Allergies 101


This year, after a very unusual winter, it has been reported that allergy ‘season’ will arrive early AND will possibly cause more difficulty than normal for the many who ‘suffer with allergies’.
SPRING can mean different things to different folks. For me? Renewal and a chance to go and forage for new Spring wild greens!  For those who suffer from allergies, it means watery eyes, scratchy throats and runny noses.

There are some herbs which are very helpful, as well as supplements which can be very supportive. But for now, let’s start at the beginning:

Sometimes it really helps to understand just what is going on when allergy symptoms flare up. The allergic reaction which happens when  our immune system overreacts to a substance we’ve inhaled, like tree pollen, is called allergic rhinitis.
There are two types ~ seasonal (often called hayfever) and perennial (which exists year-round). Hay fever is caused by outdoor allergens while perennial allergic rhinitis is caused by indoor culprits; allergens such as mold, pet dander or dust mites, to name a few.

People who experience allergic rhinitis look like they have a cold; in fact, they can experience all of the same symptoms but this misery is not caused by a virus in the way that a cold is. Our immune system goes into action when we breathe in an allergen (particles our body considers foreign) and our plasma cells release a substance called IgE (Immunoglobulin E) which is an antibody specific to that allergen. IgE attaches to the surface of our mast cells which are found in large numbers in the  “surface tissues” such as those found close to the “outside”;  such as in our skin as well as the mucous membranes of our nose where they help mediate  inflammatory responses.

Allergic rhinitis is common, affecting more than  1 in 5 people in North America. Symptoms can be mild or severe.  Many people who have allergic rhinitis also have asthma.

Allergic rhinitis can cause many symptoms, including the following:

  1. Fatigue
  2. Dark circles under the eyes
  3. Dry cough
  4.  Sneezing
  5.  Post-nasal drip
  6.  Red, itchy, and watery eyes
  7.  Swollen eyelids
  8.  Itchy mouth, throat, ears, and face
  9.  Sore throat
  10.  Stuffy, runny nose
  11.  Headaches, facial pain or pressure
  12.  Partial loss of hearing, smell, and taste

Causes:

Our  immune system is designed to fight harmful substances like bacteria and viruses, but in allergic rhinitis, it over-reacts to harmless substances — like various molds, pollen, and pet dander — and promptly reacts. This reaction, which may feel more like an “attack”,  is called an allergic reaction.

Seasonal allergic rhinitis is caused by an allergic reaction to pollens and spores (depending on the season and area) as they are carried on the wind.
Sources include:
Grass pollen (late spring and summer)
Tree pollen (spring)^^
Fungus (mold growing on dead leaves, common in summer)
Ragweed — the most common seasonal allergen (fall)

Year-round allergic rhinitis is caused by an allergic reaction to airborne particles.

Sources include:
Pet dander
Dust and household mites
Molds spores (growing on wall paper, carpeting, upholstery and even house plants)
Personal care products
Perfumes
Household cleaning products**

^^Trees that are known to cause severe allergies include ash, birch, cypress, elm, hickory, maple, oak, olive, poplar, sycamore and walnut.

**Chemicals found in many household cleaning products can aggravate or even cause allergies.
Scientists from the University of Michigan have found that people who commonly used triclosan products are more likely to have issues with hay fever or allergies. ANOTHER reason why it’s NOT a good reason to use anti-bacterial soaps, laden with triclosan.

With the rise in both allergies and asthma, sales of medications to treat these maddening + irritating symptoms are growing. If you’re like many, this allergy season, you have stocked up on your favourite allergy medication and manage to control symptoms with the recommended daily dose of  ‘chemical’ help.  Allergy meds, like all pharmaceuticals, come with a wide variety of side effects** and have an affect upon the liver, over time and so alternatives can be life-enhancing ~ a GOOD thing!

Side Effects of Allergy Medication

** can include unpleasant smell or taste, nasal irritation and nosebleeds
** can include mouth and throat irritation and oral yeast infections.
** eye drops may increase your risk of eye infections, glaucoma and cataracts.
** Side effects of antihistamine nasal sprays may include bitter taste, dizziness, drowsiness or fatigue,
** dry mouth, headache, nasal burning, nosebleed, nausea, runny nose, sore throat, and sneezing.

ALTERNATIVES include herbal medicine to strengthen the body overall, to  improve immune + digestive systems function; herbs to actually help the body to NOT react to or become sensitive to specific allergens.

THE most important herb that I use in my  herbal medicine “pantry” for seasonal and year-round allergies is “stinging nettle”.
Learn all about how to enjoy nettle herb here.  There are other ant-allergenic herbs. 
TIP:  Ingest a teaspoonful daily of locally harvested bee pollen and honey. Do this before and during ‘your’ allergy season. Take one-half to a full teaspoon once a day. This is a very effective way to prevent seasonal allergies by immunizing yourself against local airborne pollens Most health food stores will sell local honey. Otherwise, check out your local farmers market!

For more information about how to “detox your home” and help to ensure that you are able to continue to live “allergy-free” OR improve your own internal living environment to create a healthier environment
–> visit my ‘articles’ tab above and look for my free e-report.

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