An allergic reaction occurs when the immune system misinterprets a normally nontoxic substance, such as grass, pollen, a detergent, or a certain food, as a harmful invader. The immune system then responds to this perceived threat, called an allergen, by releasing substances called histamines. Histamines produce a wide range of bodily reactions, including respiratory and nasal congestion, increased mucus production, skin rashes and welts, and headache. In the case of an actual threat to the body, in the form of, say, a ﬂu virus, these reactions would form an important line of defense against the invader, helping to trap it and expel it, and encouraging you to rest and recover. But during the false alarm of an allergic response, the body overreacts to a harmless agent.
Most allergens are found either in the environment or in food. (For information about allergic reactions to food, see Food Allergies.) Environmental allergens include pollen (reactions to pollen are often called hay fever), mold, animal dander, dust, feathers, insect venom, certain cosmetics and household products, and metals. When the environmental allergens are removed or make their seasonal disappearance, the body returns to normal. If the allergens are not removed, the immune system will continue its artiﬁcially high state of alert. In these cases, the allergic response can develop into chronic allergic rhinitis, in which the nasal passages remain persistently inﬂamed.
Why some people develop allergies to certain substances and others do not remains unclear. It does seem that certain allergic responses, such as hay fever, have a genetic basis. An excess accumulation of mucus in the body, which attracts and stores the irritant, also contributes to or causes allergic responses. In addition, stress and a generally depressed immune system may contribute to the severity of allergies.
• Allergies happen when the immune system attacks a harmless substance. Common triggers for allergies include mold ; dust ; tree, grass, or ﬂower pollen ; animal dander ; feathers ; insect venom, especially from bee stings ; metal, par- ticularly nickel ; household chemicals ; and some cosmetics.
• An excess of mucus, caused by a poor diet
• Stress, which depresses the immune system
Allergic responses can produce any one or a combination of several of the following symptoms :
note about allergy tests :
many conventional doctors suggest skin or blood tests to deter- mine the source of allergies, but take care. These tests are invasive, expensive, and of questionable reliability. If your doc- tor recommends one of these tests, question him or her closely about the beneﬁts you should expect.
• Nasal congestion
• Red, itchy, or watery eyes
• Sore throat
• Hives, rashes, eczema, or other
* skin eruptions
• Fluid retention
• Swelling of the throat and the tongue
Caution : If you experience difﬁculty breathing or develop hives that spread rapidly, get emergency help at once. Allergic reactions like these can quickly be fatal. If you know you have severe reactions to certain substances, talk to your doctor about emer- gency adrenaline kits you can keep on hand.
• Nutritional deﬁciencies
• Poor digestion and detoxiﬁcation
• Limited diet (in cases of food sensitivities, the lack of variety in the diet)
Blood IgG4 and IgE food and environmental screen
Electrodermal testing for sensitivities
Muscle testing by a skilled practitioner
If you have allergies, dietary therapy should include strategies for mucus reduction,elimination of allergenic pathogens, and general immune support.
Base your diet on non–mucus-forming foods : whole grains (although gluten sensi- tivity is common), fresh vegetables and fruits, cold-pressed oils, and raw seeds and nuts. (Many people with environmental allergies also have reactions to nuts, so mon- itor your reactions carefully.)
To keep your immune system healthy, make sure to get enough lean protein. Seafood and tofu are good sources that don’t encourage mucus production.
Drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day to thin mucus secretions. Flaxseeds and ﬂaxseed oil can reduce inﬂammation. Take 2 tablespoons every day.
Food to Avoid
Eliminating foods that cause mucus should be a priority for any allergy sufferer. Mucus-forming foods include all dairy products, fried and processed foods, reﬁned ﬂours, chocolate, and eggs.
The immune response stresses your digestive system, so place as few additional bur- dens on it as possible. Cut down on bad fats and oils (saturated, hydrogenated, or those containing trans-fatty acids)—as well as the reﬁned ﬂour and the processed foods men- tioned earlier—and increase your intake of ﬁber, especially from raw vegetables.
Many people with environmental allergies also suffer from food allergies. See the Food Allergies section and follow the elimination diet there to ensure that certain foods aren’t making your environmental allergies worse.
Wheat is the unsuspected culprit behind many allergies, including those that seem to be triggered by environmental allergens. Try eliminating wheat during the seasons that usually coincide with your allergic responses.
A three-day juice fast to expel mucus is strongly encouraged. During and after the fast, you will feel your congestion begin to clear.
Green drinks are good for ﬂushing out mucus and toxins. Drink one daily, whether you’re fasting or not.
Super Seven Prescriptions—Allergies
Super Prescription #1 Homeopathy
Take a combination allergy homeopathic remedy, as directed on the container, or read the description under Homeopathy in this section to pick a single remedy.
Super Prescription #2 Vitamin C
Take 1,000 mg three to ﬁve times daily (reduce the dosage if diarrhea occurs). It has a natural antihistamine effect.
Super Prescription #3 Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica)
Take 300 to 500 mg daily. Studies show that it is effective for hay
Super Prescription #4 Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)
Take 3,000 to 5,000 mg daily. It reduces allergic and inﬂammatory responses.
Super Prescription #5 Quercitin
Take 1,000 mg three times daily. It has a natural antihistamine effect.
Super Prescription #6 Eyebright (Euphrasia ofﬁcinalis)
A randomized, double-blind study involving the use of freeze- dried nettles and people who
had hay fever found that after one week of use, 58 percent of participants had a reduction in their sneezing and itching.
Take 1 capsule three times daily or apply as a solution to irritated eyes by putting
5 drops of the tincture form in a half ounce of saline. Apply it to the eyes twice daily.
Super Prescription #7 Essential fatty acids
Take 1 to 2 tablespoons of ﬂaxseed oil or 3 grams of ﬁsh oil daily. They reduce inﬂammatory responses associated with allergies.
Thymus extract has been shown to calm the immune response to allergies. Take as directed on the container.
Probiotics reduce the potential for allergies. Take a product containing at least 4 billion organisms of Lactobacillus acidophilus and biﬁdus.
Protease enzymes decrease allergic and inﬂammatory responses. Take 2 capsules twice daily on an empty stomach or as directed on the container.
Digestive enzymes assist in the digestion of food and reduce the likelihood of food sensitivities. Take 1 to 2 capsules with meals.
Betaine hydrochloride assists in the digestion of food and reduces the likelihood of food sensitivities. Take 1 to 2 capsules with meals.
Pick the remedy that best matches your symptoms. Take 2 pellets of 30C potency twice daily. Should the f irst three days pass without any sign of improvement, you’re probably taking the wrong remedy. Stop using the current one, and switch to something else. When you ﬁrst notice improvement, stop taking the remedy unless your symptoms begin to return.
Allium Cepa is good for burning, watery eyes and a runny nose. Sneezing is com- mon, and your symptoms feel better in the open air.
Arsenicum Album is for people with burning eyes and a runny nose that doesn’t stop, causing the skin under the nose to get red and excoriated. This remedy is effec- tive for the highly sensitive person with many allergies.
Euphrasia is for red, burning, tearing eyes.
Histaminum is for non–life threatening allergy symptoms that come on quickly. Lycopodium (Lycopodium clavatum) is for people who have right-sided nasal and throat symptoms. Bloating after meals is common.
Natrum Muriaticum is for people who sneeze from the sun. They often get cold sores and crave salty foods.
Nux Vomica (Strychnos nux vomica) is also for people with diverse allergy symp- toms, but those who beneﬁt from this remedy tend to crave sweets, tobacco, and other stimulants. They often wake up sneezing.
Pulsatilla (Pulsatilla pratensis) is for people whose allergies are worse in a warm room and who crave the open air. Their nasal passages often get congested at night.
Sabadilla is for people who suffer from many repeated sneezes in a row and a runny nose.
Silica (Silicea) will help if your allergies manifest as upper respiratory problems that develop into infections and if you often feel fatigued and low in stamina.
See pages 668–675 for information about pressure points and administering treatment.
• Large intestine 4 relieves headaches and sneezing.
• For fatigue, swollen eyes, and headache, use Bladder 10.
• Triple Warmer 5 fortiﬁes the immune system.
• Stomach 36 is a good all-over toner and promotes balance within the body.
A percussive massage will help break up mucus. Percussive motions are best used on people who are relatively strong and healthy. If you are frail, thin, or elderly, check with your massage therapist about the suitability of this treatment for you.
A lymphatic drainage massage will carry mucus away from the body.
Almost any massage can help relieve stress, but one that incorporates relaxing essen- tial oils may be the best approach. See the Aromatherapy section for suggested oils.
Working the big toes and the inside of the heels helps abate allergic reactions.
Hot baths induce sweat, which carries toxins out along with it. And if you’re congested, a steamy bath feels just plain wonderful. If you want a more powerful release of tox- ins, add Epsom salts to the water.
A wet compress will help draw out chest congestion. You can add ginger or cayenne for increased strength.
Nasal saline irrigation of both nostrils daily will reduce nasal and sinus symptoms related to allergies.
If you suffer from plant allergies, use caution when trying aromatherapy oils.
Several essential oils are excellent at loosening mucus. Try any combination of the following in a steam inhalant or a bath or diffused into the air : eucalyptus, pepper- mint, lemon balm, and tea tree.
Both lavender and chamomile are good stress relievers, in any form. If you’re suf- fering from allergies, however, they may be of most help when combined with steam, so use them in a steam inhalant or a hot bath.
Bach Flower Remedies
According to Bach remedy philosophy, most allergic conditions are related to some form of emotional intolerance.
If you have little patience for other people, take Beech. If self-acceptance is the problem, try Rock Water.
• Exercise to expel toxins, support the immune system, and reduce stress.
• Don’t smoke or expose yourself to secondhand smoke.
• Avoid or reduce exposure to allergy triggers. If you have mold or dust aller-
gies, keep your house extremely clean and dry. A dehumidiﬁer in the basement
is a good idea, as are air ﬁlters and feather-free pillows and comforters. If you have a wood- or coal-burning ﬁreplace or stove, you may need to ﬁnd an alter- nate source of heat. In extreme cases, you may have to rid your home of any item that’s likely to collect dust, including upholstered furniture, rugs, and cur- tains. A HEPA (high-energy particulate air) ﬁlter is highly recommended, espe- cially in the bedroom at night.
• Xylitol nasal spray reduces allergy symptoms. Follow directions on the container.
• Consider desensitization treatments from a natural health-care practitioner.