by DeLois Weekes, RN PhD
Allergies are overaggressive immune responses triggered by ingesting certain foods, touching certain substances, or inhaling irritants such as pollen or animal dander. They are often associated with weakened adrenal, immune, and digestive functions, pollen, spores, mold, and dust (i.e., hay fever or allergic rhinitis). They affect the respiratory system and usually the most difficult to manage.
Adrenal and Immune Systems:
Hormones produced by the adrenal glands which are located on top of the kidneys. The stress hormone cortisol, which is secreted by the Adrenal glands plays an important role in regulating our immune system. Stress can increase or decrease cortisol levels leading to infections, chronic inflammation, autoimmune diseases or allergies. Balanced cortisol levels (stress)is needed for health.
When the body encounters a pathogen/allergen, the immune system responds by quickly attacking it. This causes inflammation, which is often a good thing (it means the immune system is working). Then the immune and endocrine systems are healthy, cortisol helps to moderate inflammation caused by an immune response, but does not eliminate it.
Natural treatments support and boost the adrenal and immune functions to alleviate allergy symptoms. For seasonal allergies, begin natural treatments 1–2 months before the season starts to help reduce severity of symptoms. Make a tea of one herb or a combination of herbs--drink 3 to 4 cups a day. If the herbs are in tincture form, combine several of them and take 1 -3 droppers 3 to 4 times a day.
Good nutrition helps to Reduce Allergy Symptoms:
- Eat low-fat a high-complex-carbohydrate diet
- Drink ½ of body weight in water daily
- Include these foods:
- Dark leafy green vegetables
- Deep yellow and orange vegetables
- Nettles, bamboo shoots, Cabbage
- Beet greens
- Carrots and yams
- Onions, garlic, cayenne, horseradish
What to Eliminate from your Diet?
- Dairy products
- Citrus fruit
- Milk Chocolate
- Food colorings (tartrazine)
- Red meat
- Refined sugar
- Refined wheat
Supplements to Include in Your Diet:
- Bioflavonoids (natural antihistamines and strongly anti-allergenic), (e.g., quercetin, catechin, and hesperidin) 2-3 grams/day--If symptoms severe, take up to 6 grams
- Bromelain and vitamin C can enhance action of bioflavonoids
- Flaxseed oil - 1 tbsp. daily
- Probiotics (e.g., lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidus) - one in morning and one in evening
- Probiotics: bowel microflora organisms—microscopic bacteria that normally inhabit the intestines—buy quality products with 1-4 billion organisms/capsule
Vitamins and Minerals to include in Your Diet:
- Multivitamin – High potency—customized if possible
- Vitamin A - 25,000 IUs daily
- Vitamin E - 400 IUs daily
- Zinc - 30 mg daily
- Vitamin C - 1-3 grams 2 to 3 times daily or as tolerated (Bowel tolerance: amount of vitamin C you can take without experiencing diarrhea (different for each person and can change if the need increases because the body is stressed, injured, or ill)
Herbal medicines rarely have significant side effects when used appropriately and in suggested doses.
Occasionally, an herb at the prescribed dose causes stomach upset or headache--may be related to purity of preparation or added ingredients, such as synthetic binders or fillers. Use only high-quality products. Remember, more is not better as overdosing can lead to serious illness and death. If you are taking prescription medications, consult with your health care provider before using herbal remedies.
Examples of Herbal Remedies:
- Dong quai (Angelica sinensis) - antihistamine and anti-inflammatory
- Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis) - Reduces congestion and secretions, good for itchy eyes, sneezing, and excess mucus
- Gingko (Gingko biloba) - Contains bioflavonoids has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
- Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) - Helps reduce allergic, inflammatory, and histaminic reactions, supports liver function
- Red clover (Trifolium pratense) - Helps build body’s resistance to allergies
- Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) - antihistamine and anti-inflammatory
- Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) - Reduces congestion and secretions
- Try hybrid Bermuda Grass
Good health can help ease allergy symptoms, and good health starts with nutrition (the right foods), vitamins, and minerals. If you’re sensitive to airborne allergens you may also be sensitive to certain foods. Identify and remove those foods and other elements from the diet to improve health and reduce allergy symptoms.