By Dr. Sara Hart
Drippy noses, itching eyes, fatigue, and shortness of breath are all a terrible combination of symptoms that tend to show up for millions of Americans in springtime. While it seems like an awful way for the season to welcome someone, there are numerous ways to help improve the pattern over time.
Allergies are a result of inappropriate immune reactions to non-harmful particles. The allergic person has somehow determined that cat dander, grass pollen, or food substances are dangerous to the body and the resulting attack can be very annoying. This is especially true for environmental allergies where we cannot stop the exposures from happening.
While it is generally determined that once a person has allergies, that is their tendency for life, we do see improvement over time with a variety of natural remedies:
• Quercetin – A natural anti-inflammatory and antihistamine, quercetin is a potent bioflavonoid that is found naturally in onions, black tea and apples.
• Bromelain – This compound comes from pineapples and is a natural anti-inflammatory. It enzymatic activity breaks up inflammation in the body and is useful for allergies and other inflammatory conditions.
• N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) – This is one of nature’s most powerful mucolytic agents. Used to break up congestion, NAC is created naturally by the body from proteins but can be taken as a nutritional supplement to eliminate congestion. Especially helpful for chronic congestion of the sinuses or lungs.
• Nettles – Urtica Dioica is one of North America’s most abundant natural remedies for allergies. This herb stabilizes mast cells which calms the body’s tendency to react to pollens that enter the respiratory tract. Taken as a daily tea, encapsulated or tinctured there are multiple constituents in this plant that benefit the immune system.
• Eyebright – Euphrasia officinalis has an affinity for benefiting the eye when consumed as a tea, tincture or encapsulated herb. This plant is astringent and can be used topically as a compress for itchy, swollen eyes. It works equally as well as a homeopathic remedy for allergy symptoms affecting the eye.
• Vitamin C – Popular for it’s immune stimulating effects, vitamin C acts as a natural anti-histamine, calming the allergic reaction. This vitamin is water-soluble so the body will easily eliminate any excess that may be taken.
• Amla – This herb is used traditionally in Ayurvedic medicine as an agent to improve digestion. However, it is one of the only compounds we know of that increases the gut immune function, known as secretory IgA. To calm the related digestive reactions of allergies, Amla can be added on a routine basis to support the body.
• Bee Pollen – Oral tolerance is the ability of the body to regulate an immune response to something that caused allergy symptoms. Oral tolerance can be naturally stimulated to regional pollens by consuming the pollen from bees. This can be a very effective method of neutralizing the bodies reactions, however it should be done with extreme caution to prevent the immune system from being triggered. It is helpful to know from skin or blood testing how the immune system is responding because a severe IgE reaction to a pollen may result in anaphylaxis if bee pollen is consumed.
Ways to help shift the immune system from the Allergic/TH2 dominance to create a long-term correction in immune function include:
• Reducing Inflammation – In addition to avoiding food allergens, minimizing inflammatory provoking agents from the diet can help ease the body. This includes vegetables of the nightshade family, pork and grain-fed meats, sugar, coffee and alcohol. This also includes any irritants that the body has identified as harmful including other environmental and food allergens.
• Detoxification – Enhancing the body’s elimination of irritating agents will help correct immune function. Ensuring adequate bowel elimination, kidney function, and augmenting elimination through the lungs and skin all support the body’s natural detoxification process.
• Nervous System Regulation – The more we can exist in our parasympathetic, rest and digest aspect of our nervous system, the better the bodies opportunity to restore and heal imbalances. Utilizing stress management techniques on a routine basis helps us not only feel more calm and peaceful, but also improves our immune system and whole self.
For more information on treating allergies with natural medicine, come to Stillwater clinic for personalized hydrotherapy sessions and holistic health consultations to get the right tools in place to support your unique self.