08 Jan Allergies
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America website (www.aafa.org), “an estimated 50 million Americans suffer from all types of allergies (1 in 6 Americans) including indoor/outdoor, food & drug, latex, insect, skin and eye allergies.
(Allergy prevalence overall has been increasing since the early 1980s. Allergy is the 5th leading chronic disease in the U.S. among all ages, and the 3rd most common chronic disease among children under 18 years old. Allergies cost us a ton of money and time too. It is estimated that Allergies costs Americans about 7 billion dollars a year. Nearly 6 billion in medication costs alone. Throw on top of this expense the nearly 4 million missed days of work and the aggravation of feeling miserable and you can understand why we see so many commercials for the medication to fight the symptoms we all have.
The focus of this article is on Respiratory allergies like Hay Fever. As Spring approaches, many of us become concerned about what is in store. Will the grass, pollen or trees make us cough, wheeze and sneeze this year? Will I need to use my inhaler? Will I need a decongestant for my stuffy nose? Will those drugs keep drying me out so I can’t even speak? Will the steroids my doctor is giving me make my bones brittle or make me gain wait? Can I even afford the doctor visits and medications? These are all great questions and in my opinion a stress you should have. For the majority of us, if you treat your body right the things you breathe in shouldn’t end up being a problem for you.
Too often we blame our respiratory “allergy” symptoms on something in the air, yet-believe it or not-the underlying cause could be something in your diet. To better understand this statement it is important you understand what is actually happening in your body that triggers your allergy symptoms.
So why do you have allergies?
Allergies are your immune systems overreaction to a foreign protein. This foreign protein can be mold, pollen, yeast or a host of other proteins that for some reason may be considered foreign/strange to the body. Other examples are:
- Dust mite particles
- Animal dander
These are the basic culprits for our respiratory allergies and lead to symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, runny nose, wheezing, asthma and sinusitis.
My opinion why some of us react negatively to some allergens and others don’t is directly related to the strength of our immune system. If your immune system wasn’t stressed or “bogged down” you wouldn’t have as severe reaction to the things you breathe. Your immune system is like the story about the straw that broke the camels back. Which straw was it that actually broke the camels back? We always blame the last one of course, but what about the other objects carried by the camel? Perhaps something else can be removed from the camel to all it to carry that last straw. We react the same way. Our immune systems are reacting all the time to foreign invaders-viruses, bacteria, parasites, abnormal cells and the possible allergy triggers mentioned above. If we are able to remove some of these things from your immune system’s “back”, it would be able to handle the things you can’t control. Since it is difficult to get away from most of these allergy triggers (pollen, dust, mold, yeast) I recommend removing what you can. I am not saying you should get rid of “Fluffy” or “Spot”-I love pets too-but perhaps removing something from your diet might be just the trick to take the “straw” off of your immune system’s back.
My own personal experience with treating my allergies has led me to help thousands suffer no more with respiratory allergies. My “outlaws” own a farm in Pennsylvania. When I would go to the farm and help out, I could only last a few minutes in the barn before my nose would run, I would sneeze like crazy and with more severe cases-I would wheeze and be short of breath. I used to take antihistamines and decongestants just to be able to stay at the farm. It wasn’t until years later that I realized I had a severe sensitivity (allergy) to Gluten-a protein found primarily in Wheat, Barley and Rye. When I removed gluten from my diet, I was able to stay in the barn for hours at a time (even sweep it out). I also noticed that my allergy to cats, perfumes and other things in my environment disappeared. Just by removing the burden on my immune system (Gluten) my body was able to handle a burden that it hadn’t been able to before.
It is estimated that 90 percent of all food allergy (sensitivities) are caused by 8 foods: Milk, wheat, eggs, soy, peanuts, fish, tree nuts and shellfish. The reason I put sensitivities is that too often we are tested for allergies with a skin test. A skin test will not show you what you are sensitive to. As I mentioned above, being sensitive to something will contribute to how well your body handles other things like pollen, dust, mold etc.. I recommend that you have blood work done to determine what you are sensitive to and then make every effort to remove the offending food from your diet-COMPLETELY. The blood work is called E.L.I.S.A. ELISA is an abbreviation for “enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.” The test is used to detect substances in the blood that may trigger an immune system response (allergic response). These substances are primarily proteins such as hormones, bacterial antigens and antibodies. The ELISA test will identify what proteins you are sensitive to and tell you how sensitive you are to them. Once you have this information, you can make attempts to eliminate these from your daily routine and take advantage of science giving you better health.
For those of you who don’t want to make the necessary dietary changes, there are a bunch of nutritional supplements that will give you the relief you are seeking-without any side effects. The top of my list is the herb Butterbur. I jokingly call this herb my herbal antihistamine. It has even been compared to two different prescription antihistamines for its effectiveness. Look for a standardized extract that contains up to 8mg per dose of petasins and is free of pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). I prefer the product Petadolex ®
Rosmarinic acid is another supplement on the rise for allergy sufferers. This compound is found in rosemary, basil, sage and mint. The extract of Rosmarinic acid can decrease your allergy symptoms in as few as 3 days. Life Extension’s
Butterbur Allergy combines butterbur and Rosmarinic acid to give you a 1-2 punch against your respiratory woes.
Another favorite of mine is the herb Nettle (leaf). Be certain the product you purchase is the leaf and not the root. The root is great for prostate health, but won’t help your allergy symptoms at all. This too can provide you with fast effective relief over the months that your symptoms occur.
If you are seeking a great combination product then I would use Nature’s Plus Aller-7-Rx-Respiration. This combination of 7 herbs comes to us from Ayurvedic medicine and not only helps with the runny part of allergy symptoms, but also helps with the stuffiness that often accompanies our allergies. As apposed to modern treatments, this will not cause dry mouth, drowsiness or nervousness. The only issue is that this product can take up to 12 weeks to reach full effects.
Bromelain and enzyme from the stem of a pineapple can also be very effective for allergies. I recommend taking this between meals and at bedtime (on an empty stomach) for best results. Often times this enzyme will be in your digestive enzyme. If it is, there’s usually no need to buy an additional product. Just take your digestive enzyme as mentioned above.
Finally, you may wish to give homeopathy a try. Before I got more into herbal medicine, I had great success using homeopathics for fast effective relief. You will find that the products will often say exactly what you are supposed to use them for right on the label.
Source Naturals-Allercetin Allergy & Sinus, Boiron-Sabadil (Allergy) or Hyland’s-Sinus Tablets are all great examples.
Nutritional supplements will usually get you where you want to go with your health challenges. That is especially true when it comes to Allergies. Remember, it is the 4 Pillars of Great Health, not 3, 2 or 1. You need to live a lifestyle that brings you to great health. Removing the potentially offending food(s) from your diet, getting enough activity to boost immune function and taking care of your mind spirit are all equally important. Following these guidelines will help you through the upcoming Allergy Season.