Anatomy of an Allergy

Bee-pollen-supplements2If you’re among the unlucky millions who suffer from seasonal allergies, you know all too well how miserable it can be and how intensely it can interfere with daily life. But I’m here to say… you don’t have to suffer! Once you grasp the underlying cause and take a bit of corrective action, your allergies can become a distant memory. Seriously.

Now…. this part is critically important: an allergy is not a condition in and of itself. It’s a symptom…. of an immune system gone haywire. Look at it logically: pollen, along with dander and dust are not harmful to the body. If they were, we humans would have disappeared from the face of the earth long ago! But the immune system of an allergy sufferer is mistaking these natural substances as harmful. Up go the defenses — the histamine release– and here come the unpleasant symptoms. So…. at its core, allergies are nothing more than a faulty immune response.

From a natural health standpoint, this is an easy fix…. all you have to do is nurture, strengthen, and sort out the immune system and poof! no more allergies. I’m going to offer you some simple strategies to do just that, and the only other thing required is a basic desire –to use your better judgment.

The first step toward an allergy free life is to take a close look at your diet –which is the foundation of a healthy immune system. Everything that goes through that portal in your face matters – in a BIG way. You can’t eat junk and expect to be healthy. Fast food, sodas, sweet snacks, and anything processed…. forget it. Dead food and empty calories weaken immune function and pack on the pounds. The human body wants –and needs– a fresh, predominantly plant based whole foods diet. Research shows that dairy and red meat can increase allergy symptoms because of their Omega 6 content, so you may want to opt for fish which is high in balancing Omega 3, or a fish oil supplement if you’re not keen on seafood. And don’t forget – half your body weight in ounces of water each and every day. Caffeine? Not so much. Caffeine in any form depletes the adrenals, and if you have allergies – your adrenals are already screaming for help.

Now, as you go about strengthening that wonky immune system through a nourishing diet, there are plenty of natural remedies for speedy symptomatic relief. The ones I’m going to suggest have all been clinically studied and proven to relieve allergy symptoms. But more importantly, while they’re busy helping you feel better, they’re also supporting immune function … not depleting it like pharmaceutical anti-histamines do. Keep in mind: when you have a health condition you need therapeutic doses of supplements, so working with a natural practitioner is always a good idea.

First… a high quality probiotic. It’s kind of a buzzword these days – and well deserved. That’s because scientists discovered that 80% of all the immune cells in the entire body line the digestive tract. If you don’t have the right amount of healthy flora in your gut – your immune system is out to lunch, and if you’ve had even one round of antibiotics you’re that much further behind the 8-ball. So, start with a high quality probiotic supplement that you take daily. And no, eating yogurt is not enough. You’d have to down a bucket full to get any real benefit.

Next… good old Vitamin C. It’s been around so long that folks forget how fabulous it is! Vitamin C is a time tested natural anti-histamine and powerful antioxidant that scavenges free radicals which attack our healthy cells. It offers many other benefits and is water-soluble, so don’t hesitate to go for 1000 mg or more, three times a day. With high dose C therapy I prefer a buffered (esterified) form with a neutral pH so it won’t cause your system to become overly acidic.

Grapeseed Extract… is a real all-star that works with Vitamin C. It’s a member of an elite class of super antioxidants known as OPC’s. In addition to fighting free radicals, grapeseed strengthens cell membranes, can dramatically reduce the allergic response, and has astounding immune supportive properties. It’s also anti-aging and good for the vascular system because it boosts collagen production. Be sure to take 100 mg’s with vitamin C at least twice a day, with food.

Quercetin… is a bioflavonoid found in trace amounts in food and extensively studied since its discovery in the 1930’s. Quercetin is what helps make “superfoods” super! Powerfully antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, it stabilizes and regulates the immune response, halting the histamine release. It’s used for many different conditions and has even been found to enhance endurance and athletic performance. Quercetin is more bioavailable if “activated” by the enzyme bromelain.

Nettle leaf… is a great herb to have in your anti-allergy arsenal. Studies show it has an uncanny ability to significantly reduce allergy symptoms as it regulates the histamine release. Nettles are also nutritious and detoxifying, helping to remove uric acid. It does increase kidney function so bump up the water intake if you opt to add nettle leaf to your regime.

images-1Sinus irrigation…. is much more important than you might think. Ever seen pollen grains under a microscope? They look like pointy little alien death-stars. Imagine a thousand or so of those things stuck up your nose. Makes me think of a burr under a horse’s saddle. That’s why it’s important to flush away those irritants. Neti pot? I’m not a fan. Unless you sterilize it before and after each use, and measure the solution exactly, you can be putting bacteria where you don’t want it, and actually over-drying the sinus membranes – which will create more mucous. Invest in Simply Saline, an affordable and chemical free nasal spray that stays sterile throughout use, and is available at your local drug store.

There are certainly other herbs and supplements on the market that are useful in winning the battle against seasonal allergies. For instance: homeopathic remedies, which are a good choice for children, the elderly, moms-to-be, and anyone taking prescription drugs. I’m not too keen on dropping brand names, but you can’t go wrong with Sabadil, by a company called Boiron.

Finally… don’t get discouraged along your journey to good health. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Just keep in mind that given the time and opportunity the human body will always seek to heal itself. It’s simply how we were made. How cool is that?

Here comes the requisite disclaimer: this information is provided for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, cure, or prevent any illness or disease, nor should it be construed as medical advice, or a substitute for the expert care of a qualified physician.

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