Why do some have allergies and other don’t? It’s important to realize that allergies are NOT normal. They are a sign of a hyperreactive immune system and can be reversed by correcting immune system function and hyperreactivity. Inert substances, such as pollen and mold spores cause the classic “Hayfever” symptoms such as runny nose, congestion, itchy, watery eyes and sneezing. If severe enough, they can even cause grogginess, headaches and fatigue.

Common over-the-counter medications that are used include anti-histamines such as Claritin, Zyrtec and Benadryl. These block just one of the substances created by the immune system in response to allergen exposure, histamine. Steroids such as Flonase block more inflammatory substances, but still don’t address WHY the immune system is going haywire and can cause side effects such as drowsiness, dry mouth and nasal bleeding from topical nasal treatments. I commonly see patients who appear to do fine on one allergy medication for a period of time, but then that medication isn’t as effective as time goes by and the cause is not addressed. Before you know it, they’re taking 2-4 different allergy medications just to manage the symptoms.

How do I treat allergies differently? My goal is to correct the immune system response, and I see fantastic results from correcting digestive function. 80% of the immune system is in the gut, and histamine is often produced in the gut from bacterial imbalance and fermenting food products which are not fully digesting. Determining what foods are aggravating the system and contributing to the allergic response is often times all it takes to reduce or completely eliminate hayfever symptoms.

Sometimes, additional liver support is needed. As the primary detoxifying organ which processes blood/nutrients/histamines from the GI tract and circulation, good liver function is important for helping to remove those inflammatory compounds from the body so they don’t continue to cause symptoms. Certain herbs such as chelidonium, chionanthus and taraxicum root can be helpful, as can vegetables such as beet and radish root.

Lastly, homeopathic medicines are amazing at helping to reduce the symptoms as we correct the cause. I often use a combination of several, depending on the patient’s specific symptoms such as Urtica, Sabadilla, Ambrosia and Euphrasia. Nutrients such as vitamin C and quercetin can help stabilize the mast cells which release histamine in response to exposure to an allergen.

When at home, remember to remove pollens from your clothing and your hair. I typically recommend patients shower before bed and change their clothes after being outside. Having a good HEPA filter in the home/bedroom and keeping windows and doors shut can also help minimize symptoms while we work on the cause. Nasal saline rinses or a neti pot with distilled saline water is often helpful to clear congestion as well.

You should be able to enjoy your time outdoors, do yourself a favor and stop managing your allergy symptoms, get rid of them and you’ll have better immune system and digestive health in the process.

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