Each of us has a friend or a relative who suffers from seasonal allergies. We all know someone. Or we might have experienced it ourselves. And while it is not very easy to completely eliminate seasonal allergies, many things can be done to make one’s life much easier and allergy much more tolerable.
Allergies such as allergic rhinitis and atopic asthma are inflammatory conditions, caused when the body’s immune system reacts to a normally harmless substance, such as pollen, food, or house dust mite. The body identifies the substance as a threat, triggering the production of IgE antibodies which start a chain of reactions and produce symptoms that may include runny nose, itchy eyes, ears and throat, sneezing and coughing and excess production of mucus.
For a child born into a family where one parent already has an allergy, the risk is doubled. If both parents have allergies, the risk increases to 60-80%. Whilst it is not entirely clear why allergies are on the rise, possibilities include the “hygiene hypothesis”, changes in the body’s microbiome, the impact of air pollutants and a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
TRIGGERS FOR SEASONAL SYMPTOMS
The main triggers for seasonal allergies are tree and grass pollen. Weeds and certain shrubs release their pollen in late summer. After harvesting and in the autumn, as well as on mild, damp days, there are more fungal spores in the air.
Some people with an allergy to pollens (particularly tree pollens) may experience cross-reactions between certain foods and their pollen allergy. Food and drinks that contain histamine or cause the body to release histamine are best avoided. Adopting an antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory diet may be helpful for many people. Consuming a traditional Mediterranean diet, rich in fruits, vegetables and nuts, during childhood and in adulthood has a beneficial effect on symptoms of asthma and rhinitis.
HAYFEVER ALLERGEN AVOIDANCE
- avoid areas of pollinating plants, keep windows closed and avoid mowing the lawn on days when the pollen count is high. To avoid pollen, know which pollens you are sensitive to and then check pollen counts. In spring and summer, during tree and grass pollen season, levels are highest in the evening. In late summer and early fall, levels are highest in the morning.
- keep windows and doors shut at home and in your car during allergy season
- try to avoid damp places such as woods during cold time of the year if you suffer from seasonal allergies
- remove clothes you’ve worn outside and shower to rinse pollen from your skin and hair
- keep humidity level in your house under control, as if you have a high humidity level, then mould growth in your home can also be a problem. The ideal humidity for health and comfort is about 40-50%. In the winter months it may have to be lower than 40% to avoid condensation on the windows.
- wear sunglasses to avoid pollen in the eyes.
- Keep indoor air clean. If you have air heating or air conditioning in your house, use high-efficiency filters and follow regular maintenance schedules. Keep indoor air dry with a dehumidifier. Use a portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in your bedroom. Clean floors often with a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter.
Natural support to manage allergic symptoms may come in the form of supplements aimed at lowering the production of inflammatory chemicals, inhibiting histamine release, supporting a more balanced immune response and aiding airway relaxation. It may also help to create a barrier by smearing a nasal balm around the rim of the nostrils to prevent pollen sticking to the lining of the nose. Also, rinsing your nose with saline solution (nasal irrigation) is a quick, inexpensive and effective way to relieve nasal congestion. Rinsing directly flushes out mucus and allergens from your nose.
Present in a variety of common fruits and vegetables, herbs and drinks, the bioflavonoid, Quercetin acts as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Supplementing Quercetin may be particularly useful for allergic conditions due to its ability to inhibit the release of histamine by mast cells and basophils.
Bromelain is a natural digestive enzyme derived from pineapple which has well-documented anti -inflammatory properties and is thought to aid the absorption of Quercetin, so it is worth getting a supplement whch contains both Quercetin AND Bromelain in one bottle. The ones from Swanson or Higher Nature are pretty good.
Found in foods such as eggs, garlic, onions, cabbage and broccoli, sulphur is thought to stabilise cell membranes and scavenge hydroxyl free radicals which trigger inflammation. Research suggests that supplementing MSM at a dosage of 2,600 mg/day for 30 days may be effective in the reduction of symptoms associated with seasonal allergic rhinitis.
- Vitamin C and antioxidants
Exposure to pollens and air pollutants leads to the production of reactive oxygen species and the resultant oxidative stress is thought to be a contributory factor in inflammation of the airways. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant as well as a natural anti-histamine, appearing to prevent the secretion of histamine and increase its detoxification. Additionally, a study supplementing asthma patients with a combination of CoQ10, vitamin E and Vitamin C for 16 weeks led to a reduction in corticosteroid dosage which are often prescriped to people with allergies or astma.
- Essential Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acids have well-documented anti-inflammatory activity and research suggests that a high content of omega 3 fatty acids in red blood cell membranes (EPA) or in the diet (ALA) is associated with a decreased risk of allergic sensitisation and allergic rhinitis. I really like Wiley’s Finest Fish Oil, Eskimo range from Nutri Advanced, Opti3 Omega 3 oil and UDO’s Choice Omega blend (the last two are suitable for vegans)
- Healthy bacteria – Probiotics
A healthy balance of gut flora is thought to play an important role in the body’s immune defences, whilst an imbalance in the gut biome may be associated with histamine intolerance. Preliminary research suggests that bifidobacteria may interfere with the histamine pathway and reduce levels of histamine. I like Bio-Cult and Optibac probiotics, but my favourite probiotic at the moment is “Prescript-Assist Probiotic”. After lots of research I’ve discovered a product that has become one of the most potent tools I use in my clinic for promoting overall health since it is the most effective probiotic I’ve ever used, it works in a wide range of conditions and it is well-tolerated by everyone.It survives the passage through the stomach as the strains of bacteria in Prescript Assist form structures which insulate them from stomach acid and digestive enzymes and allow them to thrive in the large intestine. It contains 29 different strains of beneficial bacteria. It also contains a prebiotic, which means that you’re not only putting good bacteria into your system, you’re giving that bacteria the food it needs to survive and thrive. It’s gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan which is very important as many people with allergies also suffer from gluten and/or dairy sensitivity. Prescript Assist is hypoallergenic and suitable for people with a wide range of dietary preferences, also safe to take for just about anyone, including pregnant and nursing women.
But for kids under two years of age, who do not have fully developed gut flora yet, I would recommend a different probiotics, either Bio-Cult Infantis or ProVen for babies ( they have both for breastfed babies and those on formula)