Springtime, the season of new beginnings, rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal and regrowth. It is the transitional time of year when dark and cold dwindle away and the light begins to shine brightly once more. Flowers bloom, grass starts to grow, trees and shrubs bud and pollen and mold spores come out of hibernation.
For many, springtime brings on the annoyance of sinus congestion, sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, sniffles and coughing. Seasonal Allergies, Hay Fever and Allergic Rhinitis are common conditions many experience during the spring season. These symptoms can be quite an annoyance and put a damper on enjoying the outdoors. Foreign invaders or allergens such as pollen, dust, mold, trees, grass, ragweed, etc. can trigger an immune response in the body. When this occurs, there is production of an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE). The IgE binds to a basophil cell in the blood and a mast cell in the tissue. With subsequent exposure to the allergen the cells with IgE on their surface signal the release of chemicals or substances, one of which is histamine, an amino acid.
The Immune Response
Since Histamine is one of the components of the allergy response, minimizing its production can have a positive impact on allergy symptoms. Though there are many prescription and over the counter antihistamines available to target allergy symptoms, natural antihistamines can be effective. They can be found in foods, essential oils, herbs and other botanicals. The natural antihistamines can greatly reduce and even eliminate the annoying symptoms brought on by a histamine release. For the best benefits, starting natural therapy two to six weeks before the season begins is most beneficial. Keeping in mind that the gut microbiome is responsible for seventy percent of our immune system, poor microbiome health contributes to immune dysfunction which can also trigger allergy symptoms. Healing the gut should be the first line of defense for stopping allergy symptoms in their tracks.
Quercetin is a chemical known as a flavonoid. It is found in many fruits, vegetables, leaves, seeds and grains and is referenced as nature’s powerful anti-histamine. This chemical has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on the body. Foods such as onions, apples, citrus, kale, blueberries and sweet potatoes contain this natural medicinal chemical. Other foods that have anti-histamine effects include ginger, thyme, watercress, capers and turmeric. Vitamin C is also known as a natural histamine blocker. Incorporating foods rich in vitamin C such as leafy greens, peppers, sweet potatoes and kiwis can be beneficial. On the contrary, many foods contain histamine or trigger a histamine release and if eaten can be counter productive if you are suffering from seasonal allergies. Foods rich in histamine include dairy products, avocados, eggplant and spinach. Foods that trigger a histamine release include though not limited to bananas, tomatoes, citrus fruits, nuts and food dyes.
Essential oils such as black cumin seed oil, lavender oil, lemon oil and peppermint oils can be very effective when used topically or through aromatherapy. When used topically, the oil must be mixed with a carrier oil since essential oils are very concentrated.
Herbs such as stinging nettle, ginger, butterbur, horseradish or wasabi have anti-histamine properties and can be a remedy added to your natural protocol. Herbs can be incorporated as teas, in food preparation or tinctures.
Vitamin D deficiency can play a role in allergies. Vitamin D has a role in regulating the immune system and release of chemicals that can produce allergy symptoms. Taking a quality vitamin D supplement during the winter season is recommended. Cod liver oil is a good source of vitamin D that can be incorporated into smoothies. Omega 3 fatty acids, probiotics and probiotics should also be included in the protocol for the effects on inflammation and gut health.
Tips to Minimize Allergy Symptoms
- Use of air filters in the house. HEPA filters can remove harmful immune irritants that are circulating inside the home. Keep window and doors closed during allergy season and especially on windy days. Clean out all air ducts.
- Avoid use of fragranced household cleaning products.
- Consider casings or covers specific for allergy proofing mattresses, covers and pillows. Wash bedding and clothing regularly.
- Flush nasal passages with a Neti pot, normal saline or Xlear.
- Boost your immune system with foods rich in vitamin C, Quercetin, zinc and magnesium.
- Heal your gut with foundation of a healthy diet.
- Include a daily high quality probiotic along with probiotic and prebiotic rich foods.
Please feel free to schedule an appointment to discuss a holistic protocol to combat your child’s allergy symptoms. You can schedule an appointment online at www.proactivepeds.com.