The warmer weather means enjoying days in the park and eating dinner al fresco, but for allergy sufferers it can also mean sniffles, sneezing, and general discomfort. So we've gathered some easy remedies that can erase pollen-triggered miseries fast. Psst: They work for colds, too!
Relieve sinus pain by pressing here.
Firmly massaging your hairline — from the base of your skull to the center of your forehead — using deep pressure and circular motions can cut sinus pain by 60 percent in two minutes. Scientists at Connecticut’s Manchester Memorial Hospital reveal the strategy stimulates acupressure points to kick-start the production of painkilling endorphins, plus boosts circulation to sinuses to improve drainage and flush out pain-triggering inflammation.
Deepen sleep with belly breathing.
Sniffles and sneezes make sleep difficult, so it’s no wonder 88 percent of us feel draggy during allergy season. But 10 minutes of self-hypnosis at bedtime will boost your brain’s production of sleep-inducing theta waves, increasing the time you spend in the deepest stage of sleep by 81 percent, plus cutting the risk of middle-of-the-night awakenings by 67 percent, say New Zealand researchers. To do: Stretch out in bed and take slow, deep belly breaths; focus on relaxing every muscle in your body, starting with your toes and going up to your neck and head.
Calm a scratchy throat with a lemon gargle.
You can soothe a scratchy throat in as little as 30 seconds by gargling with diluted lemon juice — and doing it three times daily can help prevent pollen-triggered throat troubles entirely, Australian researchers say. Credit a unique group of compounds (limonins) in fresh lemon juice that tamp down throat inflammation and speed the healing of damaged tissues. Simply mix the juice of one freshly squeezed lemon into 8 oz. of water and store in the fridge between uses.
Soothe itchy eyes with a warm lid wash.
Sudsing your lids and lashes with warm water and a gentle cleanser (like baby shampoo) twice daily cuts eye redness, itching, and watering by up to 90 percent, say scientists at Long Island Hospital. Frequent lid washing removes pollen before it gets into your eyes, and warm water opens eyelid glands (meibomian glands) so they release protective oils that shield your eye surface from pollen attacks.
Cure congestion with baking soda rinses.
Flushing your sinuses twice daily with a baking soda rinse provides relief in five minutes, plus cuts chronic congestion by 71 percent in 48 hours, Italian researchers reveal. Allergist Maria Gaini, MD, explains that rinsing out pollen halts your immune system’s release of congestion-triggering proteins, and baking soda reduces inflammation. To make a rinse: Add 1 Tbsp. of kosher salt and 1 tsp. of baking soda to 4 cups of boiled, cooled water.
Ease headaches with a refreshing steam.
Nixing a headache is as easy as inhaling peppermint-infused steam, reveal British researchers. Why? This essential oil brims with menthol, a compound that relaxes spasming scalp muscles and calms pain nerves. “And inhaling steam opens sinus blood vessels, improving drainage and reducing painful pressure,” adds Jordan Josephson, MD, author of Sinus Relief Now ($12.92, Amazon). To do: Mix 8 drops of peppermint oil into 4 cups of hot water, then lean over the pot with a towel over your head and breathe deeply for 10 minutes.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.
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