Seasonal Allergy Relief

By Rachel Oppitz, ND
From INC Newsletter #10 Summer 2009

Warm weather has arrived in the great northwoods and for many of us seasonal allergies accompany this seasonal transition.  In this column, I will review what I have found to be the most effective non-pharmaceutical treatments for seasonal allergies, including dietary changes, nasal irrigation, homeopathic remedies, nutrients, and herbs.

DIET:  Eliminate consumption of known or common food allergies (gluten, dairy, soy, eggs).  Avoid dairy, bananas, and citrus due to mucus producing properties.

NASAL IRRIGATION:  Purchase a neti pot (available at most natural food stores and at both of our offices), follow instructions, and rinse 1-2/day or more as needed.  Please contact INC for a handout if you are interested in more thorough guidance.

NUTRIENTS:  Probiotics shift immune response from Th2 (allergic) to Th1 (immune) and decrease the severity of the allergic reaction(s).  Fish oil prevents allergic sensitization and reduces the inflammatory response.  Quercetin has anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects; bromelain and papain increase absorption of quercetin.  Individuals with sufficient blood levels of vitamin C are less likely to suffer from allergies and hay fever.  Vitamin C is most effective when taken along with bioflavonoids (hesperidin, naringin, naringenin, 7-B rutinoside).

HERBS:  There are many fantastic herbal blends on the market designed for seasonal allergies.  I find that tinctures (alcoholic extractions of herbs) are most potent.  I have also found that freeze-dried stinging nettles in capsule form help some people as well.  Other favorite herbs for allergies include:  eyebright, licorice (not the candy), ginger, garlic, thyme, perilla seed extract, gingko, astragalus, butterbur, angelica, skullcap, feverfew, Dan shen, sea buckthorn, turmeric, white willow bark.

HOMEOPATHY:  The goal in homeopathy is to match the remedy to the symptom picture.  Dosing is dependent on potency (6C/6X, 12C/12X, 30C/30X, etc) and often needs to be individualized.

Allium cepa:  Acrid nasal discharge may excoriate nose or upper lip.  Profuse watery discharge, "dripping like a faucet".  Left side or begins on the left side.  Nose completely obstructed by swelling of the mucosa.  Marked headache, ameliorated when the nose discharges freely.  Sharp pains in the throat, worse coughing.

Arsenicum album: Acrid watery discharge; dripping from nose which is totally obstructed.  Burning pains in nose, eyes and throat, ameliorated by heat or hot drinks.  Sneezing from a tickling in one spot "as from a feather".  Sneezing in the morning on waking.  Sores develop inside nostrils.

Euphrasia officinalis:  Bland nasal discharge but profuse, acrid lacrimation.  Intense sneezing and watery coryza.  Constant, tickling cough.  Post-nasal drainage collects at night causing coughing and retching in the morning on waking.  Hay asthma.

Natrum muriaticum: Hay fever in intellectual, repressed patients.  Coryza and obstruction worse in open air or wind. Paroxysms of sneezing; restrains the sneezes; ineffectual sneezes.  Chapped lips and cracks at the corners of the mouth.

Nux vomica:  Terrible sneezing and coryza in morning on rising from bed.  Stuffed, irritated nose becomes fluent in a warm room with general relief of the patient.  Children with allergy rub the itchy nose with the flat of the palm upward until it leaves a horizontal crease on the nose.

Pulsatilla pratensis:  Fluent, bland, watery discharge from nose and eyes (may lead to infection).  Marked sensitivity to all pollens, dry hay, ragweed.  Hay asthma.

Sabadilla:  Tremendous paroxysms of sneezing; debilitating sneezing.  Constant itching and tingling inside the nose.  Lacrimation, burning and redness of eyes.  Every sneeze provokes tears.  Left-sided throat inflammation.  Hay asthma.  Dry cough.

I have provided many treatment options for seasonal allergies.  It is not necessary to try every single approach listed.  However, not every choice works for every person.  The amount of information available for seasonal allergy remedies can be overwhelming.  Please do not hesitate to schedule an appointment if you would like more guidance on a treatment regimen individualized to your needs.