David's Natural Market is a health food retailer serving the Columbia community.

More on Allergies

More on Allergies
By Courtney Carpenter

Allergy season is in full swing in Maryland, now. Unfortunately, many people who have not had allergy problems previously report that they suffer after coming to the Baltimore-Washington area.  For children and adults, prescription and over-the-counter medications hold out the promise of the unadulterated bliss of a spring day.  However, if you have found fulfillment of this promise lacking, you are not alone.  Just as we hear in the television commercials, these medicines can produce side effects and although they work well for some, often their efficacy is short lived.  Fortunately, alternatives exist and with a great deal more variety in the ways they work than the standard fare.

Several approaches lend themselves to minimizing this common immune over-reaction to pollens and other airborne allergens.  Supplemental nutrients and dietary changes can lighten the load on an overburdened immune system, and the prudent choice of herbs or homeopathy can encourage the proper function of organs and tissue disrupted by allergic response.  Additionally, physically rinsing away pollens from irritated tissue proves useful for many. 

One of the defining characteristics of allergies is often accumulated mucous.  This response is directed towards trapping allergens and expelling them.  In children and adults alike, certain foods may engender more mucous as well, causing allergic symptoms to be unpleasantly magnified.  Dairy products may be culprits here, along with citrus and other acidic foods.  Therefore, you may consider reducing or eliminating them during your primary allergy season to see if this makes a difference in the level of congestion you experience.

With regard to supplements, a comprehensive multivitamin is always a good start.  Adding certain bioflavonoid components derived from plants can help minimize histamine release, without causing drowsiness or other common drug side effects.  Both quercetin and grapeseed extract appear to help if taken regularly, either singly or in tandem.  It is important to note that allergies consist of immune hypersensitivity, and as such the system needs balancing, not simple stimulation.  Plant components have remarkable qualities when it comes to this in a way that outstrips the shear power to suppress symptoms possessed by patent medicines.

For seasonal allergies, revolving around tree pollen, grass pollen or blooming flowers, homeopathic formulas may help desensitize you.  If you react to the onslaught of tree pollen, a tree pollen remedy contains very dilute tree pollen extracts to encourage the body to “normalize” its response.  Likewise, a grass pollen remedy contains diluted grass pollens and there are several pollen/hayfever remedies that contain a wider array of outdoor allergens, similarly diluted.  In addition, all these formulas use various classical homeopathics associated with reducing allergic response.  Regular use is considered four doses per day, but more frequent use is recommended for acute circumstances.  Many practitioners of homeopathic medicine encourage long periods of use, even when allergies are off-peak, to promote long-term desensitization.  While this probably will not eradicate your allergies entirely, the potential is there for significant diminishment.

For those who suffer incessantly, no matter what’s in bloom, a comprehensive approach may be best.  Nettle extract in capsules combined with two herbal formulas work in concert to reduce allergic response.  The primary formula is a Turmeric-Catechu blend, which reduces allergy, inflammation and other hypersensitivities.  By reducing histamine and encouraging bronchial dilation this formula may help with diverse symptoms ranging from itchy eyes, nose or throat to asthma Secondly, an Eyebright-Bayberry formula is included.  This encourages sinus drainage and tones mucous membranes, which often lessens the chance of full-blown sinus infection.  Additional help in this area is provided by the Nettle leaf extract. 

If the kit type approach isn’t for you, but your allergies still revolve around upper respiratory (a.k.a. sinus) congestion, you may opt for an encapsulated blend containing Nettles and Eyebright along with Echinacea, Thyme, Lomatium, Mullein and Ginger.  When taken regularly this formula helps many people with congestion, infection and post-nasal drip.

Not least importantly, regular sinus irrigation with an ancient device called a Neti Pot allows gentle rinsing of all the sinus cavities.  Unlike syringe-type irrigation, the Neti Pot allows a gentle flow of salt water or soothing chamomile tea to wash over sinus tissue without too much force.  Daily rinses help to eliminate common allergens, like pollen, and accumulated mucous generated to trap these airborne foes.  Although this route may seem to be a bit much, many Neti Pot “converts” swear by it, as the conquering blow against a wide variety of sinus symptoms.

Allergies to pollen and molds, compounded with dwindling air quality as the temperature climbs, should not have to spell disaster.   Alternatives exist that work by matching bodily response with the threat, rather than masking that response.  The basic physiologic principle of homeostasis tells us that all of our organs and systems seek balance as their natural state.  So, isn’t it “only natural” to encourage this balance with natural products?

 
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