By Dr. Andrea Wick EBS CONTRIBUTOR
It’s soon to be that time of the year where itchy, watery eyes, congested sinuses and sneezing begins. Chronic allergy sufferers soon become best friends with their bottles of Zyrtec, Benadryl or Claritin.
Allergies are caused by hypersensitivity within the immune system. When your body senses an allergen such as pollen, mold, insect bites or dander, your immune system triggers a chain reaction.
Chemical signals are sent to your mast cells, which are highly concentrated in the nasal passages, lungs and mucus membranes. Mast cells trigger a release of histamine, causing vasodilation, or increase of blood flow, to the part of your body that the allergen is affecting. Inflammation begins and your immune system kicks in and starts on damage control. Histamine will then tell your body to make more mucus in your membranes to defend itself against the irritant. The result is itchy, watery eyes, sore throat, coughing and sneezing.
Is there a way to make the body less hypervigilant when it comes to allergy season? Do natural antihistamines exist? And do they work?
An increasingly widespread belief is associated with eating local honey to decrease allergic symptoms. The thought process behind this is that local honey contains pollen from nearby trees and plants and that eating the honey in small amounts will expose these allergens to the immune system. The immune system will begin to recognize the pollen and does not see the pollen as a threat. Therefore, no histamine is released.
There is no research proving that eating local honey works, however many claim that this is helpful for relieving symptoms. Depending on an individual’s sensitivity, it is important to note that honey can potentially cause an allergic reaction.
Stinging nettle is an herb that has been found to effectively act against hay fever. According to a randomized double-blind controlled trial, stinging nettle was compared to a placebo when treating hay fever. Overall, the stinging nettle achieved better results with relieving allergy symptoms.
Homeopathy can help relieve short-term and long-term allergy symptoms. Homeopathy is a science that is based on the “like cures like” theory where whatever causes the allergen is also the cure. It relies on the “law of minimum dose,” meaning the minimum dose of a medication is needed to produce results. Homeopathics are derived from plants, minerals and animal products. The National Center for Homeopathy, as homeopathycenter.org, is a great resource with information on what remedy best suits your exact symptoms.
Decreasing food allergies and sensitivities such as dairy and gluten are helpful with lessening the symptoms of allergic reactions. Since the majority of the time, these foods can cause inflammation, it is best to decrease when allergy symptoms are present.
It is well-known within the chiropractic profession that subluxation or misalignments in the spine can also lead to hypersensitivity within the immune system. Keeping the spine aligned and happy leads to better balance and wellness overall.
The above options have worked wonders in my practice, though everybody is different. What works for one person may not work for the next.
Dr. Andrea Wick is a chiropractor and applied kinesiologist. She has a passion for holistic health care and being active in the outdoors. Her practice, Healing Hands Chiropractic, is located in the Meadow Village Center. Visit drandreawick.com to learn more.