Friday, May 16, 2014

Cheap Trick: Allergies Fix

Growing up in New England I never had allergies, but when I moved out of the area for college, they suddenly developed. I thought maybe I was just allergic to a particular tree on campus, but unfortunately, the stuffed-up headaches have followed me for years now.

According to TV meteorologists, we're going through a Pollen Vertex this spring, and I believe it: Usually, I buy a box of Claritin-D or Zyrtec-D in the fall, and one in the spring, and that's enough to cover my sinus troubles, but this year I've been popping far more of those little pills. In fact, I used them for so many weeks in a row that I developed a reaction to them!

I stopped taking them the minute I figured this out, but now I'm left with a groggy feeling, an unhappy nose and a headache. Caffeine helps a little, but the headache is the worst part for me.

In searching for ways to fix this problem naturally, I tried the local honey suggestion, and the apple-vinegar "with mother," but had no notable result from either. I gave this stuff a try, and it works when swished around in the mouth, but I'm not a fan of the taste. I finally decided to once again pull out my neti pot, the reportedly amazing saline flush. But no matter how many people tell me I'll get used to it, I cannot bring myself to use it regularly. Try as I might, I am completely incapable of using it at all without making horrible noises. As one friend put it, "It's basically voluntarily water-boarding yourself."

What I am able to handle, however, is spicy food. Horseradish, jalapeno, wasabi, ginger -- I love that fine line between a delicious almost hot and a burning too hot. So when I read that I could try using wasabi peas to clear sinuses, I felt pretty silly for not thinking of it myself. It also could explain why I've been craving sushi all spring (although, to be fair, I think I could live on sushi at any time of the year).

I gave it a try, and a handful of wasabi peas certainly does work to temporarily relieve sinus pressure. At the sushi place I went to recently, they gave me a huge handful of wasabi and ginger packets, and I am pleased to report that both work just as well as the peas. Plus, it takes just a tiny bit of the wasabi, instead of a large handle or two of the wasabi peas. Ginger is good for fighting colds, so to eat a large glob of that instead is another great option.

I'm so pleased to have found something that works, even if it doesn't last 24 hours like the pills do. And considering those pills cost about $1.19 each, the fact that this is a less expensive option is a great added bonus.

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"There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- God damn it, you've got to be kind."
-Kurt Vonnegut