..The Intuitive Times
Naturopathic View


Seasonal Allergies

by Sara Baille, N.D

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Itchy, watery eyes? Sneezes that just won't stop? Welcome to spring! For those who suffer from seasonal allergies, spring brings with it not only beauty and relief from the cold of winter, but also an onslaught of symptoms that can leave you frustrated, tired and miserable.

Pollens, grasses, hay, mould, trees…for some it means the whole of the spring, summer and fall are miserable, while others suffer for only a couple of weeks while certain plants are in bloom. Symptoms include itchy eyes, nose, ears and throat, watery, burning eyes, sneezing, congestion, runny nose, post-nasal drip, coughing, sinus pain, headaches, foggy thinking and fatigue.

Allergy symptoms are due to a release of histamine from cells in the body called MAST cells. One approach to preventing allergic responses is to strengthen the MAST cell walls to prevent them from breaking and releasing histamine into the system. Vitamin C (2-3 grams) and bioflavinoids such as Quercitin (600 mg) are good choices for this.

Allergy symptoms can also be the result of adrenal fatigue. The adrenal glands become taxed from chronic emotional, environmental and physical stress. Life in the modern world tends to result in some degree of adrenal stress for most of us. The adrenals respond well to treatment with the B vitamins (particularly B5), trace minerals and herbs such as Licorice root ( not to be used for those with high blood pressure) and Borage. Some practitioners use adrenal tissue extracts to revitalize these glands though I would recommend seeking the help of a naturopathic doctor to decide the appropriate treatment for you.

Strengthening the immune system with nutrients such as Vitamin A (10,000 IU max.) and zinc (30 mg), and herbs such as Astragalus can also go a long way to reducing allergy symptoms. Working on the adrenals and the immune system can take time though, so start a protocol well in advance of allergy season to get the best results.

The essential fatty acids found in Evening Primrose Oil and fish oils can reduce both allergic and inflammatory response. Common homeopathic remedies used for the control of allergies include Allium cepa, Sabadilla and Histaminium. For chronic sinus symptoms, the combination remedy Sinusallia or the homeopathic nasal spray Similasen both work well. Itchy eyes can often be relieved by the remedy Eyebright.

Underlying a case of chronic allergies is often a system that is overloaded. Spring is a time when the body needs to cleanse, to detoxify from the slower metabolic phase of the winter. The earth provides us with some of the best cleansing herbs such as dandelion at this time. In order to approach allergy season with the most optimally functioning immune system, a spring cleanse may be in order. Taking a week to reduce the burden on the body and give it a chance to ‘start fresh' is a great way to ease into the warmer months. The week you choose should be one where you have an opportunity to rest, exercise lightly and cook all your own meals. Heavy foods such as breads, pastas, dairy products, red meats, sugars, caffeine and alcohol should be eliminated in favour of vegetables, whole grains (brown rice, millet, quinoa), beans and legumes, lemon, garlic, onions, fresh vegetable and fruit juices (from a juicer or health food store), and fresh fruit. Lots of water and herbal teas should be consumed. The liver can be stimulated to cleanse by consuming lemon in water, beets and dandelion greens. When the cleanse is over, take your time introducing the other foods and watch closely to see how your body reacts. If something does not agree with you, continue to avoid it, as it may be contributing to your allergy symptoms.

Allergic responses are usually a result of a combination of the above factors and possibly others that will be specific to you and your history. It is best to seek the care of a qualified practitioner to help you determine what combination of treatments is appropriate to your set of symptoms. Whatever the cause, it is best to start working toward health well before the occurrence of symptoms.

Sara Baille practices Naturopathic Medicine in Halifax, Nova Scotia

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