by: Kelly Pepper, D.C., March 13, 2012
Spring - what a beautiful time of the year, unless this means suffering with hay fever, itchy eyes, itchy skin, runny nose or asthma. Fortunately there are some simple, natural strategies to use instead of antihistamines or steroids (which actually worsen the underlying problems that are causing the allergies).
1. Boost the immune system
When we talk about allergies, boosting the immune system is integral to relief. Eliminate things that can weaken the immune system such as high sugar and refined foods. Substitute, instead, nutritional ammo such as carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, garlic and broccoli. Wallop stress with prayer, meditation, deep breathing techniques, massage, acupuncture and going for a walk in nature.
2. Elimination diets
Underlying food sensitivities can trigger the same post-nasal drip, runny nose, and sinusitis symptoms as environmental allergies. Elimination diets are fairly simple. Cut out the most common culprits, which include dairy, wheat, eggs and soy. At the end of two weeks, you will know if food sensitivities are involved by a vast improvement or resolution of your symptoms. Add one food group at a time back into your diet every three days until you identify the offender
3. Optimize gut health
Many of our immune system challenges are caused by an underlying gut dysfunction. These problems can begin in the stomach with inadequate enzyme and acid production. Food that has not been digested properly then makes its way into the intestines to rot, putrefy and ferment. Not a pretty situation. Hence, our resident gut flora do not flourish well, setting up the stage for dysbiosis, unwanted and unhealthy bacteria, fungi and parasites, and leaky gut. These conditions pave the way for allergies and multiple sensitivities. Correction of this problem begins by supplementing with enzyme and acid support for the stomach and probiotics for the intestines. Some dietary changes may be necessary if there is yeast or fungal overgrowth.
4. A healthy life demands a healthy liver
The liver is responsible for metabolizing all of the histamine that is being released by numerous cells in the body. When the liver is distressed or congested the removal of histamine and other offending substances is backed up, worsening our allergy symptoms. A distressed liver may not show up in blood work until it is 80 percent compromised. Functional questionnaires may be helpful in uncovering liver distress. Eliminating or reducing unnecessary drugs, alcohol, caffeine and environmental stressors needs to be considered. Feeding the liver cruciferous vegetables, beet greens and milk thistle helps in restoring function to the liver.
5. Healthy adrenals
Your adrenal glands function as the braking system for your immune system by secreting cortisol to keep the immune response from going unrestrained. Common symptoms of adrenal dysfunction include lack of energy, fatigue, sleep disturbances, muscle and joint pain, migraines, low sex drive, chronic stress and poor memory. Adrenal function can be easily assessed with saliva testing. If adrenal dysfunction exists, caffeine and sugar need to be eliminated from the diet. Foods and whole food supplements rich in the B and C complexes nourish the adrenals. Supportive herbs include licorice, rehmannia, rhodiola and Korean ginseng.
6. Move well and rest well
There are numerous studies and testimonials that regular exercise can improve or help resolve seasonal allergies. Exercise helps to burn off accumulated stress that taxes the adrenals, liver, gut and immune system. Regular exercise can improve the function of these systems. Likewise, adequate sleep is necessary to help these systems regenerate and recharge.