Change of season no matter what time of year can trigger seasonal allergies. If you are one of the 10 to 20% of people who suffer from allergies brought on by pollen from trees, mold, or even pet dander, then read on to learn some safe and natural ways to alleviate your symptoms.
Seasonal allergies, also known as “hay fever” are a form of allergic rhinitis, or inflammation of the nose. This is your immune system reacting in a normal, healthy manner to defend itself from pathogens in the air. You may be more susceptible to allergic rhinitis if you have a family history of food allergies or eczema, are exposed to excessive stress or second hand smoke, eat a poor diet and don’t exercise regularly.
As a Chiropractor, I believe in taking a more holistic approach without the use of antihistamines. Besides the underlying health risks from abusing over the counter medications, the obvious side effects people experience include blurred vision, dizziness, drowsiness and poor coordination. Have you ever noticed on the box where it says “do not operate heavy machinery”? Don’t you think this applies to simply driving down the road? Research already shows that a compromised immune system due to the discomfort of allergic rhinitis already impairs your senses including your decision-making skills. Why take the chance in making the situation worse by taking drugs?
Some natural approaches to combating seasonal allergies:
Nasal Irrigation: Have you ever heard of a neti pot? Sold at all major drug stores, the concept has been used for centuries in some cultures to safely and effectively flush the nose and sinuses with a saline solution. Saline mists in spray cans are also effective in rinsing the dried mucus and foreign matter from the nasal and sinus cavities. In a clinical trial at the University of Wisconsin, patients who used nasal irrigation daily for six months had fewer sinonasal symptoms and used less medication than those in a control group (Journal of Family Pract 2002; 51:1049-55).
Proper Nutrition: Everyone takes Vitamin C when they have a cold. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant found in supplements and most importantly in fruits and vegetables like red peppers, broccoli, kiwi fruit, and guava. Vitamin C fights the inflammation that triggers allergies by suppressing the histamine production by white blood cells. Cartenoid-rich foods such as sweet potatoes, spinach, and apricots assist in lowering levels of inflammation. Omega 3’s are essential fatty acids that the body is unable to produce on its own and therefore we must supplement our diet. Getting a healthy dose of omega 3’s found in fish (with low levels of mercury), fish oil supplements, walnuts and flax seed, counter the specific type of inflammation associated with allergies (Clin Exp Immunol 2010; 160:411-9).
Probiotics: Probiotics are widely talked about these days and finally consumed by most people. Your Chiropractic Physician can suggest the best probiotic supplements out there, since there are several strains available. You will also see some forms of probiotic commonly found in yogurt at your local grocery store. “Probiotic” literally means “for life” and encompasses a variety of live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host. Probiotics are beneficial to your digestive health by improving your intestinal microbial balance, thus inhibiting pathogens and toxin producing bacteria. Since a large portion of the immune system is in the gut, what protects the digestive system protects the entire body, including the nose and sinuses. Recent studies have shown the potential of probiotics to manage seasonal allergies and other allergic conditions (Journal of Nutrition 2010;140:713S-21S).
Stress, Fatigue & Exercise: There’s no question that stress and fatigue and a lack of exercise wreaks havoc on the body. It is essential to keep your emotional stress in check by incorporating daily activities such as prayer, meditation, aerobic exercise and yoga. Getting plenty of rest, eating a nutritious diet and regular exercise boost your immune system and ward off allergies. Talk to your chiropractor about the best exercises for you.
Chiropractic Care: A healthy immune system is directly correlated with your nervous system. The spinal cord is at the center of the nervous system, and it can be hindered by vertebral subluxations. Correcting vertebral subluxations can calm the inflammation of allergies caused by an over-excited nervous system (Journal of Spinal Manipulation 1993;9:2-11).
Before taking any natural supplements, starting a new exercise routine or taking a natural approach to allergy prevention, please consult your doctor of chiropractic. Don’t delay. Call our office today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Mitch!