Well Spring is upon us.
This time of year is beautiful, the weather is warmer, we are able to get out and enjoy the Vitamin D from the sunshine. The flowers are bursting and the birds are singing earlier.
But for some this can be a time of the year that means suffering and sneezing. I was once one of these people. For some spring means allergies and hayfever.
Symptoms of stuffy nose, watery eyes, sneezing and possible asthma symptoms can all be correlated to spring allergies (Hayfever or Allergic Rhinitis).
Allergies can be caused from the pollens emitted in larger amounts in spring. But allergies can also be caused from dust mite or cockroach, mould spores, your pets, or even pollutants such as cigarettes and car exhaust emissions.
Allergic reactions are caused through an inflammatory response. We could liken it to a spot fire. A small spot fire may ignite and be put out quickly without too much effect on the surroundings but if that fire becomes uncontrolled and elevates into a bushfire then the surrounding areas become affected. This is similar to the effect of allergies in the body. A small inflammatory response doesn’t cause many symptoms but if it becomes uncontrolled the inflammation affects all the surrounding tissues and symptoms, like runny nose and itchy eyes ensues.
The allergen has triggered and inflammatory action that is produced by the immune system. Initially when an allergen comes in contact with the mucous membranes of the body, the immune system reacts and produces Immunoglobulin E (IgE). This molecule causes the blood cells to invade and inflame the local site of allergy eg nose. The immune cells release substances to “deal” with the allergen. These substances are inflammatory and cause the symptoms eg itchy eyes and runny nose.
There are herbs, foods and remedies that can be used to control the inflammatory response without the drowsy effects that many pharmaceutical medications can cause. Many of the remedies can also help to reduce the allergic response in the future. Ensuring that you have these nutrients in your eating plan or lifestyle regime regularly can help prevent allergies from gaining a hold over you.
What can you do to control your allergies this spring?
Vitamin C is a terrific vitamin that helps to reduce the histamine release that causes the allergic symptoms. Taking a buffered Vitamin C product can help to minimise your allergic symptoms of runny nose and sneezing but taken over the season can also reduce the incidence and severity of allergic symptoms. Foods high in Vitamin C include: red capsicum, parsley, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, snowpeas, tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, lemons, and limes. Use these foods daily to help bolster your Vitamin C levels.
Vitamin A is a vitamin that can be made in our bodies from betacarotene. Vitamin A protects the delicate mucous membranes that become inflamed during the allergy reaction. When these membranes are protected, the response to the allergen is reduced. Vitamin A is a vitamin that should always be used as directed by a health professional as large quantities can become toxic, however foods that are high in Betacarotene can contribute to the production of Vitamin A in the body. Foods high in Betacarotene include: egg yolk, animal liver eg cod liver oil, carrots, tomato, apricot, mango, pumpkin, sweet potato, and spinach. Many natural allergy medications contain betacrotene or Vitamin A to help protect and reduce the allergy reaction.
Onions and Garlic are great to include in your diet as these foods inhibit the inflammatory chemicals that cause the inflammation and allergic symptoms. If the smell of garlic doesn’t take your fancy, then you can use pickled garlic (available from health food stores) or use red onions in your salads or cooked brown onion in your stirfry.
Herbs such as Horseradish, Stinging nettle, Eyebright, Liquorice (not the confection!), Reishi mushroom, and Perilla seed extract all work well to reduce the allergy reaction by reducing the inflammatory compounds, acting as anti-histamine, or protecting the mucous membranes and reducing the nasal secretions. At Gold Coast Integrative Wellness, we use Perilla seed extract widely and get good long term results for reducing incidence of the allergic reactions.
Herbs should always be taken after consulting a health professional, as herbs such as Liquorice is contra-indicated in people with high blood pressure.
Homeopathics such as Apis mellifica or Urtica urens can also help to reduce the symptoms such as itchy nose and sneezing.
There are many wonderful nutrients and herbs that can help to alleviate your allergies and provide you with a healthy non-drowsy spring.
Embrace your spring and live every beatuiful day to the fullest!!