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Aaah-Choo!

Stop Sneezing and Start Living Right

If you’re among the millions of Americans made miserable by the spring pollen assault, take heart. Hmmm. I should rephrase that. If you count yourself among those allergy sufferers content with OTC and pharmaceutical drugs that seek to treat symptoms but do little to address the underlying cause of your suffering and are willing to do what it takes to make your allergies a thing of the past, then I encourage you to read on. And yes, take heart.

Allergies –whether seasonal or environmental– are merely a symptom. A symptom of an immune system gone haywire and crying out for help. Look at it in logical terms. Pollen, dander and dust are not innately harmful to the human body. But the immune system of an allergy sufferer perceives these substances as a massive assault, and rolls out the artillery in defense via the histamine release. It’s like a wacky general sending troops into battle when there’s no real enemy to fight. It stands to reason that if you support and repair immune function, the allergies will subside. It requires a comprehensive approach, but immune function can be strengthened and restored with a long-term commitment and a basic desire to use your better judgment.

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Start with a Healthy Diet

The typical American diet is pretty horrendous, so let’s start there. Good foundational health requires that you limit caffeine and alcohol, reduce or eliminate sugar, and drink at least half your body weight in ounces of filtered water daily. Forget sodas, fast food, sweet snacks, and anything processed; these do not nourish the body — they weaken it and open the door to illness and disease. Instead, choose wellness with fresh living food like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. These are the building blocks upon which a healthy immune system is made.

As you go about nourishing your body to make it stronger, reach for natural remedies to bring speedy symptomatic relief when allergy season strikes. These are gaining in popularity primarily because they reinforce and stimulate the body’s own defenses, so as they clear symptoms they are also building resistance to further attacks. Here’s a short list of my favorites, which should be available at your neighborhood health food store.

Homeopatic Cures for Allergies

Quercetin is a unique bioflavonoid, extensively researched since its discovery in the 1930’s. It keeps histamines in check, and inhibits the release of leukotrienes into the bloodstream. Choose quercetin that is “activated” by the addition of the enzyme bromelain, which has its own leukotrien-inhibiting properties. If you start your quercetin a few weeks before allergy season you‘ll be delighted with the results.

Nettle Leaf has a long tradition of use as a treatment for many ailments. For us, it’s an anti-allergy all-star. Studies show that taking nettle leaf in capsule form significantly reduced sneezing and itching in subjects suffering with hay fever. This is because nettle has the uncanny ability to reduce the amount of histamine the body releases after exposure to an allergen. Nettles are also nutritious and detoxifying to the body, due to increased kidney function. So you’ll want to bump up the water intake if you opt for nettle leaf.

Vitamin C is a time tested natural anti-histamine. It’s also amazing for supporting immune function through its antioxidant activity. It’s water-soluble and has a lot of other wonderful qualities, so don’t hesitate to go for 1000 mg up to 3 times a day. I prefer a buffered form with a neutral pH so it won’t cause your system to become overly acidic.

Grapeseed Extract is a unique and super antioxidant, which fights free radicals and strengthens cell membranes. It has been found to reduce the allergic response because it reduces the production of enzymes involved in the formation of histamine. It has astounding immune supportive properties, and is useful for everything from allergies to ADHD.

Vitamin C and Nasal Spray Are Helpful

Homeopathic Remedies work by stimulating the body’s own healing process. I’m not too keen on dropping brand names, but the products I particularly like are Boiron’s Sabadil – especially for those itchy eyes – and Allercetin by Source Naturals. You can also choose single remedies for specific symptoms, such as allium cepa for watery nose and eyes. Homeopathics are fast-acting and safe for all, including children, pregnant women and those taking prescription medications.

Nasal Sprays to irrigate the sinuses are much more important than you might think. Take a look at the picture of a pollen grain. Now imagine that and a thousand or so of his friends stuck to the tender tissue in your sinuses. Makes me think of a burr under a horse’s saddle! Keep a bottle of nasal spray near at hand to gently flush the irritants away. My all-time favorite is called Simply Saline; it’s handy and easy to use, doesn’t contain any chemical preservatives, stays sterile, and you can use it as often as you wish.

Don’t get discouraged along your journey to good health. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Just keep in mind that given the time and opportunity, the human body will always seek to heal itself. It’s simply how we were made. How cool is that? 

This information is provided for educational purposes by Julie Brannon, Natural Practitioner and owner of Bailey’s Naturals Herbal Apothecary in downtown Safety Harbor.

by Julie Brannon, CPT

Article written for Destination Tampa Bay magazine