By Danielle Schwaderer, ND
The acacias are in full bloom in Sonoma Valley and our community members are starting to feel the effects of seasonal allergies. Allergic reactions to various grasses and tree pollen can elicit common allergy symptoms including runny nose, sore/scratchy throat, sinus pressure, itchy eyes, excessive tear formation, asthma, puffy eyes, hives, rashes and eczema.
The symptoms associated with allergies are often driven by an unbalanced immune system, in which T helper cells activate eosinophils and an IgE mediated immune response. This common immune response (Th2) is responsible for producing excess histamine and the symptoms that are common to those suffering from allergies. Shifting the immune response away from a Th2 profile and being supportive of the Th1 immune response is a therapeutic goal for seasonal allergy sufferers.
Additional therapeutic goals for allergy season include limiting exposure to allergens, reducing circulating histamine and giving special attention to the gut and adrenal glands, which can all be crucial leading up to and during allergy season.The following recommendations can be utilized by many, to limit or reduce common symptoms associated with allergies:
Pollen Exposure: Wear a mask when outdoors, plan outdoor activity after the hours of 12pm (pollen counts are typically highest early morning to 10am) and close the windows when indoors.
Pollen Hygiene: Wash clothing and hair after outdoor activity. Do not place wet clothing outdoors to dry when pollen counts are high, as pollen can stick to wet clothing.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C can help reduce circulating histamine levels and prevent its release in the body. During allergy season, adults are encouraged to supplement vitamin C at levels approximating 2g per day (2,000mg). To enhance absorption and utilization, try vitamin C in one of two forms: liposomal vitamin C or buffered combinations of vitamin C.
Quercetin: Quercetin is a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to reduce the symptoms of allergies in humans and prevent activation of inflammatory cytokines. Typical adult doses range from 250-500mg daily. Read more here.
Omega-3's & Fish Oil: Anti-inflammatory agents can be beneficial for reducing inflammation and improving the integrity of the skin. Fish oils and other omega-3 fatty acids can be beneficial for those whom are prone to dryness or rashes during allergy season. Typical adult dosing of omega-3's is 1000mg of combined EPA + DHA daily.
Probiotics: Probiotics found in fermented foods and supplement combinations are necessary for a healthy and balanced allergy (T-helper cell) response and overall gut immunity.
Herbs & Mushroom capsules: To balance a healthy Th1/Th2 immune response. There are a wide variety of botanical herbs and medicinal mushrooms that help the body modulate the Th1/Th2 immune response, encouraging a shift away from the Th2 (allergic) profile to a Th1(anti-viral/anti-bacterial) immune profile.
Bee Products: Local honey, bee pollen and propolis are longtime naturopathic remedies during allergy season. The premise is similar to that of a vaccine: by consuming honey from bees carrying pollen in close geographic proximity to the allergy sufferer, one may be able to appropriately mount an effective response to the allergen that they are responding to.
Saline Sinus Rinse: Saline rinses are useful for thinning mucous and removing allergens and irritants in the sinus cavity. They are especially useful for those prone to sinusitis or sinus infection and can be administered daily by netti pot or as a simple lavage. Read more here.
Eye Drops: Even though excessive tearing is a symptom of allergies, the quality of the tears are typically not sufficient to keep the eye properly lubricated. Allergy sensitization drops or tear stimulation drops can be helpful during allergy season to help fight excessive tear formation.
Consider Allergy Testing: Regional blood allergy tests are available to determine allergic reactions to different pollens, grasses, pet dander, molds and more.
Anti-inflammatory Foods: Maintaining an anti-inflammatory diet during allergy season is always advised to reduce inflammation and prevent excessive mucous formation. Focus on vegetables and lean meats is and avoid foods like sugar, dairy, gluten, nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers), soy and other personal food sensitivities.
As always, if you are on pharmaceutical medications, are pregnant or breast feeding, please speak to a health professional before beginning your supplement regime.
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