One out of every six Americans is plagued by airborne allergies. The most common, pollen allergy, may irritate sufferers from spring through fall. That’s when cross-pollinating plants release their pollen into the air for fertilization. With incredible endurance, these featherweight particles can travel for literally hundreds of miles toward their intended destination. But many wind up lodged in our nasal passages and throats instead.
Pollen: the accidental allergen
Pollen has various shapes and is comprised of tiny grains, ranging anywhere from 3 to 200 microns. (A micron is equivalent to .00003 inches!) The type of pollen particle triggering your hay fever is probably from trees, grasses or weeds. Their pollen is lightweight enough to go the extra distance, unlike the heavier pollen of flowering plants. Some of the more allergenic trees in this country are oak, ash, elm, hickory and mountain cedar. Kentucky bluegrass, Timothy grass, Johnson grass, and Bermuda grass are among the allergenic grasses. Ragweed tops the list for allergenic weeds; however, a number of others (sagebrush, redroot pigweed and tumbleweed) also affect allergic individuals.
Since plants pollinate around the same time each year, pollen allergies are seasonal ailments. The specific period depends upon your particular geographic location. Typically, northern states experience a later allergy season than their southern counterparts. Check your local weather report for the pollen count in your area. It’s usually the highest between 5 am and 10 am and around dusk. And keep an eye on the weather since it can cause the concentration of pollen to escalate, especially on windy days.
Environmental Allergy: the inside story
Other airborne allergens—dust, mold and animal dander—pollute your home on a daily basis. They’re lurking virtually everywhere: bedding, carpets, venetian blinds, shower stalls, upholstered furniture, drapes, basements, pillows, etc. As if that weren’t enough, approximately 63,000 chemical irritants may also invade your home. Many are toxic, spawning allergic responses.
- Dust: A combination of potentially allergenic substances: fabric fibers, animal dander, food particles, bacteria and microscopic allergens known as dust mites. Dust mites live in carpets, upholstered furniture and bedding. Flourishing in warm, humid temperatures, they produce pollen allergy-like symptoms. Fine dust particles drifting in a sunbeam are actually dead dust mites and their waste material, which produce allergic reactions.
- Mold: Thrive in moisture and warmth. Mold spores vary in shape, size, and color and have the ability to generate millions of other spores. Due to their microscopic nature, they can side step the body’s protective devices and head straight for the lungs. Check bathroom shower stalls, closets, refrigerator drip trays, air conditioners, humidifiers, mattresses, upholstered furniture, older foam rubber pillows, trash pails, and basements.
- Animal Dander: The actual culprit isn’t their fur, but the proteins emitted by the oil glands. These proteins are later shed in the dander or the animal’s saliva. In gerbils, hamsters and mice, the urine contains allergens. Even if you get rid of your pet, the animal allergens can linger in the air for months.
- Chemical Irritants: Their fumes and odors produce the typical allergy reactions plus flu-like symptoms, rashes, dizziness and heart palpitations. Potential allergens include cleaning products, wallpaper and paints, plaster, insulation, formaldehyde in fabrics and particle board, carpets, furniture, perfumes, cigarette smoke, dry cleaning, deodorant, cosmetics, glues, incense, insect repellents, soaps, turpentine, pesticides, air fresheners, wax candles, kitchen counters and plastics to name a few.
Combating Allergies Naturally
Time-tested remedies and a common-sense lifestyle change can help you take control of allergies forever—and without some of the risky side-effects caused by many over-the-counter or prescription drugs. When adding these nutrients to your diet, allergy expert Michael Rosenbaum, M.D. suggests beginning with the minimum daily amounts first. Then gradually increase the dosage until your symptoms improve. For maximum effect, he recommends taking all the supplements, rather than just trying one or two.
The Amazing Five
1. Vitamin C: Helps reduce runny nose and fluid drainage. Can act as natural antihistamine to soothe nasal passages. 1,000-2000mg daily per bowel tolerance.
2. Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5): Helps reduce nasal leakage and steady mast cells
(lessening histamine release) by stimulating adrenal glands. 500 to 3,000 mg per day.
3. Licorice root tea (Glycyrrhiza glabra): Elevates cortisol levels to even out mast cells. Egyptians used it to prevent allergies. 2-3 cups of tea. (Not suggested for high blood pressure individuals.)
4. Quercetin: A highly touted bioflavonoid shown to diminish mast cell/basophil histamine release. Excellent for hay fever, hives and eczema. 2-4 capsules (300 mg) daily. Allow 3 weeks for therapeutic results.
5. Nettles: (Urtica dioica). An herb used in folk medicine to help prevent hay fever. Since the plant’s hairs can sting skin, using the supplemental form containing freeze-dried nettle leaves is preferred. A preliminary study using these capsules demonstrated an anti-allergy effect. 300-mg capsule, two to three times a day when symptoms are visible.
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Visionary, health guru, diet/detox expert, and natural foods icon Ann Louise Gittleman is the award-winning author of 30 books on health and healing including the New York Times bestsellers The Fat Flush Plan and Before The Change. Her most recent release is The Gut Flush Plan.
For the past two decades she has been considered one of the foremost nutritionist in the United States.
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