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10 Natural Ways to Help Kids with Allergies

Published on March 10, 2023


By Kristen Boye BS, Natural Health

Kristen Boye

Kristen Boye is a natural health expert, writer, copywriter, and editor. Kristen was raised on an organic farm in British Columbia which inspired her life’s work. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Health, is a Certified Natural Foods Chef, co-owner of a medicinal herb farm, and is a natural foods and children’s health advocate. Kristen lives with her husband and two children on their medicinal herb farm in Western North Carolina.

https://www.holisticwritingconcepts.com
10 Natural Ways to Help Kids with Allergies
10 Natural Ways to Help Kids with Allergies

Sunshine! Flowers! Green grass! Baseball! Spring break! 

Spring brings fresh energy, excitement, and wonder to children everywhere.

However, for over 7% of American children who suffer from seasonal allergies,REF#855 springtime can be a sneezy, stuffy, teary-eyed struggle.

Unfortunately, there is no formal explanation for why some children suffer more than others during pollen season.

What’s even more confusing is that some children outgrow their symptoms while others’ intensify as they get older.

This leaves many parents feeling powerless as they watch their little ones suffer through what should be a happy and active time of year.

But what if there were a way to help support your child’s pollen defenses without resorting to the usual tactics?

Fortunately, there are several simple, natural, and effective ways to support your children during pollen season. 

All it takes is some willingness, patience, and a little trial and error to determine what will work best for your child.

This article will discuss ten natural ways to help your kids through pollen season without unwanted side effects.

10 Natural Solutions To Support Your Kid’s Pollen Defenses

Since the underlying causes of pollen issues are unknown and can vary person-to-person, family-to-family, and place to place, we cannot offer just one solution.

However, there are several time-tested techniques, lifestyle practices, and other natural options for helping kids during the pollen season.REF#856

Some of these solutions will be more appropriate for older children, so use your judgment in determining the best potential options for your kiddo(s).

#1: Create A Clean Air Sanctuary At Home

This step is first because it’s foundational to managing pollen exposure.

We can’t control the air outdoors, but we can control the air inside our homes—and would be wise to do so.

Per the EPA, indoor air is often two to five hundred times more polluted than outdoor air.REF#857

Fortunately, we can vastly improve the indoor air quality in our homes.

Here are eight ways to reduce pollen and dust indoors:

  1. Dust your home, car, and workspaces regularly using a damp microfiber cloth. Microfibers are excellent at trapping dust and are more sustainable than disposable options, since they can be washed in a regular laundry washer and dryer. Aim to dust every day or every other day during pollen season. Children, young and old, can help with dusting. Younger kids may be more likely to help if they have a special microfiber duster.
  2. Invest in a high-quality air purifier (especially for your bedroom). For best results, look for air purifiers with a HEPA filter and/or products designed to trap pollen. If you can’t afford multiple filters or a whole-house system, prioritize your child/children’s bedroom(s) so their lungs get a good rest while they sleep. Offer to donate an air purifier for your child’s classroom for even more benefit.
  3. Change your air filters often during pollen season. Standard recommendation is to change home air filters every three months. However, more frequent changes during pollen season can help ensure cleaner air.
  4. Get your air ducts cleaned. This requires a professional crew but is well worth the investment.
  5. Keep a no-shoes indoor policy. Shoes can track in pollen and other unsavory allergens, pesticides, toxins, bacteria, etc.REF#858 To make it easy for guests, invest in a shoe bench or leave a basket at the door. Suggest your child’s school have an indoor shoe policy too. This is common practice in many preschools and Montessori schools.
  6. HEPA vacuum, or vacuum your home and car regularly. HEPA vacuums have a sealed system that prevents the redistribution of dust and pollen as you vacuum. This makes them an incredible tool for improving indoor air quality. If you don’t have a HEPA vacuum, consider vacuuming with the windows open to prevent the redistribution of dust and pollen particles. No time to vacuum? Get your kids involved! Older children can help with vacuuming, dry mopping, etc.
  7. Open windows when pollen counts are low.This may seem counter-intuitive, but fresh air is critical to improving indoor air quality. Check the weather forecast to determine the best time of day to open windows based on pollen counts.
  8. Wash and dust off your pets when they go outdoors. Indoor/outdoor pets can track pollen on their coats and paws. A quick wipe-down or brush outside before coming back in will help control this.

    #2: Lean On These Herbs For Sinus And Respiratory Support*

    Herbs, such as Nettles, Elderberry, Ginger, and Turmeric, can be a fantastic way to help support the entire family during pollen season.*

    Herbs work differently on different people, so it may take a bit of trial and error to find your ultimate herbal ally.

    Here’s some more information to help you find a good starting point for your kiddos:

    Turmeric and its active component, Curcumin, have been shown to support normal histamine levels, inflammatory response, immunity, and sinus health in the presence of allergens.*REF#859 REF#860

    Turmeric, also known as the “Golden Spice” or “Indian Saffron,” is the yellow spice that gives curries their golden color.

    Elderberry syrup is a favorite of children and adults because it tastes so darn good! 

    Plus, elderberries have been shown to support normal immunity and inflammatory response, sinus and respiratory health, and histamine response.*REF#861 REF#862 

    Nettles are a sure sign that spring has come. They’re also a cherished traditional herb for spring cleansing and supporting the body during pollen season.

    Nettles have been studied for their effects on pollen concerns in vitro (aka a test tube experiment). They have been found to be potentially effective at supporting inflammatory response, histamine levels, and key receptors and enzymes related to pollen reactions.*REF#863

    Ginger is another excellent and tasty expectorant herb for supporting childrens’ sinuses, immunity, and respiratory health.*

    Expectorants are a class of herbs that help break up mucus and support clear airways.*

    It’s also great for tummy trouble, which can be a factor when sinus drainage is running on overdrive.*REF#864

    Studies have shown Ginger works to support healthy nasal passages and airways in those with pollen complaints without unwanted side effects.*REF#865

    It’s also demonstrated immune and respiratory health benefits.*REF#866

    Ginger can be used fresh in kid-friendly stir-fries, dressings, and dipping sauces or desserts

    You can also make healthy ginger ale using traditional fermentation recipes or a simple ginger/honey syrup poured into sparkling water.

    It also makes a warming tea (fresh or dried) with raw honey and lemon. If children are sensitive to spice, try giving them dried ginger tea versus fresh.

    Herbs are generally safe and effective for most healthy children when given in small amounts. 

    Always check with your doctor or healthcare practitioner if you have concerns or if your child is on medication, has other allergies, or has a pre-existing health issue.

    Learn more about the best herbs to try during pollen season in 11 Herbs to Promote Seasonal Wellness.

    #3: Gently Clear Nasal Passages Two Ways

    Kids aren’t always great about blowing their noses, so it’s up to parents and caregivers to ensure those nasal passages stay clear.

    Here are two ways to deep clean children’s noses.

    For little kids, turn to natural nasal sprays.

    Simple saline nasal sprays are a great way to clean out children’s sinuses in the morning and before bed.

    There are many brands of children’s nasal sprays to choose from; they shouldn’t hurt if done gently. Note: be sure to purchase children’s nasal sprays, which have a gentler spray than adults’.

    If your child resists, try having them do the spraying. They may even find it fun once they get over the initial sensation.

    Not seeing much benefit from saline nasal sprays? Consider a xylitol nasal spray.

    Xylitol (a natural sugar alcohol made from birch or corn) has demonstrated benefits for supporting sinus and ear health compared to regular nasal irrigation.REF#867

    For bigger kids, break out the neti pot.

    A simple neti pot rinse can provide incredible relief from pollen-related congestion. 

    However, since a neti pot requires slowly pouring water into the nose, it’s typically unsuitable for young children.

    You can introduce this option to your older children by using yourself as a model and then helping them practice.

    Here are some essential tips for a safe and pain-free neti pot experience:

    • Make sure the neti pot is cleaned thoroughly.
    • Do not use tap water as there is a slight chance it could contain dangerous toxins or parasites. Bottled distilled water is safest.
    • Use the salt solution included with the neti pot or make your own using salt and baking soda. The addition of baking soda is critical because this will take the sting out of the procedure. 
    • Do not add essential oils or anything else to the water except the recommended salt and baking soda. Additions will only make for a painful and traumatic experience!
    • Remind your child that they can breathe through their mouth during this process.
    • Make sure they blow their nose before and after.

    Neti pots can be used throughout the day, such as before school or bed, to help open up nasal passages and wash away pollen. Be sure to speak to your child’s healthcare professional before using a neti pot.

    #5: Indulge Their Sweet Tooth With Local Honey 

    Note: This tip is only appropriate for children over the age of 1 who do not have diabetes. If your child is under one year of age or has diabetes or blood sugar issues, move on to the next solution.

    Children love sweets, and local raw honey may be their best friend during pollen season.

    The idea behind raw honey for allergies is that the honey contains small amounts of pollen, which may help condition the body to adapt.

    Has this been proven beyond anecdotal evidence? Sort of.

    Some research has shown a benefitREF#868, and other studies have demonstrated no benefit.REF#869 

    More research is needed using specific methods, types of honey, and larger groups.

    However, honey has shown potential benefits for coughs REF#870, which can be a factor during pollen season.

    According to traditional herbalism and enthusiastic beekeepers, there are some rules to taking raw honey effectively during pollen season.

    Rule #1: Use only authentic raw honey. Pasteurized honey is not believed to have the same effect.

    Rule #2: Look for local honey. According to traditional herbalism, you need exposure to low-dose local pollens versus pollens from hundreds of miles away.

    Rule #3: Get honey with the comb if you can. Some beekeepers insist the comb makes a difference for those with pollen concerns.

    Rule #4: Try to start giving honey before pollens strike. It is believed this can give your body a headstart on pollen season. However, many people report benefits from eating raw honey in the thick of pollen season. So, it’s probably worth a try, no matter what time of year.

    Rule #5: Be consistent. Like all things natural, honey may take some time to produce results. 

    There is no general recommendation on dosage. However, you can substitute honey wherever you use sugar or other natural sweeteners. 

    But remember, honey is still full of sugar. So, use common sense when offering it to your child/children.

    #6: Incorporate More Quercetin Into Their Diet

    If you’ve been looking for natural solutions to help your kids’ during pollen season, you’ve probably come across Quercetin.*

    Quercetin, a natural antioxidant found in dark-colored fruits and vegetables, is a popular ingredient in many immune- and seasonal-support supplements.*

    Part of the reason for its widespread use is research has shown Quercetin is very safe and may provide relief for pollen sufferers by promoting normal immune response and histamine secretion.*REF#871 REF#872

    The great thing about Quercetin is it is abundant in many kid-friendly foods, such as berries, apples, leafy greens, and grapes. 

    All the more reason to blend up some fruity green herbal smoothies this spring!

    Discover more Quercetin-rich foods in: Where Can I Find Quercetin in Foods?

    #7: Try Homeopathics for Proactive and Immediate Relief

    The terms “homeopathics” and “herbs” or “homeopathy” and “herbalism” are often used interchangeably. 

    However, they are two very different things that may complement each other as part of a whole wellness strategy.

    Herbs are certain types of plants that have been used in traditional herbalism and folklore for centuries.

    Homeopathics are highly diluted plant, animal, mineral, or poisonous substances used in homeopathy, dating back to the 17th century.REF#873 REF#874

    The theory behind homeopathy is based on the idea that “like cures like,” meaning if you give a tiny dose of a substance, such as histamine for example, it has the potential to elicit a favorable response.*

    Homeopathics are typically given in a sugar pellet, liquid, or topical form. They can be obtained from a natural health practitioner such as a naturopath, a homeopath, or over-the-counter.

    Many different homeopathic formulas are available for pollen complaints, and scores of people swear by them.

    However, there is no conclusive scientific evidence supporting their use.

    There are several homeopathic options for pollen season, including combination formulas, nasal sprays, and single homeopathics.

    For best results, speak with a professional homeopath or naturopath to choose the best product for your child.

    #8: Get Ahead Of Ear Trouble With DIY Ear Drops

    For many children, ear and sinus discomfort is a dreaded side effect of pollen season.

    Traditional herbalists have recommended various homemade herbal-infused ear oils as a natural solution.*

    Garlic oil or Garlic Mullein oil is a classic herbal combination that can be purchased or made at home to help with occasional ear trouble.*

    Find a simple and effective DIY Garlic Oil recipe, along with other traditional recipes, in Herbal DIY Ear Drops for Kids.

    #9: Be Mindful Of Trigger Foods

    Herbalists, naturopaths, and other traditional wellness practitioners and systems believe certain foods can trigger mucus production in some people.

    Although conventional medicine has largely shunned this idea, new food sensitivity testing methods that measure immunoglobulins IgA, IgG, and IgE (the presence of immunoglobulins can indicate an immune response to certain foods and substances) support this age-old theory.REF#875

    These tests are used widely in integrative functional medicine. However, their efficacy is still considered controversial.

    There is also evidence that cow’s milk allergy, for example, can play a role in sinus and ear health in children.REF#876

    Given dairy products are a top allergen and millions of children suffer from known or unknown cow’s milk allergies or sensitivities,REF#877 that may be something to consider if your child struggles with sinus issues.

    The foods that may support or undermine your child’s health during pollen season will be highly individual.

    According to many herbalists and traditional practitioners, dairy is a common food to avoid during pollen season.

    Gluten, corn, and soy are other foods to discuss with your child’s healthcare practitioner.

    Ultimately, determining food sensitivities is a bit of a guessing game. 

    However, if you suspect foods may be causing issues for your child, talk to your healthcare practitioner about detecting and addressing food sensitivities.

    Food sensitivity testing is now fairly common, and an elimination diet can help determine what may be triggering or contributing to seasonal issues.REF#878

    #10: Tend Your Child’s Gut Microbiome All Year Round

    Did you know research shows gut and digestive health can play a role in our reaction to pollen?

    One study published in the International Archives of Allergy and Immunology showed that adults with AR (allergic rhinitis) had less microbial diversity and an altered abundance of specific microbes than those without AR.REF#879

    What about children? There’s compelling evidence that gut health affects their allergy response too.

    A study published in the Italian Journal of Pediatrics showed children with allergies experienced “significant improvement” when given Bifidobacteria mixture—a specific mix of probiotics that promote beneficial gut bacteria.REF#880

    Another study entitled: “Role of intestinal flora in the development of allergy” found children who lacked certain gut bacteria as babies were more susceptible to developing allergies later in life.REF#881

    Researchers noted that gut microbiota's precise role in allergy development remains unclear.

    However, these studies point to the importance of focusing on gut health in relation to pollens.

    Some simple ways to support gut health in children include:

    • Avoiding antibiotic overuse
    • Avoiding over-sanitizing
    • Avoiding NSAIDs as much as possible
    • Consuming probiotic-rich foods such as cultured vegetables, yogurt, kefir, and kimchi
    • Eating a diverse diet
    • Eating plenty of fiber, especially prebiotic fiber, which feeds good gut bacteria.* Prebiotics are found in onions, garlic, chicory, artichokes, sunchokes, and other fibrous foods.
    • Exercising
    • Spending time outdoors
    • Spending time with pets and farm animals
    • Taking probiotics and prebiotics may also be helpful*

    How To Get Started Helping Kids This Pollen Season

    By now, you should have several ideas to start testing out on your kiddos and discussing with their healthcare practitioner.

    Remember, the best place to start is with the low-hanging fruit.

    In other words, don’t try to give them five different herbs at once, force a neti pot on your teenager, or take away all their favorite foods.

    Instead, start with something subtle, like cleaning up indoor air quality. 

    Next, try giving them some tasty herbal formulas, like Elderberry Syrup, Gummies, or start a raw honey routine.

    If you’re unsure which herbs or lifestyle changes may be best for your child, talk to an experienced pediatric-focused herbalist, naturopath, or integrative health/functional medicine practitioner.

    These health experts are specially trained to use herbs and other natural solutions with children for various concerns and can make individual recommendations.

    Finally, be consistent. Unlike over-the-counter medications, natural options often take some time to work. So, start early if you can, give it a few weeks, and stay the course. 

    For more tips on helping kids bolster their pollen defenses, check out:

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