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Jasarevic: How to battle seasonal allergies
Spring is in the air—the weather is starting to warm up, fresh cut grass floats in the breeze and blossoms bring trees back to life.
Unfortunately for allergy sufferers, this means sneezing, wheezing, runny nose and itchy eyes.
Allergies are one of the most common reasons for seeking natural therapies.
Nearly seven million Canadians suffer from allergies, and that number is steadily increasing.
But before you reach for the antihistamines and intra-nasal steroids, consider treating the root cause of your allergies with naturopathic medicine.
Seasonal allergies occur when the immune system is in overdrive with sensitivities and over-reacts to exposure from a normally harmless substance, or allergen (i.e. cat dander, dust, plant pollen or food).
Exposure to an allergen leads to an overactive immune system, that in turn produce excess antibodies.
Antibodies then trigger the allergic symptoms by activating mast cells which line the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and throat and that produce histamine.
This immune cascade is what leads to allergic symptoms of runny nose, sinus congestion, headache, fatigue and itchy eyes.
Consider these natural approaches to combating allergies:
• Clean up your home environment and your diet
• Consider natural antihistamines
• Prevent allergies in the future.
Clean up your home and diet
Dust and feathers are some of the biggest culprits for allergies. Clean dust regularly from floors, windowsills and shelves, and vacuum edges of all rooms.
Eliminating carpet and switching to hardwood floors is a good idea. Get rid of feather pillows and blankets and get hypoallergenic fills instead.
Change your pillowcases every two days and run your blankets through the dryer weekly for 30 to 45 minutes.
A good quality air purifier/filter is a good investment—consider Nikken Air Power 5 Pro or an IQAir HealthPro. Both can be found on-line.
Food intolerances are clearly linked with seasonal allergies. By eliminating foods that are irritating your immune system, you can strengthen your immunity to better handle seasonal allergies.
Dairy allergies tend to be the worst and can increase mucous production aggravating your runny-sneezy-congested symptoms as it is.
In addition, studies show people with allergies to grass may also react to tomatoes, peanuts, wheat, apples, carrots, celery, peach, melon, eggs and pork.
People with allergies to ragweed may also react to cucumbers and melon. Naturopathic doctors readily offer food intolerance testing.
Consider natural antihistamines
Natural antihistamines can be very effective in reducing the symptoms of allergies and providing relief without the side effects of over-the-counter medications.
Quercetin is a bioflavonoid that stabilizes the membranes of the cells that release histamine.
A high intake of Vitamin C in divided doses helps to stimulate the immune system.
Freeze-dried stinging nettle is a wonderful plant-based remedy that can be added to smoothies, soups, or steeped overnight as a drink for a whole foods approach to allergies.
Additional natural support includes herbal tinctures for the treatment of hay fever, sinusitis, upper respiratory catarrh; high-dose vitamin C injections (plus other vitamins) that boost the immune system to better manage symptoms, and; at home Neti-Lota Pot practice that rinses allergens away with salt water.
Prevent allergies in the future
Reduce your symptoms by 50 to 80 per cent.
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) works by delivering low dose drops of allergens at frequent intervals, twice a day, under the tongue, to build up the body’s tolerance over time.
It is an ideal treatment alternative to the expensive and inconvenient weekly allergy shots with an allergist.
It also works. Sublingual immunotherapy has been recognized as an efficient and effective treatment for allergies by the World Health Organization and has been used extensively in Europe for almost 20 years.
It was introduced to Canada in 2009. An in-office skin-prick test takes about 20 minutes, following an initial consultation with a naturopathic doctor.
While antihistamines mask the symptoms of allergies, immunotherapy can train your body to tolerate the allergen, eventually eliminating allergy symptoms and the need for antihistamines or allergy medicines altogether.
We invite you to book your consultation and allergy scratch test during spring through summer to start your natural treatment plan.
You can get over your allergies and move on with your life.
Dr. Emina Jasarevic is a
naturopath with The Core Centre of Health in Kelowna, 102-1441 Ellis St.