It’s that time of year again that finds many of us rushing off to the local chemist to join the queue for a packet or two of anti-histamines.
Allergic rhinitis, or hay-fever as more commonly known, is one of the atopic triad of conditions, with eczema and asthma making up the remaining two.
Although hay-fever is typically defined as seasonal, its broader umbrella term, allergic rhinitis, can affect people all year round from allergens such as dust mites, pet hair or perfumes.
The symptoms of allergic rhinitis are caused by an immune reaction to allergens. These allergens such as pollen, set off mast cell reactions and the release of histamine, along with other inflammatory chemicals. This invasion of chemicals causes a localised effect, dependent upon location, such as runny nose, headache, sinus inflammation or a cough. So these symptoms when experienced are basically an immune response to an allergen.
So, how can we ease these somewhat annoying, and in some cases debilitating set of symptoms? Oneway of course is to reach for the anti-histamines, but these are not with outside effects. Dependent upon on type, they can cause drowsiness, dry mouth, dry nose, anxiety and stomach upset. Even more worryingly, long term use has been linked with an increased risk of dementia. That said, it is not our place to advise against the use of medication, but we can hopefully advise on other ways to support you through this season and therefore a reduced need to take antihistamines.
What natural steps can we take to reduce symptoms?
Understanding the process of allergic rhinitis will give you a better insight into how to deal with it. As a general rule of thumb. Anything with ‘itis’ as a suffix has an inflammatory component, and therefore we can approach this from an anti-inflammatory standpoint.
Looking at other areas that are contributing the body’s inflammatory overdrive can help. The most sensible place to start this is with evaluating your diet. Not only will an overview help reduce the toxic burden but it also gives a wonderful opportunity to reduce inflammation and histamine with the food we eat.
Reduce intake of pro-inflammatory foods
Foods that are high in sugar or processed, refined foods can lead to an increase of inflammation levels within the body. Try to use organic produce where ever possible as pesticide exposure also contributes to the inflammatory response.
Increase your intake of anti-inflammatory foods
Try to choose foods that cover a rainbow of colour on your plate, that way you will be sure you are including foods high in antioxidants and flavonoids that support our immune system.
The use of herbs and spices such as turmeric, garlic and ginger also supports inflammation. Try to include this on a daily basis.
Wild or grass fed meats have a higher content of inflammation reducing omega 3, along with wild salmon and the use of seeds such as chia or flax.
Eat foods high in natural antihistamines!
Quercetin is a natural anti-histamine and is found in all sorts of easily available foods including apples, citrus fruits, fennel, broccoli and red onions.
Anthocyanin containing foods also have an effect on stabilising the mast cell response.Anthocyanin foods are usually red, blue and purple in colour and can be found in berries, these are found in berries, red onions, cherries, red onion and pomegranates.
Anti-histamine properties can also be found in herbs such as parsley, thyme, turmeric and ginger. Teas containing chamomile, nettle, and holy basil are also beneficial. Read more about the benefits of nettle here!
Other simple changes…..
Reducing the overall load is key to reducing symptoms. You may want to look into installingHEPA filters in your house, but more simple strategies may involve actions such as taking a shower when you come in from the outside, and washing the bed clothes more often. The use of a netti-pot for nasal irrigation may also help.
Get to the root cause!
There are a multitude of reasons as to why you have high levels of histamine. Underlying conditions such as leaky gut, or dysbiosis may be a causative factor or even a genetic mutation that means you aren’t breaking down histamine properly. Hormonal imbalances and autoimmune disease also may contribute to high levels of inflammation and heighten your allergic reaction.
It is important to get to the root cause of your allergy issues and there may even be factors that you haven’t considered such as stress. Yes, stress can also cause higher levels of inflammation and although you may not be able to reduce your stress levels you can mediate the response it has on the body by employing strategies such as meditation etc.
Allergies are tricky and there is no one single root that will magically resolve your issues.It will take a multi-strategic approach to your health and you may want to consider a full health evaluation and consultation at the clinic. This involves us taking a 90 minute comprehensive case history and really dives into your issue and gets to the root cause of your health issues.
Contact Widney House Clinic today to discover how we can help you to improve your health and fitness using our patient-first care services!