PC – allergy prep

With “allergy season” fast upon us, I thought today would be a good time to compare a few allergy products on the market and learn what they do and why. There are lots of natural remedies for allergy sufferers, so read ahead and learn how to take your spring and summer back!

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Seasonal Allergies
Mostly caused by pollen, ragweed, dust, animal dander, mold, and all sorts of stuff. Usually seasonal allergies (or “hayfever”) start near the end of spring and continue until the late summer when all the pollen is done blowing in the air.

What causes my symptoms?
Essentially, allergy symptoms like runny nose, watery itchy eyes, hives, sneezing, etc. are caused by an over-production of histamine – a chemical produced by the immune system in response to irritants. Every body makes histamine, but some make it more than others in response to normally benign particles, like pollen. A histamine response causes inflammation of the tissues and generally sounds the alarm that something is in the body that shouldn’t be there. Your body is trying to eliminate that substance! Sneezing = propelling the irritant out of the nasal cavity; watery eyes and nose = liquifying mucous so the irritant has no place to stick.

Many of us (myself included) are fortunate not to get seasonal allergies, but for those who do, I’m sure there are many moments you guys feel like ripping up all the flowers from the earth and throwing them in the garbage.Read ahead and empower yourself with the tools to keep those pretty eyes open this season and ENJOY the nice weather!

Allergy Tips and Products
My best suggestion? Always remember 2 things: support your immune system, and decrease your histamine response.

Claritin or Reactine 
These are ‘anti-histamines’ you get from the drug store. As a holistic-minded person, these aren’t my first choice because I know there are lots of natural alternatives. However I will admit that they do work in a pinch. The active ingredient is Loratadine or Cetirizine HCl, respectively. These drugs are effective at suppressing the production of histamine, HOWEVER they usually have quite the list of side effects (including drowsiness) and contraindications. They also are recommended to take throughout the allergy season which can be costly. Finally, there is anecdotal evidence that your body becomes less sensitive to the medication over time (i.e. with long term use it loses its effectiveness).

QuercetinQuercetin
This is an antioxidant and bioflavonoid that reduces your immune system’s release of histamine. It accomplishes both of my goals – supports the immune system, and decreases the histamine response.

Vitamin C
VItamin C is a potent immune system supporter and naturally works to decrease histamine in the body. Get vitamin C sources from whole foods like camu-camu berries, moringa leaf powder, acai berries, red peppers, and brightly coloured fruits and vegetables. If you are a severe allergy sufferer, take a supplemental vitamin C  – you can even dose up until you reach bowel tolerance (until you get loose stools), usually doses above 5g/day.

Essential Fats
Essential fats fall under the category of supporting the immune system because they are naturally anti-inflammatory. Allergies cause inflammatory symptoms, so consuming lots of good fats like flax oil, fish oil, hemp seeds or avocados can dampen your inflammatory response.

Check your Diet
Are you eating foods that you may be sensitive to? If you are eating foods that you know cause upset stomach or irritation (i.e. if you are lactose intolerant, have a gluten sensitivity, etc.) you need to avoid these foods especially during allergy season. You will only be causing more of an immune reaction and inflammatory response!

Histaminum 
This is a homeopathic remedy used for sensitizing the body to a histamine response. It basically gives your body a teeny tiny minute dose of histamine, which stimulates your body’s resources to bounce back and respond in an efficient manner. Always check with your naturopath or doctor first, but from what I have learned homeopathics are generally completely safe and have no toxicity level. The key to their effectiveness is frequency, not quantity, i.e. dissolving 3 pellets under your tongue 5 times a day is much more effective than dissolving 15 pellets all at once.

There you have it. We are still in spring so there is lots of time left before full-on allergy season hits. Prep yourself early with these tips and have a good season!

-Emily

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