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Treating Springtime Allergies The Natural Way

Longevity By Nature

Natural practitioners offer therapies to ease for allergy sufferers’ symptoms.

As Cold winter days begin to turn into the bright, sunny days of spring, most Americans are happy to see the temperature rise and the flowers bloom.While many are glad to see the winter come to an end, those suffering from springtime allergies dread the days to come.

The Asthma and Allergy and Foundation of America (AAFA) defines allergies as diseases of the immune system that cause an overreaction to substances called “allergens.” Further, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 18 million American adults (18 percent of the population) and almost 10 percent of children (7.1 million) were diagnosed with hay fever in the last year.

Dr. Lakshmi Prakash, vice president of innovation and business development for the New Jersey-based America’s Finest, offered that chronic sinusitis, most often caused by allergies, affects nearly 35 million people in the U. S., and pollen allergy affects nearly 10 percent of the people in the U.S., (not including people with allergen-induced asthma). Further, according to a study published in March 2011 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, global warming is linked to the lengthening of ragweed (pollen) season— researchers found that ragweed season has become 27 days longer since 1995.

“It is estimated that 40 to 50 million Americans have seasonal allergies,” said David Winston, RH (ACG), clinical herbalist, teacher, author and president of the New Jersey-based Herbalist & Alchemist. “There are springtime allergies and the autumn allergies, both are primarily pollen allergies and so they can be combined in this discussion. The overall numbers of allergies have been rising steadily over the past 40 years.There are increasing springtime allergies, autumn allergies, food allergies, allergic asthma—all types of allergies have increased. In the case of springtime allergies, the main causes very simply are tree and grass pollens.”

As the amount of Americans suffering from springtime allergies continues to rise, many are turning to natural practitioners after unhappy experiences with pharmaceutical products that can cause a number of side effects. “Allergies are increasing and there is a growing dissatisfaction with the pharmaceutical offerings,” said Eileen Sheets, managing director of New York-based Bioforce USA.“More children are experiencing allergies and need natural relief without the drowsiness commonly associated with OTC allergy products.”

Treatment Options

Allergy sufferers ultimately want relief from the symptoms that can make getting through the day difficult. As the demand for natural products without rebound or adverse effects grows, natural practitioners can offer a variety of different treatment options that can aid in relieving the discomfort. “There is a huge demand for products and protocols that work better and address the underlying cause rather than just treat symptoms,” said Winston. “While what I describe is a multi-step process, using herbs or supplements that down-regulate excessive immune response and strengthen and nourish the immune system can help people to improve not only allergies, but overall health.”

Winston offered a number of options from an herbal approach. He suggested to first use immune amphoterics because if the immune system is hyperactive (as in the case of allergies), they help to down-regulate excessive immune response. Ashwaghanda, schisandra, American and Asian ginseng, eleuthero, holy basil, maitake mushroom, reishi mushroom and licorice are just a few immune amphoteric herbs.

Immune Adapt is an immune amphoteric formula from Herbalist & Alchemist that is available in both liquid and capsule forms. The traditional Chinese Fu Zheng formula combines astragalus, eleuthero, reishi, bai-zhu attractylodes, licorice, schisandra berry and maitake to help nourish and strengthen the immune system, allowing it to regain normal regulatory control of the allergic response.

Winston recommended combining the immune amphoterics with a class of herbs he calls immuno-regulators. These are anti-inflammatory herbs that help to down-regulate excessive immune response, although they are not immuno-suppressive herbs, according to Winston. Immuno-regulators include the Chinese herbs danshen (Salvia miltiorrhiza), huang qin (Scutellaria baicalensis), chai hu (Bupleurem chinensis), unprocessed rehmannia as well as gotu kola, turmeric, sarasparilla and Indian madder.

“Curcuma longa (turmeric) and its yellow principles called curcuminoids Are well recognized phenolic antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, which also have antibacterial and antiviral properties,” said America’s Finest’s Dr. Prakash. “Curcuminoids provide two-pronged antioxidant activity: prevention of free radical formation and intervention to neutralize existing free radicals.

Curcumin C3 Complex and the colorless metabolite C3 Reduct are potentially useful in reducing allergy symptoms by several biochemical pathways. They down-regulate cytokines, inhibit cyclooxygenase, which is the enzyme responsible for the formation of inflammatory prostaglandins from arachidonic acid, and block histamine receptors. Their healthful role in attenuating airway hyperresponsiveness is linked to anti-inflammatory action, the molecular basis of which is suppression of the nuclear factor-kappaB activation pathway for inflammatory mediators.”

In addition to the immune amphoterics and immuno-regulators,Winston noted that flavenoids, especially a type of flavenoid known as PCOs (proanthocyanidin oligomers) found in blueberries, goji berries, pomegranates and cranberries, help regulate excessive histamine production and help stabilize the mast cells that produce histamine.“There are also herbs that have antihistamine activity that can be taken along with these preventative protocols, because even when you’re following a Protocol like this, there is still the possibility that in an especially bad allergy season you may still have some congestion, itchy, runny eyes and the other common symptoms of allergic rhinitis,” explained Winston.

“Antihistamine herbs include osha root, eyebright, yerba mansa, horseradish and bayberry root bark. They can be taken whenever somebody is having acute symptoms.”

According to Ron Boltas, CNC, ND, DHM, nutritional consultant for Texasbased Progressive Laboratories, vitamin C and bioflavonoids together act as natural antihistamines and help detoxify foreign substances from entering the body. In addition, vitamin C helps to block allergic reactions and rebuild healthy membranes.“Vitamin C is important and should be taken along with bioflavonoids,” he said.“Vitamin C and flavonoids help normalize histamine release.”

Progressive Laboratories’ practitioner products include Aller-7, a patented blend of herbal extracts from InterHealth that provide standardized levels of the active constituents: polyphenols, glycosides, piperine, gallic acid and gingerols, and QB-Zyme Pro, a professionally formulated nutritional complex. According to the company, the Products carry none of the side effects associated with prescription and OTC drugs.

“The primary ingredients in QB-Zyme Pro are vitamin C (as magnesium ascorbate) and the flavonoid quercetin, along with bromelain, papain and pancreatic enzymes,” explained Dr. Boltas. “Vitamin C and quercetin help normalize mast cell degranulation and the subsequent release of histamine. They also help regulate the enzyme 5- lipoxygenase and production of series 4 leukotrienes, which are responsible for the bronchoconstriction.Pancreatic enzymes and the plant enzymes, bromelain and papain, help break down immune and inflammatory complexes that form in response to contact with allergens.”

Bioforce USA’s A. Vogel Allergy Relief is a combination of seven botanicals (okoubaka, ammi visnaga, aralia racemosa, cardiospermum, galphimia glauca, luffa operculata and paloondo) that address various symptoms including hay fever, sneezing, watery eyes and nasal congestion, according to the company.A. Vogel Allergy Relief is available in liquid and tablet formulas. The company’s Pollinosan Nasal Spray offers the same formula as Vogel Allergy Relief.

“In a published clinical study conducted in the Netherlands, a total of 200 patients with documented allergies to pollen, dust, animals and unknown etiologies were treated with A. Vogel Allergy Relief (Pollinosan),” said Sheets.
“The published results showed 88 percent improved with the treatment, 56.8 percent had symptoms completely or almost completely disappeared and 31.8 percent did not disappear completely, but had noted improvement. There were no reported side effects.”

Food for Thought

Walter J. Crinnion ND, professor, chair of Environmental Medicine Department at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, found that people with hay fever overcame their allergies When they tried an elimination diet.“As a naturopathic physician, I found that persons with hay fever typically got over their allergies if they stopped eating wheat and sugar,” he said. “Their allergies were not due to a deficiency in antihistamines.I found that avoidance of reactive foods is the single best remedy.The most frequent offender foods being wheat and sugar with dairy coming in third place.”

Further, Dr. Crinnion explained that quercetin, a flavonoid, stabilizes the mast cells, preventing their overactive degranulation that rapidly occurs in allergic patients. He also noted that nettles have been used for allergies for centuries.According to a study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research in July 2009, researchers from Herbal Science Group found that an extract from nettle inhibits certain inflammatory and allergy markers, which makes nettles useful in seasonal allergies.

Dr. Crinnion suggested that the focus of the treatment is to reduce a person’s reactivity. After eliminating wheat, sugar and dairy from the diet, he recommended taking powerful digestive enzymes to reduce the likelihood of other food reactions. “Support a healthy intestinal environment and digestion by taking a high quality comprehensive digestive enzyme,” he said. “Promoting proper digestion and elimination will dramatically reduce the amount of ‘antigens’ and ‘endotoxins’ in the bowel and blood.This will lower your total load of antigens and make your body less reactive.Add to this regimen a high quality probiotic to boost your overall immunity.”

The Interstitial Cystitis Alternative Medicine Association cited that approximately 70 percent of the immune system is located in the digestive tracts, and probiotics can help improve the immune system while regulating the digestive system by restoring healthy bacterial levels.This creates a barrier against harmful substances.When the bacteria in the system are balanced, the body is more likely to be protected from bad bacteria, free radicals and pollutants.

While Bioforce’s Sheets acknowledged that it is impossible to completely avoid allergy-causing substances at all times, she recommended limiting exposure asMuch as possible. “Keeping the home as free as possible from the allergens, i.e. keeping windows closed during peak pollen periods and some have found that a good air purifier can greatly improve the quality of the air indoors,” she said. “Keeping the nasal passages clean by using a neti pot has been helpful for some as well.”

“In addressing seasonal allergies, we have a lot of options for dealing with the whole person,” concluded Winston.“Preventing seasonal allergies, which to me is the most important objective, is much easier than trying to deal with symptoms once they are in ‘full bloom.’ If your patient gets seasonal allergies on a yearly basis, then you can anticipate that they will be getting them next spring or next autumn. By starting six weeks before the usual onset of allergy season you can help to prevent many of these symptoms and at the same time enhance overall health and vitality.”