Holistic Help For Airborne Seasonal Allergies | #MealsThatHeal
16 Apr

Holistic Help For Airborne Seasonal Allergies

For many people across North America, allergy season is just around the corner. Symptoms of an airborne allergy range from mild irritation of the eyes and a runny nose to complete congestion of the sinuses, sneezing, itchy eyes and mouth, asthma symptoms, throat and sleeping problems, accompanied by fatigue and irritability.

Given the diverse nature of the North American continent, from desert to coastal, from tropical to arctic, pollen season can occur all year round. You can find the pollen count for your region online. 
Certain foods can contain proteins that look like pollen. 1 in 50 people could experience a more severe allergy attack if they consume these foods. Raw apples, sunflower seeds, melon, zucchini, cucumber, eggplant and bananas can cause the mouth or throat to swell in people allergic to ragweed. The good news is cooking these foods often neutralizes the protein causing the reaction. If you have a severe reaction to ragweed consider eliminating these foods until the ragweed season ends with the first frost. The sensitivity to these plants most likely will go down at this point, so you do not need to have a year-round ban of these foods.
Chamomile is known for its calming properties, but if you’re sensitive to ragweed, and drink chamomile as a tea or apply it as a lotion, might make you feel very itchy. This also goes for daisies, echinacea, dahlias and chrysanthemums–avoid bringing these flowers into the house or drinking them in infusions.
In terms of what you can do to feel better, I have several suggestions:
*Natural remedies such as a homeopathic preparation of specific pollens can be effective for some people. It is important to consult a homeopathic doctor to start treatment months in advance of your particular allergy season.
*Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can also be an effective treatment. Consult a Doctor of Chinese Medicine months in advance of your allergy season. 
*Prior to your allergy season, you may want to 'inoculate' yourself by eating local bee pollen and honey (providing you’ve no allergies to bee stings). This can help to 'immunize' your system.
High doses of Vitamin C and plant sterols can help strengthen the immune system and support overall health (speak to your Naturopathic Doctor or Holistic Medical Doctor for specific doses.) 
Plant Sterols – the best brand I have found is ImmunoCare: Start 1 month before your allergy season. Continue until your allergy season has finished. 
How it works: The immune system encounters an allergen i.e. pollen and the T-helper-2 cell releases an immune factor called interleukin-4 (IL-4). Interleukin-4 then tells mast cells to release histamine that causes your dreadful symptoms.  Plant sterols are cholesterol-like plant compounds that has been shown in clinical studies to halt the release of IL-4, which in turn reduces histamine and allergies are controlled. (1)
Quercetin: Start 2 weeks prior to your allergy season. Continue until your allergy season has finished.
How it works: Quercetin has the ability to stabilize mast cells, which release histamine and other inflammatory signals, which in turns lowers stress-induced anxiety and allergic reactions. (2)
Stinging Nettle Extract: Start 1 month prior to your allergy season. Continue until your allergy season has finished.
How it works: Nettles have been used reduce the inflammatory response of many conditions for centuries. Modern studies are now showing that “a nettle (Urtica dioica) extract shows in vitro inhibition of several key inflammatory events that cause the symptoms of seasonal allergies.” (3) These symptoms include sneezing and inching. Holistic Medical Doctors and Naturopathic Doctors recommend taking a freeze-dried preparation or stinging nettle tincture well before hay fever season starts.
Suro Breath Formula: Start 2 weeks prior to your allergy season. Continue until your allergy season has finished.
How it works: It works by quickly relaxing bronchial passages, clearing mucous and opening up airways. It soothes and heals inflammation and irritation.
Remember to look for other food allergies that may be causing excessive mucus or sinus swelling. For example, a tree nut allergy can affect airways. Dairy, gluten, oranges and corn can increase mucus production in some people. Try the elimination diet outlined in Meals That Heal Inflammation. It is worth the effort!

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1. Rebecca Gould: “Plant Sterols” Nutri News No. 123
2. Shaik YB, Castellani ML, Perrella A, Conti F, Salini V, Tete S, Madhappan B, Vecchiet J, De Lutiis MA, Caraffa A, Cerulli G. "Role of quercetin (a natural herbal compound) in allergy and inflammation." J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. 2006 July 20(3-4):47-52. Department of Medicine, Section of Infectious Diseases, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA.
3. Bill Roschek Jr., Ryan C. Fink, Matthew McMichael and Randall S. Alberte: “Nettle extract (Urtica dioica) affects key receptors and enzymes associated with allergic rhinitis” Phytotherapy Research Volume 23, Issue 7, pages 920–926, July 2009. Version of Record online: 12 JAN 2009 DOI: 10.1002/ptr.2763