Spring is supposed to be a time of rejoicing in the warmer weather and beautiful blossoming flora. For many people, especially in the greater Portland area, springtime is a miserable nightmare on repeat. Itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing and often asthma attacks are keynotes for environmental allergies. Given the Pacific Northwest’s climate it not only supports a lush green environment but also allows environmental allergies to continue all year alternating between pollen and mold.
There are endless advertisements for anti-histamines, decongestants and other ways to pharmaceutically survive the allergy season. As a naturopath, there are many ways to effectively address allergies, often eliminating them completely with a few dietary modifications and natural remedies.
It helps to understand what an allergic reaction to better understand how to treat them. Allergies are a reaction to a harmless substance in the environment that the body views as harmful. It dumps excessive amounts of histamine, a compound that triggers an inflammatory response and increases vascular permeability to fight off the invading substance. The end result is excessive amounts of fluid draining from your eyes and nose.
Treating allergies from a naturopathic perspective is controlling inflammation and reducing or inhibiting histamine release. There are many ways to do this but here are a few of my favorites:
– Eliminate dairy products. Dairy products create mucus and inflammation both will aggravate allergies.
– Honey. Local, raw honey has proven to be a great preventative and treatment for seasonal allergies. Check out your local farmer’s Market, produce stand or People’s Co-op for this delicacy.
– Nettles. You can collect your own or purchase them fresh or dried. Research has shown them to be 87% effective in reducing and/or eliminating allergies.
– Vitamin C is an anti-oxidant that helps to lower inflammation and settles the immune system. You need to do this daily and increase during allergy attacks.
– Bromelain is an enzyme with anti-inflammatory properties and comes from pineapples (the tougher middle section). Adding pineapple to your diet will be helpful but you may not achieve therapeutic doses.
– Quercitin is a flavonoid found in sweet potatoes, green beans, onion skins, berries, broccoli and a handful of other foods. Again, capsule form may allow for a therapeutic dose but adding these foods to your diet regime would be beneficial and preventative.
These are just a few common treatments. To discuss naturopathic allergy treatments further, stop in Flow Natural Health Care located in Milwaukie, minutes from Portland.
By Marsha Hamilton, ND