A Naturopathic Approach to Seasonal Allergies
After a crazy winter, most of us are all welcoming the nice weather of spring. But many allergy sufferers may not be so excited. As the trees and flowers bloom, their pollen becomes a major source of allergies, which can present symptoms like itchy eyes and throat, runny and clogged nose, and, in some cases, an annoying cough due to post-nasal drip.
What Are Allergies?
In simple terms, an allergy is an over-reactive response of the immune system to certain substances that are foreign to our bodies, called allergens. We acquire our allergies throughout our life, and some people are more susceptible than others. One must have at least one contact with a substance to become allergic to it.
Allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S. with an annual cost in excess of $18 billion.1
Conventional allergy treatment attempts to block the immune response, or in more severe cases, to suppress the entire immune function with steroids. While this approach can provide symptomatic relief, it does nothing to address the underlying cause of the problem. Patients often become dependent on their medication, suffer from numerous side effects, and even worsen their overall health by constantly suppressing their immune system.
Treating Seasonal Allergies
A holistic approach to allergy relief is based on identifying and eliminating the underlying cause of the disease rather than masking its symptoms.
I’ve found that most people who suffer from seasonal allergies also have some underlying food allergies. Normally they don’t notice many symptoms from the food allergies, but coupled with allergens from the environment, the body becomes overloaded and symptoms occur.
The first obvious step is to change the person’s diet and remove the most allergenic foods through an elimination diet. In some cases, I will run specific blood tests for food allergies as well as environmental allergies such as pollen, grass, dust and mold, among others. Many times I’ll see dramatic results when patients have food allergies, and I do things to repair the integrity of the intestinal barrier through the use of different herbs and nutrients.
Supplements to Treat Allergies
To help strengthen the respiratory barriers in the nose and lungs, I may recommend a variety of different nutrients and herbs. The first supplements I use are Vitamin C and bioflavonoids. Both act to improve the integrity of the respiratory mucous membrane barriers.
Vitamin C has the added benefit of helping the body break down the histamine molecule, which is released by the body in response to allergens.2 A specific bioflavonoid called Quercetin can be effective in treating allergies by acting as a natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory.3 I also recommend an herb called freeze-dried stinging nettles leaf extract, which can lead to significant symptom relief.4
When I can uncover exactly what a patient is allergic to, I will often use desensitizing homeopathic drops made from the actual allergen in a diluted form.
So, if you’re dreading this spring due to seasonal allergies, visit a naturopathic physician who can work with you to identify contributing food allergies, correct your digestion and recommend some natural non-toxic treatments for allergy symptom control.
- American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Allergy Facts. http://acaai.org/news/facts-statistics/allergies
- Carr, Anitra C, and Silvia Maggini. “Vitamin C and Immune Function.” Nutrients vol. 9,11 1211. 3 Nov. 2017, doi:10.3390/nu9111211. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5707683.
- Rogerio, A P et al. “Anti-inflammatory activity of quercetin and isoquercitrin in experimental murine allergic asthma.” Inflammation research : official journal of the European Histamine Research Society ... [et al.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18026696/
- Roschek, Bill Jr et al. “Nettle extract (Urtica dioica) affects key receptors and enzymes associated with allergic rhinitis.” Phytotherapy research : PTR vol. 23,7 (2009): 920-6. doi:10.1002/ptr.2763. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19140159/
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