Allergies can be a pain in more than one way. With Spring arriving in full force, now is the time to talk about seasonal allergies. Hay fever and allergic rhinitis are all terms for a group of symptoms where the immune system has become hypersensitive to pollens, grasses, dust, moulds, mites, or animal dander.
Symptoms of hay fever and allergic rhinitis include a runny and/or stuffy nose; red, watery, itchy eyes; sneezing; an itchy throat, nose, eyes and face; sinus pain and headaches; post nasal drip; generalised aches and pains; and fatigue.
Starting around August and running through to late Summer, around 20% of Australians are affected by seasonal allergies, which impact on day-to-day life for the duration of what is often called the “hay fever season”. Seasonal allergies can make some people wish Spring had never happened.
So why does your body react this way? If you think of your immune system as an army, then allergies happen when your immune system is ‘trigger happy’. It fires off an immune response when it detects an otherwise harmless substance, thinking these substances are a threat.
So, when Spring arrives and there is an increase in pollens, grasses, dust, moulds, mites, or animal dander (called allergens), your immune system releases large amounts of the chemicals, which role it is to force the allergen out of your body. One of these chemicals is histamine.
Conventional medicine approaches seasonal allergies and hay fever by using antihistamines, medications designed to reduce histamine and allergy symptoms.
Naturopathy approaches seasonal allergies and hay fever by using herbs and supplements that work towards symptomatic relief, while also retraining the body’s immune system to not react to seasonal allergens. A naturopathic treatment program can improve your ability to tolerate allergens, reduce your reactive symptoms and repair your gut.
Over 2000 years ago, Hippocrates said that all disease starts in the gut. Science is now proving that he was right. The majority of your body’s immune cells are found in your gut. Inflammation in your gut, damage to the lining of your gut (leaky gut) and gut dysbiosis (the wrong mix of good and bad bacteria) all contribute to how your immune system responds to allergens.
Symptomatic relief for hay fever and seasonal allergies can be provided by nutrients, such as Quercetin, Bromelains and Vitamin C, and herbs, such as Eyebright, Baical Skullcap and Albizzia.
These herbs and supplements work together to retrain your immune system so it doesn't react to allergens, minimises respiratory congestion and reduces mucus production.
You need to eat food that will support your gut and encourage the right sort of bacteria. Eat a variety of plant-based foods every day. For a healthy gut, you need to eat 6-9 cups of vegetables and fruits each day.
You also need to consume around 60-80g of fibre daily to feed your microbiome and help keep your digestive system on the move. You can also add fibre supplements to help with the health of your gut and your gut bacteria. Choose a fibre supplement that provides several different fibres.
Your gut is a barrier between you and the outside world. Keeping the barrier strong is essential to your overall health and wellbeing. A strong barrier sets the scene for a high tolerance and immunity. A weak barrier leads to inflammation, a leaky gut and gut disease.
Simple ways to soothe and repair your gut are aloe vera juice (20-50ml daily) and slippery elm powder (mix a heaped teaspoon in water and drink once a day).
Rinsing your nasal passages with a neti pot can assist. Saline nasal sprays have a similar effect of clearing out allergens from nasal passages.
Keep house dust to a minimum – vacuum your house regularly and avoid highly scented household and personal products, such as air fresheners and perfumes.
Choosing the correct treatment regime is essential to preventing and reducing the impact of allergic rhinitis and seasonal allergies. The correct treatment regime will reduce chemical mediators associated with the allergic response, as well as providing relief of symptoms associated with allergic rhinitis. A qualified naturopath can tailor a program to suit you.
Don’t wait for allergies to strike you down. Book an appointment with Naturopath Jocelyn Carter. Jocelyn can help you lessen the incidence and severity of seasonal allergies with herbs and supplements.
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