Redwood Naturopathic Medicine
Natural Allergy Support
It is that time of year again, for millions of Americans, runny noses, itchy eyes, and scratchy throats are a dreaded yearly springtime manifestation. Pollen, grass, pet dander, dust, ragweed, and some chemicals get inhaled as airborne agents (also known as allergens). When these agents enter our bodies, they begin to cause chaos. When the immune system is overloaded and overstimulated by the allergen, it responds to the allergen (which generally would be harmless) as if it were harmful. The immune system misidentifies allergens as a threat and releases antibodies that target the allergens, causing histamine to be released. Histamine's primary role is to fight and eliminate toxic substances from the body; however, histamine also creates a lot of inflammation throughout the body within this process. The inflammation from the histamine release is the reason behind the symptoms of seasonal allergies. The bright side is that there are simple, natural remedies to combat allergies and the inflammation caused.
Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies
Constriction in bronchial tubes
Eczema and other skin issues
Common Triggers for Allergies
Toxic Beauty Product Ingredients
What Can You Do?
While the primary goal should always be to address allergen load and the underlying cause of disease, a comprehensive treatment plan for seasonal allergies may and should include a preventative strategy to reduce symptoms as much as feasible. Suppose you are one who regularly struggles with seasonal allergies; addressing them in a proactive and preventative manner should begin prior to the onset symptoms appear. Working with a naturopath is a great way to build a solid plan to address allergies before and during their presence.
How to Address Acute Symptoms
Limit Possible Exposure
As easy as this sounds, it is not always easy to carry out. Limiting exposure would mean just not going outside. But it is not feasible for many to stay inside until allergy season is over. One can check the pollen count before spending the day outdoors and being aware of how much time one spends outside when the pollen count is higher.
www.pollen.com is a great resource to check in with during allergy season.
Local pollution is known to make your allergy symptoms worse. According to a study done in the Reports of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 'urban residents experience more allergy symptoms than rural residents due to the interaction between chemical air pollutants and pollen grains.'
Another way to limit exposure is by cleaning the air in your living space with an air purifier, limiting the possible allergens and pollution that is free-floating through your living space. A HEPA filter is a great place to start as it physically traps microscopic particles such as dust, mold, pollens, pet dander, smoke, etc.
Vacuum often, dust, and other allergen collect naturally over time. So cleaning your space and vacuuming often is a great way to limit exposure.
A series of 12 acupuncture treatments, according to research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, brought improvements to allergy symptoms and reduced the usage of over-the-counter antihistamine medicines.
Clean Nasal Passages
Pollen and other allergens stick to the mucus membrane in the nasal passages. A Neti pot and/or saline spray can aid in flushing out possible allergens that got stuck. When flushing, ensure the water is adequately filtered to keep this practice as safe as possible.
Histamine results in an inflammatory immune response within the body, which causes the symptoms of allergies. One way to lessen the severity of these symptoms is to consume an anti-inflammatory diet. Start by reducing the consumption of processed or refined foods. Instead, look for whole and fresh foods such as fruits, vegetables, organic meats, whole grains, etc.
Consuming local honey exposes your immune system in small doses to local pollens, which can lead to desensitization. Honey is laced with local pollens and, when consumed daily, can lead to a moderate reduction in seasonal allergy symptoms and decreased usage of antihistamines. (Honey should not be given to children under the age of one.)
Nettle leaf's anti-inflammatory effects are known to be effective at reducing symptoms of hay fever. Some studies have connected nettle leaf use with improved symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes.
A 2006 research study of 580 individuals found that 90% saw improvement in their symptoms of seasonal allergies from taking butterbur daily. In this trial, patients who also took an over-the-counter antihistamine along with the herb did not do any better than those who only took the herb alone.
An antioxidant found initially in onions, apples, etc., is used as a natural antihistamine. Quercetin has potent anti-inflammatory properties and reduces histamine production during an allergic reaction.
Brinkhaus, B., Ortiz, M., Witt, C. M., Roll, S., Linde, K., Pfab, F., Niggemann, B., Hummelsberger, J., Treszl, A., Ring, J., Zuberbier, T., Wegscheider, K., & Willich, S. N. (2013). Acupuncture in patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis: a randomized trial. Annals of internal medicine, 158(4), 225–234. https://doi.org/10.7326/0003-4819-158-4-201302190-00002
Sedghy, F., Varasteh, A. R., Sankian, M., & Moghadam, M. (2018). Interaction Between Air Pollutants and Pollen Grains: The Role on the Rising Trend in Allergy. Reports of biochemistry & molecular biology, 6(2), 219–224.