees and crops, are true sustainers of life on earth. Without their tireless service, we simply would not be able to feed ourselves. At the same time, they also create a wide variety of other useful products, including:
medicinal bee venom
The Many Uses of Bee Products
As described above, propolis has a number of well known therapeutic properties, including potent antioxidant and anti-microbial action, and healing, analgesic, anesthetic, and anti-inflammatory properties.
It’s been used for thousands of years in folk medicine.
Previously, bee propolis has been found to prevent the formation of dental plaque by inhibiting the activity of certain enzymes that synthesize glucans from sucrose. Propolis, along with other bee products, has also been studied for its potential to control tumor growth, with some success.
Bee pollen, on the other hand, is often referred to as a Superfood – one of nature’s most completely nourishing foods. It contains nearly all nutrients required by your body. About half of its protein is in the form of free amino acids that are ready to be used directly by your body and can therefore contribute significantly to your protein needs.
And raw honey, another potent anti-infection/anti-inflammatory bee product, is a natural option to antibiotics.
This is important to remember, considering the fact that traditional antibiotics are becoming increasingly ineffective against certain microbes. Meanwhile the solution may be as close as your kitchen cabinet…
What You Need to Know About Honey
The main thing to remember when it comes to honey is that not all honey is created equal. The antibacterial activity in some honeys is 100 times more powerful than in others!
Processed, refined honey is NOT appropriate for use in wound care. In fact, your average domestic “Grade A” type honey found in the grocery store will likely increase infection. It also will not offer you the same health benefits as raw honey when consumed.
Manuka honey is a specific type of honey that has actually been approved for use as a medical device – it’s that potent! But you could use raw honey to treat a mild burn, sunburn, or small wound at home if you don’t happen to have a jar of Manuka around.
Good quality honey offers several topical wound-care benefits:
It draws fluid away from your wound
The high sugar content suppresses microorganism growth
Worker bees secrete an enzyme (glucose oxidase) into the nectar, which then releases low levels of hydrogen peroxide when the honey makes contact with your wound
A chemical reaction between the honey and tissue also makes healing wounds smell good
Manuka honey, however, is in a class of its own.
Clinical trials have found that Manuka honey from New Zealand, made with pollen gathered from the flowers of the Manuka bush (a medicinal plant), can effectively eradicate more than 250 clinical strains of bacteria, including resistant varieties such as:
MRSA (methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus)
MSSA (methicillin sensitive Staphylococcus aureus)
VRE (vancomycin-resistant enterococci)
Helicobacter Pylori (which can cause stomach ulcers)
With the increasing threat of antibiotic-resistant infections and drug over-use, the return to honey as a natural, multi-purpose healing therapy makes all the sense in the world.
Honey was in fact a conventional therapy in fighting infection up until the early 20th century, at which time its use slowly vanished as penicillin took center stage. Using raw honey instead of topical antibiotics and cough medicines, for example, is a simple way to decrease your over-dependence on drugs.
As long as it’s used in moderation, eating raw honey is likely to promote health. One caveat is if you suffer from signs of elevated insulin such as:
High blood pressure
High blood cholesterol
If you have elevated insulin levels, you’ll want to limit consumption of honey just like you would sugar and grains, as it will raise your insulin levels.
Gluten-Free Buckwheat Crepes are earthy, slightly nutty tasting and a nutritious alternative to crepes made with refined flours.
3/4 cup gluten-free buckwheat flour
1/4 gluten-free all-purpose flour mix
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk OR dairy free substitute (I use organic canned coconut milk)
3 large eggs
4 tablespoons melted butter OR light olive oil
Note For best results allow batter to rest for 2 hours. This gives the flour time to absorb the liquids in the recipe. If you are pinched for time, make this recipe when you have time to give the batter a nice rest.
Pour milk, eggs and melted butter OR olive oil into a blender pitcher. Pulse just until combined.
In a small bowl mix gluten-free buckwheat flour, gluten-free all purpose flour mix and salt.
Add to liquid in blender and pulse just until combined and smooth.
Allow batter to rest for 2 hours. If you are pinched for time, make this recipe when you have time to give the batter a nice rest.
To Cook Crêpes– Heat a low-sided 8-inch skillet or crêpe pan over medium high heat. Add 1/4 teaspoon oil to the skillet and brush to coat the bottom of the skillet. (Do this before making each crêpe) Pour 1/4 cup of batter into the heated skillet. Swirl the skillet until the bottom of the pan is covered with batter. Cook the crepe for about 1 minute- the crepe should be barely moist on top. Use a thin spatula to loosen the edges of the crêpe, slide the spatula under the crêpe and gently flip it upside down. Cook for another minute, just until lightly browned and transfer crêpe to a cooling rack or plate. Repeat with the remaining batter.
Yield – 8 8-inch crêpes
Tips Batter can be made a day ahead of time and refrigerated for convenience.
Use your favorite packaged all purpose gluten-free flour mix in this recipe or make your own gluten-free flour mix.
Make crêpes ahead of time. Wrap each cooked crêpe individually in plastic wrap and place all in a freezer bag, label and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw and warm in a 300 degree oven about 5 minutes before serving
Reminder: Always make sure your work surfaces, utensils, pans and tools are free of gluten. Always read product labels. Manufacturers can change product formulations without notice. When in doubt, do not buy or use a product before contacting the manufacturer for verification that the product is free of gluten