Have you ever been hit with an allergy assault that made your head feel as if it were being split in two? Hay fever is a seasonal allergy that affects 8% of Canadians, according to research from the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. It occurs when your immune system mistakenly identifies certain substances as threats and produces excess antibodies in response - this leads you to have symptoms such as sneezing or watery eyes!
Hay fever is a condition that affects people of all ages and genders, although it is most common in children. The cause of hay fever is unknown, but it occurs year-round. Different plants release their pollens at different times throughout the year, varying degrees of allergy seasonality depending on where you live. Indoor allergies can also be triggered by pollutants such as mould spores that impact your breathing capacity.
What are some of the most common signs of allergies?
Common symptoms include:
- Sneezing, itchy, congested, or runny nose (allergic rhinitis)
- Itchy rashes around the nose, mouth, eyes, or roof of the mouth
- Itchy, watery, red, or swollen eyes (allergic conjunctivitis)
- Facial, lips, and tongue swelling (angioedema)
- Itchy sensation on the skin
- Skin rashes (allergic contact dermatitis, eczema)
Untreated allergies can also lead to the following:
- Nasal congestion
- Sore throat
- Postnasal drip.
- Decreased sense of smell
- Sinus infections (also called sinusitis)
- Ear infections
- Puffiness or dark circles under the eyes
How Do Allergens Get Into the Body?
Allergens can enter the body in 4 different ways:
- The respiratory tract - inhaling the allergen
- The skin - by touching the allergen
- Gastrointestinal tract - swallowing the allergen
- Through the circulatory system - the allergen enters the bloodstream.
What Are Allergies?
Allergies are a reaction by your immune system to something that doesn't bother most people. Our immune system protects the body from foreign substances like bacteria and viruses. But sometimes, it overreacts to harmless substances, such as pollen, pet dander, or dust mites.
Symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and wheezing can occur. For some people, allergies can be a minor annoyance. But for others, they can be disabling.
In severe cases, allergies can cause anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening reaction that can make it hard to breathe and send the body into shock. If you have severe allergies, carrying an EpiPen with you in an emergency is important.
The most frequent allergies are generally caused by plant pollen, like trees, weeds, and flowers, that rely on insects for pollination. These types of pollen don't usually stay airborne very long before falling back down to the ground, making them less likely to cause an allergic reaction.
Mould, for example, is notorious for producing allergens that cause indoor air quality problems—smells would make individuals sick with respiratory issues if exposed to them repeatedly before being outside in nature.
Natural Allergy Remedies: Supplements and Herbs
What causes allergies? An overreaction of our immune system causes allergies to harmless substances such as animal dander or pollen. Some supplements can help you with your symptoms, like blocking those chemical reactions that result in allergic rhinitis symptomology and other related disorders year-round!
- Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin in many foods, including oranges, strawberries, tomatoes, and broccoli. It is also available in supplement form. Vitamin C has many bodily roles, including boosting immunity and protecting against cell damage.
Additionally, vitamin C has anti-inflammatory properties and can help to reduce the severity of allergies. Allergies occur when the immune system overreacts to a foreign substance, such as pollen or dust. These allergens trigger the release of histamine, which causes symptoms like sneezing, itching, and watery eyes.
Vitamin C can help to reduce histamine levels and thus ease allergy symptoms. Taking vitamin C supplements at the start of allergy season is recommended for the best results.
Butterbur is a plant used for centuries to treat various ailments, including headaches, digestive problems, and even congestive heart failure. More recently, butterbur has been shown to be an effective treatment for allergies. Allergies are caused when the body's immune system overreacts to harmless substances, such as dust or pollen.
This overreaction can cause several symptoms, including sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes. Butterbur works by inhibiting the production of histamine, a substance released during an allergic reaction. By reducing the amount of histamine in the body, butterbur can help to relieve the symptoms of allergies.
Butterbur has also been shown to be very effective in treating migraines and asthma.
When someone has an allergic reaction, their body releases histamines to protect themselves. Histamines cause the symptoms of allergies, such as itchiness, redness, and swelling. Bromelain is a natural enzyme that can help to break down histamines. As a result, it can effectively relieve the symptoms of allergies. Bromelain is found in pineapple juice and papaya. It is also available in supplement form. When taking bromelain supplements, it is important to follow the instructions on the package.
Taking too much bromelain can cause side effects such as nausea and diarrhea.
- Probiotics and Prebiotics
Probiotics are "good" bacteria that help boost the health of the digestive and immune systems.
Prebiotics are a form of fibre that encourages probiotic bacteria to grow. They may assist in boosting immunological responses when fed to infants via formula.
Probiotics are live bacteria that are naturally found in the gut. These beneficial bacteria help to keep the gut healthy by maintaining a balanced level of good and bad bacteria. Probiotics have also been shown to help boost the immune system, which can help to reduce the severity of allergies.
Studies have shown that prebiotics can help to reduce the symptoms of both seasonal and food allergies. In addition, probiotics may also help to prevent the development of new allergies.
For people who suffer from allergies, taking a probiotic supplement may help to improve their symptoms.
It is a plant-based compound that has been shown to relieve allergies. It works by helping to reduce inflammation and histamine production, two key factors in allergic reactions. Some research suggests that quercetin may be more effective when taken before exposure to an allergen, such as pollen or pet dander.
Other Non-Drug Allergy Treatments
If you're one of the millions of people affected by allergies, you know how difficult it can be to find relief. Many people turn to over-the-counter drugs to get relief, but what if other non-drug treatments were available? In this blog post, we'll explore other options available for those seeking allergy relief.
Saline Nasal Irrigation
A nasal rinse may help to clear mucus from your nose and reduce allergy symptoms. It can remove any germs or allergies you've breathed in as well.
For best results, replace your HEPA filters monthly. A high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter is a mechanical filter that uses forced air to trap dangerous particles like pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and tobacco smoke in a fine mesh.
Probiotics can alleviate allergy symptoms when taken before or during exposure to allergens. Some strains of good bacteria (e.g., Bifidobacterium long) have been observed to manage t-cells, strengthening the immunity's response to common allergens.
Take Vitamin C
Vitamin C inhibits your body's histamine production, making it a natural antihistamine. It might help with minor symptoms like congestion, runny nose, sneezing, and watery eyes by reducing the amount of histamine produced by the body. The therapeutic dosage is 2,000 milligrams daily.
Keep Out Breezes
Turn on the A/C if necessary, close all of the windows and doors, and seal them shut when the pollen count is high. This will help to minimize your contact with irritants.
Establishing a set routine when you come in from the outdoors during allergy season is crucial. First, take off your shoes and any outer clothing items. Next, hop in the shower to wash your hair and skin - this will help eliminate as much pollen as possible. Finally, throw all clothes in the washing machine so they're clean for next time. Yes, it may seem like a lot but following these steps might just help lessen symptoms throughout allergy season!
Wear a Mask
When it comes to preventing the spread of germs, masks have become a must-have for many individuals. Not only does it assist keep others safe from your cold or flu symptoms, but it can also aid in the protection against pollen and other allergens. An N95 respirator mask (found at most drug stores, medical supply shops, and home improvement stores) will block 95% of airborne particles that cause seasonal allergies.
Adding fresh fruit and vegetables to every meal will help improve your antioxidant and vitamin C levels while reducing inflammation. This, in turn, can provide some relief from allergies.
Water, sugar-free juice, and other nonalcoholic beverages can thin mucus in your nasal passages. Warm teas, broth, and soup also offer some beneficial steam.
Inhale Some Steam
Hold a towel over your head over a warm bowl or sink filled with water to trap the steam. This is a simple and successful method to relieve a stubborn, stuffy nose while allowing you to breathe more easily. You may also stay in the shower for a few deep breaths.
I get spring allergies. Is there anything natural I can do to help get some relief?
Thank you for your question. Fortunately there is plenty you can do to care for allergies naturally. Allergies occur when your immune system perceives things in the environment as if they are a threat when in fact they are not. This overreaction of the immune system triggers a cascade that includes the release of histamine from immune cells. Once released, histamine leads to mucous production, and additional fluid release from cells of your nasal passages.
There are many natural compounds to provide you more immediate allergy relief by reducing histamine, cutting mucous and soothing your mucous membranes. A highlight of these is Vitamin C and bioflavonoids such as Quercetin, which are anti-histamines. They lessen histamine release AND they gobble up histamine that has been released. Vitamin C and Bioflavonoids are water-soluble nutrients so you can use frequent dosing to keep your levels supplemented through out the day. If you get too much Vitamin C it can loosen your bowels so if it is not doing that then your body is putting it to good use. Some foods that are rich in bioflavonoids or Vitamin C are berries, broccoli, sweet peppers and citrus.
Here are some natural solutions that you can use:
These nutrients can be purchased as single ingredients or found combined in an allergy formula:
Bioflavonoids (i.e. Quercetin or Rutin)
- Decreases histamine release
- Decreases histamine release
- Decreases mucous (i.e. fish, flax or algae sourced oil) - decreases inflammation
- Homeopathic Nux Vomica – when stuffy nose and irritability are prominent
- Boiron Allergy Kit – a homeopathic combination of single remedies for broad allergy relief
- Nasal spray - that helps decongest without negative consequences can be taken as a tea, juice, tincture, or capsule. Acts as a natural antihistamine
To provide long-term improvement, it is almost always necessary to address digestion. Most people with allergies show weakness in their digestive health and improvements in digestion lessen or resolve allergy symptoms. Improved digestive health promotes healing of mucous membranes; the digestive tract, eyes, sinuses and nasal passages are all mucous membranes. Consider altering your nutrition to reduce wheat, sugar and dairy intake. These foods are the most common in the standard North American diet therefore; they are the most likely culprits in compromising digestion. In addition, improvements in digestive wellness might necessitate the use of antimicrobial herbs and/or replenishing with probiotics (good bacteria). The digestive tract is host to hundreds of microbes including bacteria and yeast some of which help digestion while others hinder it. Work with your Naturopathic Physician to make digestive gains and over time your allergy symptoms should fall away.
I hope this information helps you begin to clear the air so you can breathe easy.
“Health from the inside out.”
Dr. Kimberly McQueen BSc, ND is a Naturopathic Physician in Victoria, BC. In addition to her clinic work she has been a consultant to the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence, Camosun College, Rugby Canada and Rowing Canada. P:778.433.4935