By Margaret Walsh, ND
Sneezing, wheezing, runny nose, and itchy, watery, red eyes — these are just some of the symptoms that more than 35 million Americans face each year as the pollen from trees, grass, flowers, and plants flows into the air. There are many prescription and over-the-counter allergy medications available, but many people find these products do not work well or have unpleasant side-effects. Also, these medications do not reduce your body’s susceptibility to allergies; they merely provide symptomatic relief. Luckily, there are a variety of natural allergy treatments that effectively reduce symptoms, and are able to increase your body’s defenses against allergy-causing agents (allergens) for long-term protection.
In order to make your body less reactive to allergens, it is necessary to strengthen your immune system’s defenses against them. Eating a healthy diet, full of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts/seeds, and unprocessed lean meat, will provide a solid foundation for your immune system to function optimally. Also, you should avoid eating any foods to which you are sensitive or allergic, as these foods will stress your immune system. Furthermore, supporting your digestive tract is an important step in reducing allergies, because your stomach/intestines and immune system function closely together. Digestive health can be improved by a daily probiotic, digestive enzymes with meals, fiber, and healthy diet.
There are many important nutrients that help reduce allergy symptoms. Vitamin C and Quercetin are natural anti-histamines (histamine causes runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, watery eyes, etc). Fish oils, containing essential fatty acids, play an important role in decreasing inflammation in the body and improving cellular communication. Supporting your liver’s ability to detoxify is helpful in the treatment of allergies too. Herbs, such as Cynara, Sylibum, Curcumin, and Taraxacum root, and other nutrients, such as N-Acetylcysteine, enhance liver function. Anti-oxidants, such as Selenium, Vitamin E, and Carotenoids, also play a role in decreasing allergies.
Homeopathy, in my opinion, is the best treatment for seasonal allergies. Homeopathy works by stimulating your body’s natural ability to heal, rapidly reducing symptoms and decreasing your susceptibility for future allergy attacks. Everybody with allergies exhibits slight variations in the way they manifest symptoms. A homeopathic prescriber specifically targets these differences, and finds the best remedy suited for your individual set of symptoms. For example, Allium Cepa, a common remedy for allergies, is best suited for people with symptoms of copious thin and burning nasal discharge, frequent sneezing, burning eyes with tearing, and symptoms that become worse in a warm room or in the evening. Because there are dozens of homeopathic remedies for allergies, it is often necessary to work with a doctor to find the best one for you.