About An Allergy
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, around 35 million people in this country report they have allergic reactions to some type of allergen. Categories of allergens identified by this agency include those resulting from animals such as pet dander, roaches, and waste from dust mites, allergies from foods such as wheat, nuts, eggs, and shellfish, stings from insects such as bees and wasps, reactions to mold spores, allergies to drugs like penicillin, reactions to particular plants like pollens from grasses, weeds and trees, and reactions stemming from other materials such as latex or certain metals. If you have an allergy to one of these types of items, your immune system responds when you come in contact with the allergen. The immune system is designed to protect you from infections, bacteria, viruses, and other things that can harm you and make you sick. In the case of an allergy, the immune system identifies the allergen as a foreign substance that can hurt you and responds by attacking it. According to what you are allergic to, this produces symptoms such as sneezing, watery and itching eyes, runny nose, coughing, a rash, welts, and even difficulty breathing. If you have symptoms such as these and are not sure what they stem from, this is where your health care provider may be able to help. They can perform scratch tests and blood tests to help identify what allergens you react to and help you select medications, supplements or other alternatives that can help control your allergy symptoms.
Natural Solutions for An Allergy
Michael Cantwell, M.D., M.P.H., lead physician at the Institute for Health and Healing at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, David Rakel, MD, founder and director of the University of Wisconsin Integrative Medicine Program and other experts agree that there are natural solutions that can help allergy sufferers. They recommend beginning by examining your environment and stresses to see if there is a way to eliminate the source. In some cases people have found that just by moving to a new location, they avoid the allergen and thus eliminate symptoms. That may be extreme for most people, but there are still other ways to manipulate the environment in ways that will reduce exposure to the allergen. HEPA filters, keeping windows closed, using dust mite covers on pillows and mattresses, and rearranging your schedule to avoid being outside at times when pollen counts are high are examples of some of this type of solution.
There are also shots and drops for under the tongue that your healthcare provider can help you with that put a small dose of the allergen into your system so that your immune system begins recognizing it and stops attacking that substance when it encounters it. Along this line is homeopathy treatments which focus on the allergy symptoms rather than the source of the allergy. Certain types of acupressure have also been found helpful for some people in controlling allergy symptoms.
In the herb category, supplements or tinctures of nettles have been found to have antihistamine properties and some people find benefit from goldenroot, grapefruit seed extract, Butterbur, echinacea, spirulina, cat's claw, and Tinospora cordifolia which is an herbal tablet that comes from India. Other natural solutions include using a neti-pot or other types of saline nasal rinses, Quercetin which is a bioflavenoid some fruits, vegetables and wine contain, the enzyme bromelain found in pineapple, and Sinupret that combines botanicals European elderflower, sorrel, cowslip, verbena, and gentian root. Which of these supplements, if any, will be helpful for you depends on the type of allergy you have and what allergen you react to. Before using these types of solutions it is of course a good idea to check with your healthcare provider to make sure they will safely mix with any medications you are on or are safe to take for your particular medical situation.
For food allergies there has been some research indicating that the use of probiotic supplements to boost the friendly bacteria in the intestines helps create a barrier to keep food allergens out of the bloodstream. Digestive enzymes can also help with proper digestion and keeping food particles out of the bloodstream by passing through the intestinal barrier. Enzymes, especially those with protease, can also help your body cope with pollens that have been ingested. In the case of severe life-threatening food allergies however, these are not a substitute for avoiding those foods you have an allergic reaction to, so keep your Epipen handy and keep away from those foods.
Michael Cantwell, M.D., M.P.H., lead physician at the Institute for Health and Healing at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, advocates getting plenty of down time and rest during allergy seasons as stress worsens allergy symptoms and reduces the effectiveness of the immune system. Many varieties of mushrooms have been found to help in boosting immune system function. This algae and mushroom supplement combines six of the most extensively researched mushrooms that show positive immune system support: reishi, cordyceps, maitake, shiitake, Turkey Tail, and Agaricus blazei, with astragalus, beta glucan and bluegreen algae. Besides the immune boosting support of these medicinal mushrooms, this supplement provides WGP beta glucan which is able to activate macrophages (a type of white blood cell in the body's defense system). Activating these macrophages can result in a stronger immune system. Getting extra antioxidants into your diet can also help strengthen your body's defenses. That means eating lots of fruits and vegetables 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.
According to David C. Leopold MD, director of Integrative Medical Education at the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine in San Diego, whichever method you use to control allergy symptoms should be started several weeks before the symptoms occur. It is easier to stop symptoms before they occur than after. So don't wait until you are suffering and miserable with allergy symptoms. Get a plan going in advance whether it is manipulating your environment, making some lifestyle changes or adding supplements, diet changes or herbal remedies.
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