Spring Blossoms, Chronic Allergy Solutions

California’s Central Valley is looking absolutely gorgeous this month with all the orchards in bloom! If you’re an allergy sufferer, you might not be able to fully appreciate or enjoy the splendor. Symptoms of allergies include a runny nose, eye discharge, sinus congestion (pressure or ache in the forehead and/or nose and cheek area), headaches, itchy skin, earaches and difficulty breathing. Because of the abundance of agriculture in the Valley, not to mention the pollution that blows in from other areas and settles there, allergies can be a problem for many people throughout year, not just during allergy “season.” Allergic responses to animal dander and mold are also common.

Naturopathic medicine offers many options for treating allergies. There are two main approaches that can be taken to treatment: focusing on symptoms or correcting the root cause. Of course, these are not always mutually exclusive. The first, focusing on the symptoms, is similar in philosophy to conventional medical approaches but the tools are natural supplements, including vitamins and herbs rather than pharmaceutical medications. Vitamin C, bioflavanoids and quercetin all fall into this category. They work in a similar manner to anti-histamines by keeping mast cells from de-granulating. Mast cells are a part of your immune system that reacts to pollen as an invader in your body; de-granulation is when they release immune substances to fight that invader. Using nutrients and herbs in place of pharmaceuticals has advantages. The natural supplements for treating allergies have fewer side effects than common allergy medications. For instance, you are not likely to experience drowsiness with vitamins and herbs. Vitamins and herbs also provide nutrition that may be beneficial to the body beyond minimizing allergic symptoms.

But, what if you want to go beyond treating the symptoms? And why might you want to take extra steps to do this? Symptoms of allergies are just that—symptoms. Symptoms are the body’s way of telling you that something is out of balance, that there are organs, tissues or cells not functioning optimally. If the answer to why you are experiencing allergy symptoms is simply pollen, springtime, and allergies, everyone around you would be experiencing the same symptoms. This simply is not the case. Even in areas with as much pollen and pollution as Merced there are people who do not experience allergies. Some individuals are more susceptible than others.

What makes one person more susceptible than another? Every person is an individual and the cause of his/her susceptibility is unique. However, there are a few fundamental places I start when approaching a patient with allergies. I often find that treating patient’s liver, lung and other respiratory tissue, as well as immune system can be helpful. Food sensitivities should also be considered. These can weaken the immune system and create susceptibility to allergies as well as symptoms very similar to allergies. Strengthening and supporting adrenal glands can also be key. Adrenal glands are small triangular shaped glands that sit above each kidney. These glands produce cortisol as well as many other hormones. Cortisol is a substance produced during times of prolonged stress and has many functions in the body. Isn’t it interesting that many pharmaceuticals for allergies, asthma and skin disorders involve giving cortisone, a form of cortisol? It makes intuitive sense then that some individuals with these conditions can benefit from strengthening their adrenal glands.

In addition to working with internal organs to strengthen your resistance to allergens, I often address structure as well. Nasal passages and sinuses that are not aligned properly make breathing difficult, and sinus infections or pressure and other allergic symptoms common. Nasal specifics, and sometimes cranial sacral therapy, are effective techniques for addressing this. Results for nasal specifics are usually best after receiving a series of three treatments. The technique is quick and non-invasive. It is an excellent alternative to sinus surgery or resection for many people. Both cranial sacral therapy and nasal specifics can also be beneficial for people with sleep apnea and headaches.

When approaching a patient with allergies I often combine approaches that address symptoms with those that address underlying cause. This can take more time then popping a Claritin, but in the long run you will have created better overall health for yourself. Let me share an example of how a seemingly innocuous short cut in health might be problematic for future health. Eczema, a red scaly skin condition common in children, is often treated with cortisone cream. These kids frequently develop asthma later in life, and this is even starting to be acknowledged in conventional medicine. The eczema, like allergies, is just a symptom and the body’s way of saying that something internal is out of balance. If the symptom is ignored, or worse, prevented from expressing itself as in the case of eczema and steroid creams, the imbalance will appear elsewhere and often in deeper and more serious conditions. Instead of simply treating the symptoms, the underlying imbalance needs to be addressed. You have a choice to help your cells and organs to respond better to an allergic load rather than covering up the imbalance that is leading to symptoms of allergies. When this happens your body will also be able to respond better to a variety of other situations, and sometimes situations or symptoms you had no clue were connected in anyway to allergies may be surprisingly resolved. This is preventive medicine and helps increase your longevity as well as your appreciation of spring blossoms.

1 Response to Spring Blossoms, Chronic Allergy Solutions

  1. Sarah Jones says:

    Hi, my son has bad allergies and cough induced asthma for a few years and we are wondering if he has chronic lung inflammation. We are interested in ways to treat and heal his allergies and asthma naturally and also in testing to see if he does indeed have chronic lung inflammation.

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