By Fran Sussman
For the Times Herald-Record
Published: 2:00 AM – 06/30/10
Ah, the lovely Hudson Valley. So beautiful … yet, so many people never suffered from allergies before they arrived in this lush and scenic land. Along with the wonderful fragrances of flowers and freshly mown lawns, our air is filled with pollens, molds, pollution and other irritants. About 40 percent of children are affected, and even more adults. That’s an epidemic.
The medicine chest is not the only option. In fact, allergy medicines do nothing to help you get better; they just suppress symptoms temporarily. And given the recent recalls of some over-the-counter allergy medications (particularly for kids) and the dire warnings on prescriptions (have you looked?), you might think twice about using them regularly.
While they may be practical in terms of being able to function short-term, wouldn’t you rather eliminate the problem altogether, and improve your health at the same time? It may be more possible than you think.
Holistic health is about finding the underlying causes of symptoms, and addressing those at the fundamental level, rather than dealing only with symptoms.
The food connection
When I began focusing on helping clients identify and eliminate food sensitivities, I noticed a surprising pattern: Client after client reported that their environmental allergies decreased or disappeared when their diet changed. When allergy season rolled around again, most found they didn’t suffer nearly as much, if at all, and fewer needed medication.
This connection makes sense. Your GI tract is a greater area of exposure to toxins than your ears, nose and throat. By identifying and eliminating problems there, you boost your immune system and your overall health significantly.
At any given time, your system has a set amount of energy to deal with stress. By eliminating one area of stress, you free up your energy, and biochemistry, to deal with another. This is called reducing allostatic load, resulting in overall improvement in health and the immune system.
Heal the gut, heal so much more
Furthermore, allergic reactions are inflammatory reactions, and inflammation has been linked to many chronic and serious health problems, from heart disease to cancer, arthritis, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
Eliminating inflammation in the digestive tract will lower inflammation throughout the body. I consistently see clients experience improvements in many other seemingly unrelated symptoms, including allergies and asthma, joint pain, migraines and so much more, by healing the gut.
As my teacher Dr. Diana Schwarzbein says, “The road to health is paved with good intestines!” So to reduce or eliminate your allergies, you might need to heal your gut.
Natural symptomatic relief
While trying to find and address the underlying causes of allergy symptoms, you are not going to want to be running around with red, puffy eyes and a runny nose. Fortunately, there are a variety of natural ways to get symptomatic relief (see my tips below).
As always, do not make changes in medications without consulting your prescribing physician, and always consult a health professional about chronic health issues.
Tip #1: The Cause & The Cure
Plants can be the cause of allergic reactions — and also their cure.
Quercitin, found in apples and red onions, can help reduce itchiness and swelling. Therapeutic doses in tablets or capsules, help control the histamine reaction, and seem to make cells less reactive to allergens.
Stinging nettles combine flavanoids with plant sterols, and have been used traditionally for respiratory issues.
Both flavanoids and plant sterols have been shown to have cholesterol-lowering effects as well, and are anti-inflammatory.
Tip #2: Jump Start the Healing
Homeopathy is a safe, effective and economical approach for many acute health problems.
It uses tiny doses of substances to activate the body’s own healing.
The principle of homeopathy is that “like cures like” so, for instance, if your eyes and nose were streaming clear, slightly burning fluids — just like when you cut raw onions — you might benefit from using homeopathic onion, called by its Latin name, allium cepa.
If you’re considering using homeopathy for any serious or chronic conditions, always consult a professional homeopath.
Tip #3: Tea Time For Sinuses
The neti pot has been around for centuries, and its popularity in this country is increasing, for good reason.
It looks like a very small elongated teapot and is used to irrigate the nasal passages, providing both healing and soothing.
Although it may seem odd at first, people are usually enthusiastic once they experience its benefits.
The neti pot is filled with a mild, warm saline solution, which clears away pollen and other irritants, including bacteria, that can contribute to nasal and sinus congestion. You can also add 1/4 teaspoon of xylitol, a natural sweetener and also an anti-microbial, and a pinch of baking soda for a stronger, more effective “brew”.
Fran Sussman has been a holistic practitioner in Orange County since 1993, combining nutritional counseling, kinesiology and homeopathy to address a wide range of issues for clients of all ages. Visit http://www.fransussman.com or call 496-0385.