If your nose is stuffed up and your eyes are watering, you’re not alone. This has been a particularly difficult allergy season, regardless of where you live. Worst of all, there doesn’t appear to be any relief in sight as the official start of summer approaches.
What’s an allergy sufferer to do—especially when the usual remedies for allergies (whether conventional medications or natural remedies) don’t seem to be helping? We asked Holly Lucille, ND, RN, who practices naturopathic medicine in Los Angeles, how she helps her allergy patients when pollen, mold and other allergies are at their worst. Here’s her advice…
One of the problems with taking conventional medications such as Claritin, Zyrtec or Allegra is that they offer only temporary relief for allergy symptoms and can produce uncomfortable side effects, such as fatigue, headache and dry mouth, among others. In addition, when an allergy season lasts many weeks or even months, like this one, you may be on these medications for longer than you want or longer than feels good.
Here’s where the benefit of natural remedies comes into play. Natural treatments generally are much easier on the body—which means that you can take them for longer periods of time.
There are many natural treatments available in supplement form that work to control allergies. They often work in different ways. For symptom relief, try the following combination…
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum), a flavonoid that helps the liver process toxins more efficiently, thereby helping to clear out potential allergens.
Try one of the four remedies below. If it doesn’t help your allergy symptoms within two weeks, try the next one on the list…
Quercetin, a flavonoid antioxidant, reduces the inflammation caused by allergens.
Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica), a plant that has been found to reduce the amount of histamine created in response to an allergen.
Butterbur (Petasites hybridus), an herb that prevents the release of chemicals that cause inflammation in the nasal passages. Caution: Butterbur is related to ragweed, so if you have a ragweed allergy, taking butterbur can make your symptoms worse. Also, some butterbur preparations contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs), which can damage the liver. Use only butterbur products that are certified and labeled “PA-free.”
A probiotic. These are “good bacteria” in supplement form that boost health and the immune system. They are especially helpful for people fighting allergies because they improve immune function and reduce inflammation associated with allergies. There are specific types of probiotic species that help specific ailments. When it comes to boosting the immune system, one combination to consider is Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium. Taking a probiotic can help the immune system year-round, not just during allergy season.
All of these remedies, which are available online and in health-food stores, are safe for adults. Follow label instructions. Pregnant women should not use these supplements—and should speak to a physician before taking probiotics.
What about taking both conventional medications and natural remedies? While the goal is to avoid drugs, it’s OK to add a drug to your natural therapies when symptoms are very severe. It’s best to do this for the shortest possible time—for example, only a few days. Conversely, for allergy sufferers who rely on drugs, adding one or two natural treatments may eventually enable them to lower the dosage or even wean themselves off of the drugs altogether.
In addition to helping patients find the remedies that work best for them, holistic doctors believe in getting to the root cause of a patient’s allergy problem. Often, a diet high in sugar, processed foods or mucus-producing foods such as dairy can make a patient more susceptible to allergies. Stress and lack of sleep can depress the immune system—and contribute to allergies. If your allergies are particularly stubborn this year, consult a holistic doctor who can help you get to the root of your problem.
Source: Holly Lucille, ND, RN, is a nationally recognized naturopathic doctor, author and educator practicing in Los Angeles. http://DrHollyLucille.com/