Allergy Season is upon us
Allergy season is starting up early in Vancouver and Portland. If you are a seasonal allergy sufferer, the best time to start preventative measures is right away, before the pollen fills the air. Naturopathic medicine and acupuncture can very effectively help prevent allergy symptoms and reduce them once the season has begun. Click here to schedule an appointment to begin working on your allergies. Additionally, here are a few tips to keep allergies from getting the best of you, and minimize their effects if they’ve already started.
Diet & Nutrients
If you have any food allergies or sensitivities it’s important to avoid them during allergy season. They may not be directly responsible for the allergic symptoms, but they put a strain on your immune system, which is already responding inappropriately to the allergens in your environment. There are various ways of testing whether you have an underlying food sensitivity, including blood, saliva and electrodermal testing. The gold-standard test is the elimination-challenge test: remove the food in question from your diet entirely for 4-6 weeks and see if your symptoms improve. Then reintroduce the food for a few days, and see if your symptoms return in the next week or so. The most common sensitivities seen clinically are to dairy and gluten, but an individual could be sensitive to other foods such as egg, soy, peanuts, citrus, tomatoes, shellfish, etc.
Beneficial intestinal bacteria push the immune system away from the allergic response. Look for refrigerated capsules with at least 5 billion live bacteria.
Essential fatty acids
Essential fatty acids decrease inflammation and strengthen cell membranes to provide protection from environmental allergens. Fish oils have two of the essential fatty acids EPA & DHA, borage oil and EPO have another, GLA. that is often lacking in the bodies of people with a tendency towards allergy/asthma/eczema. A reasonable dose of EFA’s is 1000-2000mg (consult your physician before taking if you are on blood thinning medication)
Vitamin C and Quercitin:
These keep the white blood cells called mast cells from releasing histamine (which leads to itch and inflammation)
Nettles can be eaten, drunk as a tea, or taken freeze-dried in capsules. Usually nettles are best started a month or two before allergy season begins, however one study on the capsules showed that 58% percent of the people taking 2 capsules every 4 hours experienced improvement in one week.1 So you have a 50/50 chance of this being a helpful therapy for you.
other helpful herbs include elder flower and eyebright
Other ways to decrease allergies
Can be done with a neti pot or a hand held bulb syringe and saline water at body temperature. This physically cleans out the nasal passages and removes some of the allergens that trigger the body’s allergic response.
Acupuncture & Chinese herbs
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can be very helpful in relieving allergies. Using the lens of Chinese medicine a practitioner selects acupuncture points and herbal formulas based on your unique pattern of symptoms.
Homeopathic preparations of very dilute doses of grasses and molds can reduce symptoms of allergies. A good constitutional remedy selected for you by a trained homeopath may relieve symptoms for months or years.
Reduce dust mites and mold in the home. Several steps can be taken, such as using an air filter in your home or in the heating system, regularly having your home’s ducts cleaned, using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, changing pillowcases daily, reducing the number of rugs and carpets in your home. If you’re allergic to dogs or cats and have one, consider keeping your bedroom off limits to pets.
1. Mittman P. Randomized, double-blind study of freeze-dried Urtica dioica in the treatment of allergic rhinitis. Planta Med. 1990 Feb;56(1):44-7.
Images courtesy of:
Image: dan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image: Arvind Balaraman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image: Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Sheri Hagwood @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database