During allergy season many people feel more susceptible to colds and infections, which is true, they are. These people are likely in a TH2 dominant state and are, as a result, less capable of attacking viruses and/or bacteria and more reactive to external triggers such as food, pollen, dander, and dust. Therefore, one of the most important tools for preventing allergies is to balance the TH1 and TH2 system. T helper 1 cells (TH1) and T helper 2 cells (TH2) are a class of lymphocytes. TH1 cells are more responsible for the direct killing of germs; TH2 cells are responsible for antibody formation, hence producing immune memory. The finite balance between these two classes of cells dictates the efficacy of the immune response. By enhancing the production of TH1 lymphocytes and mildly suppressing the TH2 production, the body is less allergenic and therefore more capable of fighting off colds.
Primary Goal: Balancing the immune system and increasing TH1 response
You can do this by taking the following steps:
Diet – By engaging in mindful eating and identifying food sensitivities, you can significantly decrease the severity of allergy symptoms (if not remove them all together). By removing processed and inflammatory foods, you have removed overall inflammation your body, and are then able to react more appropriately to benign substances. You are also are more equipped to deal with microbes.
Anti-inflammatory diet – Guided elimination and reintroduction diets are by far the most powerful anti-allergy protocol that I have witnessed clinically. If started prior to allergy season, patients report less hay fever, sinusitis, asthma, cough, postnasal drip, watery eyes and sneezing. They also say they don’t get sick as much. Less missed workdays — the CDC would be so proud.
Probiotics – In fetuses and adults alike, immune development starts in the belly. Through the exposure to mom’s antibodies, babies are getting the initial immune signal and developing a temporary immunity to all things that mom is immune to. During birth (vaginal births especially) and breastfeeding, babies are exposed to significant bacteria that serve them well, and aid in the development of a healthy balance between TH1 and TH2. Babies are therefore less like to be allergic or atopic. As adults, we can continue to support immune balance with probiotics found in cultured food and supplemental products. The gut is responsible for 90% of our immune function. Children and adults with allergies can take high dose, high quality probiotics to promote a healthy TH1 system and suppress the TH2 system. It’s not too late!
Fish oils– Essential fatty acids, specifically DHA and EPA found in fish oils, are very beneficial for promoting a strong TH1 response and are also a very powerful anti-inflammatory.
Herbs – Powerful and natural, treat herbs with respect and get guidance, especially if you’re on medications or have chronic disease, as they may not be safe in certain circumstances.
Here is a very small list of some of my favorites:
Eyebright– Anti-inflammatory and astringent (great for itchy watery eyes and runny nose)
Nettles – Great long-term respiratory support and prevention
Horseradish – Warming antimicrobial and anti spasmodic (great for coughs and congestion)
Elencampane – Improved immune function and anti inflammatory for the lungs (tonic)
Yerba santé – Expectorant that increases movement of mucous from lungs and sinuses
Corn silk – Inhibits IgE antibodies (decreases allergic response)
Osha – Anti-microbial, especially indicated when person is debilitated with congestion
Yarrow – Anti microbial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, anodyne and diaphoretic – great for moving fluids, killing germs, great for fungal and viral sinusitis; decreases pain and promotes a healthy fever
To make a great allergy tea:
Mix equal parts of 5 or 6 of above herbs. Boil 1 pint of water, remove from heat, add 2 heaping tbsp. of herbs to water, cover and steep over night. Drink 1- 1.5 pints per day for allergies.
Also try Steam Inhalation:
Place essential oils of lavender, eucalyptus, thyme, in equal parts, in a vaporizer or as steam inhalation over pot of hot water. Do not take internally. Daily exposure during colds, flus and allergy season is completely safe.
Secondary Goal: Release histamine and other inflammatory chemicals
Anti-histamine herbs and nutrients – Including Vitamin C, Quercetin, Alpha lipoic acid, Bromelain and other enzymes.
Decreasing histamine release by stabilizing the mast cells will address symptoms and will be most effective when used with an AI diet.
Neti pot – Nasal lavage 2x/day. Reduces actual exposure to allergen, keeps them off of the mucous membrane. Great for clearing sinuses and rinsing membranes.
Hydrotherapy – Whether you do compresses to face/sinus area, lungs, or throat, you get an amazing therapeutic affect of stimulating blood and lymph flow, which aids in fighting infection, moves fluids, and decreases inflammation. 1-3 min cold and 3-5 min hot. Alternate 3 times, and always finish cold. Do this 2-3 times a day.
Acupuncture – supports body in a deeper energetic way, and is a very powerful tool for many illnesses, both, acute and chronic.