WRITTEN BY Dr. Joyce Johnson- 09 June 2011
Spring and summer can be wonderful seasons... for some of us. To others, they can mean runny noses, itchy eyes and the sinus congestion of allergies and hay fever. As nature comes alive in the Spring, pollens and spores become airborne, triggering a variety of unpleasant symptoms in many people. In addition to hay fever,allergic reactions can include dermatitis, eczema, asthma, hives and anaphylaxis.The causeis an abnormal or excessive immune response to antigens - substances that cause an immune reaction.
These are all attempts by the body to protect itself.
If you name 6 of your friends, chances are one of them (maybe you) has allergies of some kind. Seasonal allergies like hay fever affect about 10 to 15 percent of North Americans.
As a naturopathic physician I see people who have allergic reactions triggered by a wide range of things: foods, pet hair, metals, insects, pollen, mold, dust, chemicals, drugs, dyes, detergent, trees, additives and more. The symptoms can be uncomfortable and debilitating even for the toughest individuals.
Spring hay fever is usually due to tree pollens. Summer hay fever is more often caused by grass and weed pollens. Ragweed pollen accounts for about 75% of the hay fever in the US, but other grasses and tree pollens also trigger symptoms. It's no fun having to stay indoors to prevent allergy symptoms.
Ragweed & goldenrod pollen can cause serious hay fever reactions.
You can reach for pharmaceutical antihistamines, but my patients want natural remedies if they can get them, and if they work. Natural medicinals work with your body so results can certainly vary from person to person. Antihistamine drugs are designed to relieve symptoms but they don't address the source of your allergic reaction.
Natural options include herbs and supplements that boost immunity and/or have antihistamine or anti-inflammatory properties.
What do I recommend? Well, you must understand that I don't treat anyone via blog! However I do know what helps boost your immune system. I usea quality "age and gender specific" multivitamin and multimineral year round. Vitamins C and E, and immune supporting herbals like Echinacea and Oil of Oregano, are immune boosters, as are Omega-3 essential fatty acids.A German study found that people who consumed lots of Omega-3s, in the form of fish, flaxseed oil and walnuts, had fewer allergies.
Depending on your current immune status, support your liver. The liver detoxifies, and strengthens immunity. Milk thistle and N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) are supplements that support liver health and function.
Vitamin C, vitamin E, and flavonoids such as quercetin help decrease histamine response. Quercetin is a natural anti-histamine and the most widely distributed flavonoid in the plant world. It effectively inhibits allergic reactions. Quercetin and MSM relieve allergy symptoms in some people.
Bromelain extract from pineapple has anti-inflammatory effects when taken between meals (with meals it acts is a digestive enzyme). Eyebright is an herb that can strengthen the mucous membranes in the sinuses and relieve swelling and inflammation in eyes and nasal passages. Drinking plenty of water and getting antioxidants from green and white teas can also help.
A really strong, healthy immune system can stop allergic reactions before they get started. Do you have a natural allergy remedy to share? I'd love to hear what works for you.
Dr. Joyce Tellier Johnson is a Naturopathic Physician and Educational Services Manager for WN Pharmaceuticals Ltd., makers of webber naturals®.