Hay Fever, Allergies, Sinusitis

wheatWith the onset of seasonal changes, many of you have been experiencing the negative effects of hay fever, allergies and sinusitis. I wanted to address this uncomfortable condition and give a deeper understanding of what is going on in your body and give some recommendations for treatment. The numerous symptoms of allergies include headaches, fatigue, sneezing, watery eyes, and stuffy sinuses. These symptoms are all caused by an adverse immune response to dust, pollens, mites, animal dander, smoke chemicals and food. It is estimated that over 35 million Americans suffer from allergies. Let’s look at the different types of allergies.

Allergies fall into two types, those caused by environmental factors and those caused by food. Either type can contribute to asthma, bronchitis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, eczema, migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome, kidney problems, weight gain, heart palpitations and depression. There are four types of allergies; type one causes an immediate reaction usually within 15 to 30 minutes and types two through four are characterized by delayed reactions. These delayed reactions are often overlooked but are very common.

Environmental allergies are caused mostly by pollens of trees, weeds, grasses, dust, molds and smoke according to Dr. Wilkinson, who practices environmental medicine in Yakima, Washington. He also states “cosmetics, perfumes, household cleaners, and certain fabrics can trigger an allergy response.” The foods most commonly found to cause allergies are wheat, corn, dairy, egg whites, tomatoes, soy, peanuts, chocolate, as well as food dyes and additives.

The biggest question I get is what causes allergies? Let’s look a bit closer and see what is going on in the body. An allergic reaction is simply the body’s way of protecting itself. In an allergic reaction, the immune system overreacts to a foreign substance that the body feels is harmful. In response, your immune system releases histamine and other chemicals into the blood in an effort to destroy the substance that has entered the body.

One of the primary causes of allergy response is an impaired immune system. Dr. Leon Chaitow has found that a number of factors negatively impact the immune system. These include increased toxic burden due to pollution in all forms, disturbance of infant immune systems through repeated immunizations and vaccinations, and damage to healthy intestinal flora due to over use of antibiotics and steroids. Another doctor, John Mansfield, an allergy specialist states ‘ other causes of food allergies include nutritional deficiencies, a repetitive diet, chemicals in the food chain due to pesticides and preservatives and chronic intestinal yeast (candida) overgrowth.” “Leaky gut syndrome” or excessive permeability in the digestive tract is another major cause of allergies. The immune system reacts to particles of undigested or partially digested matter that leaks into the bloodstream from the intestines.

Many different types of medications that have many drawbacks treat the symptoms of allergies. Mostly they suppress the symptoms and inhibit the normal body responses that are trying to restore balance and health. Let’s look at some of these allergy products:

  • Antihistamines – are often used to dry up a runny nose. They have numerous side effects, such as, drowsiness, blurred vision, loss of appetite, nausea, and excessive dryness of the nasal and throat passages.
  • Steroidal nasal sprays – will reduce swollen nasal tissue but tend to have what is called a rebound effect causing an even more congested scenario.
  • Cough suppressants – inhibit the body’s ability to expel mucous and phlegm. They      have been linked to addiction and constipation.
  • Allergy shots- will work but dosage is sometimes hard to determine.

In order for healing of allergies to occur it is necessary to address their cause rather than just treat a symptom. There are many natural therapies that have been proven to be effective in treating allergies including diet, herbal, nutritional, acupuncture and homeopathy. Let’s look at diet and some of the herbals that brings about this balance.

Dr. Braly suggests that a four-day rotation diet is one of the simplest and most effective measures anyone can take to both prevent and deal with allergies. This means that you are not eating any one food more often than every four days. He also suggests a diet including a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, seed and nuts, low fat non-dairy animal protein, the use of whole grains but restricting wheat, corn and white rice and other foods with a high gluten content.

Nutrient deficiencies are another problem when it comes to allergies. Dr. Michael Murray N.D., a naturopath, recommends the following list:

  • Vitamin C – one gram four times a day.
  • Selenium – 100 mcg a day
  • Bromelain enzyme – 125 mg 20 minutes before meals.
  • Pancreatin (8x) – one or two with meals.
  • Zinc – 15 mg a day
  • Vitamin A – 15,000 iu two times a day.
  • Flax seed oil – 1 tbsp two times a day.
  • B-complex – 50 mg per day.
  • Quercetin – 250 mg 20 minutes before meals. This has been shown to block the formation of histamines before they are release from the mast cells.
  • Glutamine – 500 mg two times per day.

In many instances I will recommend the inclusion of probiotic bacteria in the form of fermented foods and live bacteria yogurt or taking an enteric-coated acidophilus supplement. Also the use of digestive enzymes can aid in the digestion of food and thus reduce the amount of potential allergens.

There are many herbal remedies that have been used to aid the symptoms of allergies. These are found in many forms. Homeopathic remedies are taken in pellets or liquids and produce no negative side effects. Herbal teas and capsules are also available. Be cautious of ephedra containing products if you have high blood pressure or heart conditions.

 Some specific herbs that work are goldenseal root, it works by shrinking swollen nasal passages and is anti bacterial, (not to be used long term at high doses), red sage and goldenrod help eliminate mucous. Yarrow, myrrh, and thyme are astringent and help contract inflamed tissues and reduces secretions and discharges. Echinacea, astragalus, and suma work to boost the immune system. Ginger root and cayenne pepper have anti-inflammatory properties. Be sure to check an authoritative source before beginning these therapies.

Try to follow these five steps for a successful treatment plan:

  • Proper diagnosis is possibly the most difficult step but most important.
  • Eliminate the offending substances and make lifestyle changes.
  • Support the immune system.
  • Take care of nutrient deficiencies by supplementing the diet.
  • Try natural substance that will help block histamine formation and help control negative symptoms.
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