Springtime Allergies are here and everyone is suffering
Springtime has come early here in South Florida a little bit ahead of the rest of the country. We can thank Hurricane Irma for causing all our plants to rebound from Mother Nature’s wrath last fall. What does this mean? Nature is creating equilibrium with our plants bouncing back from the devastation of the hurricane and subsequently causing plants and flowers to pollinate earlier and heavier than normal. I have witnessed mango trees blooming early in February. As a fellow allergy sufferer I can empathize with all of you afflicted with springtime allergies, many whom I treat in my practice. When I initially meet with a patient who suffers from springtime allergies, I explain how the immune system works. I use the analogy: our immune system is like a barrel – when you are suffering from allergies, it is like your allergy barrel is overflowing. I give them simple strategies to help reduce the level in their ”allergic barrel” so they will be less likely to overflow during allergy season.
Here are a few suggestions:
One of the simplest things patient can do is nasal lavage. This can be performed with premix saline packets or saline in a pressurized can. You can even make your own at home by using a mixture of 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of baking soda mixed in 1 cup of distilled water. I prefer a bulb syringe as the water pressure is better at removing mucous than a neti pot. This should be done twice a day, once in the morning and right before bedtime. Nasal lavage helps clear the cilia inside the nose of pollen and other micro particles before they can enter the blood stream and cause a possible reaction. This practice has been performed for thousands of years and it is quite effective and very inexpensive. If allergies are extreme I suggest following up with either Sino Fresh or an inhaled nasal prescription from their GP or allergist. It is important for readers to understand that irrigating the nose is primary which allows medication to penetrate easier.
Eliminate all junk food, artificial colors and additives that are in your food. Not only does this improve your immune system, but it helps avoid inflammatory chemicals that are hard to eliminate naturally from your body.
Eat a well-balanced diet of whole grains, organic free-range animals, healthy fats such as nuts and seeds and get 7-11 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. A proper diet keeps the immune system strong and healthy. Drink 64 ounces of water. Plenty of water helps the body flush toxins out of the body. The essential substances of food and water build the defensive qi of the body. (Our immune system)
Eliminate all dairy products until allergy season is over or all together. In Chinese Dietary therapy we know that dairy is very mucous-producing. I have had many patients who have eliminated dairy during the allergy season and their runny nose and stuffy sinuses have almost magically disappeared. I also encourage patients to give up gluten and sugar as well which contribute to more phlegm.
Exercise regularly. This helps boost the immune system. Try doing things indoors until allergy season is over by lowering your exposure to pollen in the air. Many studies suggest that a variety of exercise can actually strengthen the immune system.
Clean out your environment. Try keeping your bedroom free of pollen and dust. Nighttime and sleep are when our bodies regenerate. Lower your exposure to dust and pollen by removing shoes and clothing from the day before you enter the bedroom. Try to decrease as much clutter as possible to avoid “dust collectors”. If possible invest in Hepa filter to clean the air in the bedroom. This filter is my personal favorite.
Use only natural unscented cleaners, perfumes, shampoos, laundry soap and household products to decrease the chemical load at home. Dryer sheets and perfumed fabric softeners may leave your sheets and towels soft, but may also make your skin itch and your nose run.
Finally, I personally recommend patients to take the following supplements beginning one month before allergy season starts:
Quercetin. Quercetin has demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory activity by inhibiting both manufacture and release of histamine and other allergic/inflammatory mediators. Quercetin is found in apples, the pith of citrus fruits, and green leafy vegetables. I recommend 1,000 mg, three times a day. Since you can’t ingest 1000 mg simply from food sources, I recommend a high potency with no fillers. Look for a product that contains bioflavonoids as well.
Fish oil. Studies have demonstrated that fish oil is an excellent anti-inflammatory. Look for fish oil with high doses of EPA, one of the acids in fish oil that decreases inflammation. There are good supplements that have high doses of EPA (over 1000 mg/2 tablets available in health food stores). Take two pills of fish oil 2 times a day. Try and take at least 2,000 mg of EPA a day with food before 3pm as fish oil can cause insomnia in approximately 10% of people who consume it. You can also eat oily fish 2-3 times a week if you do not want to take fish oil. Salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines and albacore tuna are good sources.
For acute reactions I recommend stinging nettles. In 1990, the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon, conducted a double-blind study of the efficacy of a freeze-dried preparation of stinging nettle on allergic rhinitis. The group treated with the nettle preparation fared moderately better than their placebo-treated counterparts. I recommend 350 mg/2x/day which is what studies suggest as well.
Both quercetin and Fish oil need to be taken for several weeks until a high enough blood level is achieved to bring down inflammation. You can purchase medical grade supplements at a 20% discount through my online dispensary.
Finally, reduce stress. Stress can be one of the biggest sources of inflammation that can cause your “barrel” to overflow any time of the year. Learn to meditate or participate in activities the help reduce stress and tension. Not only will it help you survive the springtime allergies, but help build your immune system all year long! Acupuncture can help with stress, springtime allergies and balancing the body to make it stronger. Several studies have shown that acupuncture has good clinical results with allergic rhinitis, itchy eyes along with dermatitis associated with allergies.
If you are suffering with allergies call the office today at (305)682-9258 for an consultation or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.