There is nothing quite as annoying as allergy season - believe me, I know. In my teens and early 20's I suffered from debilitating allergy symptoms that plagued me all year long. When I met my husband, he was suffering as well, and when I went into clinical practice I was shocked at the number of people who are also afflicted by seasonal (or perpetual) allergies.
It's almost ubiquitous with being human, and this shouldn't be the case. We are natural beings living in a natural world, and we should be able to do so without discomfort. After many years of trying all sorts of natural remedies, I finally found a way to understand (and heal) this condition from the root.
Simply put, seasonal allergies are a sign that your immune system is being triggered and responding with an inflammatory reaction. This could be because your immune system is depressed from another chronic condition (like stress, other illness or recent anti-biotic use), or because of a genetic predisposition that was naturally turned on when you were born.
Whatever your allergy - be it grass, pollen, hay or other environmental factor - the problem is less with that external trigger and more with the health of your system. By taking a look inward when allergy season approaches, you will see that there is actually potential for healing and taking control of resolving these debilitating symptoms from the inside out.
If you are allergic to something non-natural - like air pollution or chemical fragrance - this is another story and you are better off simply avoiding that irritant. But avoiding pollen or grass? That isn't reasonable for most of us, and it isn't really reasonable to accept that we can't co-exist in our natural environment either.
There has to be a way to find harmony - and there is.
It starts with Healing the Immune Response, then Reducing Inflammation, Improving Sinus Drainage and Mucous Production and finally with Managing Symptoms.
Healing the Immune Response
By taking the focus off of the environment and turning it onto your bodies defense system, approaching seasonal allergies by boosting the immune system is almost always a good first step. The most general way to do this that is safe for most individuals is with the following protocol:
- Vitamin D 3000 IU Daily
- Priobiotic 1x Daily (with a meal)
- Vitamin C 1000mg Daily
- Cod Liver Oil (dose on bottle)
The above regimen is the building blocks of a healthy immune response. If you know when allergy season will hit, take these for at least a month prior to when your symptoms usually start. If you suffer from chronic allergies year-round, just go ahead and start this regimen now.
Healing the immune response takes time. I always approach seasonal allergies with a multi-year approach. Beginning with the above regimen is a great first step.
Allergy symptoms are a direct sign of an inflammatory response, and truthfully, this is a good thing. There is something in the environment that your body is trying to protect you from. In doing so, it creates the gamut of allergy symptoms - sneezing, water/itchy eyes and sinus congestion - to protect you from this invader. But, this is an over-protection.
We need to reverse this response and remind your body it is safe - that it doesn't need this kind of defense mechanism up. That it can deal with the environment around you without being triggered. After you have implemented the above immune system fortification, consider also reducing inflammatory triggers such as:
- Stress (find ways to release tension: increase play, meditation, talking it out)
- Poor Sleep Habits (prioritize rest, it is the foundation of recovering and reversing inflammation)
- Dairy (an inflammatory trigger and mucous-producing agent in most individuals)
- All Processed Foods (stick to real, whole foods - plenty of protein and healthy fats)
- Gluten (an inflammatory trigger for most individuals)
Berries and brightly colored produce contain potent anti-oxidants that can reverse inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. Be sure to add these into your diet in high amounts, always pairing with a healthy fat (like pastured ghee, coconut oil, avocado oil or red palm oil) for optimum absorption.
Same as the Immune System Regimen, begin this protocol 2-4 weeks before allergy symptoms hit. You can begin to ease up on some of the nutritional suggestions as your symptoms improve or allergy season ends.
As I stated earlier, resolving allergies from the root can take years. But you needn't suffer as you heal. There are many strategies to alleviating your discomfort as you go along.
The mucus membranes of your eyes, nose and throat are meant to have a certain amount of mucous in them. In fact, that is how they help your immune system function at it's best. These orifices of the face are your body's first line of defense, and should be able to trap an allergen or germ in their mucous and move it right on out of the body without much negative reaction.
We don't want to dry out these membranes - that will cause the body to fight back with an even bigger immune response by creating even more mucous...and thus negative feedback loop that perpetuates the problem.
Instead, we want to approach symptom management by boosting the immune system, removing inflammatory triggers, improving sinus drainage and gently resolving excess mucous while maintaining moist mucus membranes.
Improve Sinus Drainage
A main concern with seasonal allergies is the inability of the sinuses to drain due to the excess mucous and inflammation. If left untreated, this can lead to some serious infections of the sinuses or ears. While working on your root-level treatments stated above, it is imperative to manage sinus drainage (and mucous) production to prevent these potential side-effects.
A few ways to promote sinus drainage naturally include:
- Acupuncture (directly reduces inflammation so the sinuses can drain)
- Pressure Points (around the eyes and nose, help to open sinus pathways)
- Netti-Pot (if your sinuses are open enough, this is a great way to irrigate them)
- Essential Oils (apply Eucalyptus Oil to the inner nostrils for immediate relief of sinus pressure)
- Surgery (while not a natural solution, it is important rule out any structural closure or deviated septum that might inhibit drainage)
There are several herbal remedies that work specifically to resolve nasal congestion and cool inflammation in the eyes, ears, nose and throat. The great thing about herbal remedies is they won't do this at the expense of your mucus membranes - they will promote symptom relief while also promoting healthy mucous function in these areas.
I always have a bottle of Cang Er Zi Wan in my cabinet for when nasal congestion comes up. Whether it is common-cold or allergy induced, this formula is anti-bacterial and anti-viral and helps clear up symptoms within a day or two.
If you have suffered severely for many years, it's likely that a custom herbal formula is the best fit for you. This route can address constitutional factors as well as manage your unique symptoms. Similar to the Immune and Inflammatory protocols above, constitutional formulas are best begun prior to allergy season and taken through until it ends. Contact me (or another trained herbalist) to discuss getting you patent and/or custom herbal preparations to manage your allergy symptoms.
Over-the-counter anti-histamines and decongestants can offer significant and immediate relief for most individuals, but this relief mustn't be confused with "treatment." These medications offer a band-aid for your symptoms to help you get through the day, managing your symptoms but offering little-to-no impact for reversing them altogether.
Use these types of medications for what they are best at - immediate relief of your symptoms. And when you find yourself relying on these types of interventions on a consistent basis to manage your daily routine, I strongly encourage considering implementing some of the natural solutions as a way to support healing form the root.
Putting It All Together
My recommendation is to always begin the Immune, Anti-Inflammatory, Drainage and Herbal Protocols while continuing the medication regimen that has worked for you. As your system heals, you can experiment weaning or taking these medications less frequently.
Typically, most clients will maintain a certain level of medication + natural solutions combined during the first season of healing. The following year, the Immune, Anti-Inflammatory Acupuncture and Herbal protocols should be started in advance of allergy season and incorporating pharmaceutical medications only as needed (and, typically, this need is reduced). The following year, same thing, and even less (or no) medications may be necessary.
The end-game is to eventually wean off all supplement regimens - including natural. Though I always suggest having some sort of herbal support in your medicine cabinet, so you are always prepared should allergy symptoms strike.
I can't even remember the last time I had an "allergy attack" - something that once seemed like it would be a part of my life forever. Seasonal Allergies are not a life-sentence that you must manage. They are absolutely transformable from the root.
Curious About A Consultation?
If you want a guide to help you on your quest for an allergy-free life, I offer clinical and remote consultation to get your symptoms in check. Contact me for more information.