By Cristina McMullen, Certified Wellness Coach, Bio-Energetic Practitioner
Spring is just a few weeks away! The time of year when the days are longer, the air is warmer, and birds are chirping everywhere. If you are anything like me, you have been eagerly awaiting this time of year since the first cold front last fall. But if you are one of the millions of people who suffer from seasonal allergies, you may be dreading the upcoming pollen that causes your head to spin, your nose to run, your eyes to itch, etc.
Mainstream medicine recommends that those who suffer from seasonal allergies take over-the-counter drugs like Claritin and Zyrtec the second things begin to bloom. While these mask the symptoms, European research has shown that this approach leads to more chronic, long term illnesses that develop later in life such as asthma, skin rashes, arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases. Instead of masking the symptoms of allergies, why not get to the root cause(s) of why you may have symptoms in the first place, and then fix the underlying issues?
In order to know how to eliminate allergies, we first have to understand exactly what allergies are and what is going on in the body during an allergic response. By definition, an allergy is a hyperactive response of the immune system to certain substances that are ‘foreign’ to the body. Airborne allergies are caused when pollen, a foreign protein, enters the body and causes the IgA antibody of the immune system to over-react. This starts an inflammatory response in the body, releasing the chemical histamine, which causes the all-too familiar allergy symptoms of sneezing, itching, eye irritation, and runny nose.
We see more and more people suffering from the effects of seasonal allergies because the immune system has become severely compromised. Whether we are injecting damaging chemicals into the body through vaccinations, taking pharmaceuticals, or dealing with the everyday exposure to dust, metals, and other environmental chemicals, our bodies are becoming more and more toxic. Combine these environmental exposures with poor nutrition and lack of exercise, and you have a recipe for disaster. The immune system cannot keep up, and it begins to hyper-react to just about everything, producing even more histamine and causing even more severe allergic reactions.
WHAT TO DO BEFORE ALLERGY SEASON HITS
Excessive amounts of histamine in the blood can be toxic, and the liver is the organ responsible for removing it quickly. The rate at which the liver can remove this histamine determines the severity of allergy symptoms. This is why the number one thing you want to do when getting ready for allergy season is to support the liver! This is done by reducing your exposure to environmental toxins and repairing any potential damage that has been done to the liver. Certain foods that help to protect and detoxify the liver include apples, beets, carrots, red onions, garlic, eggs, brown rice, artichokes, dandelion, spinach, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli. Milk thistle is one of the best herbs for detoxifying and even repairing the liver.
It is also important that we strengthen the immune system to that it does not hyper-react to the proteins found in pollen. Again, decreasing our exposure to environmental toxins takes stress off of our immune system. Supplementing with colostrum is also a great ideas as it is a sure way to build up the immune system. You can also use raw, local honey to ‘desensitize’ your immune system to the pollens specific to your area. The honey, which is made from pollen, exposes your body to very low levels of what the immune system reacts to when it is exposed to large amounts. So much like an immunization or homeopathic remedy, low doses of what typically causes a response by the immune system can actually help alleviate the symptoms. I recommend that you ingest 1 tablespoon of the most local honey you can find every day starting now and continuing throughout pollen season. (We sell raw, local honey in our Walk-In Nutrition Shoppe!)
WHAT TO DO DURING ALLERGY SEASON
If you begin to feel the effects of pollen season, there are natural remedies to help your body combat the excessive levels of histamine in the system. These include anti-inflammatories like quercetin, bromelain, and turmeric. These tend to have a synergistic effect when they are combined into one formula, much like the AI Formula and D-Hist that we carry in the Nutrition Shoppe. There are also other Chinese herbal combinations that help relieve the symptoms of hayfever, but without the nasty side effects of conventional over-the-counter allergy products.
Be proactive about allergy season this year! Call or stop by our Nutrition Shoppe for supplement and lifestyle recommendations to stop your symptoms before the pollen arrives! Many of the products mentioned in this article are 15% off this month (March, 2016).