Most of us celebrate the emerging tree buds, sprouting flowers and bursts of colour in our gardens and countryside that declare the arrival of spring! But for seasonal allergy sufferers, the explosion of pollens throughout spring and summer can bring on miserable symptoms that feels like anything but a party.
What are Seasonal Allergies?
Seasonal allergies, like all allergic reactions, are the result of an exaggerated immune response to a substance the immune systems interprets as threatening. These substances (such as pollen) aren’t actually harmful to the body, however they will trigger the body to release histamine which creates inflammation of the mucous membranes and can cause reactions of varying severity. An over sensitive immune system may respond to these triggers with itching, swelling, skin or eye irritation, coughing, increased mucous production and/or nasal congestion.
An immune system that has been overwhelmed by unidentified food or environmental sensitivities will produce a heightened response to seasonal allergens. Gut health plays a role in seasonal allergies as well, given that a large portion of immune system cells are found in the walls of the gastrointestinal tract. A healthy gut = a healthy immune system! Physical or emotional stress may also increase symptoms for allergy sufferers. Genetic factors play a role as well; a child whose parents suffer from allergies has a 70% chance of developing allergies themselves.
Avoiding the allergen itself is the best way to avoid allergy symptoms however this can be challenging with a substance like pollen. Allergy sufferers can decrease allergic reactions by limiting exposure to allergens and immune system stressors by keeping these tips in mind:
- Pollens are at highest concentrations in the morning between 5am and 10am but lowest after it rains.
- Protect your home and workplace from pollens by keeping windows closed while pollens and other allergens are in the air.
- Consider using an air purification system.
- Be sure to exercise indoors.
- Smoking and exposure to second hand smoke weakens the immune system therefore increasing the body’s sensitivity to allergens.
Improve Overall Health to Decrease Seasonal Allergies
A healthy immune system and great overall health go a long way in reducing seasonal allergy symptoms! The pillars of good health to decrease stress, make healthy food choices, exercise regularly and be well rested may seem simple, but their effects on the body can be enormous! In addition, regular cleaning with herbs like dandelion root or milk thistle can reduce the buildup of allergens in the system. You can also support the immune system by:
- Choosing foods that are high in antioxidants such leafy greens and berries
- Taking a probiotic to keep gut flora in balance
- Supplementing with vitamin C and vitamin D supplement year-round
- Identify any unknown food or environmental sensitivities
Conventional Treatment of Seasonal Allergies
Conventional treatment of seasonal allergies is targeted at decreasing symptoms. Antihistamines, which block the release of histamine, are the most common treatment for mild to moderate seasonal allergies. Histamine is released by mast cells and binds to receptors in the blood vessels which causes them to swell. Histamine attaches to other receptor sites as well causing redness, swelling and itching. By blocking histamine from being released in the first place, antihistamines prevent these symptoms from occurring. Although antihistamines can be an effective treatment for seasonal allergies, they can cause drowsiness and foggy thinking. Luckily, there are several alternative options which can be just as effective in getting you through allergy season.
Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids
Did you know that humans and hamsters are the only mammals that don’t produce their own source of Vitamin? Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine which destroys the molecular structure of histamine, thereby decreasing the amount of histamine in the blood. Taking a Vitamin C supplement which also includes bioflavonoids increases the efficacy of the Vitamin C. Keep in mind, the half-life of Vitamin C is only 30 minutes! After that, it is no longer effective for the body. This means that taking Vitamin C throughout the day is essential for maximum benefit to combat seasonal allergies.
Quercetin is a bioflavonoid found in a variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains. Flavonoids give flowers and fruits their vibrant colors and are natural antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. Quercetin specifically is also a natural antihistamine. By calming mast cells, quercetin prevents or reduces the release of histamines when taken regularly. Quercetin works very well in combination with Vitamin C.
Nettle Leaf (or Stinging Nettle) can be taken in capsules, tincture or as a tea. It is a mild tasting herb that can be used to relieve allergy symptoms by stabilizing mast cells which release histamine. If using the tea, steep for 10 minutes and drink 1-3 cups a day – the more the better! For best results, sweeten a cup of Nettle Leaf tea with raw local honey!
Raw Local Honey
Consuming raw local honey has been an allergy relief go-to for years. When consuming local honey, the person is also ingesting tiny amounts of local pollen spores. Gradually over time, this exposure can help the body become desensitized to local pollens. Look for raw honey so that trace enzymes, minerals, amino acids and vitamins are intact. Enjoy a spoonful a day!
Real Relief All Allergies (tabs)
Homeocan Allergies (pellets)
If you haven’t been taking your Vitamin C, Quercetin, Nettle Leaf or Raw Honey or your seasonal allergy symptoms are overwhelming , homeopathics can offer quick relief of acute seasonal allergy symptoms. Homeocan offers homeopathic relief of seasonal allergy symptoms in tablet or pellets. Tablets can be taken by adults and children over the age of 6. Pellets can be taken by adults, children and babies. They also offer a similar product in liquid format for children ages 0-9.
Pollen Plus is a preventative homeopathic treatment which desensitizes the immune system to seasonal allergies. It should be taken starting one month before allergy season begins and then throughout allergy season to boost immunity. The Pollen Plus formula is taken only once weekly and is suitable for adults and children over the age of 2. Pollen Plus can be used in conjunction with other seasonal allergy remedies.
Deep Immune for Allergies by St Francis Herbs
One of the most effective products to relieve seasonal allergies is Deep Immune for Allergies by St Francis Herbs. It is a unique formula which combines herbs and homeopathic ingredients to address acute allergy symptoms while supporting the immune system and any underlying, chronic issues which may be the cause of allergy symptoms in the first place.
Optimal immune function requires balance between competing sets of immune cells. Allergy sufferers are known to have a predominance of T-helper cells – as are those with autoimmune diseases and cancer! Taking a balancing product like Deep Immune for Allergies can help restore appropriate immune function while also offering seasonal allergy relief.
To support overall immune function, it is best to start taking Deep Immune for Allergies 4-6 weeks ahead of allergy season. However, quick relief of acute symptoms can still be expected even without advanced supplementation.