Natural Allergy Treatments
What is an allergy anyway? It’s when the immune system has a reaction to a substance (pollen, pet dander, mold, etc) that is not harmful to the body. Mast cells are the immune system cells that are responsible for releasing cytokines (cell signals to other cells), the most notable being histamine. The signals from these cells attract other immune system cells that release more cytokine, and the result is allergy symptoms.
There are many nutrition, lifestyle and herbal remedies to decrease and even in some cases eliminate allergies. But before we get started, we want to encourage you to be patient. Some natural allergy formulas have an immediate effect, but many of the recommendations are most effective when implemented over the long-term.
Eat local raw honey: raw honey contains bee pollen and propolis. The propolis has immune boosting effects, and the pollen exposes your immune system to small amounts of the allergen which is thought to educate or sensitize your immune system to be less reactive. Increase probiotic rich food: We are believers in the importance of a healthy gut and microbiome (the organisms that live in, on and around us). The benefits of having a probiotic rich diet are enormous. Sources of probiotic rich foods could be fermented foods. T
These include sauerkraut, kimchi, etc. You need to buy these in the refrigerated section of the grocery store (not the shelf-stable kind), and they should say 'raw fermented' on the label. You can also make it yourself. Have at least three forkfuls per day. Other probiotic foods include kombucha and cultured dairy (e.g. yogurt, kefir, etc.). Prebiotic foods: Prebiotics are essentially fibers that feed our probiotics and keep them healthy. These include starchy root vegetables (sweet potatoes, turnips, parsnips, beets), winter squash (kobocha, butternut, acorn, etc.) and plantains. Antioxidants: Antioxidants reduce inflammation and stabilize the immune system. A simple way to think about it is that antioxidants are what make fruits and vegetables vibrantly colored. Our favorites are turmeric (link) and green tea. Try to cut out dairy: it increases mucus production which can exacerbate allergies.
If you have bad seasonal allergies consider getting tested for food sensitivities. Another form of treatment could be an elimination diet. You could be eating something that is creating chronic low-grade inflammation in your digestive tract and keeping your immune system on high alarm.
HEPA filter: these filters remove indoor allergens. These are especially useful to turn on at night when you’re sleeping if you often wake up congested from allergies. Netti pot: most people who suffer from allergies experience a lot of sinus/nasal symptoms. These include a runny nose, sneezing, itching and post nasal drip. This is because the allergen (pollen, pet dander, mold, etc.) is breathed in and then is logged in the sinus passages where it comes into contact with mast cells. The netti pot can be really effective for allergies because you are essentially washing away allergens. The saline solution also helps reduce inflammation. It’s best to use the netti pot at the end of the day. For severe allergies, try using it morning and night.
Nettle Leaf (not nettle root): this can be taken in tea, tincture or capsules. If you’re going to drink the tea, have at least 3 cups per day to achieve a therapeutic dose. Quercitin: This is a plant-derived antioxidant called a flavanoid. It stabilizes mast cells so that they don’t release histamine. Consult your doctor for dosage. Bromelian: This is an enzyme found in pineapple. It is anti-inflammatory and can therefore help relieve allergy symptoms. Quercetin and Bromelian work synergistically and are often founds together in formulas. Vitamin C: has anti-histamine properties. Most people can tolerate 1-5 grams of vitamin C per day. Doses above this can cause digestive upset. NAC (n acetylcysteine): This is an amino acid (protein building block) that reduces the viscosity of mucus. It also increases the antioxidant glutathione. Consult your doctor for dosage. At IMA we carry all the supplements listed above, give us a call today to see if your doctor feels these supplements could benefit you.
If you’re doing everything right and nothing is helping, here are some things to consider asking your integrative practitioner to test for:
1.Food sensitivities 2.Gut dysbiosis or SIBO 3.Nutrient deficiencies 4.HPA axis dysfunction (adrenal fatigue)
At Integrative Medical Associates one of our specialties is allergies whether is to your environment or the food you eat. Give us a call today and we can assist with diagnosis and treatment, because we want you to spend your spring and summer in good health.