If you’ve ever been an allergy sufferer or lived with one or witnessed one trying to walk from one side of a park to the other you probably know that the whole thing is just a miserable cross to bear. Although I don’t seem to be allergic to a damned thing, my little sidekick of ten years, Goobie the Cat, was pretty much deathly allergic to it all. Dealing with his terminal asthma was a daily battle of vacuuming, humidifying, checking pollen levels, and coaxing herbal supplements down Goob’s throat. I began keeping a calendar of The Goob’s daily asthma attacks, trying to find the pattern (or at least get a better idea of what was working and what wasn’t). Pair the Goobie-Cal with endless questions for our wonderful vet, Sara at Vinegar Hill, and the result was that all of us here at 16 Judge Street became asthma & allergy fighting experts.
Sadly, we couldn’t stave off the inevitable forever, and although The Goob battled his end-stage asthma for much longer than YZ & I expected, we lost our dear cat last weekend. But, he would be truly miffed if we didn’t share the wealth of allergy-fighting tricks we’ve learned from him throughout the years… Now, we’ve obviously modified the list from cat-centric to human-centric products, so PLEASE: don’t feed your cat honey, or any of the edibles in the list below. Consult your vet for the cat-friendly equivalent of those allergy fighters!!!
Dyson’s DC25 Animal Vacuum
The first step towards fighting allergens is keeping your home and office as sparkly clean & dust-free as possible. Investing in a quality vacuum cleaner will save you time and money in the long run and, certainly in my case, makes the whole tri-weekly vacuuming routine almost fun (!?!). Our pick (by leaps and bounds) is Dyson’s DC25 Animal Vacuum: not only is it the Goliath of any housekeeping lineup, the vac’s not half bad to look at either (it’s gray, purple, and red for Pete’s sake!). Aside from the obligatory lifetime HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter, here are some of our favorite Dyson Animal features:
- Mini turbine head attachment: This little add-on absolutely obliterates kitty hair and dust on upholstery – something often overlooked in the daily cleaning grind.
- Dyson’s Ball™ technology: Although we found it a bit odd at first, the easy swivel of the base makes corners and crannies much less of an obstacle.
- Quick-draw Telescope Reach™ wand: Sure, some of you have houses with multiple floors and staircases that connect them… For this, the Dyson extendable wand contraption would be perfect. For the rest of us living in cramped NYC apartments, the wand is a stellar way to get to those high-up spots like bookshelves, doorway frames, and the like. We dig it – our bookshelves are grateful.
Next step (and loads more fun than vacuuming) is getting your paws on some local honey. In the same way that those nasty immunization shots work by giving you a minute dose of the real thing, local honey is a great way to build your tolerance against pollen native to your area. The trick is starting with small amounts (try 1 tbsp a day at first) and slowly building up your tolerance. You need to find non-pasteurized honey, which should be easy to get at your local green market or from a local beekeeper. There are also a few websites — Local Harvest is a great one — that help you hunt down honey (and gobs of other organics) produced in your area. If you happen to live in one of the states that Bee Raw’s selection is produced in (New York, Maine, Washington, Wisconsin, Florida, California, North Carolina, and Colorado) then we suggest trying their line of honey as it is sublime, smooth, and comes in adorably designed jars!
If you live in a bustling metropolis then chances are a whole litany of pollutants are sneaking through your windows and doors throughout the day. Enter the air purifier. Something I once considered an unnecessary luxury that only ConEd could love, a good, quiet air purifier is a must for both allergy sufferers and their cohabitants. Coway’s AP-1008CH is a super slick choice for you uncompromising design geeks out there: with a simple, flat body and little light loop at the top that changes hues according air pollutant levels. Say au revoir to that black goo up your nose…
Many asthmatics and allergy sufferers find great relief from higher humidity levels around the house (40 – 60%). YZ & I have a prehistoric central heating system in our apartment complex that makes the air so unbearably dry that we would wake up each morning with sore, scratchy throats. When Sara, Goobie’s vet, suggested trying a humidifier to help with Cat Cat’s allergies, we really had no idea what a positive effect balanced humidity levels would have on our sleep (and mornings which we’re already not so good at). Goobie loved it too: we saw his attacks reduce immediately after using the humidifier and I would often come into his room to find him snoozing right where the mist was being directed. But again, the conundrum: who wants to put another clunky, off-white appliance in the middle of a room?! Well, if you’ve got a nice wad of cash in your pocket, here’s the solution: PlusMinusZero’s humidifier is beyond lust-worthy. With almost a dozen hues to choose from, ±0’s donut-shaped humidifier sits so elegantly on the floor, you might even forget it serves a function!
Ultra Fresh Hypoallergenic Pillow 4-Pack
Another great trick (with extra benefits) is investing in hypoallergenic bedding. Whether it’s asthma you’re fighting, or, worse: mites, bedbugs, or other household pests, having bedding that keep pollutants and creepy crawlers from finding their way to the inner fluff of it all will help you rest easy. Get started with hypoallergenic pillows like the ones above from Ultra Fresh. They’re super soft and don’t get lumpy over time like traditional down-filled cushions do. If you’re convinced, go the extra step with a hypoallergenic duvet and a hypoallergenic mattress cover.
There are a handful of tisanes (herbal teas) that help ease the symptoms of allergy sufferers. Just pair your local honey with a few cups of chamomile, thyme, or eucalyptus tea each day to help relieve runny noses, sneezing, etc. You can use dried or fresh herbs, just throw a tablespoon of dry or some sprigs of fresh!
Domaine D’Uby Colombard
Wine for allergy relief!? Yes, indeed. A certain flavonol (and natural anti-inflammatory) called quercetin is found in several foodstuffs including green, black and rooibos tea, apples, onions, apricots, cranberries, and grapes, just to name a few (there’s a nice list of quercetin foods here). The more the grapes are exposed to sunlight, the higher the levels of quercetin making wine a great source of the super-supplement. This lovely white wine from Domaine D’Uby is a great, budget way to enjoy the warming weather and stunt your allergy & asthma annoyances. If you live in the ‘Burg, head over to DOC Wine Shop for a bottle (just $10!) or get it on several online wine sites. Chin chin!
Smith’s Menthol and Eucalyptus Balm
For quick, on-the-go relief, just rub a smidge of Smith’s Menthol and Eucalyptus Balm from Rosebud Perfume Company under your snout and say
achoo adieu to allergy- and cold-induced redness and skin irritation. Not only is this compact little balm cheap ($8 from Amazon) and perfectly purse-sized, the tin, designed by G.F. Smith’s niece, Linda, is to die for!
Walnuts & Other Omega-3’s
Omega 3’s, full of essential fatty acids, have also proven to be effective as an anti-inflammatory. More great news, foods rich in Omega 3’s are scrumptious: caviar, salmon, basil, and yes, walnuts (for a full list check here). Like the Smith family balm, this remedy is nice and portable: just tuck a small ziplock of walnuts in your bag for an afternoon allergy assault/snack. Cheap and natural, walnuts totally win over those man-made allergy drugs that just leave you exhausted and unfocused.
Innocent Probiotic Yogurt Shakes
Last but not least, another delicious device for the allergy doldrums: yogurt. This, and other cultured dairy (kefir, for example) provide your body with probiotics – a living organism full of good bacterias which fight the antibody that causes allergy symptoms. Make sure to choose a yogurt that does indeed contain probiotics, as not all yogurts do. They would be listed in the ingredients as one of the following: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus reuteri and Bifidobacterium bifidum. Phew, that’s a Latin bonanza! Some of our favorites are the tried and true Fage Greek yogurt or UK brand Innocent’s line of tasty probiotic yogurt shakes, adorably called Thickies!