Sunday, February 27, 2011

Natural Allergy Symptom Relief

It’s that time of the year again and here in Georgia we are experiencing the early start of what may be fondly called “Yellow Car Season”. At this time the pollen is so thick in the air that it coats everything in a layer of yellowish dust. We have not yet seen the infamous yellow dust but the pollen levels show us that we have elevated levels of tree pollens and many of my patients are complaining of allergy symptoms ranging from sinus congestion to stinging watery eyes. Environmental allergies are present when an affected individual experiences a strong inflammatory reaction following exposure to a substance that is not generally considered harmful. This is often accompanied by itchy watery eyes and sneezing. Some substances that provoke such reactions may be house dust, pollen and animal dander and certainly pollen is the main culprit right now. There are many over the counter medications that can provide limited relief but they often contain harmful ingredients and cause serious side effects. Some of the OTC remedies can cause hypertension and a rebound congestion issue.

A better approach uses natural products that can help limit or eliminate the allergic reaction. Quercetin is a bioflavinoid that has the ability to prevent white blood cells from releasing histamine during an allergic response. Histamine is one of the major triggers to the overall allergic response. Stinging Nettles can be effective when used for hayfever and it can be taken in tincture form or in tea. N-Acetyl Cysteine breaks the chemical bonds in mucus, making the mucus thinner and easier to eliminate. Bromelain is an enzyme from the stem and fruit of the pineapple and papaya plants and it is approved status by the German Commission E for micro inflammations that occur with allergic reactions Bromelain has the added benefits of inhibiting of platelet aggregation, breaking down mucus, antibiotic activity and functioning as a smooth muscle relaxant. I love pineapple and often make myself a smoothie with pineapple and lowfat greek yogurt. This has the benefit of no added sugar and good amounts of fiber and protein. The enzymes in Pineapple and papaya help with inflammation associated with allergies but they also help with painful conditions such as arthritis. These items can be found at an herb store and some in the grocery store. In our office we carry a supplement that has all of them in a convenient capsule form.

Some other strategies are aimed at removing as many of the allergens as possible from your environment. One good allergy prevention strategy is to purchase a HEPA filter for your home. You can get a smaller room model at such stores as Target and Walmart or you can install a house model as an add-on to your central HVAC unit. Make sure you wash your hands and face well when you come in from outside. Use warm, moist compresses over your eyes and forehead area to stimulate drainage from the sinuses. The use of a neti pot is often very helpful to those who have severe congestion. Of course it is very important to make sure you drink enough water so that the mucus can easily flow.