Adults and children are experiencing increased sensitivity to nearly every imaginable substance from foods to pet dander, pollen, mold, dust, water, sunlight, environmental pollutants, and chemicals.
With new growth of plants and grasses in spring, many people suffer with allergies and hay fever. This is especially true from spring through fall, but can occur anytime of year, especially in warm climates.
Seasonal allergies are more than a nuisance. They cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms and can even affect your mood and lead to anxiety and depression.
This article offers insight into the reasons many people suffer with allergies while others who are exposed to the same environments do not. It addresses root causes which is the best way to eliminate allergies permanently. Therapeutic Nutrition, safe, effective herbal medicine and supplements, and lifestyle practices are included.
These recommendations are based on the wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine. TCM has existed in some form for more than 3,000 years. It is true holistic medicine based on sound principles that are timeless, rather than the fleeting trends and fads of the day.
Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies
- watery, itchy eyes
- runny or stuffy nose
- itchy throat, ear canals, or sinuses
- ear congestion
- postnasal drainage
- itchy skin and rashes
- digestive disturbances
- irritability, depression
- malaise, fatigue, insomnia
Getting to the Root Causes
The root of allergies is organ disharmonies. Allergies represent poor immunity, and malfunction of the liver’s capacity to deactivate antigens. Lungs are the primary organ affected. When the Qi (energy) of the lung is deficient its function is impaired and immunity is weakened. When external pathogens attack the already weakened Lungs and immune system, the result is often allergies, sinusitis, and asthma.
A congested liver is often a significant pathogenic influence in allergy conditions. Stagnant liver energy and liver heat suppress the digestive and assimilative functions which, in turn, inhibit the circulating functions of the Lung. Part of the liver’s job is to filter toxins from the blood. A burdened liver cannot do so effectively. Learn more about healing your liver.
Digestive dampness leads to phlegm in the stomach, lungs, and throat. This creates an environment for bacteria and fungi to thrive and proliferate, weakening immunity and overall health. Treatment should include elimination of mucus causing foods, and the addition of therapeutic foods and herbs that resolve digestive phlegm, and decongest the lungs and liver.
Chronic asthma is a common pattern with allergies and sinusitis. Studies show about two-thirds or more of those with asthma also have allergies. In this case there are lung and kidney deficiencies that must be addressed to reverse the symptoms and strengthen the health of these organs. These are issues too complex to be fully addressed in this article. For personalized guidance schedule a session.
If seasonal allergies occur more in the spring, your liver needs some healing. If symptoms occur more in the fall, they are more related to lung imbalances.
Some Causes of Organ Disharmonies
There are over 70,000 chemicals commercially produced in the United States and the number is increasing. We come into contact with more than 500 chemicals and toxic substances every day many of which accumulate in the body’s tissues and organs. This leads to weakened immunity; a variety of short and long term health conditions; and adverse effects to lungs, liver, and kidneys.
Many of these chemicals are in products used daily including household cleaners, laundry detergents, processed foods, prescription and OTC drugs, gasoline, alcohol, pesticides, fuel oil, cosmetics, shampoos, skin care products, even some foods. Chemicals from manufacturing pollute the air that we breathe.
Chemicals are one reason immune systems are becoming weaker and making many people more susceptible to seasonal allergies and other health challenges.
Many prescription medications can weaken your immune system and put you at risk for fungal infections. Candida is caused by a yeast and is a type of fungus. Candida overgrowth is implicated in extensive allergies.
Foods That Harm
Cow’s milk products are tremendous mucus producers and a burden to the respiratory, digestive, and immune systems. They contribute to allergies, asthma, and sinusitis. Cysts, tumors, skin diseases, arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease are also linked to cow’s milk products. It’s best to avoid them.
Removing cow’s products from the diet has been shown to shrink enlarged tonsils and adenoids, and many physicians report a reduction in asthma flare-ups, colds, flus, allergies, and sinus, throat and ear infections with diets free if all cow’s milk products.
Beer, wine, and liquor contain histamine, produced by yeast and bacteria during the fermentation process. Vodka, whiskey, gin, and rum have less. Histamine is the chemical that sets off allergy symptoms. Wine and beer also contain sulfites, another group of compounds known to provoke asthma and allergy symptoms.
Flavor Houses give your food flavor. Flavor chemists formulate the flavors that are in nearly every packaged, processed, and preserved product that you eat and drink. Food manufacturers can make food faster and cheaper this way. The FDA does not require flavor ingredients to be listed individually on food labels. So, what are you really eating?
Foods that inflame symptoms
- Red meat, beef, lamb, pork, processed meats, and dairy products influence allergies by setting the stage for inflammation. Plant proteins are better choices.
- Processed and highly refined foods, and junk food are linked to the increase in and severity of allergies.
- Wheat causes inflammation and many health issues besides seasonal allergies. Best to avoid it.
- Minimize hot spicy foods and avoid greasy food to reduce symptoms and improve health.
- Constant use of sweeteners, including artificial sweeteners, raises inflammatory markers, makes people allergic, and worsens symptoms.
Many people have sensitivities, even allergic reactions, to foods. This may be your body’s way of telling you that certain foods are not appropriate. Reactions to highly refined, denatured and chemical foods, and otherwise imbalanced foods, are helpful since you know those foods are compromising your health. You now have a choice and I hope you’ll choose to avoid them.
Reactions can also occur from poor food combinations. There is a direct relationship between your gut health and lungs and immunity. Food allergies and sensitivities will be addressed in another blog post. The focus of this article is seasonal allergies.
Consider a Holistic Health and Nutrition Consultation for appropriate foods and combining for your specific health conditions. Many people with allergies have complex problems that are best addressed with the help of a qualified practitioner.
Foods that Heal
Omega-3 fatty acids benefit those who suffer with allergies, hay fever, and asthma. They are abundant in these foods:
- Salmon, lake trout, sardines, anchovies, mackerel and other fish
- Seaweed – Recipe for Seaweed Salad Here
- Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, hemp and chia seeds, walnuts
- Edamame and dark green leafy vegetables
- Tofu and Tempeh – Recipes Here
Teas and Healing Foods
- Foods with the pungent flavor help clear phlegm and mucus especially in the respiratory system, and improve a sluggish liver. They include onions, garlic, turnip, ginger, cabbage, horseradish, radish, and daikon; and these culinary herbs: basil, fennel, marjoram, rosemary, dill and bay leaf. Learn how food flavors can heal or harm. Try my Colorful Cabbage Slaw. It includes pungent vegetables and is tasty and healing.
- Fermented vegetables contain enzymes and beneficial bacteria called probiotics that are essential for gut health. They are inexpensive and easy to make. Eat a small portion daily with one or two meals. A healthy gut contributes to healthy lungs.
- The rich beta-carotene content of golden-orange foods and greens help protect lungs and immunity. Include carrot, winter squash, sweet potatoes, broccoli, peas and parsley regularly.
- Chlorophyll-rich dark green vegetables include kale, boy choy, collard greens, watercress, mustard greens, dandelion greens, and other hard, dark leafy greens. They are also high in omega-3 fatty acids. Best to eat them daily, cooked rather than raw.
- Stinging nettles can be steamed or blanched for a few minutes, or add them to any recipe that calls for greens.. You must wear gloves when you harvest them, slice them, and add them to the pot to avoid being stung by their prickly leaves.
- High fiber foods cleanse the colon and lungs and whole, unrefined grains are the best source, including brown rice, barley, quinoa, and millet. Recipes Here Keep in mind that bread, crackers, cereals, and pasta labeled whole grain are NOT whole grains. They are refined.
- Garlic is rich in flavonoids and can reduce mucus and congestion. Avoid if you have GERD or heat signs such as yellow or green mucus, fever, or an aggressive, angry personality.
- A gentle cleanse can be very helpful. I’ve included one in my Spring Cleanse post.
- Green tea contains flavonoids called catechins and helps prevent cell receptors from triggering an allergic response to a wide range of allergens. Drink several cups a day.
- Peppermint tea helps to break up congestion and relieve nasal symptoms.
Allergy Tonic Tea
- Chop one teaspoon fresh ginger and simmer in a covered pot with 2 cups of water for 5-6 minutes.
- Strain and return the liquid to the pan.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon each of turmeric and cinnamon.
- Simmer over low heat a few minutes, stirring until dissolved.
- Turn off heat and add one teaspoon raw honey. Drink Warm.
Safe, Effective Herbs and Supplements
Many allergy sufferers are finding that prescription and non-prescription drugs not only cause uncomfortable side effects, but also lose their effectiveness in time. They are a band-aid and do not heal the cause of the problem. The following remedies are safe and effective.
Natural antihistamines suppress the production of histamines and can reduce symptoms of seasonal allergies. Vitamin C and bioflavonoids are immune-enhancing antioxidants that provide natural antihistamines and anti-inflammatory effects. Bioflavonoids stabilize cell membranes so histamines aren’t easily released. They are found in berries of all kinds, some herbs, spices and citrus fruits.
- Xanthium is an herb well known to modern research and Xanthium Relieve Surface is an excellent allergy formula. It opens nasal passages, expels mucus and helps other symptoms. This formula combines Xanthium with other herbs to increase its effectiveness without the side effects that are found in Western medications. For best results take with Astra C, one of the best products for strengthening immunity.
- Astra C treats chronic rhinitis and allergic rhinitis; enhances the body’s protective power, or Wei Qi; strengthens resistance; dispels dampness. This formula combines astragalus root, an immune booster, with vitamin C, zinc citrate, and other herbs to strengthen resistance. If you have seasonal allergies I highly recommend taking Astra C starting at least a month before allergy season begins.
- Chlorella, algae, spirulina, and cereal grasses help heal allergies because of their immune-enhancing, anti-inflammatory properties. They contain an abundance of omega-3 and GLA fatty acids. However, they are not one-size-fits-all. Some are extremely cooling; others are moistening. Using the wrong one for your condition will at best do nothing, and, at worst, cause more symptoms. To determine which of these high chlorophyll products are best for you contact me.
- Quercetin is a potent flavonoid that inhibits the release of histamine. It is found in apples, berries, grapefruit, onions and cabbage family vegetables. Quercetin is also available as a supplement. Quercenol is a high quality supplement that combines quercetin with antioxidant compounds from nature. It’s antioxidant and immune-boosting properties are more effective than coenzyme Q10.
- EPAQ Omega 3 Krill Fish Oil is useful for its anti-inflammatory properties, and is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. It does not cause burping, reflux or indigestion as regular fish oil does.
- Some research shows that milk thistle may inhibit the release of histamines. This potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory herb, known as an herb for liver health, contains flavonoids that protect cells by neutralizing the effects of free radicals. Do not use milk thistle if you are allergic to plants in the Asteraceae family.
- Probiotics are friendly bacteria that help normalize immune function and minimize allergic responses. Many probiotics do not survive stomach acid. My favorite is Megasporebiotic, the first 100% spore-based broad-spectrum probiotic. Spore based probiotics are more effective than conventional probiotics.
- Stinging Nettles contains anti-inflammatory substances, flavonoids, vitamins and minerals. Studies report significant reduction in seasonal allergy symptoms with nettle leaf. You can infuse one ounce of dried nettle leaf in a quart of boiling water for four hours or longer. Also available as a tincture, and capsules. Gaia is a very good brand, and there are others.
Acupuncture and Shiatsu
These modalities stimulate circulation of blood and energy through the meridians to support immune function and organ health. Acupuncture uses needles; shiatsu uses hands. Significant improvement has been seen with these two modalities.
Irrigate sinuses with a saline solution or use a neti pot with warm water and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. This removes pollen from the nasal mucosa where it generates an allergic response. I recommend pouring boiling water through your neti pot before each use to sterilize it, and prefer ceramic neti pots over plastic. You can alternate use of neti pot and XLEAR Nasal Spray
Use the Power of Breath
Learn and practice long, slow, deep diaphragmatic breathing many times throughout the day. Consult with a yoga instructor if you do not know this technique. Filling your body with oxygen is the most simple and inexpensive (it’s free) way to improve your physical and mental health. Most people get one-quarter the amount of oxygen the lungs were designed to hold. When cells do not receive enough oxygen your body is working at 20-25% of its potential.
When you fully oxygenate your body with deep breathing, you will strengthen lung health, immunity, increase energy, and have more control over your moods, emotions, and your effectiveness in life.
You don’t have to accept allergies and withdrawing from activities that give you enjoyment as an inevitable part of your life if you begin to make consistent changes now. You can stop suffering from allergies; improve overall health; and prevent more serious health problems.
All problems are urging you to make important new, sustainable choices that will give you even greater health and happiness than you have imagined. You have a lot of power to create better health, and I’ve provided a lot of ways for you to do so . You don’t have to do all of them. But please choose a few and do them now. Be consistent and you will receive many pay-offs. Consider working with me. I will customize a plan based on your Whole Health as I’ve done successfully for thousands of others.
“For decades I have been suffering with allergies. I cough and wheeze and sniffle constantly–so much that I become dysfunctional. Pollen, smog, smoke and foods all cause these symptoms. It has even gotten to the point that when I exercise or even go outside in humidity the symptoms worsen. This has greatly affected my lifestyle. I can’t go out dancing with my friends, or exercise (which I enjoy) and have had to avoid many situations that I enjoy. I have taken so many medications, including inhalers, that I’ve lost track. On top of that I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and have had extremely heavy periods with a lot of pain.
After working with you over a six-month period things have changed drastically. I no longer have any of the IBS symptoms, and my periods have become more normal with no pain. I believe it has been the combination of foods and herbs that has gradually rebuilt my system to the point where I can go out dancing, be outdoors, exercise and just enjoy my life a whole lot more without allergy symptoms or medications. The stress reduction techniques you taught me are something that I will always use, and I feel the shiatsu therapy enhanced the reversal of every symptom I was experiencing. Thank you!” Susan L. Pittsburgh
Consider some professional guidance for the right nutrition and customized holistic health plan for reversing allergies, healing the causes, and regenerating your health. You can greatly improve every aspect of your physical, mental and emotional health with a customized holistic approach. Schedule a Holistic Health and Nutrition session with Deborah Barr, 35-year Holistic Health and Nutrition Counselor. You’ll be on your way to better health. Sessions can be done by phone, zoom, Skype, or at Pittsburgh office.
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