Well, its that time of year again. The buds are blooming, the birds are chirping and the air is becoming filled with all sorts of pollens and grasses. Here, in the South, we have some of the worst seasonal allergy levels in the U.S.; an unfortunate by-product of our beautiful springs. Hundreds of thousands of us will start to be affected by the vegetable kingdom’s sexual explosion over the next couple of weeks or months, depending on what your particular allergy is. Common signs of a seasonal allergy are, of course, running/stuffy nose, irritated eyes, headaches, and generally feeling run down. However, DO NOT wait for these symptoms to start. The time to act is NOW - nip it in the bud (pun intended) before your symptoms start and you may be able to avoid them altogether. The following are some suggestions as to how you can do this. Again - the sooner you start, the less likely you will be to suffer allergy symptoms.
First and foremost, as always, is diet. Let me tell you a personal story. I used to have terrible, horrible seasonal allergies. In college, I had the nickname of “The Faucet” because of how much my nose used to run. Before going to medical school, I went to see a Naturopath who did some testing on me and told me to stop eating fruit. Fruit? I thought fruit was good for you. But, I decided to comply to see what would happen. MUCH to my surprise, not only did some other symptoms that I had clear up, but my allergies almost disappeared. The reason is this: our bodies are like a big pot. All of the allergens that we are exposed to go into the pot (food, environmental, animal, etc.). Eventually, the body can’t handle any more allergens and the pot “overflows” and we get allergy symptoms. However, if you can remove some of the contents of the pot, we can much better deal with what’s left. You can not control (to a certain extent) how many environmental allergens you are exposed to - its in our air. But, you can do a lot to limit your exposure to food allergens that are helping to fill up the pot. For me, it was fruit, for you it might be dairy, wheat, soy, egg, corn, citrus, etc., etc., etc. We can do a simple blood test to determine what your food allergens might be, or you can do an elimination diet to figure it out on your own.
There are also some supplements the can make a big difference in how well you make it through allergy season. The most well known of these is Stinging Nettles. This is a very safe, non-toxic herb that has been used for centuries to help control allergies. It is most useful and effective at controlling nasal-based allergies. It is not so good if headaches is your main symptom. The herb is widely available and is usually sold in freeze-dried capsules. In my opinion, this is the best form and is more effective than a tincture or using the fresh herb to make a tea. It is most effective if taken on a consistent basis throughout the allergy season.
Quercetin is another supplement that can be very helpful. Quercetin is in a category of supplements known as bioflavonoids. These compounds are, in general, anti-inflammatory. Quercetin is specific for stabilizing the membranes of “mast” cells. These cells release histamine, which causes the allergic reaction. Quercetin makes these cells much less likely to release their histamine. Many people have found that if they start taking quercetin a few weeks to a month before allergies usually start, they have much,much less, or even no, symptoms. I use a special form of quercetin - Quercetin chalcone, that is much better absorbed and utilized than regular quercetin.
Another approach is to use area specific homeopathic allergy drops. I carry drops that are made from the trees and grasses in THIS area. Drops are also made for any area of the country. These can help desensitize your body to the airborne allergens that are most common in the Carolinas. They work under the same theory that vaccines work. Usually, they are quite effective and completely non-toxic.
Last, and certainly not least, is Acupuncture and Chinese herbs. The Chinese have been treating seasonal allergies for about 3000 years now, and they’ve learned a few things along the way. Many people have reported complete remission of allergy symptoms following some acupuncture treatment. The results are usually long lasting and may even “stick” for a few years. Chinese herbal formulas can also be very effective at controlling allergy symptoms. As everyone is an individual, the most effective formula will be slightly different from person to person. For this reason, it is important to go to someone who is experienced in the customization of herbal formulas.
As you can see, there are many options to choose from. Pick the approach that feels the best to you. Whatever you do, do it soon for they’re almost here! Good Luck!
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