By Ray Hinish, Pharm.D., CPT, LWMC www.illnessisoptional.com | 410-356-2169
Ahh, feel that? Spring is in the air. Ahh, the days are getting warmer. Ahh, the flowers are starting to bloom. And, ahh, ahh achoo! It’s allergy season again.
Blame global warming, blame antibiotics in our food, blame the Japan earthquake, but for those of us who suffer from allergies, the symptoms seem to be getting worse for Marylanders statewide. No matter whom you blame, our misery is real and so, by association, is the misery we inflict upon our loved ones who suffer through our suffering.
With most allergy medications now available without a prescription, you would think that we would be able to get through the season with little discomfort. Unfortunately, even with the most powerful drugs many of us continue to suffer through the Spring with puffy eyes, noses that flow like Niagara Falls, and miserable sinus headaches that guarantee that we will not enjoy the beautiful spring weather.
So, if medicqtions can only offer temporary and minor symptom relief, what are we to do?
Being an allergy sufferer myself, I have spent the last decade investigating some of the most powerful anti-allergy compounds available through nature’s laboratory. When you make use of these powerful compounds, you will typically enjoy fewer symptoms and the symptoms that do occur will typically be less severe.
And that’s nothing to sneeze at.
Allergies occur after exposure to some sort of trigger such as pollen, which we call an “allergen”. Once the allergen makes contact with the moist environment of the eyes, sinuses, and/or throat, the body senses the allergen and, being a natural worrier, mistakes the allergen for some sort of bacteria or virus that is trying to enter into the body.
In an attempt to prevent the perceived threat from entering the blood, the body sends out signals that cause mucous flow (to trap and expel the offending organism), sinus swelling (to prevent entry of the organism deeper into the respiratory tract), and watering of eyes (to expel anything that could pose a risk to sight).
As you can see, the body has your best intentions in mind when it mounts an allergy reaction, the problem is, the body is misperceiving a harmless allergen for a potential threat and thus the reaction is exaggerated and unnecessary.
Nature has manufactured many compounds to counteract this exaggerated allergy response. Interestingly, many of these compounds are produced in fruits and vegetables that occur in season with allergy symptoms.
It is almost as if nature was anticipating the allergy reactions and providing the remedy along with the cause. The problem is, we don’t consume these compounds in any volume in our diet any more.
There are many natural compounds that have proven themselves to be powerful allies in the fight against allergy symptoms.
Quercetin – Considered nature’s most powerful anti-histamine, quercetin is a bioflavonoid that is found abundantly in fruits, vegetables, and teas. Sources include apples, onions, parsley, citrus, grapes, dark cherries, and most berries. Quercetin helps to stabilize mast cells, immune cells that are known to leak histamine, the primary cause of most allergies. Most allergy medications work by inhibiting histamine release or by blocking histamine receptors. Quercetin works by a slightly different mechanism, virtually plugging up the holes in the mast cells that leak histamine. Recommended Doses are 1,000 mg to 3,000 mg in divided doses throughout the day.
Stinging Nettle – Stinging nettle is one of the most powerful anti-allergy herbs available and works very well when combined with quercetin. While quercetin works to prevent histamine release, stinging nettle works on other inflammatory compounds that impact allergy symptoms. Recommended dose: 1000 mg – 4,000 mg per day.
Rosemary Extract – This year I have added rosemary extract to my list of recommended supplements for allergy symptoms due to some compelling research that suggests that a natural compound found in rosemary extract, called rosmarinic acid, can actually balance the immune system in such a way that decreases inflammation in the body. The recommended dose is 50 mg of rosemarinic acid twice daily.
Conventional medicine’s model of disease treatment is to find and target one particular compound that is associated with a particular disease. In the case of allergies, the drug companies attempt to decrease histamine while ignoring other important inflammatory compounds and immune cells.
Natural products allow us to approach a health challenge from multiple pathways without risk of side effects. In fact, we have discovered that there is a synergistic effect from the use of multiple natural products. In other words, the benefits accomplished through the use of multiple herbs and nutrients are far greater than the sum of the individual parts.
There are many well-balanced natural allergy formulas on the market. For a foundation product containing quercetin, stinging nettle, and other powerful allergy-normalizing compounds, I recommend you try Natural D-Hist by Orthomolecular products (call our office about this product) or Aller-Res-Q by Natura Health Products. The recommended dose is 2 capsules two to three times daily. This year, I am also recommending a product called Butterbur with Standardized Rosemarinic Acid by Life Extension Products 1 softgel twice daily.
A bonus tip is to flush out the allergens. The sinuses are very good at trapping allergens; unfortunately they are not so good at kicking these offending allergens out. To flush them of these offending products, wash the sinuses every morning and evening with a neti pot or Nasaline nasal syringe. These tools are a powerful way to dramatically improve your sinus allergy symptoms. Admittedly, sinus rinsing is uncomfortable at first, however, like many of our patients who are resistant, you too will quickly find yourself addicted to the clean and open feelings that follow this morning and evening ritual.