It becomes a yearly ordeal for most people and kids as they go through bouts of sneezing, streaming nose and eyes, headaches etc. For some, they struggle throughout the year due to molds, dust or from unexplained reasons.
Allergies are due to the immune system’s extreme reaction to substances that are normally found in everyday environment that are harmless. Though we see that allergies are nuisance, there are other symptoms that follow allergies like fatigue, cough or wheezing, sleep issues, ear infections, nasal polyps, snoring, difficulty learning or concentrating, reduced productivity, loss of smell or taste. Allergic rhinitis or these secondary problems can lead one to have numerous absences from school and work and severely impact individual’s quality of life.
As we grow up, our immune systems develop a tolerance to most substances that are non-threatening. This physiology of of immune system developing ‘tolerance’ is particularly important for food and other substances present in the environment. In allergies, the immune is not tolerant and perceives as a threat to the body mounting an attack against the external substance. Potent chemical- histamine is produced to create inflammation as a means to get rid of the threatening agent and cause most of the symptoms.
What can be done to help allergies?
Most often, a simple change in diet and addition of nutritional supplements and homeopathic remedies are enough to balance the immune system and reduce the hyper responsiveness.
I usually start with finding the possible root cause for allergies and concurrently work on providing relief during the attack. There are various root causes that can range from poor dietary choices to hormonal or underlying chronic disease. The most common cause is/are
–Chronic digestive problem
-Stress and adrenal depletion
-Underlying chronic conditions
-Poor dietary choices
What can you add to your diet for allergy relief?
A few examples of foods that have anti-allergy properties.
Dark leafy greens, egg yolks that is rich in Vitamin E, turmeric, spirulina, medicinal mushrooms, flax oil, berries, papaya, Brussel sprouts and cauliflower. They also have anti-inflammatory properties to reduce symptoms during the attack.
Nutritional supplements including herbs provide best results in severe cases. There are numerous Nutraceuticals and herbs that are well researched and known to modulate the immune system. For eg; short term high doses of Vitamin C or quercetin along with customized herbal formulas are excellent to provide immediate relief and reduce the duration of symptoms. Extensive studies on herbs like Butterbur or nettles have shown to have ability to lower the extreme responses of the immune system. Certain glandular products like thymus extracts and plant sterols are great in severe cases and should be used under supervision of a practitioner.
For Kids, a customized nutrient or herbal formula can be made that is safe, effective and not so nasty tasting. Ask your Naturopathic physician on which botanicals or nutrients may help you or your child for your specific allergies.
Homeopathic remedies have worked effectively for most cases in my practice. These involve taking an extremely diluted form of selected allergen or liquid or sugar pill under the tongue. These miniscule doses serve to stimulate the immune system similar to a vaccine and thereby train the immune response to create tolerance.
Depending on your needs and preferences, acupuncture, spinal manipulation, stress management are equally effective and in fact work synergistically for long term relief when done together with others mentioned.
Finally, clearing the environment of allergens;
-Remove dust collectors like rugs, drapes and upholstered furniture
-Purchase a filtration system for your room/home like HEPA air filter and purifiers
– Avoid synthetic products or perfumes
-Have your home tested for mold and re mediate if necessary.
You or your child do not have to go through this ordeal every year. Consult with Your Naturopathic Physician for a customized long term plan who can pin point your triggers and create treatment strategies. Whatever your personal situation maybe, taking a personalized approach to the problem can be very effective.
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2 Chirumbolo S. The role of quercetin, flavonols and flavones in modulating inflammatory cell function. Allergy Drug Targets. 2010 Sep;9(4):263-85.
3. Thornhill SM, Kelly AM. Natural treatment of perennial allergic rhinitis. Altern Med Rev. 2000 Oct;5(5):448-54. .
4. From personal clincal experiences.