Vanessa, one of our in-house Naturopaths talks to us about supporting our body's immune system and in turn our allergy response.
A runny nose, watery red eyes, itchy throat, congestion, sneezing, sound familiar? These are all common symptoms of hay fever or allergic rhinitis...
During the spring, common causes of these allergies are tree pollens (due to their fine powdery pollen which is easily carried in the wind) and in the summer allergies are typically due to grasses. For some, however, symptoms can last all year round due to other triggers such as food, dust mites, mould, and animal fur.
Whatever the cause, an allergic reaction happens when a person's immune system reacts to a substance as though it were harmful, even if it isn't. Some people may have a genetic predisposition but it can also be a sign that your immune system is out of balance, often linked to gut and systemic inflammation.
Rather than suppressing the immune response, supporting the body with herbs, nutrients and probiotics may help to bring the immune system back into balance. Some of our top tips for doing just that are right here:
- Vitamin C and bioflavonoids support normal histamine levels and help prevent the immune system from being triggered.
- Reducing acidity and working towards an alkaline diet is the body’s best friend against inflammation and immune flare-ups. Reducing sugar, alcohol, stress, and caffeine and opting for plenty of water, green veggies, fruit in moderation, mineral supplementation, stress support and starting the day with a glass of freshly squeezed lemon juice in water will tip the body into its preferred alkaline state, allowing your bodies to function at its best.
- Consuming a balanced ratio of essential fatty acids (EFA) can support a healthy immune system. The modern diet tends to favour a higher intake of omega 6 upsetting the bodies preferred ratio of higher omega 3. Quality plant-based oils or a fish oil supplement can offset this imbalance.
- Herbal support can regulate the immune response and address allergic symptoms. Eyebright, elderflower, horseradish and golden rod are frequently used to ease congestion and mucus build-up and are best combined with other herbs to support the body’s response to allergies. Even consuming local honey from your area is believed to desensitize the body’s reaction and build resistance to the local pollen if started a couple of months before spring.
- Although we are aware that probiotics support digestive issues more research is finding that probiotics are beneficial for a variety of bodily functions. Found naturally in yoghurt with live cultures, kefir, sauerkraut, and supplements research is showing great promise that certain strains may change the balance of bacteria in the intestines to prevent the immune system from flaring up in response to pollens and other allergens.
- For those familiar with homeopathy, remedies are available individually or as a complex to support the immune response to allergic reactions. One of the huge benefits of homeopathy is that is can be safely taken by the whole family from babies to the elderly.
- Lastly, rinsing the sinuses and nasal cavity using a neti pot and a saline solution can help break down mucus and flush out any pollen or dust that can linger in the nasal cavity. It is a safe and effective way to cleanse the sinuses and ease symptoms during hay fever season, whilst smearing ointment around the inside of each nostril (such as pawpaw ointment) may prevent any pollen from being inhaled into your nose.
Written by Vanessa Vujcich