By Taylor Jeffers
Spring is here — and so is pollen and other allergens.
Spring allergies affect so many of us, let’s take a look at why they arise, and how we can bring our bodies back into peace with our environment.
An allergic reaction takes place when pollen, dust, or other particulate matter enters our breathing passages. This exposure triggers an immune response to remove the invaders. More specifically, mast cells are our body’s way of signaling the need for protection. They contain chemical messengers such as histamine that upregulates other components of the immune system. In the case of seasonal allergies, this response leads to an increase in mucous production to wash out the foreign material. The symptomatic consequence of this reaction may lead to itchy eyes, a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, fatigue, etc.
There are many ways to alleviate this disharmony during the transition times of nature. Here are a few tips:
- This is a given, but reduce your exposure to known allergens by increasing hygiene, vacuuming regularly, using HEPA air filters, and avoiding going outside when the pollen counts are high. While avoiding the outdoors may be your go-to solution, it doesn’t have to be the end-all, be-all for your allergy treatment.
- Increase your consumption of bioflavonoid rich foods and herbs. Bioflavonoids include quercetin, catechin, hesperidin, proanthocyanidins, and more. These powerful antioxidants are created by plants to regulate growth, provide protection from UV rays, pathogens, and cellular damage, as well as produce color pigments to attract pollinators. In our bodies flavonoids work as biological response modifiers that contribute to their anti-allergenic and antihistamine actions.
- Food sources: citrus fruits (lemons, limes, grapefruit), all berries, onions, apples, sweet potatoes, and dark leafy greens like kale
- Herbal sources: parsley, calendula, chamomile, turmeric, and hawthorn
- In studies, Vitamin C has been shown to be helpful by lessening histamine production and increasing the speed of its breakdown. Combining foods rich in Vitamin C and bioflavonoids bolsters the effectiveness.
- Eat local food when possible. Plants growing locally are exposed to the same environment that we are. When you consume plants growing in the same environment as you, you are consuming the chemicals they produced in order to survive in it. This will strengthen your immune system to harmonize with the world around you.
- Consume nettle on a regular basis. Nettle contains chemicals such as formic acid that has been shown to reduce histamine levels in the body. Its antihistamine effects coupled with its high nutritive values, makes this a primary herb for supporting symptoms and addressing root causes of seasonal allergies. It can be consumed in a variety of ways, the easiest being a cold infusion. Add up to an ounce of dried nettles per quart of cold water and allow to infuse for 3-4 hours or overnight. Strain and enjoy daily.
With the help of our Naturopathic doctors, we can create individualized plans to reduce your allergic response. They will be able to address dietary and lifestyle factors that may be contributing and formulate a treatment plan that will produce a multifaceted approach to your individual picture. Acupuncture also shows promising relief in the treatment of allergies by strengthening the immune system so it becomes less reactive to allergens.
Contact our office to set up an appointment with our trusted care team.