What causes seasonal allergies?

June 20, 2024

Airborne agents — known as pathogens or allergens — such as pollen, grass, mold, cedar, ragweed, or even some chemicals, are inhaled. In the body these allergens start to wreak havoc.

The immune system mistakenly sees the pollen as a danger and releases antibodies that attack the allergens
and release a chemical called histamine into the nose, eyes, and lungs.

Histamine is intended to attack harmful agents and remove them from the body. So, our nose runs, we cough, our skin gets itchy, and our immune system works overtime to try to eliminate the allergens and we become fatigued. One of the main things that histamine does is cause inflammation.

Here are some suggestions to control your allergies. For specific recommendations visit an ND.

1. Cleanse your nose

Pollens adhere to our mucus membranes. Try cleansing your nasal passages with a neti pot, sinus irrigator or nasal oils. This has helped many of my patients.

2. Manage stress

Stress hormones wreak havoc in the body and especially in the immune system, making seasonal allergies even worse. Take time out for self-care and avoid overcommitting your schedule.

3. Top herbal remedies

Quercetin is a nutrient found in onions, apples, and black tea that research has shown to block the release of histamines. 500 mg three times per day can reduce symptoms of allergies without any side effects. Combine it with nettle, which is an herb that works as an antihistamine, for a greater effect.

4. Add apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is reported to boost the immune system, help break up mucus, and support lymphatic drainage. Experts recommend mixing one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with a glass of water and lemon juice three times a day to relieve allergy symptoms.

5. Visit a chiropractor or massage therapist

By releasing stress on the nervous system, chiropractic and massage care permits the immune system to function more effectively— something all allergy sufferers need. A nervous system without stress functions more efficiently. (It always comes back to stress management!)

6. Ease the load on your liver

Often, allergies are worsened by toxins within the body. The liver is a great mediator of inflammation
in the body, and when it is working overtime metabolizing our stress, medications, alcohol, and processed foods, allergies can flare up. Detox your body by eliminating fried foods, sugar, alcohol, and other toxins from your diet. Try liver supportive foods and herbs such as milk thistle, turmeric, artichoke, citrus fruits such as lemon, and nuts.

7. Take probiotics

Allergies are the result of an imbalance in the immune system that causes the body to react too strongly to stimuli. Many studies link the presence of beneficial bacteria in the gut with reduced incidence of allergies. Probiotics can help stimulate production of immune enhancing substances, hinder growth of pathogenic bacteria and boost the immune system. Use a probiotic with at least eight different strains and that is a minimum 20 billion CFUs per capsule.

9. Clean the house

Regular house cleaning can get rid of many allergy triggers and help relieve your symptoms. Clean or change out the air filters in your home often. Also, clean bookshelves, vents, air purifiers and other places where pollen can collect. Vacuum carpets and change pillowcases at least each week. Allergens can transfer from your hair to your pillow on a nightly basis. If your allergies are severe, consider changing your pillowcase every morning.

10. Consider purchasing an air purifier

You can have one in your house or, even better, in your bedroom. HEPA filters have been shown to trap a high percentage of particles (as high as 98%) that are minute in size (less than .3 microns in diameter).

If you do all 10 of these things it will put you on a likely path to significantly reduce your allergy symptoms. It may take a few weeks, but research and clinical evidence support these 10 recommendations. Consult your primary care physician or a practitioner educated in functional or integrative care.

Yours in health,

Glenna Calder, Naturopathic Doctor