SPOTLIGHT: Seasonal allergies are manageable

By Dr. Andrea Hornyak, Spotlight on Naturopathic Medicine

The long winter means that allergy sufferers will have to deal with pollen from trees and grass at the same time.

The long winter means that allergy sufferers will have to deal with pollen from trees and grass at the same time. Fotolia

Seasonal allergies are one of the most common chronic health conditions, affecting 20% of Canadians.

Allergies are a hypersensitivity immune response triggered by inhaling pollen, which is difficult to control. Common allergy symptoms include runny nose, sneezing, clogged sinuses, red, watery, itchy eyes and headaches. Sufferers react to trees from March to June, grasses from May to July, and ragweed from August until the first frost.

Tips to keep pollen to a minimum:

- using your air conditioning and keeping the windows in your house and car closed

- staying indoors between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. when pollen is most commonly released, when the pollen count is high, or on windy days when dust and pollen are disturbed

- having a HEPA furnace filter that you change frequently

- keeping your home and workplace environments clean

Foods that can help reduce allergy symptoms:

- foods high in immune-boosting vitamin C: peppers, papaya, kiwi, and strawberries

- foods high in the natural anti-histamine quercetin: onions, cranberry juice, and the white skin of oranges and grapefruits

- foods high in the natural anti-inflammatory anthocyanins: berries, cherries, grapes, and red onions

- drinking green tea which is high in antioxidants

- drinking 6-8 cups of water daily to help flush out histamine from the body

- eating fish low in mercury and high omega 3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation: anchovies, herring, salmon, sardines and trout

- avoiding diary products that can increase the production of mucous in the sinuses and worsen allergy symptoms.

Natural remedies to help decrease allergy symptoms:

Rebuilding colon health reduces the immune system’s response to allergens. Depending on your history of antibiotic use and bowel function, specific high dose strains of probiotics also boost immunity.

The herb Stinging Nettle and the blue-green algae spirulina help to block the immune reaction.

Vitamin D and the Chinese herb Astragalus boost the immune system.

Acupuncture is also very effective at controlling seasonal allergy symptoms.

Dr. Hornyak has been in private practice as a Licensed Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine since 2006. She opened her practice in the Norwich Medical Centre this past summer. If you'd like to have more information on naturopathic medicine, please visit www.vitalforcenaturopathic.ca

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