Although most of us are excited to see those first spring and summer blooms, others have mixed feelings. The onset of itchy eyes, runny noses, sneezing, headaches, and fatigue has them running for air-conditioned rooms and over the counter prescription medications. Allergies are a common issue that many people deal with. In treating allergies, I believe that there are a number of directions you can take and for many people that may mean addressing allergies through diet, lifestyle, and supportive supplements.
In a simplified sense, when your body comes in contact with an antigen like a germ, it mounts an immune response. We can be grateful for that or we would all be sick all of the time.
Unfortunately, sometimes our body mistakes a common antigen, like pollen, as an invader and attacks the pollen. Mast cells in our body release histamines that are responsible for leaky membranes, such as, runny noses and watery, puffy eyes. This is our body’s best way of fighting the pollen. If only we could have a little heart to heart with our body and explain to our Mast cells that the pollen is really not such an aggressive invader after all.
Once an immune response is mounted and we make immunoglobulin, we are often then always immune to these little antigens like dust mites and pollen. However, some years are worse than others and that has less to do with the pollen count and more to do with your body! Our bodies are often overloaded with inflammation producing foods, air, and water. When our body gets overwhelmed it has more reactions. For many of my patients, eating a healthy diet low in sugar, dairy, wheat, and other inflammatory foods can make a great difference. Also avoiding foods that are high in histamines or trigger histamine release such as: tomatoes, strawberries, and spinach can be helpful. Getting a good nights sleep helps to regulate cortisol which is also very helpful in calming an overactive immune response.
Some herbs and vitamins, such as quercetin and vitamin C also act to help stabilize mast cells so that they do not release histamines as easily. Other supplements may increase DAO oxidase, which helps to break down histamines. And still other supplements like homeopathics and bee pollen can help desensitize you to the antigens that you are reacting to.
In working with many patients with allergies, I have learned a few things...not one supplement works for everybody, having a clean and healthy diet and lifestyle helps a great deal, and revealing hidden triggers like food allergies or underlying genetic issues like an MTHFR defect are also important for many people to be fully medication free. If you are suffering from allergies, know that there is hope! With support from a qualified Naturopathic practitioner you can be picking wildflowers and cleaning your closet symptom-free!