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Your Survival Guide for Seasonal Allergies

This month our friend Dr. Marita gives sage advice for fighting seasonal allergies, an all-too prevalent condition most Canadians face. Read on to learn how you can combat the sneezes and itches of this time of year:

We were fortunate enough this year while the rest of Canada had it’s share of snow and below freezing weather; Victoria, BC experienced one of its mildest winters.

But with the warmer weather and the early signs of spring a-bloom with flower buds and blossoming trees; for many this also means nasal congestion, sneezing and itchy eyes.

This past month allergy season has crept up on many of my patients, which, for some can cause a significant reduction in their quality of life.

What is an Allergy?

An allergy is an over-reaction of the immune system that causes the release of histamine from mast cells.  Allergies create inflammation in the body and can also aggravate existing chronic conditions.  What most people don’t know is that the presence of underlying food allergies can actually worsen seasonal allergies (hay fever).  These delayed reactions from food can cause cumulative stress on the immune system which makes the body that more sensitive and reactive.

The good news is that allergy season doesn’t have to be miserable! 

Here is your survival guide to keep those seasonal allergies under control:

  • As mentioned above, determine underlying food allergies and avoid those foods – especially during allergy season.  Common food allergies are: dairy, wheat/gluten, egg, soy and corn.
  • Supplement with the bioflavonoid Quercetin, which has been shown to be effective in individuals suffering from allergies. Quercetin inhibits the release of histamines and other inflammatory compounds from mast cells, thus reducing the allergic/inflammatory response.   Look for Bioactive Quercetin (EMIQ) which is a highly bioavailable form of Quercetin.  EMIQ has been shown to provide a 40 times greater absorption than regular Quercetin.
  • Take Medi-C Plus, key in any allergy treatment program, since it has so many beneficial functions. Vitamin C not only acts as an antioxidant, helping to reduce allergic reactions but it also has mast-cell-stabilizing properties that reduce histamine release.
  • Support the intestines by re-establishing the “good bacteria” (acidophilus and bifidobacteria – I like Brad King’s Ultimate Probiotic) to ensure proper digestion of foods and optimal immune function.  A good portion of your immune system resides in your gut and the use of antibiotics, the birth control pill or excess sugar, food allergies and stress can affect our gut bacterial balance.  A healthy gut is therefore essential for a strong immune system!
  • Omega-3 essential fatty acids are healthy fats that are necessary for the formation of every cell in the body. Supplement with a clean fish oil with a minimum of 1000 mg EPA and 600 mg of DHA daily.
  • Immunocare (plant sterols) helps to modulate immune function and reduces inflammation.  It also reduces allergies by dampening down basophil, eosinophil and mast cells, the immune cells that release histamine, causing the typical “allergic reaction”.
  • Sublingual Immunotherapy has shown efficacy for seasonal allergies.  Drops of liquid containing minute quantities of the offending allergen are placed under the tongue.  This type of therapy is much more convenient as there is no need to go into the doctors office for shots.  I always recommend physician supervision with the initial use of the sublingual immunotherapy; although it is much safer than the shots, allergic reactions may still occur.

Happy Spring!

 

References
AAAI Board of Directors.  J. Allergy Clin Immunol. 1995
Amelia, M. et al. Planta Medica. 1985
Johnston, C.S. J Am Coll Nutr. 1992
Lindfors K, et al. Clin Exp Immunol. 2008
Dry, J.  Allergy Apply Immunol.  1991
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