by Dr. Diane Moan
Achoo Yet Again!
The grass and trees are lushly green and the bushes and trees are budding and flowering. Spring is a lovely season, but it can be miserable for people with environmental allergies. The most typical reactions are sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, runny nose, nasal congestion, scratchy throat and hives. These symptoms are caused by the release of histamines into the blood from chemical mediators called mast cells.
Mast cells take their orders from IgE antibodies in response to contact with the offending allergen. Over-the-counter drugs, such as Zyrtec, Claritin, Allegra and Benadryl, help by blocking the histamines from attaching to cell receptors. These drugs often have side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, headaches, dry mouth, nose or throat, increased appetite and weight gain, upset stomach, thickening of mucus, constipation, diarrhea, and feeling nervous, excited or irritable. These antihistamine drugs all contain two or more of the following: carcinogenic dyes, polyethylene glycol, waxes, titanium dioxide, talc, corn and lactose (milk). Better options for symptom suppression are natural antihistamines like quercetin, nettle leaf and bromelain. These substances come from food. They work by preventing the mast cells from producing histamines.
The histamines that cause allergic symptoms also cause inflammation. Effective natural anti-inflammatories include: curcumin (a turmeric derivative) and aloe vera juice.
Naturopathy likes to get to the root cause of health issues. Often, people have overburdened adrenal glands which, due to their weakened state, make people more vulnerable to having allergic reactions. Natural adrenal gland strengtheners are: pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) found as a supplement or in Royal Jelly or bee pollen, vitamin C, rest and stress reduction.
Environmental allergens often cross react with certain foods. Many people who have environmental triggers have food triggers that may be the root cause. I think everyone who has environmental allergies should be checked for food intolerances (IgG and IgA antibody -delayed reactions). The IgE food tests are usually not necessary (except in children) because these cause immediate, anaphylactic responses that most people already know they have. Lastly, some foods are higher in histamines than others – like alcohol, fermented and aged cheeses, and pickled foods. It would be best to avoid these foods when having allergic symptoms. Fresh foods are lowest in histamines and also have the most vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
This time of year, we start having more fruits available to us, especially berries. Berries have more antioxidants, are more anti-inflammatory and are lower in sugar than other fruits. I attached an easy berry recipe for you to try. Enjoy!
Creamy Berry Pops (makes 10 pops)
2 cups plain yogurt (coconut or cashew) or one 14 oz. can whole coconut milk
1 cup berries
1 medium to large banana
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon agave nectar or maple syrup or a couple of drops of liquid stevia to taste
Blend all ingredients in blender. Pour into popsicle molds. Freeze three or more hours.
Variation: add ¼ cup cocoa or carob powder and two tablespoons nut/seed butter.
Bio – Diane Moan
Dr. Diane Moan is a Naturopathic Doctor, who graduated from Bastyr University in Kenmore, Washington, an accredited naturopathic medical school. Licensed in the state of Washington, she practices in Seattle at Dahlia Natural Health Clinic.