Alternative Medicine Help for Seasonal Allergies
Already the impending doom of scratchy throats, runny itchy noses, water eyes and chronic congestion are slowly setting in amongst many of us. Have no fear though, I have put together a basic plan to help avoid if not reduce the use of allergy medicines that tend to leave us feeling drowsy and groggy.
Having an alternative medicine plan in store before allergy season sets in full force will save you time, medication, and misery in the long run.
First I will be discussing how to get your body in optimal conditioning to cope with allergy season, and then I will discuss specific natural medicines that will help support your immune system to reduce the overall severity of seasonal allergies. If you always tend to be “sick” the months of March, April, May and September you more likely have seasonal allergies than a bad cold.
Now is a great time to do a SPRING CLEANING. Having a healthy liver aids the detoxification of histamine, that nasty molecule that gives us the irritating symptoms of allergies.
Seventy percent of our immune system smartly surrounds our gut and is formally known as GALT “Gut Associated Lymphatic Tissue”. If the immune system is already stressed from reacting improperly to foods it will affect the body’s ability to cope with the added burden of seasonal allergies.
The take home message is to just cut back on wheat and dairy during allergy season as they are the typical “worst offenders” for most. Citrus, peanuts, corn, soy, tomatoes, red meat, sugar and processed foods seem to also cause trouble for those with seasonal allergies. Before allergy season starts is a great time to do an ALLERGY ELIMINATION DIET, or simply reduce those foods that you already are aware make you more congested or symptomatic during this time.
Foods as medicine: Increase onions and garlic for quercetin and sulfur levels. Eat Alaskan Wild salmon as often as possible for the anti-inflammatory benefits of the Omega 3’s and increase green leafy vegetables as much as possible to aid the livers role in the detoxification of histamine. Switch to a Whole Foods Diet.
According to Chinese Medicine Theory people have allergies because they are “living too far away from the earth”. Now I doubt they mean that you are living on Jupiter, I am most certain they are referring to a diet high in preservatives and white flours, over-processed refined foods and artificial sweeteners and other chemicals.
Quercetin: Stabilizes the “Mast Cells” of our immune system and prevents their cell membranes from degranulating and releasing histamine in to the system. Histamine is what makes us cough, sneeze, itch and have watery eyes. Typically two 500mg capsules twice daily is a sufficient dose.
Severe allergy sufferers also run quercetin in their Neti Pot to reduce the inflammation of the nasal membranes. Quercetin is a relatively benign substance that can be used in higher doses if need be, just check with your Naturopathic Physician before doing so.
Vitamin C: Supports the immune system and the functioning of quercetin. Typical dose is 500mg three times daily. You can also take it to bowel tolerance when sick or excessively symptomatic.
Freeze Dried Nettles Leaf: Has been shown to be extremely helpful during allergy season. Typical dose is two 500 mg capsules twice daily. Nettles are a nutritive “food” that will build the body up. Using foods as medicines is always optimal to prescribing antihistamines. If need be you can take up to 4 grams of nettles which is equivalent to eight 500mg capsules! I am not recommending taking that many capsules; I am simply trying to demonstrate how safe nettles are as an herbal medicine.
Research has also shown nettles to be helpful for osteoarthritis, myalgia, detoxification and eczema. If you choose to make a tea from the fresh plant, be sure to wear gloves when harvesting so as not to get stung! The leaves are the medicine in this case; the root of this plant is used for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Nettle is not to be used by those on anti-coagulant “blood thinning” drugs.
Neti Pot: Doing a couple solid Neti Pot sessions a day is one of the best, cheapest remedies for seasonal allergy sufferers that tend to frequently develop sinus infections. The gentle saline flush of the nasal passages has a three fold benefit. First we are tonifying the mucous membranes that line the passages, second we are washing out residual phlegm (aka-snot- aka the breeding ground for bacteria and viruses that cause sinus infections).
As an added bonus during allergy season you are flushing out the pollens formally known as “antigens” that are causing our immune systems to over react and produce sneezing, itching and watery eyes. Plan to do two Neti pots a day so that you will at least remember to do one. Be sure to check with your doctor before treating yourself with home remedies especially if you are taking medications or suffer from a health condition.
Household: You may want to consider investing in a HEPA air filter to reduce the total level of allergens you are exposed to in your home. Also, when returning home for the day be sure to take off your shoes so you don’t track the pollen throughout your house. Shower and change your clothes after going outside, if that is not an option, at least try to rinse off your hands and face to remove as much pollen as possible.
So there you have the basics to get started. Stay tuned seasonal allergy sufferers spring has hit and I will be walking everyone through how to naturally cope with allergies and their concomitant annoying friends “acute and chronic sinusitis”. Feel free to leave your allergy season questions in the comments and I will briefly answer them or post a formal answer in an upcoming blog article!
Resources: Herbal Medicine from the Heart of the Earth by Tilgner; Medical Herbalism by Hoffman; The Web that has No Weaver; Textbook of Natural Medicine by Pizzorno and Murray; The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia by Wood; Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Balch; Food Allergies and Food Intolerances by Brostoff.