Allergy Relief for Spring
Runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, stuffy head….sound familiar??? Well, you are not alone as more than 2 million Canadians suffer from seasonal allergies each year. The term allergy comes from two greek works meaning “altered reactivity”. This means that an allergy is an adverse response to a substance felt by some people but not all people. The problem in studying allergies is that the same substance can cause different reactions in different
people and yet no reaction in the majority of people. For example, pollen causes some people to have itchy eyes and some to have headaches, however most people have no reaction.
In 1926, European and American Allergists decided to limit the definition of allergy to immunological types of reactions only. This was reinforced in 1967 with the discovery of IgE, the first recognized antibody involved in immune type reactions. The problem is that many times food sensitivities will not produce an IgE reaction even though they produce multiple symptoms in the body. These symptoms could include bloating, gas, irritability, headache, dark circles under the eyes, puffy eyes or skin rashes to name a few.
In an allergic response, the allergen comes in and is recognized as foreign in the body. The IgE then binds to the antigen and causes the release of something called histamine. This discovery then spun into the creation of antihistamines, which work by interfering with various chemical reactions that normally occur in the body. These drugs relieve symptoms by preventing histamine from being released from certain cells in the body. The problem is that whenever you block a naturally occurring process, it does not come without side effects. The most common side effects that occur with antihistamines include drowsiness, and dry mouth, nose and throat. The less common side effects can include blurred vision, dizziness, loss of appetite, nausea, upset stomach, insomnia, anxiety and headache. However getting well from an allergy is more than controlling and relieving the symptoms, it is about figuring out why the body is having this "adverse reaction".
While it is true that allergies have a huge hereditary component, many times things like poor digestive function, food allergies, stress and frequent illness can exacerbate
allergic symptoms. By addressing these concerns you can help to minimize the effects that seasonal allergies have on your system. Naturopaths look at the body from a holistic point of view, meaning that each system and organ is related and contributes to your health or disease picture. Therefore, there is no way that your allergies will improve if your whole system is not being addressed.
Herbs to Fight Allergies
In addition to addressing underlying imbalances, there are many natural substances that can help control your allergy symptoms this summer. It has been found that
fenugreek can thin mucous secretions, and is now a popular addition to allergy formulas.
Beta carotene is involved in strengthening the mucus membranes that are constantly
being irritated by allergens. The aerial parts of eyebright are both astringent and anti-inflammatory, and decrease the hypersensitive response of the mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, throat, and ears.
The bitter, yellow root of goldenseal has antibiotic properties and is useful in preventing secondary infection in hay fever, sinusitis, or chest congestion. It is also anti-inflammatory to the mucous membranes, and helps reduce and soothe swollen, irritated tissues.
Stinging nettles are a popular addition to allergy formulas as they help stabilize the mast cells that line the mucous membranes, and they literally burst to release histamines
when encountering an allergen. This makes nettle an excellent stabilizing herb to use for prevention or to reduce symptoms in any allergic response, including hay fever, sinusitis, and asthma.
Finally, Vitamin C and bioflavonoids are also mast cell stabilizers, and rosehips will enhance and protect the action of vitamin C.
In addition to taking things internally, saline nose rinses can be very effective in reducing allergy symptoms. Salt water rinses will flush your nasal cavity and help to thin mucus and get rid of allergenic irritants.
Saline nose rinses can be purchased from your local health food store or pharmacy, and the ratio of salt to water should be about 1/8 tsp of salt to 1 cup of warm water. Another method is to use a suction bulb or put some of the warm salt water in the cup of your hand to sniff it up one nostril at a time.
Living Free from Allergies
Many people will tell you that it is not possible to cure allergies, however hundreds of people have recovered from allergies and now lead an allergy free life.
I will leave you with this quote from Dr. William Philpott, "We must always keep in mind that the greatest enemy of science, or any discovery of truth, is a closed mind. Accordingly, we should continue to seek the courage to ask impertinent questions which shake out complacency and challenge our minds to look deeper into the great mystery of the human body."
All of the herbs mentioned above are found in Sangster’s ALRG+
Written by: Dr. Robin Walsh, BA Sc. Nutrition,
ND earned her BA in Nutrition at
the University of Guelph and her
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine
(ND) degree at the Canadian
College of Naturopathic Medicine.
She currently practices in Waterloo
and her website is
Tea Tree Oil - A Doctor's Report on Nature's All-Purpose Cleanser
Tea tree oil is the essential oil from the leaves of the Australian Melaleuca alternifolia tree, a member of the botanical family Myrtaceae. There are over three hundred varieties of tea tree growing in the wilds of Australia. Many of them produce essential oils with healing properties. However, only one, Melaleuca alternifolia, has outstanding medicinal, beauty aid, personal hygiene, plant and home care cleaning properties.
The high terpinen-4-ol content combined with low cineole content helps this variety have a safer and wider range of therapeutic uses. Terpinen-4-ol has a wide range of beneficial properties, with no side effects. Cineole's medicinal qualities are good for relief of colds.
Recent scientific work indicates cineole is a relatively weak antimicrobial agent and is not
irritating to the skin. Skin irritation may occur if the oil has high para-cymene content. According to Dr. E Pena, Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology: "Australian Melaleuca alternifolia oil (tea tree oil) in suitable dilutions was found to be highly effective in the treatment of trichomonalvaginitis, moniliases, cervicitis and chronic endocervitis."
In addition, Dr. S. Cabot, author of “The Use of Tea Tree Oil in Clinical Practice,” states "It (tea tree oil) will help relieve the itch from the genital wart virus, from Candida, and from non-specific bacterial or fungal infection. It will relieve the symptoms as well as overcoming the infections…" The Medical Journal of Australia featured an article by E.M.
Humphrey about tea tree oil, titled 'A New Australian Germicide'. He wrote: The results obtained in a variety of conditions when it was first tried were most encouraging, a striking feature being that it dissolved pus and left the surfaces of infected wounds clean, so that its germicidal action became very effective without any apparent damage to the tissues.
This was something new, as most effective germicides destroy tissue as well as bacteria. Other conditions include: use of an antiseptic mouthwash in dentistry; infections of the nasopharynx; powerful antibacterial deodorant properties; and strong disinfecting action on typhoid bacilli indicating it was more than 60 times stronger than ordinary hand soap.
Worldwide interest increased and numerous reports from other countries indicated tea tree oil's power in treating mouth and throat infections, gynecological problems, parasitic and fungal skin conditions as well as its incredible antiseptic properties. So tea tree oil became known as a miracle healer.
Properties and Uses
Antifungal: Tea tree oil's antifungal properties make it very beneficial in the treatment of
athlete's foot, ringworm and conditions caused by Candida albicans such as thrush. Antiseptic / Bactericidal: Tea tree oil is an excellent first aid treatment for burns, cuts, infected splinters, insect bites, wounds of many types, including those that are dirty or contain pus. For general skin care, it is an excellent antiseptic in the treatment of acne and blackheads.
Anti-viral: Tea tree oil’s powerful anti-viral properties make it very useful against many common viral infectious diseases and problems.
Immuno-stimulant: Tea tree oil is a valuable preventative remedy, helping the body use its own wisdom to fight off infection.
Conditions affecting the skin, such as bruises, burns and cuts, benefit from tea tree oil's pain-killing(analgesic), anti-inflammatory and wound healing (cicatrizant) properties. Tea tree oil is seven times more soothing than aloe vera.
Problems such as lice, mosquitoes, scabies and other types of insect and parasite infestations are greatly alleviated by tea tree oil's insecticide and parasiticide properties. Tea tree oil has a diaphoretic effect, which means it taps into the body's natural preventative response against infection with its ability to promote sweating when the body needs to.
Tea tree oil displays balsamic and expectorant properties. These are very beneficial for chest and throat infections. In addition, it is soothing and helps clear mucus from the respiratory tract and it is an aromatic. Finally, tea tree oil is a natural solvent that makes it very beneficial for biodegradable cleaning products in the home and workplace.
The purer and better balanced the concentration of medicinal chemicals in the oil, the better the likelihood it will have therapeutic properties you want. Smell does not necessarily indicate it is 100% pure botanical oil. If you are seeking therapeutic benefits from an essential oil it is very important that you get the very best you can afford.