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Preventing seasonal allergies

With spring just landing, we have now entered into allergy season. Approximately 20% of Australians suffer from allergies and this is exponentially increasing due to many factors including stress, diet and lifestyle. Moreover, if you suffer from nasal polyps, have a deviated septum or intestinal hyperpermeability (aka leaky gut syndrome), you are more at risk for suffering from allergic conditions.

While seasonal allergies often have similar symptoms to the common cold, they do not usually resolve as quickly due to the frequent exposure of allergens, particularly pollen, dust and mould. Moreover, many people can be exposed to these environmental substances and not produce an allergic response, but some people release an overload of histamine which causes this allergic cascade. The key to preventing this is by supporting healthy immune function.

Symptoms of seasonal allergies:

• Low blood pressure
• Ear infections
• Irritability
• Fatigue and compromised sleep
• Post-nasal drip
• Watery and itchy eyes
• Mood changes
• Anxiety
• Hives
• Eczema
• Headaches
• Bloating
• Increase mucous production

While over the counter medicine can provide symptomatic relief, it doesn’t address the underlying root cause, and there is even a chance of developing tolerance to anti-histamine medications. A naturopathic approach to seasonal allergies focuses on supporting healthy immune function and overcoming any obstacles that may be contributing.

4 natural approaches to help improve your allergies this season:

  1. Quercetin – think of this flavonoid antioxidant as your best friend for improving allergies. Quercetin helps to reduce allergies by stabilising the histamine released from immune cells. Onions (particularly the skin, which can be added to broths and soups), berries, apples and kale are among the highest food sources richest in this compound.

  2. Neti pot – Using a neti pot is great for symptomatic relief and prevention. This is an ancient ayurvedic practice to help cleanse the body and moisten the mucous membranes. By clearing out mucous in the nasal cavities, you also remove allergic substances which get trapped in the passages, such as dander and pollen, effectively reducing allergic symptoms. Be sure to use filtered water when using this method!

  3. Probiotics – certain strains such as Lactobacillus plantarum, Bifidobacterium infantis and soil-based probiotics help to reduce histamine burden and support a healthy immune response overall. Talk to your functional medicine practitioner to see which blend or strain is suited for you.

  4. Managing stress – unmanaged stress is a major contributor to seasonal allergies, as it puts our body into “flight or fight” mode, which can change the way our immune cells respond to potential threats, causing hypersensitivity in some cases. Some great tools for managing stress is practicing mindfulness and meditation. Herbs such as passionflower, ashwagandha, reishi and jujube can also help support the nervous system, however, check-in with your naturopath or Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner to discuss which herbs may be best suited.

If you find that you’re also suffering from digestive complaints, on top of seasonal allergies, it may be a sign that you have a gut infection or leaky gut syndrome, which would mean seasonal allergies may not improve until the root cause is addressed. In this case, autonomic response testing can be a great modality to find out if there are any sneaky infections contributing.

By Fallon Cashell

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