Aachoooo!!! Pollen is Going Big This Year!

Natural Approaches to Ending Allergies

When I was 21 I had surgery on my sinuses.  The doctors went in through my nose with the cranial equivalent of a rotor rooter and opened up my passageways.  In truth I didn’t mind it at all.  It was painful but I hadn’t had a sense of smell in almost 3 years.   After years of chronic allergies, anti-histamines, nasal sprays and sinus infections it was amazing to really breathe again.  A few years after my surgery I found a Naturopath (and the inklings of a career overhaul) and after working with her my allergies became a thing of the past.  I often wonder if I could have avoided surgery if I had found an ND earlier.

I love helping my patients become allergy free so they can stop and smell the roses once again and spring becomes a time of renewal instead of dread.   There are three important components of getting rid of allergies.

  • 1. A commitment to healthy diet
  • 2. Heal your gut
  • 3. A few supplements for support

It can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to clear up allergies depending on the severity of your symptoms.  If you have symptoms right now start with the supplements and work backwards.  You may get relief but you will have to dig deeper to permanently get rid of your allergies.

Step 1. Commit to a healthy diet.  Allergies are a type of inflammation.  Redness, watery secretions and increased mucous production are all a result of inflammatory mediators being released in your blood stream as result of your exposure to allergens.  Eating fried foods, sugar, and animal meat all encourage the release of these inflammatory mediators so when our body reacts to an allergen the symptoms of inflammation are more severe.   Eating a whole foods diet (whole foods meaning foods that are in their natural form and not processed) that is low in sugar, refined carbohydrates, and animal products is essential.  This means eat lot’s and lot’s of veggies, a small amount of whole grains, healthy fats like coconut oil, avocado, nuts and seeds, focus on vegetable proteins and eat organic grass fed meat when you eat it.

Step 2.  Heal your gut.   Allergies are the result of an over active immune response.  We have an immense amount of immune cells that line our GI tract called the GALT (the gut associated lymph tissue).  The health of our GI tract determines how the food we take in interacts with those immune cells.

The acid in our stomach kills potential pathogenic bacteria on our food, the bacteria in our gut helps break down proteins and carbohydrates into manageable size pieces and the connection proteins between the cells in lining of our GI tract make sure that larger proteins don’t reach the blood and activate the immune cells along the GI tract.  Inflammation in our gut decreases acid production and breaks downs the connection proteins allowing big proteins to slip through the cell walls and activate our immune cells.  There are 3 stages to healing the gut.

  • First remove all potential food allergens.  Start an elimination diet during which you remove the most common food triggers including gluten, sugar, dairy, eggs, soy, coffee and artificial ingredients.    It takes some time and preparation but my patients have astounding results when they take this first step.  The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre is a great resource to guide you through a successful elimination diet.
  • Second, repair the lining of your GI tract.  Tumeric, aloe vera and marshmallow root all safely decrease inflammation and soothe the lining of the GI tract.  L-glutamine improves cell function and repairs connection proteins.  Fish oil also decreases inflammation and encourages healing.
  • Finally, restore function.  Take a good quality probiotic as well as a digestive enzyme or use bitter herbs like Gentian, Yarrow and Skullcap to stimulate your body’s own hydrochloric acid and enzyme production.  A teaspoon of apple cider vinegar before  your meal has a similar effect on your digestive tract.

(Be sure to consult a healthcare provider to assist you with dosing and timing of each of the steps)

Step 3Take supplements for support.   If you have symptoms now,  you need relief now while you are working on restoring your gut health.  The following supplements decrease inflammation and help control histamine release and are helpful in decreasing the quantity and severity of allergy related symptoms.

  • Quercitin – prevents histamine release from white blood cells and powerful anti-inflammatory.
  • Bromelain – decreases inflammation when taken away from food.
  • Zinc – supports normal immune function so that immune cells don’t over react to normal environmental exposures.
  • Buffered Vitmain C – prevents histamine release from mast cells and improves immunity.
  • Dried Stinging Nettle – safe natural anti-histamine that does not cause drowsiness.
  • N-Acetyl Cystiene – breaks up mucous and decreases inflammation in the body.
  • Butterbur – a strong natural antihistamine that does not cause drowsiness.  Should not be taken for more than two consecutive weeks due to compounds that are hard on the liver.

May this be the beginning of the end!  Let me know in the comments below how becoming naturally allergy-free is going for you.

Hillary Roland, ND sees patients in her private practice in Oakland, CA.  She also sees patients remotely via skype.  She specializes in helping families set the foundations for optimal health.   If you are interested in a free 15 minute consultation click here.



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