We have more and more patients in our practice who are suffering with seasonal allergies for longer and longer periods of time. It’s hard to know if global warming is impacting this or if the general state of people’s immune systems is getting more and more out of balance for all kinds of other reasons. But from toddlers to school-aged kids, to grownups and the elderly, those runny noses, itchy eyes, headaches, fatigue, irritability, foggy thinking and skin symptoms are getting out of hand! Natural medicine approaches to the treatment of allergies can be effective and affordable. There are so many different common sense, nutritional supplement, herbal preparations and homeopathic remedies from the natural medicine cabinet that work, we thought we’d share a few.
For many people the symptoms of allergy are what we’d call “dose-dependent:” the more exposure there is, the more likely symptoms arise. A patient may have allergic load, meaning they are somewhat sensitive to say animal dander, a bit allergic to some food they eat often and then, BAM, the lilacs blossom—puts them right over the edge into the land of seasonal allergies.
So, to reduce pollen exposure, be sure to shower before bed and change clothes every day. Pollen sticks to hair and clothing. Consider placing an air purifier in the bedroom, and removing carpets & rugs, and of course washing sheets weekly. So many hours are spent in the bedroom, so removing exposure there is paramount. Sorry to say, do NOT hang cloths on an outdoor line, where they can act as magnets to pollen. Many of our patients have also taken up the use of the netti pot to literally wash pollen out of the nose.
A few supplements can go a long way to help with allergies, too. Vitamin C and Bioflavonoids help to stabilize the mast cells in the blood. Mast cells are the ones that carry histamine—so if that is more stabilized, less histamine will be released. Histamine is the thing that causes itching, swelling and We also often recommend fish oil to our patients, which helps to balance immune system function so that the person actually becomes less allergic.
Local honey, a teaspoon a day or so also seems to reduce sensitivity to pollen. The honey must be local to work!
The plant-based supplement Bromelain, an enzyme from pineapple can also be used; it helps to thin mucous and reduce inflammation.
When we work with patients we also recommend a homeopathic remedy for the treatment of allergies. You can read more about our work in the world of homeopathy at our New England School of Homeopathy website. You can also read two full articles by Dr. Rothenberg on the homeopathic treatment of allergies at that site. One focuses on possible acute remedies for the treatment of allergies. The other is a patient story describing a case that was treated constitutionally. In the latter, remedies are prescribed based on the way the person experiences their allergies and how those symptoms fit into their overall health. Indeed, there are many approaches, which when pulled together & individualized to the patient, can help people find drug-free ways of reducing allergy symptoms and get back to enjoying the great outdoors!
by Dr. Amy Rothenberg ND