Integrative Medicine and Seasonal Allergies
Submitted by Hirsch Center for Integrative Medicine
Here in the Pacific Northwest many of us are eager for the first signs of springtime. The longer days, sunshine and blossoming flowers, shrubs and trees are a welcome sight after a soggy winter. But for many people coming out of winter’s darkness means subjecting themselves to months of seasonal allergies. Come March or April each year, our clinic begins to fill with people showing sure signs of seasonal allergies: watery eyes, skin rashes, runny noses, scratchy throats and coughing. So what’s a spring blossom to do? Luckily, Integrative Medicine offers something for everyone.
Eliminating potential allergens from your environment can go a long way in minimizing allergic reactions. Prevention is one of the foundations of integrative medicine and is often much less expensive than other allergy therapies. Here are some ways to minimize your exposure to possible allergens.
- Avoid airborne triggers such as, tobacco smoke, auto exhaust, pollen and synthetic fragrances and perfumes.
- When pollen counts are high -
- Wash hands after playing/working outdoors
- Change outdoor clothes before sitting on your bed or couch
- Keep windows closed on windy days
- Limit gardening, lawn mowing or working outside
- Avoid use of chemical pesticides and herbicides. These contaminants can trigger allergies and compromise your immune system.
- Consider a HEPA filter for your home, office and car.
- A dehumidifier can help minimize mold in humid climates.
- Have your air ducts cleaned 1-2 times a year to reduce the amount of dust being recirculated throughout your home.
- If possible, replace carpet in your home with hard surface flooring. Carpet can harbor a number of triggers such as, dust, pet dander, chemicals and other contaminants.
- Leave your shoes at the door. Wearing outside shoes indoors can bring a variety of potential triggers into your home.
- Wash the bedding in your home regularly and use hot water.
- For sleeping, try pillows filled with wool. Wool not only wicks moisture making it a difficult environment for mold and mildew but it is also resistant to dust mites.
- Consider using allergy-proof bedding covers but avoid anything that off-gases such as PVC. There are several companies making wool toppers and covers.
- Toys, decorative pillows, throw rugs and other furniture can also collect dust. When possible wash or dust items outside.
- Use a vacuum that is equipped with a HEPA filter to reduce the chance of stirring up more dust.
- Use non-chemical household cleaning products to reduce potential contamination.
- If possible, keep pets outside. If this is not an option try to limit the space inside where they spend time, keep them off your beds or routinely clean to reduce the amount of pet dander in your home.
Treatments that Address the Whole Person
Very rarely is there one simple explanation or cause for why a person suffers from allergy symptoms. Allergies are often a mix of environmental exposure, genetics and immune system function. All of our practitioners agree that if you suffer from seasonal allergies your search for better health must begin with an examination of your diet. Food can be used preventively and it can also be a cause for your seasonal suffering. If you have unidentified food sensitivities there are likely other ways they are undermining your health. Addressing these triggers can dramatically improve your overall health and well-being.
Here are some ideas from our team of providers to get you started in addressing your seasonal allergies.
Evan Hirsch, MD
- When possible, choose organic food to avoid pesticides.
- Eat a diet (or take a supplement) high in Omega-3’s (fish oils), prebiotics and probiotics (fermented foods). These are immunomodulating and anti-inflammatory.
- Take high dose vitamin C, IV vitamin C or herbal anti-histamines.
- Optimize vitamin D levels.
- Check for genetic causes. The DAO gene has been linked to allergies.
- Use a neti-pot with warm salt water and over time cold water to strengthen mucus membranes.
Louise Boxill, ND, ARNP
- Juicing – create a fresh juice of local nettles, dark greens, dandelion leaves, beets, carrots, apple, celery, lemon. Drink 1 oz. at a time with a little olive oil. Blended in a smoothie you can also add local bee pollen.
- Homeopathics – Sabadilla is a universal remedy and can also be found in many blends.
Anne Rhody, PA-C
- Freeze dried stinging nettle capsules.
- Xlear nasal spray
- Peppermint essential oil
- Adrenal support supplements
- Liver cleansing herbs
- Homeopathic pulsatilla and allium cepa
- Home remedy Fire Cider is great, otherwise Immune Strength essential oil from Native American Nutritionals.
- Rule out gluten and dairy food sensitivities and that a Candida overgrowth isn’t a root cause.
David Lerner, EAMP, MTCM
- Use the Nasopure irrigator in combo with their buffered salt and a product called s-clear.
- Use a botanical formula such as, Aller-Res-Q and chew pills to enhance uptake.
Doug Walsh, MEd, NTP
- Determine if you have any food sensitivities. Seasonal allergies can sometimes be a symptom of undiagnosed food sensitivities. Talk with your provider about a food elimination diet.
Stacy Hirsch, MES, ACC, CDWF-C
- Mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques have been shown to be helpful in calming an over-stimulated immune response.
Robin Aisha Landsong, LMP
- Botanical support can be beneficial for allergy sufferers. Understanding the attributes of the herb can help you understand how it supports the body and potentially increasing the medicinal benefit.
- Quercetin in Aller-Res-Q; Oak seeds are extremely hardy and are not likely to germinate if they fall on ground in a place where they cannot survive. They will “wait it out” until a better year or location. So just like the oak seed is very tough on the outside taking quercetin helps make the outer layer of the histamine become tougher and not break open at the slightest bit of pollen.
Kenda Stewart, LMP
- Massage can be helpful for rebalancing sympathetic and parasympathetic responses and help modulate an overactive immune response.