Allergy, Immune | August 30, 2017 | Author: Naturopath
Allergic rhinitis, otherwise known as hay fever, is caused by exposure to an allergen, usually pollen, and is triggered by an allergic reaction. It is currently estimated that nine million Australian adults struggle through spring and summer with watery eyes, a runny nose, itchy throat and sneezing. Allergic rhinitis can significantly interfere in a person’s daily activities, considerably reducing the quality of life for sufferers.
When hay fever sufferers are exposed to particular pollens from trees, grasses or weeds, or to airborne mold spores, the body mistakenly thinks that this is a threat to the body and as a result triggers an allergic reaction. Inflammatory cells quickly release mediators such as histamine and the allergic reaction, (hay fever) takes place.
Echinacea promotes health of the immune system by boosting it and balancing it. It stimulates the lymphatic system, promoting drainage and elimination of toxins, and helps to prevent and fight potential infections. Most importantly for hay fever sufferers, Echinacea helps to stabilize the cells that produce histamine, thereby reducing the allergy response.
It also contains copper, iron, iodine, vitamins A, C, and E, and potassium which are all important nutrients to help allergy symptoms.
This herb is one of the best known herbs used in Chinese medicine. Astragalus works on strengthening and stimulating the immune system. It works like echinacea, in that both herbs increase the number and activity of immune cells. However, astragalus concentrates on building the immune system whereas; echinacea boosts immune system activity and promotes fast recovery, especially when taken at the onset of allergy symptoms. Echinacea would be ideal to take for acute hay fever, whilst astragalus would be perfect to take long term to build a stronger immune system and therefore prevent hay fever.
Ginkgo has been shown to have a significant effect when it comes to managing allergies. The therapeutic compounds found in ginkgo are called ginkgolides, relieve inflammation by killing free radicals and allow more oxygen into the lungs so those who suffer from allergies are able to breathe easier. There are also powerful anti-inflammatory compounds found in ginkgo as well as seven naturally occurring antihistamines, which make this a natural and effective way to get relief from the symptoms of allergies.
Garlic can help alleviate the symptoms of hay fever by boosting the immune system. It helps clear nasal congestion and its potent antibiotic properties help prevent secondary respiratory infections in chronic hay fever suffers.
Garlic is also a good source of quercetin which is a natural anti-histamine. Ideally garlic should be taken before hay fever season begins.
This is a pungent root vegetable which acts as a decongestant, helping to clear nasal passages. The components of horseradish have been found to have antioxidant characteristics that boost the strength of the immune system and stimulate the activity and production of white blood cells, the body’s main line of defence. The vitamin-C content of horseradish is exceptionally high, which further boosts the immune system.
Vitamin C reduces inflammation and the sensitivity to allergens. It also decreases mucous production, and wheezing in those who suffer with hay fever and related allergies. It is a natural anti-histamine and works to reduce the allergic response by inhibiting the release of histamine from the immune cells. Garlic, horseradish, and vitamin c are often found in combination as they work synergistically for hay fever and can be taken safely through the allergy season as a preventative. Larger doses of vitamin C can be taken additionally for acute hay fever.
These are bioactive compounds found exclusively in plant foods such as fruit, vegetables, herbs, spices, nuts and seeds. Bioflavonoids, in particular quercetin, have been shown to have powerful anti-inflammatory effects and stabilise those histamine-releasing immune cells. Bioflavonoids are often found in vitamin C products to help with its absorption.
This is one bioflavonoid that is found in many fruits and vegetables but is most abundant in apples, onions and black tea. There is a large amount of research showing the benefits of quercetin for allergies, especially hay fever. It works by inhibiting enzymes that cause inflammation and prevents mast cells and basophils from releasing histamine. Quercetin is found in high concentrations in red onions, capers, kale, dock, watercress and buckwheat.
Zinc plays an invaluable role in immune function and deficiency in such a vital element contributes to impaired immunity, and allergies. Zinc is found in relative abundance in most animal foods, including red meat, poultry and liver. Whole grains, pecans, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds and ginger root are good plant sources.
Increasing evidence is linking Vitamin D to immune-related conditions. Research suggests that vitamin D deficiency is significantly higher in patients with allergic rhinitis. Lymphocytes have Vitamin D Receptors and Vitamin D has direct effects on dendritic cells, helper and regulatory T cells and activated B cells. Studies have found that Vitamin D levels directly correlated with severity of hay fever that patients experience. All studies to date show that there is a highly significant reduction in the total number of nasal symptom after supplementation with vitamin D.
The mechanism of action of probiotics is very complex when it comes to allergies. Recent data has indicated that probiotics can modulate the production of a large group of proteins, peptides or glycoproteins that mediate immunity and inflammation. It seems that each strain of probiotic has a different role and function in the regulatory effect on the immune system and therefore hay fever symptoms. Without a healthy balance of good bacteria in our gut, (where 80-90% of immune cells are found), immunity is likely to be compromised, leaving individuals more susceptible to developing allergies. Taking a probiotic supplement daily is ideal for allergy sufferers, along with consuming fermented foods such as sauerkraut, pickled sprouts and vegetables and miso.
Reduce the overall inflammatory state of body by increasing flavonoid-rich foods into the diet. Colourful berries and vegetables, rich in anti-inflammatory compounds, can be eaten daily. Smoothies, berry fruit salad, and berry concentrate powders are ideal. Increasing the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids is very important. High quality omega-3 fatty acids can help to reduce the production of pro-inflammatory markers.
Good choices include: organic grass-fed meat and eggs, and cold-water fish such as wild salmon, trout, sardines and anchovies.
Many people find that food allergies/intolerances exacerbate sinus allergies. The most common culprits are gluten and dairy, but corn and soy can also cause issues so it is a good idea to remove these as well. Limit or avoid cow’s milk and other dairy products as they can increase the production of mucus in the respiratory tract and exacerbate hay fever nasal congestion. Try alternatives such as rice, almond, quinoa and coconut milks.
Increasing garlic and onion in the diet is a safe and easy way to relieve and prevent allergies. Raw garlic and onion contain high levels of quercetin. Try adding plenty of raw onions to lunchtime salads and crushing two or three cloves of raw, organic garlic to the daily hay fever fighting regime!!