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Natural Seasonal Allergy Treatments
Out with achoo. Find ahhh outdoors. It is medically known as allergic rhinitis, literally interpreted as allergic nose inflammation, most commonly known as allergies, but to millions of Canadians who fall prey to them, probably best referred to as true misery.
Allergies can develop at any age and are often related to immune depression. An allergic condition evokes an inappropriate response from the body’s immune system, mistaking a simple irritant as a deadly enemy thereby creating an overreaction to what is ordinarily a harmless foreign substance.
An allergen is the foreign substance that causes a reaction within the body leading to a cascade of events. When it invades the body, the allergen is often consumed by a macrophage (immune cell) which then begins a chain of reactions resulting in the production of histamine and other chemicals. The release of histamine causes the irritating symptoms associated with allergic reactions along with an inflammatory response.
Seasonal allergic symptoms predominantly involve the respiratory system and the lining of the nasal passages evoking irritating symptoms like wheezing, coughing, runny nose, watery and bloodshot eyes. Headaches are very common due to sinus congestion.
Hayfever is the most common form of seasonal allergic rhinitis or allergy. It often flares due to contact with various pollens and spores of trees, grasses, weeds and ragweed. Mold spores can cause seasonal allergies as they can be airborne for extended periods of time throughout the spring, summer and fall.
Treatment from a modern medical perspective utilizes prescription drugs based on the symptoms and severity of the allergic reaction. Antihistamines along with decongestants are often used to stop the itching and sneezing caused by the release of histamine. Many antihistamines cause drowsiness and may adversely affect coordination. Dry mouth is another common side effect.
Allergies definitely affect the quality of one’s life. For those individuals who suffer from the constant symptoms it is imperative to find solutions to reduce the discomfort while supporting the body’s systems as naturally as possible.
What Can Be Done?
As with any prevention program, an individual’s body terrain/environment should be addressed through modifications to the diet and lifestyle, reducing stressors and exposure to allergens.
Our food has become increasingly “convenient”; high in sugar and calories while low in nutrients. Make sure to reduce or remove these “pro-inflammatory” foods and beverages including refined and pre-packaged products and those containing saturated fats. Avoid mucous forming foods including dairy products and meat. Steer clear of allergenic food including wheat and gluten.
Inflammation is an important symptom to address in any disorder but when it comes to an allergic response, some immune cells once activated can contribute to tissue damage and further exacerbate chronic inflammation.
Increase foods rich in omega-3 EPA/DHA found in cold water fish or supplement with a high-potency omega-3 product. These essential fatty acids encourage the body’s production of inflammation-suppressing compounds and help turn inflammatory reactions off when they are no longer needed.
The flavonoid quercitin is a naturally occurring nutrient that is found in various fruits and vegetables. It is a potent antioxidant often used as an anti-allergenic as it can prevent the release of histamine thereby mitigating many allergic symptoms. It decreases the number of cells contributing to allergic responses while blocking enzymes to reduce inflammation and strengthening cells walls. The synergistic use of vitamin C and quercitin can be beneficial.
Vitamin C supports the immune system in general while enhancing the effectiveness of bioflavinoids. Studies show that vitamin C exerts a number of effects against histamine. This vitamin has the ability to not only prevent the secretion of histamine but to increase detoxification of this substance.
Another popular compound is resveratrol. Research has confirmed its potent antioxidant reputation. And much like quercetin, resveratrol can block the release of histamine to help alleviate symptoms. Unlike many over-the-counter antihistamines, these natural health remedies do not cause drowsiness or reduce alertness.
For people looking for effective combination products, there are a number of great products available at your natural health store or through your professional practitioner. And, don’t forget about various therapeutic treatments. Sinus irrigation with a saline and water solution can help flush out the pollen in the nasal passages. Daily or twice daily washes will help reduce congestion and help hydrate the nasal area.
Lymphatic treatments, acupuncture, chiropractic, allergy testing and other therapies can be powerful allies to not only reduce symptoms but to address the underlying allergic condition.
Michele Sevier, DNM, DAc is an educator and advocate of natural health and healing. As an independent advisor for Nutrition House, she is actively involved in many facets of integrative medicine including the formulation of specialized supplements and providing natural health solutions to the general public. Contact Michele through Nutrition House’s “Ask Our Expert” service at www.nutritionhouse.com
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