For those that suffer from allergies, there is mixed emotion seeing the trees bloom. While it’s so exciting after a long winter to see the buds on the trees, there is also dread for the myriad of symptoms and suffering to come.
An allergic response is an exaggerated response of the body’s immune system to a substance that is normally harmless to the body such as pollen, weeds, animals and foods. When your body encounters an “allergy pathogen” mast cells release histamine which is involved in an inflammatory response. This sets in motion any number of responses in our body- making us feel miserable. There are many ways we can improve allergy symptoms by thinking about all of the components to a reaction. These six ideas can help!
Nasal Cleansing (with a Neti pot). Don't worry, you won't feel like you're drowning! The Neti pot is the best way to flush out allergens, decrease swelling in the nasal passages, and rid your sinuses of phlegm and bacteria. This Ancient technique involves using a small pot of warm water and salt, tilting your head to the side and pouring the solution into one side of your nose. The solution will pass through your sinus and come out the other side. If you’ve never done it, take a look at youtube for a visual!
Supplements. Quercetin, Vitamin C, Nettles, Bromelain, Boswellia, Astragalus: These are just a few ideas for what can help decrease inflammation and improve and regulate the immune response. In Chinese Herbalism, we use more specific Chinese Herbs for a customized approach based on your symptoms and diagnosis. Herbs are also beneficial to strengthen your resistance to allergens.
Acupuncture. In Chinese Medicine, specific points are used to help symptoms such as stuffy nose, foggy head, low energy and itchy eyes as well as treat the underlying cause by regulating the liver and immune system. Your acupuncturist will do a full assessment to determine your diagnosis and then use Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine suited for you specifically.
Detox liver. The liver removes toxins from our blood. Having a overloaded toxic liver can affect how quickly your body clears histamine. Eating a consistently healthy, chemical free diet will do more for the health of your liver than a fad-based, quick-fix, weekend type liver detox. Antioxidants and vitamins found in fresh fruits and vegetables will reduce liver inflammation and boost immune function, while Brussels sprouts will increase the activity of important liver enzymes. To gently detoxify the liver every day, a glass of water containing freshly squeezed lemon each morning will help.
Stress reduction. Adrenalin affects mast cells and causes allergy symptoms to be worse. Allergies alone can be anxiety provoking, so working on a comprehensive plan to reduce stress is highly beneficial. Think 8 hrs sleep, mindfulness meditation, and gentle exercise.
Balance the Gut. Start by reducing sugar and other inflammatory foods such as dairy and processed foods. Adding raw, fermented foods is one of the best ways you can naturally balance your gut flora. Most Whole Foods markets carry them in jars in the refrigerated section. I’m personally loving the Real Pickles brand beets! In addition, a good probiotic with proven technology to deliver what the label says is great as well. Look for the following strains: l. casei, l. rhamnosus, b. longum.
Allergies make many people miserable this time of year, but they don’t have to! By regulating your bodies response, you can better adapt to the changing seasons.