It’s that time of year again when your allergies are acting up. Anytime spring or fall comes around, you may start feeling the symptoms again- sneezing, itching, runny nose, congestion, postnasal drip, or just overall sinus annoyance.
Or perhaps you are an unlucky someone who experiences allergies year-round, due to indoor allergen sensitivity. The reaction to these allergens could even be causing you poor sleep, moodiness, cognitive impairment, and reduced productivity at work or school.
Do you just deal with it by suffering through the symptoms?
You don’t have to! There are some safe, alternative options to dealing with allergic rhinitis that doesn’t include having to take medications every day.
What Causes Allergic Rhinitis?
Allergic rhinitis, also known as common allergies, is an inflammatory condition that is caused by an individual being sensitive to a particular allergen.
Many people have seasonal allergies, meaning they are sensitive to specific allergens like airborne pollen from grass, tree pollen, and outdoor mold spores that are prevalent in the spring or fall. Indoor dust, indoor mold, pet dander, and smoke can also be sensitivities that cause the inflammation response to initiate. People who are susceptible to these allergens may experience symptoms year-round.
Phases of Allergic Rhinitis
Antigen-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) receptors are located on specific immune cells (like mast cells and basophils). In pre-sensitized individuals, these IgE antigen receptors recognize the allergens when your body is exposed to them. There are two ways that your body responds – early and late phase reactions.
Early Phase of Allergic Rhinitis
During the early phase reaction, your body will respond within minutes of being exposed to the allergen. You’ll experience rapid onset symptoms affecting your nose and eyes (itching, sneezing, redness, watering eyes). When mast cells in your nasal passage come in contact with the allergen, they release histamine and other pro-inflammatory cells secreted by the immune system. This is what can cause your allergy symptoms.
Late Phase of Allergic Rhinitis
Late phase reaction of allergic rhinitis happens over a number of hours from the original exposure to the allergen you are sensitive to. Your inflammatory response continues on, calling in more immune cells like basophils, T-lymphocytes, neutrophils, monocytes, eosinophils, and cytokines. During this late phase, tissue remodeling occurs and fluid builds up in tissues. This causes swelling and leads to nasal congestion. Because there is already inflammation within your nasal passages, when you are exposed to more allergens, your body tends to react even more vigorously than before.
Problems with Conventional Allergy Medications
While conventional treatment for allergies like taking pills and injections may help in the short term, these options don’t get to the root cause. This allows for your allergies to come back time and time again. Alternative treatment methods can help you manage your symptoms long term so you can finally stop suffering during every change of the season.
What Can You Do To Reduce Allergy Symptoms?
To help manage your allergy symptoms, there are some natural approaches you can take to lessen the burden on your body. The first thing you can do is attempt to prevent the flare-up in the first place. Here are some practical things you can do to prevent or lessen allergy symptoms:
- Don’t hang your laundry outside
- Use the air conditioner in the house and car
- Don’t use fans that draw in air from the outside
- Use a good ventilation system in your home
- Invest in a high-quality air filtration system (especially in your bedroom)
- Wash bedding and blankets every week
- Keep pets out of the bedroom
- Dust and vacuum regularly
Herbs / Supplements To Help Manage Allergies
Prevention is best in managing allergies. However, we know we can’t be locked up in the house forever! Taking certain supplements can help reduce your symptoms so that they aren’t interfering with your daily life.
Here are my top recommendations:
- Vitamin C
- Stinging Nettle (Leaves)
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that supports immune functioning. Since our body doesn’t make vitamin C, we must get it through our diet. Its role in combating allergic rhinitis is vital because it can deactivate histamine, which makes your symptoms better. Please note that stress can promote rapid excretion of vitamin C, so try practicing stress management to maximize any vitamin c benefit! Sometimes intravenous high-dose vitamin C can see promising results as well.
Quercetin contains high antioxidant properties that help with immune health. It does this by reducing the amount of pro-inflammatory cytokines and stabilizing mast cells, which lessens the amount of histamines being released (remember, histamine is the main culprit for the hypersensitivity reactions and many of your allergy-related symptoms).
Stinging Nettle (Leaves)
This plant has been shown to balance the immune response in the nasal passages and airways. It does this by halting the formation of prostaglandin (PG) and inhibiting degranulation, which prevents the release of those pro-inflammatory molecules that are responsible for your annoying symptoms.
Bromelain is found in the fruit and stem of the pineapple plant. This is an enzyme that digests proteins and also has anti-inflammatory and antiallergic properties. It can break down big protein complexes like antigenic compounds and has been shown to enhance the absorption of quercetin (supplement stated above). Bromelain can help reduce the amount of allergenic proteins floating around in your body that are related to your hyper-immune sensitivity. I recommend taking 2,400 GDU/g of Bromelain to combat your allergies.
N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is an amino acid precursor to one of the most powerful antioxidants in the body, known as glutathione. Both glutathione and NAC help reduce the viscosity (or thickness) of the mucus allowing your airways to be cleared and therefore improving your respiratory health.
Use TeleHealth For Allergy Treatment
While there is a lot of information online about ways to help manage allergic rhinitis, getting recommendations from a professional integrative provider is highly recommended. Since everyone can react differently and have different levels of severity, your provider can help recommend the right supplements and dosage that is best for you. An easy option for getting help is through the use of TeleHealth. You don’t have to leave the comfort of your home, and you can have access to an integrative provider at the same time!
Reshma Patel, PA-C, founder of Ananda Integrative Medicine, in Brentwood, Los Angeles, is an integrative provider who offers in-person services as well as telehealth services. With over 17 years of experience in urgent care, she knows what works best for patients. If you are struggling with seasonal or year-round allergies, Reshma can give you guidance on where to start. She will work with you to assess your lifestyle behaviors and can give you recommendations on specific supplements.
Schedule a virtual appointment so you can finally manage your allergies the right way and stop the suffering!
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Reshma Patel, PA-C, MMS, CEO / Founder of Ananda Integrative Medicine
Integrative & Holistic Practitioner Reshma Patel, PA-C, combines conventional Western medicine with an Integrative and Holistic approach to wellness at Ananda Integrative Medicine, in Brentwood, Los Angeles. She believes that the path to true health lies not in treating or masking symptoms, but by identifying and healing the root cause of health conditions. Her approach to medicine helps patients harness their natural healing ability to optimize body function and overall wellness.