Callie’s Cabin: Spring allergies? Spice it up

Cal Orey
Special to the Tribune
Chicken soup in white bowl on wooden tray. <em id="emphasis-e7f683f4724bebcfae0d59fcbc732e88">Getty Images</em>

Seasonal allergies can be miserable for countless people at Lake Tahoe. The word is, we’re having an early spring. That means pesky allergens are paying us a visit sooner than later this year. Certain allergens, including pollen and ragweed are coming to us later. Right now other culprits, can affect your nose and throat.

Sneezing? Sniffling? Scratchy throat? You’ve entered the land of culprits that can cause nasal congestion. During the spring like clockwork I go online and track the allergy chart; it’s sort of like a weather forecast. You type in your city and state, and it will rank the level of allergens. Achoo! Seriously, if the numbers are high, I bring out my arsenal of nature’s cures.

What herbal Rx to use: Include cayenne, dried and ground or fresh and chopped in food, such as salsa or in a salad. Use once or twice per day. Or take cayenne pepper in capsule form once a day as needed. Also, try ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder mixed in 1 cup of black tea or savor a piece of dark chocolate infused with cayenne. Yes, it works

Why spicing it up works: Research studies have shown hot and spicy foods can rev up blood circulation. This, in result, is like a humidifier; it can help open clogged and inflamed nasal passages and you may breathe easier. The heat of the herbal remedy may help sinus infections, too.

A study published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology gives credit to a nasal spray containing the capsaicin compound. Researchers at the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center discovered heat in chili peppers fight inflammation and can ease sinus congestion, sniffles, and postnasal drip.

I can personally attest whipping up a spicy and hot homemade salsa or using a fresh store-bought variety —including cayenne — does its job. Instantly, I feel like my nose isn’t as stuffy. It clears the sinuses so a headache between the eyes often goes away. Paired with drinking plenty of water this trick from nature works wonders. And that’s not all…

Try Herbes de Provence for pesky allergies

Remember in your childhood when you weathered a bout of a cold or flu? It’s likely your mom helped you to feel better by serving up a dish of hot soup with a mix of herbs As long as there was a combination of herbs in the broth it helped the symptoms of congestion.

Herbes de Provence (Earthy): It is a Mediterranean mix of dried herbs (and occasionally spices) used in cuisine from Provence in France. The blend can include oregano, rosemary, sage, tarragon, and thyme (which is known to help aid mucus in the throat). It can also contain fennel seeds, lavender, and savory. Spices and herbs, like these, contain anti-inflammatory and antibacterial compounds that work to break down the post-nasal drip—the stuff in your throat that can drive you nuts.

Try eating an 8-ounce cup or bowl of hot herbal chicken soup with 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence (dried is more convenient than making a fresh batch in early spring). The soup can be homemade or canned (opt for low sodium). Repeat 2 times daily. And note, doctors know chicken soup (add fresh garlic, minced) can lessen mucus and reduce congestion, which often comes with seasonal allergies.

Cal Orey, M.A. Is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, Superfoods, Essential Oils, Herbs and Spices) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is

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