2002-04-27 / Columnists

Health and Harmony

Health and Harmony by Dr. Nancy Gahles
Seasonal Allergies: Who Am I, And What Am I So Sensitive To?

Seasonal allergies, also called hay fever or allergic rhinitis are the bane of existence to those who suffer with them.  Symptoms range from sneezing, watering and itchy eyes, congestion to sore throats and respiratory symptoms.  It is difficult to work, sleep, eat and interact with others.  In general, you feel miserable.

Allergies are the response of a sensitivity to some external stimuli in the environment like pollen, grasses, trees and ragweed.  Your system is sensitive to one or more of these particles which, when it comes into contact with you, your immune system mounts a defense against the offending allergen.  The way in which your immune system responds is unique to you.  The defensive response is always a form of inflammation designed to carry off the offending particles in a cascade of tearing and mucous discharges.  For each person, the body will do it in it's own way.  There may be only sneezing.  There may be profuse watery nasal discharge, which seems like a running faucet.  There may be itching and watering of the eyes.  There may be scratchy throat and itching of the roof of the mouth.  There may be coughing and shortness of breath.

The way in which your immune system mounts its defense is the key to finding the appropriate remedy.  How and where you are sensitive and to what must be noted.  As allergy season approaches, it is time to monitor your general state of health.  The healthier you are, the stronger your immune system will be and the better prepared to ward off the symptoms and to decrease the duration and severity of the response.

The first and best defense is to be well rested, well nourished and optimistic about your life.  In the event that you come into contact with an allergen that causes your system to mount its defense, give it a helping hand.

Drink lots of fluids to thin secretions and aid expectoration.

Try using a neti pot to clear congestion.  This is a nasal irrigation system developed to relieve sinus congestion without drugs or sprays.  Visit www.sinucleanse.com for more information. You can e-mail me at askDrNancy@aol.com for the recipe to use in the neti pot.

Eating hot foods can temporarily clear nasal congestion.  Try the Japanese condiment wasabi or Chinese hot mustard or sprinkle cayenne pepper on your food.

Inhaling steam is a time-honored tradition for clearing nasal congestion and keeps bacteria to a minimum. Add a few drops of essential oils like tea tree, rosemary or eucalyptus to the water and drape a towel over your head and breathe in deeply.
An herb that works to dry out the sinuses is stinging nettle. It can be used alone or in combination with other anti-inflammatory substances like the citrus bioflavinoids, Vitamin C, Quercitin and Bromelain and grapeseed extract   and turmeric.  As always, when attempting to treat yourself, please consult with a qualified practitioner in concert with your personal physician. Herbs and vitamins do have indications and contraindications and interactions with medications.  For example, some people experience stomach upset with nettle.   Dr. Julian Whitaker has a very good product called BREATHE CLEAR, which is supported by research that you can obtain at www.drwhitaker.com.  QUERCITIN PLUS   is a product made by Nutrition Now that is worth looking into at www.nutritionnow.com.

Dietary considerations include increasing your intake of EFAs.   Essential fatty acids fight inflammation.  Consume at least 3 servings of cold water fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines weekly; nuts and seeds like flax and walnuts can be sprinkled on salads or cereals daily; cook with olive oil and use olive oil on your salads.  EFAs can be found in liquid and capsule forms.

Who am I?  Emotional stress can bring on allergy attacks.  When you are feeling particularly vulnerable, your immune system is at its weakest.  Next time you start to sneeze or itch, try to think of what you are feeling; what or who is "irritating" you.  Look at the situation that you are in when you get the "attack."  Keep a journal and then isolate the instances so that it makes sense.  Meditation and yoga help to rid your body of thoughts and emotions that deplete it.  For a schedule of classes or a personal consultation write to askDrNancy@aol.com.

If treating yourself with the above measures doesn't yield lasting relief you should consult a homeopathic practitioner for a more thorough evaluation and an individually tailored remedy, which is called constitutional treatment.   "Homeopaths will ask you about everything, from your sleep patterns and food cravings to sexual energy and dreams, and then choose a remedy that closely matches your temperament and symptoms.  Dr. Jennifer Jacobs, M.D., an eminent homeopath that has conducted much research on the efficacy of homeopathic remedies, says, "you should expect to see some degree of relief in a few days to a week."(Natural Health May/June 2002.)  A preliminary visit costs about $200 to $400; follow-up visits every six to eight weeks  run about $75.  To locate a practitioner visit www.homeopathic.org.

You are a unique human being and you deserve to be happy and healthy while dancing the dance we call Life. Your sensitivities are a reflection of your basic nature.  They will show you where you are vulnerable so that you can become a stronger person.  Strength is the courage to look within and smile at whom you see there.  Namaste.  It's an Indian greeting which means, I honor the God within you.  It's a good beginning and a good ending.

May the Blessings be! 

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