6 Tips to Manage Allergies

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!

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

Late Summer 2015

After summer has reached its height, we shift into the season of late summer. Abundant harvests surround and nourish us. This is a time for slowing down, reflecting, and gathering in. This is the earth element.

The earth element correlates with the organs of Spleen and Stomach which are the major organs of food digestion. Digestive problems are often caused by disruptions in these organs. In fact, Spleen Qi deficiency is one of the main diagnoses we see in the clinic. The Spleen is responsible for digesting food and thoughts. You can think of it as an organ that sorts through information- be it nutrients from food or mental ideas. Worrying, overthinking, and eating too much cold food (like raw vegetables) can weaken the Spleen. When this happens, our food isn’t processed well. We might have bloating after meals or undigested food in loose stool. To strengthen the Spleen, eat warm foods (not raw), calm your mind with mindfulness exercises, meditation, or prayer, and get good rest. Now is the time to start cooking more of your vegetables so your energy and immunity can stay strong for the fall and winter!

We can live in harmony with the late summer season by enjoying the abundance of locally grown fruits and vegetables. Take a trip to the farmers market and reflect on the harvest. Enjoy the bounty of our beautiful work and take a moment to express gratitude to the farmers! Buy what catches your eye. Learn to cook something new!

Its also a good time to take stock in the harvest of your life. Look at the parts of yourself and be conscious of any pieces that are weighing on you. Consider what you no longer need and what no longer works for you- either physically or emotionally. I’m currently reading The Live Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, and I highly recommend her theory of decided what works in your life. The basic process is to hold each item you own and ask “Does this spark joy?” If so, keep it, and if not, give it away. This process is perfect for the Late Summer and Autumn seasons, since Autumn is all about letting go. I can only imagine how freeing it will be to lessen the clutter in our lives and to be only be surrounded by that which sparks joy! For now, take inventory in what you have and how you nourish yourself.

Nourishment can come in the form of food, TV, books, people, social media and more. How do we nurture ourselves? Do we make choices that make us feel calm and energized? Spend some time in this late summer season reflecting on this. Its extremely important to living a well and balanced life. Enjoy the remaining warm summer days!