"How do anti-histamines get rid of my symptoms?"
Histamine molecules reside in your cells called mast cells. When they are released they bind to your tissues and trigger inflammation, thereby causing all the symptoms you associate with allergies (itchy eyes, runny nose, congestion, difficulty breathing).
Conventional anti-histamines (Eg. Claritin, Reactine) block the histamines from binding to your tissues, while natural anti-histamines work to prevent the mast cells from rupturing in the first place.
Common culprits that can worsen symptoms of allergy:
Consumption of dairy - this food commonly causes greater phlegm production and inflammation, which will enhance symptoms such as congestion, runny nose, and restricted breathing.
Food sensitivities - if your immune system is actively reacting to foods you are eating then you are already in a state of inflammation and you will be more sensitive to environmental allergens.
Gut dysbiosis - this is an imbalance in your digestive tract of the types of microbes living there. We want more of them working for us, rather than against us. (As a cool aside, did you know you have more bacteria IN and ON you than there are cells of you?!)
Low vitamin D - you might think you have enough vitamin D because of your awesome tan, but you may not be producing enough. The only way to know is to get tested, by your ND, MD, or nurse practitioner.
Indoor carpeting - If it's old, you don't want to know what could be harbouring in there. If new, it can be one of the most toxic new building materials.
A great tool many naturopathic doctors use to help alleviate allergy symptoms is intravenous (IV) nutrient therapy. Vitamin C is a great natural anti-histamine and is anti-inflammatory; however, to get enough that will really be effective often exceeds how much you can absorb, resulting in diarrhea. Infusing this vitamin directly into the vein (along with other nutrients) can be done at a higher dose than oral, which means faster relief. Over my 12 years of experience with IV therapy I have seen many people find great relief from their allergy symptoms with this treatment.
Solutions & symptom-relief to explore this season*:
- avoid all sources of dairy (I have seen so many people have noticeable relief with this change alone.)
- learn your food sensitivities, with an IgG blood test
- reduce your intake of inflammatory foods; refined sugars, red meats, refined grain products, and for some people, alcohol too.
- try natural remedies like quercitin, vitamin C, Allergy Relief (Bell), boswellia, nettle leaf, hesperidin, bromelain.
- daily nasal saline rinse or Neti pot
- discuss IV therapy with your naturopathic doctor
- support gut health with probiotics, sauerkraut, colonics, and an anti-inflammatory diet
- have your vitamin D level tested (blood)
- consider replacing home carpeting with wood flooring
- consult with a naturopathic doctor to discuss how you can support your body to be less reactive to your environment
Don't let your allergy symptoms keep you from enjoying the beautiful outdoors... we already spent enough time indoors this winter!
*These are general suggestions and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Discuss this with your qualified healthcare practitioner, especially if you are pregnant, taking medications or dealing with a chronic disease.