Thursday, April 17, 2014

Spring Allergies Keeping You Indoors? We've Got Natural Solutions to Help

Spring can be a wonderful time of the year, but not so much if you are a spring allergy sufferer. Runny nose, itchy eyes, scratchy throat and sneezing can make springtime miserable. Along with all the fresh blooming and budding plants that are so beautiful, comes pollen. Pollens are microscopic "seeds" and like all other seeds are surrounded by a protein skin that protects them from sprouting prematurely. If you suffer from spring allergies, your body is reacting to this protein skin, which is an irritant. When pollen gets into your nasal passages or lungs, your body mistakenly believes that the pollen is a foreign invader and your immune system begins an attack. Your body releases antibodies to attack the pollen, and in the process, chemicals called histamines are released into the bloodstream. Histamines are chemicals responsible for allergy symptoms, such as runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, and watery mucous as an attempt to wash away the irritating pollens. Anti-histamines block this natural response of the body.

How the Body Deals With Pollens
Ideally, the body has enough digestive and metabolic enzymes (particularly the enzyme protease) to break down the protein skin of the pollen, thus neutralizing its effects. The histamine then flows to escort the neutralizing, and downsized (digested) pollens out of the body. This usually happens within a matter of minutes, and can be over within a matter of minutes, with no further irritation or "allergic response" until the next over-exposure to pollens. People who suffer with persistent spring allergy symptoms typically either have a deficiency of digestive and metabolic enzymes (especially protease) or do not produce enough histamine or don't produce histamine that is strong enough. 

Digestively, something else happens to your body when you suffer from allergies. When you have an allergic reaction, your body releases an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE). Research indicates that the levels of probiotics, the good bacteria that live in your gut, can affect how much IgE your body produces, and how severe your allergy symptoms will be.

Of course understanding how all this works doesn't do much to relieve your present misery. So let's look at some natural solutions for allergy relief that you can do to support your body's natural response to pollens this spring instead of just taking an anti-histamine for relief.

Natural Solutions for Allergy Relief
1. Drink More Water
Drink half your body weight in ounces per day. Drink even more during the allergy seasons. The histamine production centers of the body are controlled by our internal water cycles.

2. Take More Enzymes
Take extra digestive enzymes (with protease) to help your body cope with all the pollen. Taking digestive enzymes throughout the day is a really good idea, either every hour or every other hour, and before going to bed. This constant inflow of "protease" and other digestive enzymes will provide the needed help when pollens are ingested.

3. Fill Up On Antioxidants
Getting extra antioxidants into your diet can help strengthen your body's defenses. That means lots of veggies and fruits as well as possibly supplementing with an antioxidant booster like this sprouts supplement, blue green algae, or green tea extract. Antioxidants will help reduce the inflammation in your body which means less of the miserable allergy symptoms.

4. Support Your Digestive System Health
Studies show that having a healthy population of acidophilus in your small intestine can reduce the amount of IgE that your body produces in response to pollen. Participants who took extra acidophilus during spring allergy season showed lower levels of IgE in blood tests.

5. Flush Out Your Nasal Cavity 
You can find a neti pot at just about any drug store to use as a natural solution for washing out your nasal cavity with saline water. You pour water from the small pot into one nostril and let it flow out through the other nostril. If you can't for whatever reason use the neti pot, then try using a saline solution spray to help flush out your nose.

6. Butterbur Leaf Extract
Phytotherapy Research is one of numerous sources reporting studies showing that butterbur leaf extract can work as well as an antihistamine for allergy symptoms. Be sure to consult your healthcare provider before using an extract with butterbur as it has alkaloids that can affect the liver. These alkaloids can be extracted, so make sure the extract you get has used this removal process. An extract called Ze 339 has been reported as effective for allergy symptoms. Butterbur is related to ragweed so there have been questions raised as to its use for people with ragweed allergies, but studies have not indicated this to be a problem even for ragweed sufferers.

Don't let your allergy symptoms keep you from getting out and enjoying the warm weather and beauty of spring. Give some or all of these tips a try and take control of your allergy symptoms this spring.

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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