Suffer from allergies? You are not alone. Many people find themselves battling allergy symptoms with the changing of the seasons. Runny nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing are all symptoms we are familiar with, but allergies can also leave you feeling tired and even irritable.
As a Naturopathic Medical Doctor, I have aided many people in reducing and even eliminating their seasonal and environmental allergies. When working with a patient the goal is to help them get relief from their current symptoms while also working on treating what is causing them to experience allergies. For the majority of allergy sufferers, the root of their symptoms often lies in the health of their gut.
Since the majority of our immune system is in our gut it only makes sense that this would be the best place to start. If your gut is out of balance, your immune system will be out of balance. Eating heavily processed foods or foods we have a sensitivity to, stress, and illness are just a few of the ways we can create imbalance in our gut and contribute to our allergy symptoms.
The best time to begin preventing allergies is about 6-8 weeks before they start. But if you are already experiencing symptoms, try these tips to find relief.
LIMIT ALLERGEN EXPOSURE
Avoid driving with your windows down or running a fan in your bedroom window. Both of these actions can pull more allergens into your breathing space and make symptoms worse. Also consider using a lint roller when you come into your house to remove allergens from your clothing. If your allergies are really bad, toss your clothes in the wash immediately when you get home and change into fresh clothes. Remember that pets can be a source of allergen exposure too. Try wiping your dog or cat down with a damp cloth or using a lint roller after they have been outside.
EAT MORE MAGNESIUM
Magnesium helps stabilize mast cells, which release histamine and cause the common allergy symptoms of itchy eyes, runny noses and congestion, among others. Nuts (almonds and hazelnuts), spinach, swiss chard, blackstrap molasses, and bananas are all excellent sources of magnesium.
USE A NETTI POT
Rinse away allergens during your morning shower or at the end of your day with a saline solution. The salt in the solution will also help reduce swelling of the nasal tissue, which will reduce congestion.
This bioflavonoid helps stabilize the cells that release histamine. That means it prevents histamine, or at least large amounts of it, from being released. Quercetin is found in apples, broccoli, nettles, parsley and citrus fruits. However, if you suffer from intense seasonal allergies, you will most likely need a supplement of quercetin and other nutrients to reduce symptoms.
EAT OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
Omega-3’s are a natural anti-inflammatory and can help reduce allergy symptoms by decreasing inflammation. Cold water fish, flax seeds, walnuts, grass fed meat and eggs are all excellent sources of Omega-3. When patients are struggling with allergies, I often recommend supplementing with quality fish oil.
Butterbur is an herb that is commonly used in the treatment of allergies. In 2002, a study published in the British Journal of Medicine found that butterbur was as effective as the active ingredient of Zyrtec, a common allergy medication.
CONSIDER BILATERAL NASAL SPECIFIC TREATMENT
Bilateral Nasal Specific (BLNS) is a non-surgical technique that opens the nasal passage and sinuses. By creating more space, sinus pressure and headaches can be reduced and breathing may be improved.Eliminating Allergies from Your Life
CLEAN UP YOUR DIET
If you are eating a lot of processed foods or foods your body has sensitivity to, you may be creating an environment in your body that pushes you right into an allergy response. To determine which foods may be problematic for you, consider having an IgG food allergy test done. This can be done with a simple finger prick and can offer you a lot of information regarding your body’s reaction to foods and the state of your gut. Alternatively, you can also consider an elimination diet.
EAT PROBIOTICS DAILY
Gut flora or “gut bugs” create an environment that keep your intestinal cells healthy and balance your immune system. Try adding kimchi, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods to your diet. It is best to speak with a Naturopathic Doctor if you would like to begin taking a probiotic supplement as the quality of products can vary. Some probiotics found in the store are dead (not active) or contain sub- stances that may actually harm your gut. If you have a medical condition such as irritable bowel syndrome, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or irritable bowel disease, the type and quality of probiotics you take will make a difference.
ELIMINATE TOXINS IN YOUR HOME
House cleaning supplies, room fresheners, dryer sheets, and scented candles are all examples of environmental chemicals that many people are exposing themselves to daily. You may think of these things as benign, but they may actually be burdening your body, especially if you find yourself plagued with allergy symptoms. Allergy symptoms often increase when the number of environmental exposures is high.
CHECK YOUR VITAMIN D
Vitamin D is necessary for a healthy immune system. Knowing your vitamin D status will help you determine if you are in need of supplementation. Find a doctor who uses functional medicine values to determine if your status is optimal. As a doctor, I believe it is important to be proactive in preventing a vitamin D deficiency, rather than treating one once it has developed. Vitamin D can be harmful if taken in too high of doses so it is best to have your levels checked before supplementing.