According to the American College of Allergy,
Asthma, and Immunology, more than 50 million Americans are diagnosed with
allergies. Many more are obviously living with the miserable symptoms but have not
been diagnosed by a professional. Allergens are present during every month of
the year and vary from region to region. The pesky particles that are to blame
are not bound by the outdoors; they can be found inside as well.
Allergy sufferers can experience numerous symptoms,
including runny, watery eyes and nose; congestion; coughing; fatigue; headaches;
and nausea. Allergies can affect people mildly or be so severe as to cause folks
to miss work and prevent them from enjoying the highlights that each season
boasts. The plush green grass, the patchwork of leaf color, the first blossom
of the year, or the crackling of a roaring fire on a chilly winter's night are
just a few of the experiences that are compromised because of aggravating allergy
While allergies in general can be debilitating,
there are some that are worse than others. People allergic to particular foods,
including wheat, shellfish, nuts and insect bites and stings, can be in mortal
danger if anaphylactic shock occurs. When this type of reaction happens, the
body's immune system goes into overdrive, and all systems and organs become affected
and begin to shut down. This can cause death. In these extreme cases, doctors
prescribe medications that patients can keep on hand in case this type of
For milder allergies, doctors prescribe medications
for the symptoms. There are also a plethora of medications that can be bought
over the counter, many of which can cause side effects that are just as
bothersome as the allergies themselves. Common side effects of allergy medicine
include significant sedation, dry mouth, blurred vision, trouble urinating,
constipation and agitation. Precautions are given to patients who suffer from
seizures, glaucoma, thyroid disorders, high blood pressure, and diabetes
because allergy medications can have adverse reactions.
According to a research study conducted by the Mayo
Clinic, first generation antihistamines, like Benadryl, for example, have been
shown to increase the risk of early onset dementia by 54%. Antihistamines block
the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is essential for memory and learning.
The study was done with people who took antihistamines on a regular basis, as
there are many allergy sufferers who fight their symptoms year round.
Fortunately, natural antihistamines, found in some
foods and plant extracts, can be used as an alternative to prescribed and
over-the-counter allergy medications. A 2018 long-term observational study,
published in the Journal of International
Medical Research, revealed that vitamin C, when given in large doses
intravenously, acts as a natural antihistamine. Oxidative stress is a major
contributor to allergies. Vitamin C combats the oxidative process with the high
levels of antioxidants and its anti-inflammatory properties. Some fruits and
vegetables high in vitamin C are broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, kiwi,
squash, melons and citrus fruits. There are other natural antihistamines that
can be used as well.
Bromelain, an enzyme in the core and juice of
pineapples, has been shown to work as an anti-inflammatory for the sinus
cavity. Probiotics, found in yogurt, pickles, kombucha, sauerkraut and miso, are
known to boost the body’s immune system, which can help fight off allergies.
Quercetin, an antioxidant flavonoid, has been shown to have anti-allergic and
antihistamine effects. It can be found in apples, grapes, berries, black tea,
red onions and red wine.
The extracts from butterbur, Astragalus, grape seeds, stinging nettle and spirulina are
effective in fighting allergy symptoms. They can be found in supplement form
and can be added to most diets, especially during times when allergy sufferers
are being affected most.
Many people go to great lengths to combat allergies,
including receiving shots. Allergy shots contain small amounts of pollen and
allergens, and are meant to help the body build up a resistance to these
allergens. There’s a natural way to build up a resistance, however, without
having to endure the prick of a needle—with bees.
Bees can be found in every geographic area around
the country. Bees collect pollen from many of the plants and flowers that cause
some of the most severe allergy symptoms. Consuming raw, unfiltered honey is a
natural, tasty way to fight and desensitize against allergens. Local honey
works best because the pollen being collected by bees is coming from local
plants that are wreaking havoc on allergy sufferers.
Allergens are found almost everywhere and at any
time of year. Inside a house where the windows remain closed during the winter
months, the blooming of spring, the growth of summer, and the harvesting of
fall—these all produce particulates that attack people’s bodies and cause
horrible symptoms. Eating fruits and vegetables, taking plant extracts, and
consuming local honey are all natural ways to treat allergies. Put those
pharmaceuticals back on the shelf, enjoy the seasons, and find relief with
plant medicines. They’re natural, healthy and make up a big part of Mother
Nature’s medicine cabinet.
J. Garnet, MEd,
is a teacher, speaker, writer and healer living in the Tucson area. Connect at 520-437-8855
or [email protected].