Stop the Seasonal Sneeze: My Top 3 Methods to Treating Allergies
Although the seasonal change brings with it warmer weather, longer days and colourful flowers for many, it also comes with seasonal allergies as the pollens are being released. These are considered environmental allergies, while there are also many other types of allergies such as food allergies or anaphylactic allergies. In addition to seasonal allergies, environmental allergies also include reactions to mold, cat and dog dander or dust mites can cause symptoms year round.
Environmental allergies often manifest as hay fever with symptoms including sneezing, congestion, runny nose, itchy and watery eyes, headaches and an increase in asthmatic symptoms. These symptoms are a by-product of an over aggressive immune response by an excessive release of histamine. These environmental allergies are typically managed by antihistamines such as Claritin or Reactine. Using antihistamines is effective in the short-term but ultimately does not treat the cause of why the person is experiencing allergies. Below are my top 3 ways to prevent the recurrence of allergies!
Heal Your Gut
The gut microbiome is an important indicator of overall health, and if there is an imbalance of bacteria this has been shown to influence the susceptibility to allergic reactions.
New research demonstrates that the addition of beneficial gut bacteria can help minimize allergies, this can be done through the addition of probiotics.
The most effective way I have found in practice to manage allergic symptoms are by avoiding your food allergies. This is best determined by doing an elimination diet and avoiding the most common allergenic foods for a period of 6 to 8 weeks.
These are: wheat (gluten), grains, dairy, eggs and sugar.
The best results will be found with a strict avoidance, and then strategically re-introducing these foods one at a time to see if your body reacts to them. This could be an aggravation of hay fever symptoms, or gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea or constipation or even seemingly unrelated symptoms such as headaches or joint pain.
SLIT - also known as Sublingual immunotherapy, is a process of allergy desensitization. This works specifically for environmental allergens, such as pollens, grass, mold and various danders from cats and dogs. It has been used effectively for over 60 years and there are many scientific articles that demonstrate both safety and effectiveness. These studies have proven it to be an effective treatment option for hay fever, chronic sinusitis or congestion and allergic asthma.
It involves a scratch test to note your reaction to various allergens, then based on your reactions a prescription for a sublingual drop formulation is produced that contains small amounts of your allergens. These drops will have to be done daily in order to re-train your immune system.
Allergy drops are safe for children over the age of 3 as well as individuals who are highly sensitive and prone to allergic reactions.
It is a safer and more convenient alternative than the conventionally offered allergy injections, with the World Health Organizations endorsement.
For a thorough outline of the scientific research behind this treatment, the World Allergy Association has a position paper at the following link: http://waojournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1939-4551-7-6
Quercetin is a naturally occurring bioflavonoid that works to minimize the release of histamine similarly to antihistamines but without side effects such as fatigue, it also has the additional bonus of being an antioxidant.
Nettles are a wild and cultivated plant that grows on Vancouver Island that can also be a defense against allergies. It works similarly to quercetin by minimizing the histamine response your body has to certain allergens. My personal favourite ways to use nettles are to integrate them into my diet in the springtime by making a nettle pesto (see recipe below) or drinking nettle tea throughout the day.
The last herb that I use is eyebright - Euphrasia Officinalis, which as the name suggests has a specificity to your eyes and can reduce symptoms such as itchy and watery eyes that often accompanies an allergic reaction. This is typically taken in an alcohol extract, also known as a tincture.
Other immune boosting supports includes things like Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Zinc which can help reduce allergic symptoms and are therefore worth adding to your defense.
For more information on how Naturopathic medicine can minimize your allergies, book a free 15 minute consult with me by calling 250-475-1522.
3 cups of fresh nettle leaves
5 garlic cloves
¾ cup of pine nuts
¼ cup of olive oil
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
¾ teaspoon of sea salt
1. Boil the nettles in a large pot of water for 1 minute, strain and remove as much water as possible
2. Add all of the ingredients to a high speed blender or food processor