By Dr. Marie Steinmetz (File Photo)
As spring allergy season arrives, it is time to take stock of your natural medicine cabinet.
There are many natural remedies that have been proven useful for offsetting allergy symptoms. Many patients would rather use these than synthetic prescriptions made with artificial colors and ingredients.
Clinical research indicates that children suffering from allergies will see symptoms lessen after three to six weeks of regular saltwater nasal irrigation. Sufferers should irrigate three times a day.
This treatment decreases markers of inflammation, known as histamine and leukotriene, in patients with allergies. You actually decrease the pollen load with these rinses.
So break out the neti pot — or another nasal rinse device — some distilled water and salt. It’s time to start rinsing.
Butterbur root is used commonly for migraines and allergies. In the case of allergies, it stops your mast cells from releasing histamine. Thus it acts as a natural antihistamine.
Trials comparing butterbur to pharmaceutical antihistamines in the treatment of allergies have shown the herb to work as well — or better — than conventional antihistamines, and with fewer side effects. You should use a product that is free of pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA-free).
Khella seeds have long been used — particularly in the Middle East — for respiratory conditions, especially bronchial asthma.
The active ingredient in khella is cromoglycate. Two leading herb companies sell tinctures and syrups of khella seeds.
Stinging nettle root is used for a variety of diverse conditions, including benign prostatic hypertrophy (enlarged prostate) and allergies. This plant boasts anti-inflammatory properties and has an antihistamine effect.
Clinical trials have shown the effectiveness of stinging nettle for treating allergy symptoms. Stinging nettle leaf extract or capsules — usually 300 milligrams — typically are taken three to five times a day. I like to use this treatment for acute symptoms.
Quercetin is found in many fruits and vegetables, including onions, kale, tomatoes, broccoli, green beans, berries and apples. The highest concentration of quercetin is found near the peel of these foods. Quercetin also is present in red wine and tea.
Typical dietary intake is somewhere between five and 40 milligrams, although in people who consume many fruits and vegetables may ingest up to 500 milligrams each day. You can start bulking up on quercetin about a week before the start of allergy season.
The recommended dosage is up to 1,000 milligrams a day. You want to look for a product that combines the quercitin with bromelain for better absorption.
But if you eat a healthy diet, you will get quercetin in your food.
In a study with patients treated with regular acupuncture sessions for eight weeks, the acupuncture was shown to decrease need for allergy medications.
At our practice, we have seen patients enjoy great success with homeopathic nasal sprays, eye drops and pills, which go under the tongue. It is worth trying these for their safety. You can find these at most health food stores.
As you can see, there are many options available to allergy sufferers, from prevention to treatment. Enjoy the beautiful spring weather and keep your allergies at bay in a natural way.