Allergy Free, Naturally

Spring is great unless it means sneezes, wheezes, and runny itchy eyes. Not to mention the embarrassment of a gooey handshake. With the mild winter we experienced on the East Coast, this allergy season might be worse than ever.  As the weather warms, trees release pollen and this problem is made worse if there is no rain to wash it away.  Even in New York City, the pollen counts are sky high.  Luckily naturopathic medicine has brought us many things that we can do naturally to help manage our allergic symptoms as well as prevent them from even happening.

Reduce Exposure
One way to reduce allergic attacks is to reduce our exposure to pollen. It is a good idea to remove shoes and jackets at the door so we don't track pollen in the house. Though you are probably already doing this if you are trudging through the streets of New York let alone taking the subway.  We should also resist that morning run or walk since that is when pollen counts are at their highest. During physical exercise we breath in more air rapidly, so if we are exercising in the morning we will be ingesting more pollen. To avoid this, we should hold off our physical activity to the afternoon or early evening. Washing our hair before bed is recommended to keep pollen out of our bedroom. Keeping windows and doors closed especially early in the day will also keep pollen out of our homes.

Quercetin and other bioflavonoids
Quercetin, a bioflavonoid found in yellow onions, inhibits inflammatory processes by stabilizing the membranes of mast cells. Mast cells are the cells associated with allergic reactions and stabilizing their membranes prevents histamines from being released. In addition, these bioflavanoids decrease leukotrienes, which are inflammatory compounds associated with bronchoconstricition. Typical recommended dosage to stabilize mast cells and decrease allergic reactions is 500 mg three to four times a day 5-10 minutes before meals. You also want to take them with 1000 mg Vitamin C as it helps with absorption and it is best to start taking quercetin a couple months before the start of the allergy season.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C prevents the secretion of histamine as well as facilitates its detoxification. Studies have shown a decrease in allergic symptoms in patients taking Vitamin C. In addition, vitamin C is beneficial in exercise-induced asthma, by reducing airway narrowing. The recommended dosage is 1000 mg twice to three times a day. It should be mentioned that vitamin C can be stimulating to the bowels so the dosage should be reduced if there is GI upset.

Freeze Dried Nettles
Some studies have shown nettles to be as effective if not more effective than antihistamines in relieving allergy symptoms without the drowsy side effects. Freeze dried nettles contain histamine, serotonin, and acetylcholine. Unlike other histamines, the nettle histamine acts as a local hormone in modulating the immune response to allergens. Nettles are best taken at the onset of allergic symptoms with a recommended dose being 300mg-600 mg twice a day.

Neti Pot
This little "teapot" found in the health and wellness section of your grocery store has been shown to be effective against allergies in some studies. Nasal irrigation with a neti pot clears out dust, dirt, pollen, and smoke from nasal passages. Unlike decongestants, it doesn't cause dryness or ''rebound'' congestion leading to dependence and irritated tissues. It is best to use the neti pot twice a day particularly once before bed. Simply place a saline solution of 8oz warm water and 1⁄4 fine sea salt in the pot for each nostril. Quercetin powder or tincture of eyebright, echinacea or chamomile also make wonderful additions to the saline solution. Click here for how to.

Although these naturopathic therapies may provide relief for seasonal allergy suffers, if you feel plague by allergies regardless of the season, underlying food allergies or adrenal fatigue may be to blame. Food allergies can be determined by a simple blood test or by following an elimination protocol under the supervision of trained health professional, such as a naturopathic doctor.