Posted on Leave a comment

Allergy Assistance, Part 3

from the Alliance for Natural Health comes this excellent article on seasonal allergies, which appear to be getting worse:

Print This Post

Little girl blows her noseHere are some natural ways to stop your body’s reaction and relieve your suffering!

According to the Harvard Health Letter, seasonal allergies are starting earlier every year, and pollen counts are rising. At least 36 million people are affected by seasonal allergies each year in the US.

 Seasonal allergic rhinitis occurs when one’s immune system overreacts to foreign materials and produces an inflammatory response. Grass, weeds, and trees release tiny pollens into the air, and inhaling them triggers a reaction of your immune system. Floating pollutants such as mold spores and dust mite droppings also contribute (though in warmer climates, this can happen year round).

 Uncovering what makes the immune system respond the way it does is important. One theory is that an excessive antigenic stimulus overwhelms the immune system, and this is what leads to an inflammatory response. In other words, a small amount of allergen may not be enough to cause symptoms, but continued exposure—or the exposure of number of antigens—can lead to an overload of the system. This is magnified when one’s immune system is weak (which happens easily when one is tired or stressed or has recently been ill).

There are natural approaches to seasonal allergies that work well:

Calm the allergic response. According to a  study in the Journal of  Alternative and Complementary Medicine, subjects who took 2600 mg of  MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) found their upper and total respiratory  symptoms significantly reduced within seven days, and improvement  continued for all thirty days of the study. Also, as Dr. Mercola notes, MSM is 34% sulfur, which can help maintain optimal health. Sulfur helps the body detoxify itself, and helps produce  glutathione, an important antioxidant. MSM is extremely safe and can be taken at high doses, even if one’s diet is full of raw vegetables and  MSM-rich foods. Some of our staff have found complete relief from allergies with this product, but required higher daily doses than 2600 mg.

  • Another substance that helps calm down the immune system under a pollen attack is the Alpine herb butterbur. In Scotland, researchers found that butterbur is effective. It can also be used in conjunction with MSM—the sulfur to condition the body, and the herb for acute attacks. Petadolex,  a butterbur extract supplement, reduces inflammation so well that it can be used for migraines and other headaches too—it was endorsed as an OTC remedy for migraines by the Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society after their review of 284 scholarly articles on the subject. Butterbur in the wild contains a potentially toxic substance, but Petadolex has removed it.
  • Freeze-dried nettles and quercetin are also used to reduce allergic response. They both work—the former sooner, and the latter over time—but they typically reduce rather than eliminate symptoms. Antihistamine drugs were initially developed from quercetin. As is often the case, the drugs had serious side effects (such as drowsiness) while the natural product from which it is derived did not.  Another natural product that shows promise is Carnivora, derived from the plant of the same name, although more research needs to be done.
  • Remove food allergens (which lightens the antigenic load). As the Townsend Letter points out, allergic/inflammatory processes may first become active in the gut. Then transportation of food proteins across the intestinal wall becomes altered, resulting in increased permeability and motility of the intestine—Leaky Gut Syndrome. Coupled with other conditions, such as intestinal infections, flora imbalance, and decreased immunoglobulin A antibodies, this may lead to further intestinal compromise and increased antigen-immune interaction.
  • Get acupuncture. Researchers had 442 people with seasonal allergies receive acupuncture treatments. After eight weeks of acupuncture, a 71% patients reported an improvement in their symptoms (according to a scale used to measure allergy symptoms, the severity of these patients’ symptoms decreased by an impressive 37%).

Reduce general inflammation in the body. Eating lots of veggies with deep-water fish will decrease inflammation levels. Omega-3s from all sources can reduce inflammation as well. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, licorice, skullcap, cordyceps, and perilla have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties (though consult a TCM practitioner for      guidance).

  • Strengthen the immune system. At the head of our list is vitamin D3, which reduces the incidence of respiratory infections. Also get plenty of vitamin E and magnesium, and knock off the sugar, which greatly weakens the immune      system. And don’t forget vitamin C: studies indicate it’s a natural antihistamine.
  • Relieve congestion gently. Don’t forget neti pots—saline nasal irrigation—which may provide sinus pain relief for      allergy sufferers. But you probably won’t need them if you have enough sulfur in your system.
Posted on Leave a comment

Allergy Season Assistance, Part 1

From late spring through early autumn, airborne pollens, grasses and weeds reach their peak.  In the nasal passage and airway of sensitive individuals, these particles enlist an immune response typified by the activation of mast cells residing in the tissue lining.  Once active, mast cells release prostaglandins, leukotrienes and other immune mediators that influence nasal perfusion and fluid balance (Figure 1).  For decades, polyphenols such as quercetin and hesperidin have prevailed as the natural modalities of choice.*

Quercetin, hesperidin and apple polyphenols stabilize mast cell membranes, helping to contain the mediators and restrict their access to the sensitive upper respiratory linings.1 Support for mast cell membrane integrity is also a mechanism of the complex flavonoid spectrum found in extracts of apple, nettle and other immune-modulating botanicals.2 Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials have demonstrated that polyphenols, particularly those in the flavonoid subgroup, are highly effective in maintaining healthy vascular permeability and indices of nasal responses.2*

In complex patients, balancing the immune response is a focal objective that commands a broad, systemic approach. Immunologic homeostasis is functionally contingent upon healthy bacterial populations of the intestinal epithelia, from which immune signals ramify throughout the body, including the respiratory tract.  Accordingly, a  meta-analysis involving 9 randomized controlled trials asserted that specific strains of Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria are effective in preserving nasal and airway function in the presence of common environmental triggers.3*

                    Figure 1.   Environmental particles stimulate production of IgE, which binds and activates mast cells. The active mast cells release mediators upon continual exposure to the particle.  Probiotics support homeostasis upstream of these events, maintaining healthy IgE levels.  Conversely, flavonoids, such as quercetin and hesperidin, function downstream to support the integrity of the mast cell membrane.*

            The Bifidobacterium longum strain BB536 is among the most extensively researched probiotic strains in the context of airborne particle tolerance.  Progressive compositional changes in microbial composition after several weeks of oral BB536 supplementation have been demonstrated in tandem with a healthy, balanced immune response.4  In a randomized, double-blind clinical trial, 44 subjects reporting an existing sensitivity to cedar received BB536 or placebo for 13 weeks during the spring. Significant support was evident in IgE responses and subjective scores relating to the ability of the nasal cavity and airway to tolerate airborne cedar particles.5 These findings were corroborated by a subsequent study, in which BB536 supplementation maintained the ability to perform normal activities comfortably during repeated exposure.6*

Other probiotic species that have been similarly characterized and validated include B. lactis Bl04, L. casei, L. acidophilus and L. plantarum.  Randomized, double-blind placebo controlled studies have collectively indicated favorable changes in IgE levels and indices of nasal and airway function relative to placebo.7-10 Although the duration of supplementation in most clinical trials is typically 3-4 months, clinically significant benefits have become evident within 4 weeks.6*

To date, the collective body of randomized trials of flavonoids and specific probiotics clearly supports their clinical efficacy.  Aller-Essentials provides the flavonoids quercetin and hesperidin methyl chalcone, together with apple polyphenols and clinically researched botanicals for mast cell integrity and healthy nasal function.  Probiotic IMM is a shelf-stable blend of B. longum BB536, B. lactis, L. acidophilus, L. casei and L. plantarum.  In complex patients, concurrent use of both products offers advanced support from two mechanistic angles.  Although formulated specifically for seasonal immune balance, Probiotic IMM promotes healthy gut ecology to support healthy natural defenses, regardless of the time of year.*