Tis the Season for Allergies

As the weather starts to warm up, it’s not all fun and games for everyone… especially if you are among 40% of the population that suffers from seasonal allergies.  Sneezing, runny noses, itchy eyes and irritated mucous membranes are just a few of the lovely symptoms you may experience if you are one of the victims of either seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) or perennial allergic rhinitis.  So whether the trees make you cry, or your girlfriend just adopted a kitten against your strong protest, read on to learn about some natural solutions to your allergy woes.


The two types of allergic rhinitis are seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and perennial allergic rhinitis, which occurs year-round. Hay fever may be triggered by:
  • Ragweed -- the most common seasonal allergen (fall)
  • Grass pollen in the late spring and summer
  • Tree pollen in the spring
  • Fungus, mold growing on dead leaves (common in summer and fall)
Year-round allergic rhinitis may be triggered by:
  • Pet dander
  • Dust and household mites
  • Cockroaches
  • Molds growing on wall paper, house plants, carpeting, and upholstery
My kitty Zeus that I DID get despite my boyfriend’s protests
Allergies happen when your immune system overreacts to non-harmful substances that you have come into contact with, such as pollen or pet dander. Your body then responds by activating its personal army or immune system to fight off the suspected invaders by releasing histamine.  Histamine is responsible for a host of allergy symptoms including:

  • Itchy nose, mouth, eyes, throat, skin
  • Problems with smell
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Tearing (watery) eyes
This also explains why over-the-counter allergy medications are typical anti-histamines.  After prolonged exposure to allergens, the following symptoms may also develop:
  • Stuffy nose (nasal congestion)
  • Coughing 
  • Clogged ears and decreased sense of smell
  • Sore throat
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Puffiness under the eyes
  • Fatigue and irritability
  • Headache 
  • Memory problems and slowed thinking

So what can you do to help your immune system calm down its attack on these harmless allergens? There are a few great natural solutions that can help lessen your symptoms.

Immediate relief:

Try a saline nasal lavage (or Neti pot).  This is a safe and effective method of reducing the need for oral anti-histamines, by acting to help increase your body’s natural clearance of allergens. 
  • Instructions: 
    • Using a warm hypertonic saline solution in a Neti pot over a sink, gently pour salt water solution into one nostril and let it run out through the other side while keeping the mouth open to breathe.  
    • Tilt head slightly downwards to use gravity as an aid.  
    • Do this three times daily for up to seven weeks, or as long as symptoms prevail.
  • Warning: 
    • This treatment should not be used in people with a history of nosebleeds, who have had recent nose surgery, or whose gag reflex is impaired as fluid may enter the throat. 
    • Also, irritation of the nasal passage can occur due to extreme temperature of the irrigation solution so make sure only lukewarm water is used.
Long-term solutions

  • Local Honey:
    •  Local honey is considered to contain pollen from your environment. By consuming the allergens in very small quantities through honey, you can theoretically help train your immune system to have less of a hypersensitivity reaction. 
    • Honey can also serve as an anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial agent. Consequently, it may help to soothe a sore or itchy throat 
    • You can obtain high quality pure honey from local farmer markets rather than at stores.
    • To have perfect results, it is recommended to have two to three teaspoons of honey per day. Start having honey two months before the onset of the spring season, during which time you can see a burst of pollen that trigger most of the allergic reactions.
  • Quercetin:
    • Quercetin acts as a mast cell stabilizer which means that it may help to reduce the hypersensitivity reaction by decreasing the amount of histamine released by your immune system.
    • It also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent 
    • Go to your ND (or make an appointment with an AAAD team member) to get a recommendation and prescription
  •  Probiotics 
    • Probiotics have an immune-modulating and anti-inflammatory effect that can also help regulate your immune systems response to non-harmful allergens.
    • Many different kinds of hypersensitivity or allergic reactions are thought to be related to gut health, so by taking probiotics you can make sure that your immune system is at its best.
  • Homeopathy 
    • Depending on what your symptoms are specifically, certain homeopathics are great at relieving allergy symptoms
    • Go to an ND or homeopath to get an individualized remedy!
  • Diet
    • Many people find relief by sticking to a hypoallergenic diet.  This means cutting out foods that are known to be pro-inflammatory, or to cut out foods that you have found make your symptoms worse.
    • Common foods include:  dairy, gluten, refined sugar, strawberries, citrus, etc.
    • Speak to your ND about whether this may be a good option for you!

Happy sneezing!
Nadia



A long time athlete and health advocate,  Dr. Kumentas’ goal is to help her patients become excited about making positive lifestyle choices in order to enjoy healthier, happier lives.  Her driving force is a passion for healing the whole person on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level using carefully selected natural therapies, fitness, and integrated medicine.  She truly believes in the importance of practising what you preach and investing in your health.  
Dr. Nadia Kumentas practices at Zen Beginnings Wellness Centre in Toronto and has a special interest in dermatology, woman’s health, and pain management.

To learn more about Dr. Nadia Kumentas visit www.DrNadiaKumentas.com or contact her at nadia@zenbeginnings.com.



References:


  • Natural Medicines in the Clinical Management of Allergic Rhinitis.  Retrieved January 30th, 2012 from: http://naturaldatabase.therapeuticresearch.com
  • Allergic rhinitis (hay fever).  Retrieved January 30th, 2012 from: http://naturalstandard.com
  • Allergic Rhinitis: Medical Topic. Retrieved January 25th,2012 from www.mdconsult.com
  • Quercetin Overview.  Retrieved February 1st, 2012 from: http://www.umm.edu
  • 2 images taken from: Corbis.com


2 comments:

sore throat relief said...

Allergies can be a royal pain whatever season you get them. It pays to have the right medicine on hand and know some alternative remedies just in case.

Angeline said...

I agree with the previous comment. Allergies can really ruin a day. It can even make you stay on bed for a while. It is indeed very essential for every person with allergies to stop eating foods that can trigger allergic reactions.

Sore Throat Home Remedies

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