Ways to an Easy Breezy Allergy Season
It's that time of year again. Everything is in full bloom and now your allergies have sent you sneezing and wheezing. Why does this happen? Exposure to certain allergens causes them to bind with IgE antibodies on the surface of a type of immune cell called mast cells, which are found in our lungs, nose, mouth and digestive tract. This leads to the release of chemical mediators, such as histamines and leukotrienes, that promote a variety of allergy symptoms such as sinus congestion, constriction of airway passages, and inflammation. If spending the rest of allergy season in an impermeable bubble isn't feasible or appealing, then perhaps it's time to give some of these tried and true naturopathically tested solutions a whirl.
1. Don't let onions make you cry! Yellow onions contain quercetin, a bioflavonoid found to inhibit inflammatory processes by stabilizing the membranes of mast cells (the cells that make your allergies go nuts). Studies have shown that quercitin inhibited the release of histamine, leukotrienes and prostaglandin D2, which are chemicals in the body responsible for allergic reactions. Now that's nothing to cry about.
2. Vitamin C isn't just for the common cold. Taking vitamin C can prevent the release of histamines. In fact, one study showed a 74% reduction in allergic rhinitis symptoms in just 2 weeks. That is why vitamin C is also a must for allergy season.
3. Don't be afraid to get stung! Freeze dried stinging nettles contain a molecule which acts as a local hormone in modulating the immune response to allergens. Research has shown it to improved in patients with acute onset allergic symptoms in comparison with placebo.
4. Get Messy! Exposure to germs especially in early life might provide an important defense against developing allergies in the first place. Experiments have shown that infectious agents promote positive changes to the immune system so that it is less reactive to allergens. So you might what to drop the antimicrobials, please.
5. Extra Vitamin E. Vitamin E found in almonds and avocadoes is an inhibitor of leukotrienes, which are compounds that promote narrowing of airway passages and mucus production. Moreover, one study showed improvement in nasal symptoms of adults with allergic rhinitis after taking Vitamin E for 10 weeks. Like you needed another reason to have guacamole.
6. Support Your Adrenals Herbs that support adrenal health also known as adaptogens have similar actions to glucocorticoids (drugs commonly prescribed to bring down inflammation due to allergies). Furthermore, both ginseng and licorice have been demonstrated to increase production of anti-allergy cytokines and suppress secretion of mediators that induce allergies.
7. Cultivate Some Beneficial Flora Probiotics are not only important for healthy digestion but they also play an important role in how our body responds to potential allergens. Certain strains of beneficial bacteria have been shown to reduce of the ability of allergens to enter the body and modify the immune systems response to allergens.
8. Go For Fish oil Because of it's role in immune system modulation and inflammation, fish oils play an important part in natural allergy control. What is even more powerful is that women who consume omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy and post-nataly actual reduce the risk of allergy development in their babies. Another reason why fish oils should be part of a healthy pregnancy.
9. The Power of Pine Specifically French maritime pine bark (Pinus pinaster) has been shown to the block the release of mast cell histamine release. In fact one study showed it was as effective as the allergy medication, cromolyn sodium. Perhaps this is the allergy solution you've been pining for.
10. Identify Food Allergies and Intolerances Certain foods can make allergic rhinitis worse. This is mainly in two ways: by increasing intestinal permeability enhancing exposure to antigens and directly increasing production of histamines by mast cells. The best ways to determine if you have a food allergy or intolerance is through IgG (not IgE) food allergy testing or a food elimination/challenge trial which I often do at my New York City naturopathic office.
Want to be allergy-free naturally this season? Then schedule a naturopathic appointment with Dr Ivy.