Christina Carreau BA, ND
While there are worse things than sneezes, sniffles and watery eyes – those who suffer from seasonal allergies know that this is not a pleasant condition and it does take a significant toll on the body, in terms of energy and overall well-being.
While most of us tend to focus on the environmental causes of allergies (pollens, budding flowers, grasses, trees, etc.) I think it is important to highlight the fact that physiological susceptibilities play a big role as well. What I mean by this is that a weakened or a hypersensitive immune system, sub-optimal digestive or respiratory function and a system congested with toxins can both exacerbate and predispose us to seasonal allergies.
We cannot control our external environment therefore the onus is on us, to control our internal one. Once again, there are many things that you can do to both prevent as well as alleviate symptoms of seasonal allergies. Everyone is different so unfortunately there is no ‘cure-all’ that works for all seasonal allergy sufferers. Below I highlight some of the natural ways for you to combat and prevent allergies this season.
Water – Stay hydrated. This is so basic and yet SO important. There are too many of us that don’t drink enough water. This is a very easy and cost effective way for you to flush toxins from your system. Drink at least 2 L/day (more if you are drinking coffee, alcohol and/or working out).
Hypoallergenic diet – Just know that the top 5 allergenic foods are gluten, dairy, soy, peanuts and corn. So if you suffer from seasonal allergies, I challenge you to eliminate these foods during allergy season to see if that minimizes your symptoms. If your immune system is being activated by the food you are consuming on a daily basis then this is certainly going to increase your risk of seasonal allergies and vice versa.
Probiotics – The key to a healthy immune system is a healthy digestive system. The Standard North American Diet, rich in refined carbohydrates, excessive amounts of sugar, caffeine and alcohol places a significant burden on our digestive systems. This sets us up for imbalances in our intestinal microflora, which then predisposes us to numerous gastro-intestinal discomforts (gas, bloating, diarrhea, yeast, etc) but also to a weakened immune system, which is then more susceptible to illness and of course allergies.
Vitamin C – Is a natural anti-histamine. It both prevents the release of histamine and increases the detoxification of histamine. Low serum vitamin C levels have been correlated with increased serum histamine levels. As little as 2000mg/day has been shown to reduce circulating levels of histamine in the blood.
Quercitin – Is a flavanoid that is abundant in apples, broccoli, onions, green beans, asparagus, kale, green and black tea, red wine and berries. It is considered a mast cell stabilizer. Mast cells are the cells that secrete histamine, which in turn is responsible for many allergy symptoms. Eating a diet rich in these foods may help reduce allergies or you can take quercitin n supplement form as well. The dose for this is variable.
Netti Pot – This is an ancient practice that has proved effective at washing out the nasal passages and clearing the sinuses. Essentially, you are pouring saline solution into one nostril and allowing it to drain out the other. This helps to flush out excess mucus and debris while moistening the mucus membranes of the nose and sinuses. This is both a safe and effective treatment for chronic allergies and sinus issues.
Adrenal Support –Seasonal allergies involve the release of histamine and other substances that produce inflammation. Cortisol, one of the primary hormones produced by the adrenal glands, helps keep that inflammation in check. The amount of cortisol circulating in the blood plays a key role in controlling the level of inflammatory reactions in the body. Therefore, healthy adrenal function is essential when it comes to addressing allergies. Adrenal adaptogens are a great way to support adrenal function.
Stinging Nettle – This is a herb known for its blood cleansing and nutritive properties. It is used throughout Europe as a spring tonic and general detoxifying remedy. It is generally safe to use unless you are on blood thinning medications. This can be taken as a tea, a tincture or in capsule form. The dose is variable.
Homeopathy – There are a number of homeopathic remedies that can be effective for the symptomatic relief of allergies. Some of the most commonly used remedies are, allium cepa, histaminum, tuberculinum, sabadilla, ferrum phosphoricum, gelsemium, the list goes on. Consult with your naturopathic or homeopathic doctor to determine which remedy is best suited to your symptom picture.
Acupuncture – Can be an effective treatment for allergy symptoms. Again, treatments will vary based on your symptom picture but there are a number of acupuncture points and protocols that can help.
These are some of the things that you can do to alleviate allergies this season. Don’t let your allergies run your life. Try and be proactive and do what you can to help.