Holy sneeze-fest Batman! May and June are nutty uncomfortable for me. Seasonal allergies bring on the wheezing, the watery eyes, the itchy throat, and the general feeling of your body trying to escape itself.
Erm, no thanks.
Pumping myself full of antihistamines is the only way I’ve found relief in the past. This year, I really wanted to find a natural way to clear up my torturous symptoms. Dr. Ally Power, Naturopathic Physician, was kind enough to share her expertise with me, and now you!
Ally opened her practice in North Vancouver last fall, and continues to build a loyal clientele with a focus on women’s health. Particularly, women in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties. “Our whole philosophy is to figure out why“, she says about her approach with patients. While MD General Practitioners are often a patients choice, it’s important to note GPs only test through blood work, while Naturopathic Physicians also test stool, saliva, urine, and hormones. “Maybe in the interim we can cover up some symptoms,” she continues, “but, we have to find the root of it.”
She shares great day-to-day tips on her Instagram. I strongly suggest a follow @dralexandrapower.
Seasonal allergies, like other allergies, are an over reaction of your immune system that is triggered by an allergen. This causes the release of histamine and other chemical mediators leading to the symptoms of hayfever. What specific allergens trigger this response is different for everyone, and there is testing available to help determine what is triggering your symptoms.
As a Naturopathic Doctor, I look at a variety of factors when a patient wants support with these symptoms, but is tired of taking over the counter antihistamines. Environmental factors, lifestyle changes, allergen identification and possible desensitization, nutrition optimization, and herbal and nutrient support are just a few of the things that I do with my patients.
Evaluating a patient’s nutrition is important, especially in the prevention of seasonal allergy symptoms! Although it doesn’t seem related, what you eat affects so many aspects of your health, including these seasonal symptoms.
Eating a diet high in bright, colourful vegetables is a great way to get lots of nutrients and antioxidants. This’ll keep your immune system strong. I usually recommend 6-7 cups of bright veggies per day.
Looking at food sensitivities is particularly important when patients have year round symptoms of congestion and sniffling, but can also be implicated when patients are aggravated seasonally! Some studies even demonstrate that relief of symptoms can be achieved by eliminating sensitive foods, and without treating the pollen allergies directly! Common symptom triggering foods include:
- Citrus Fruits
The most effective way to determine if you’re sensitive to a food is an elimination diet — which involves removing then reintroducing foods until you determine which you’re sensitive to. Another option is food sensitivity testing which I, and many other Naturopathic Doctors offer.
Food additives can also be implicated in patients with year round congestion and seasonal allergy symptoms. Common triggering additives include:
- Sodium benzoate
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- Tartrazine (yellow dyes)
- Erythrosine (red dyes)
You can boost your system by trying these supplements:
Quercetin is a flavonoid, and potent antioxidant that has been demonstrated to reduce histamine release and reduce inflammation. The main symptom of seasonal allergies that it helps to reduce is congestion and a runny nose.
- Vitamin C:
Not only is Vitamin C great for your immune system, it also helps to prevent the release and action of histamine, therefore helping to relieve symptoms of hayfever!
Magnesium is a mineral that is important for SO many things in maintenance of good health. Not surprisingly, it is also helpful in reduction of allergy symptoms, specifically runny noses!
Some studies demonstrate that probiotic supplements can be effective in decreasing sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and an itchy throat. More research still needs to be done to determine which strains are most effective, but they would be a good addition to anyone with seasonal allergy symptoms.
Dosing on these supplements varies on the individual, and other health concerns that one may have, so I recommend booking an appointment with myself or another Naturopathic Doctor to get a thorough assessment done. I don’t recommend using this article as a replacement for medical advice.
Sublingual immunotherapy (aka: SLIT therapy) is another treatment that has been demonstrated to be effective at reducing hayfever symptoms. It involves testing for specific environmental allergens, and then desensitizing the body to the allergens using customized, diluted drops of these allergens under the tongue.
Therapeutic acupuncture has been demonstrated to be useful for reducing symptoms of seasonal allergies, specifically rhinitis (aka: a runny nose!). It also has been shown to decrease the need for antihistamine use in some studies.
Xylitol Nasal Spray:
Another alternative to the common over the counter decongestant nasal spray is a saline and xylitol nasal spray! It has been shown to clear nasal and sinus congestion without drying out the nasal passages. Additionally, it helps to wash the nose of dander, pollen and other allergens.