Seasonal Allergies are on the rise again in Arizona! The Naturopathic joy of living in Scottsdale includes having two allergy seasons rather than just one. Recently I was reading research about flavonoids and found that our very own Prickly Pear Fruit from the Prickly Pear Cactus are a rich source of Quercetin. Which is an important flavonoid that helps stabilize mast cells to prevent the release of histamine from the white blood cells, thus preventing seasonal allergy symptoms and treating them naturally. In "Nature Cure Naturopathy" we believe the cure for the patient's disease is right in their backyard, and Prickly Pear fruit is a classic example of this!
Many of my Dermatology patients complain their Eczema, Psoriasis and itchy skin problems become worse during allergy season, most likely because of the excess histamine and inflammation caused by more pollen in the air. As a Women's Health Hormone Doctor I can also attest that many of my female patients begin to develop allergies when their hormones become imbalanced such as with Hypothyroidism, Hashimtoto's, PMS, Perimenopause and Menopause.
I have been treating patients naturally for their seasonal allergies with great success for over fourteen years, and I can tell you from first hand experience, that no matter what natural treatment you choose you will need to give it a few weeks to start working in your system. It is also generally fine to combine most over the counter medications with the following herbal medicines. We will discuss allergies, however you should check with your a Naturopathic Doctor or schedule a visit with me, to be certain you are combining herbs and medications correctly.
Already the impending doom of scratchy throats, runny itchy noses, water eyes and chronic congestion are slowly setting in with my patients, and the best way to treat your seasonal allergies naturally is to start the following protocol at least two weeks before allergy season is about to start. For people living in the Phoenix area, that means mid September, and mid February, as we tend to start becoming symptomatic with allergies in October and March or whenever the weather is in the 70-80's. Once it is above 100 degrees most plants stop blooming and we ironically don't want to be outside much anyways. This is important to note when using any naturopathic medicine for seasonal allergies because popping a pill or drinking a tea just one time will fail even the best natural allergy remedy. We need to be consistent and focused on the long term goal.
Have no fear if you are bothered by seasonal allergies, I have put together a basic plan to help avoid if not reduce the use of allergy medicines that tend to leave us feeling drowsy and groggy. Having an alternative medicine plan in store before allergy season sets in full force will save you time, medication, and misery in the long run.
First I will be discussing how to get your body in optimal conditioning to cope with allergy season, and then I will discuss specific natural medicines that will help support your immune system to reduce the overall severity of seasonal allergies. If you always tend to be “sick” living in Arizona the months of March, April, May, October and November then you more likely have seasonal allergies, than a bad cold.
Now is a great time to do a light cleanse of detox before the holidays. Having a healthy liver aids the detoxification of histamine, that nasty molecule that gives us the irritating symptoms of allergies.
Seventy percent of our immune system smartly surrounds our gut and is formally known as GALT “Gut Associated Lymphatic Tissue”. If the immune system is already stressed from reacting improperly to foods, it will affect the body’s ability to cope with the added burden of seasonal allergies.
The take home message is to just cut back on wheat and dairy during allergy season as they are the typical “worst offenders” for most. Citrus, peanuts, corn, soy, tomatoes, red meat, sugar, and processed foods seem to also cause trouble for those with seasonal allergies. Before allergy season starts is a great time to reduce your Food Sensitivities or simply reduce those foods that you already are aware make you more congested or symptomatic during this time. While we cannot control the pollen levels driving up our histamine we can control what we put in our mouths that we know we are allergic or sensitive to. This helps decrease the "Total Load" of histamine in our systems.
Foods as medicine: Increase onions and garlic for quercetin and sulfur levels. Eat Alaskan Wild salmon as often as possible for the anti-inflammatory benefits of the Omega 3’s, and increase green leafy vegetables as much as possible to aid the livers role in the detoxification of histamine. Switch to a Whole Foods Diet.
According to Chinese Medicine Theory people have allergies because they are “living too far away from the earth”. Now I doubt they mean that you are living on Jupiter, I am most certain they are referring to a diet high in preservatives and white flours, over-processed refined foods and artificial sweeteners and other chemicals.
Quercetin: Stabilizes the “Mast Cells” of our immune system and prevents their cell membranes from degranulating and releasing histamine in to the system. Histamine is what makes us cough, sneeze, itch and have watery eyes. Typically two 500mg capsules twice daily is a sufficient dose.
Severe allergy sufferers also run quercetin in their Neti Pot to reduce the inflammation of the nasal membranes. Quercetin is a relatively benign substance that can be used in higher doses if need be, just check with your Naturopathic Doctor before doing so.
Vitamin C: Supports the immune system and the functioning of quercetin. Typical dose is 500mg three times daily. You can also take it to bowel tolerance when sick or excessively symptomatic.
Omega-3: From fish oil, flax oil, walnuts, chia seeds and flax seeds help create cellular membranes that are less inflammatory in general and are an important underlying deficiency for many of my seasonal allergy patients.
Freeze Dried Nettles Leaf: Has been shown to be extremely helpful during allergy season. Typical dose is two 500 mg capsules twice daily. Nettles are a nutritive “food” that will build the body up. Using foods as medicines is always optimal to prescribing antihistamines. If need be you can take up to 4 grams of nettles which is equivalent to eight 500 mg capsules! I am not recommending taking that many capsules; I am simply trying to demonstrate how safe nettles are as an herbal medicine.
Research has also shown nettles to be helpful for osteoarthritis, myalgia, detoxification and eczema. If you choose to make a tea from the fresh plant, be sure to wear gloves when harvesting so as not to get stung! The leaves are the medicine in this case; the root of this plant is used for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Nettle is not to be used by those on anti-coagulant “blood thinning” drugs.
Neti Pot: Doing a couple solid Neti Pot sessions a day is one of the best, cheapest remedies for seasonal allergy sufferers that tend to frequently develop sinus infections. The gentle saline flush of the nasal passages has a three fold benefit. First we are tonifying the mucous membranes that line the passages, second we are washing out residual phlegm (aka-snot- aka the breeding ground for bacteria and viruses that cause sinus infections).
As an added bonus during allergy season you are flushing out the pollens formally known as “antigens” that are causing our immune systems to over react and produce sneezing, itching and watery eyes. Plan to do two Neti pots a day so that you will at least remember to do one. Be sure to check with your doctor before treating yourself with home remedies especially if you are taking medications or suffer from a health condition.
Household: You may want to consider investing in a HEPA air filter to reduce the total level of allergens you are exposed to in your home. Also, when returning home for the day be sure to take off your shoes so you don’t track the pollen throughout your house. Shower and change your clothes after going outside, if that is not an option, at least try to rinse off your hands and face to remove as much pollen as possible.
So there you have the basics to treat treat your seasonal allergies naturally. If you need a Naturopathic Doctor to help you get tested for Food Sensitivities to dive deeper in to the ROOT CAUSE of your allergies I would be delighted to help you. Simply pop over to my SCHEDULE page to book your Naturopathic visit with me.
Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD
Dr. Sundene is a Naturopathic Doctor in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is considered a Female Hormone Expert in Women's Health and Bioidentical Hormones. She specializes in Holistic Women's Health for Menopause, Thyroid, Hashimotos, PMS, Perimenopause, Autoimmune, Postpartum, Chronic Fatigue, Depression, Anxiety, Food Allergies, Digestion, Dermatology , Acne, Psoriasis, Eczema and Adrenal Hormonal Conditions. In 1999 she began working for a Hormone Doctor prior to starting Naturopathic Medical School. With over 22 years of experience in both Prescription and Natural women's health and hormones she presents to women the best integrated health solutions for their Chronic Disease. She has been an Herbalist for over 27 years and enjoys teaching women how to use herbs to balance their hormones, nutrition and optimize their health. Dr. Sundene relies on blood testing for her hormone metrics. The hormone testing is covered per the patient's insurance plan and conducted at certain points in the woman's menstrual cycle. To learn more about Hormone Testing for Women Visit: Bioidentical Hormones. Follow Dr. Sundene on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for more tips on Women's Health, Female Hormones and Naturopathy!