Do you have allergies or the common cold? Let's find out.

Do you have allergies or the common cold? Let's find out.  

While we can finally rejoice in spring being here (or at least some version of spring with occasional flurries) we are also saying hello to seasonal allergies! We wanted to help clear up any confusion between cold and allergy symptoms and focus on ways to balance the body’s immune response! 

What are allergies?

The body is constantly coming into contact with foreign particles, and during this particular season of thawing and new growth in the environment, there can be an excess amount of pollen in the air from various trees, grasses, and ragweed, all varying based on region. If you suffer from allergies, your body has become exposed to an antigen (pollen), recognized it as a harmful invader and subsequently, produced antibodies. Antibodies then trigger Mast cells which produce histamine, a powerful chemical that can trigger inflammation (when over activated) and result in common allergy symptoms. 

While the timing of these symptoms usually points to an allergy based reaction, we’ve broken down the differences between a common cold and seasonal allergies in this handy chart for you to reference! 







Aches + pains



Itchy, wet eyes 



Sneezing + runny nose



Sore throat 







Foods that support the immune system for both allergies and the common cold:


Vitamin C 

Vitamin C is the big one for immune system support, acting as a natural antihistamine and antioxidant. You can find high levels in citrus, strawberries, and kale. Our new Strawberry Coconut Collagen Smoothie and Tahini Kale Caesar are excellent sources of vitamin C. 



Quercetin is a plant pigment (flavonoid) found in various fruits and vegetables, with high amounts found in apples, onions, peppers, berries, grapes, cherries, capers, and green and black tea. The antioxidant properties of quercetin help reduce the inflammatory effects of an allergic response, while also supporting your body’s immune response to prevent future intense reactions. 


Omega 3’s 

Incorporating omega-3 rich foods into your diet, from salmon, anchovies, sardines, to chia seeds and flax, can help mitigate excess inflammation in the body. Our Superseed banana chia pudding is a great source of flax and chia seeds, as well as natural bee pollen which has been shown to act as a natural antihistamine in the body. Caution: Not for individuals with asthma and/or severe allergies related to pollen or bee products. Consult a health care practitioner prior to use if you are pregnant or breastfeeding or for use with children.  


Supplements to consider: 

While over-the-counter antihistamines can offer immediate relief, they can also leave you feeling drowsy and reliant on popping one each morning before venturing out into the ragweed! Supporting the body's immune response using specific supplements is a great way to make it through the spring allergy season. If you haven’t experienced allergies yet, but know you are prone to them, incorporating immune supportive foods as well as supplements preventatively can be extremely beneficial and reduce your chances of experiencing a flare up. 



As we mentioned above, quercetin’s antioxidant properties in the body are helpful during this season, and along with food sources, supplementing with quercetin can provide some relief. 



Bromelain is a type of enzyme found in pineapples that helps break down protein as we digest. It can also be used during allergy season to bring down inflammation. Eating pineapple, specifically the core, can provide bromelain naturally from food.  


Nettle tea 

Nettles are not only rich in minerals but are powerful natural antihistamines making it a perfect tincture to incorporate or tea to sip this season! The Refresh tea from the Soulful Tea Blends we carry in our pantry is rich in nettles. 



Astragalus, Reishi and Schisandra are all adaptogenic plants that work to restore balance in the body, strengthening the immune system and modulating the immune response, while also reducing inflammation. We carry Cacao & Reishi Mood Boosting Hot Cacao Blend in our pantry that is a delicious way to incorporate reishi. 


Ginger teas or Ginger shots 

Allergies can bring about swelling irritation of the mucus membranes and nasal passageways, which is where ginger, known for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties can help! Try ginger tea or ginger shots when symptoms arise or our Carrot Ginger Soup or our Snap Back Energy Bites for a food source of ginger. 


St. Francis Herb Farm’s Allergy Relief

St. Francis Herb Farm has various natural formulations for immune system support and allergy relief which we love using during these seasons of heightened immune responses. 


Lifestyle behaviours to help ease allergies 


Focus on gut health 

Making sure you are getting optimal levels of fibre (soluble and insoluble) to feed your healthy gut bacteria is so important for your immune system! While you may want to avoid foods high in histamine such as kimchi, sauerkraut and fermented pickles. Once you’re feeling back to normal, incorporating gut supporting foods is a great way to support your immune system and balance your responses to allergens. 


Air filters 

Adding an air purifier to your space during the peak of allergy season can help filter out unwanted allergen particles that travel indoors. Adding in plants is another great way to naturally filter your air! 


Plan your outings 

While it might not be the most fun to plan your time outside based on pollen levels, it can certainly help reduce your flare ups if you limit your time outside based off your local pollen count reports. 


Be gentle with yourself

Although we covered the differences between colds and allergies, your immune system  is still mounting a reaction with symptoms sometimes resembling a bad cold. Try to be as gentle with yourself as you would when you’re sick, and opt for comforting and nourishing foods to help get past the spring allergy season. Incorporating a meal delivery service when you’re trudging through an allergy attack is a simple way to support yourself and your family during this season.

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