Allergies are the fifth-leading cause of chronic disease in the world and are affecting up to 30% of adults and 40% of children globally. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation, the prevalence of this condition has increased each year over the past decade.  Allergy sufferers may experience runny or itchy noses,congestion as well as watery and itchy eyes.
Naturopathic physicians are well trained at helping both to manage these symptoms naturally and potentially eliminate allergies, avoiding the use of over the counter medications to keep those symptoms at bay. This article will review the top naturopathic strategies for managing and potentially eliminating allergies.
First off – what is an allergy?
The term allergy is defined as an abnormal response to a substance that your immune system recognizes as foreign, but does not lead to reactions in most people. Common allergenic substances include: pollens (grasses, trees and weeds), mold, dust, foods, chemicals, drugs, perfumes and air pollution. The primary role of our immune system is to protect us from these foreign substances however with allergies, the immune system abnormally reacts leading to an increase in the chemical histamine in the body which results in tissue injury, disease and the allergy symptoms people commonly experience come Spring.
Naturopathic allergy treatment is multifactorial and involves 1) identifying and avoiding the allergen, 2) managing the allergy symptoms and 3) potentially using allergy desensitization therapy to prevent the allergy response from returning.
1) Identifying and Avoiding the Allergen
Specific substances in the environment can trigger allergies however allergies are commonly caused by cumulative exposure to multiple substances. These triggering substances vary from person to person. In order to correctly identify and then remove what substance is causing your allergy symptoms, an allergy test is an important first step. There are different options when it comes to testing which include blood testing, skin-scratch testing or skin-prick testing. If the allergen is dust or mold and these substances cannot be removed from the home right away, a HEPA filter in the bedroom is helpful to clear toxins more effectively from the home, as well as sleeping with the windows open.
2) Allergy Management
Identifying and Removing Food Sensitivities - Substances in the environment trigger most allergies, however recent research has shown that food allergies and sensitivities have been associated with allergy symptoms as well. By avoiding food allergies and sensitivities, allergy symptoms have shown to be significantly reduced. Food allergies and sensitivities vary from person to person and completing an elimination diet or a food sensitivity test may be an excellent option to figure out what foods you’re sensitive to.
Probiotics – Many studies have demonstrated a significant clinical improvement with the use of probiotics for allergies, especially for prevention.  These are especially important for someone who has taken antibiotics, is on a protein pump inhibitor (for acid reflex) or experiences digestive symptoms. It is important to use probiotic strains that have been researched as effective for allergies and inflammation.
Dietary Strategies – The top foods to beat spring allergies include: foods high in omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin C and magnesium. Including more of these foods in your diet along with eliminating food allergies and sensitivities is an effective way to manage your allergies through diet.
· Omega 3 fatty acids - help reduce the risk of developing allergies in adults.  The best sources of omega 3 fats include fish such as wild salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel as well as nuts and seeds.
· Vitamin C – This vitamin is a natural antihistamine and studies show that consuming more than 500mg of vitamin C can reduce allergy symptoms.  Foods high in vitamin C include citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli and bell peppers.
· Magnesium – This trace mineral reduces the histamine response and inflammation in the lungs, which can help people breathe easier when allergies attack. Some examples of magnesium rich foods include almonds, cashews, dark green leafy vegetables and beans.
Herbs –Nettle (Urticadioica) is an herb that has been studied to reduce the sneezing and itching in those with allergy symptoms.  This herb can be consumed in a tea form or as a supplement. Quercetin and Pine Bark (Pinuspinaster) are other herbs that has been shown to help with allergies by blocking histamine release.
3) Allergy Desensitization Therapy
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) was introduced in the 1990s as a solution to allergies and is one of the only therapies able to maintain its benefits by preventing allergies from recurring in the future. Over 30 published studies have shown that this therapy is equally or more effective than allergy shots in reducing allergy symptoms.  It has also been shown to be the only treatment available to act on the causes of allergies and not only the symptoms. Click here to learn more about SLIT and if you may benefit from it. This therapy is covered by most extended medical plans.
Seasonal allergies can be as debilitating as a cold or flu. Incorporating some of the researched natural therapies while treating the cause can help you manage and treat your allergies without feeling drowsy from medication.
Here’s to a snot and itch free Spring/Summer :)
Dr. Lara Spector ND
If you would like to learn more about allergy testing and natural treatments, leave a note here!
Allergy Statistics. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.AAAAI Web site. http://www.aaaai.org/about-the-aaaai/newsroom/allergy-statistics.aspx. Accessed May 11 2015.
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Nagel G. The influence of the dietary intake of fatty acids and antioxidants on hay fever in adults.Allergy. 2003;58(12):1277-1284.
Johnston CS. Antihistamine effect of supplemental ascorbic acid and neutrophil chemostaxis. J Am CollNutr. 1992; April; 11(2):172-6.
Mittman P. Randomized, double-blind study of freeze-dried Urticadioica in the treatment of allergic rhinitis.Planta Med. 1990;56(1):44-47.
Incorvaia C, Masieri S, Scurati S, et al. The current role of sublingual immunotherapy in the treatment of allergic rhinitis in adults and children.J Asthma Allergy. 2011;4:13-17.
5/12/2015 10:01:27 am
Hi Lara, enjoyed reading...will forward to Stephanie, my future daughter-in-law, she is suffering with spring sinus allergies.
5/14/2015 01:28:28 am
Hi Jane! Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading and passing along. Have a great day :) -Lara
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Dr. Lara is a Naturopathic Doctor who is passionate about helping and empowering her patients in their journey towards lifelong health and wellness