5 Ways To Treat Respiratory Allergies Naturally

5 Ways to Treat Respiratory Allergies Naturally

       Allergies are increasing in prevalence globally, especially in the industrialized world where each allergy season is worse than the previous one. It is currently estimated that 20-25% of Canadians suffer from allergies, where productivity at school/work is negatively affected, sleep quality is diminished and overall quality of life is lower. People who suffer from seasonal allergies have a really rough time during certain months of the year and those who experience chronic allergies all year round, have an even harder time dealing with their symptoms. 

 

What are allergies?

An allergy occurs when the immune system overreacts to a harmless substance like pollen, animal dander, mould, dust, foods, air pollution and perfumes. These allergens can cause the immune system to elicit an unnecessary reaction in the body as it perceives these substances as a threat. 

 

The various types of allergic conditions include:

  1. Respiratory allergies (allergic rhinitis & allergic asthma) - This is caused by the inhalation of allergens that are present in the air around us, both indoor and outdoor. Indoor allergens include dust mites, chemicals, animal dander and mould. Outdoor allergens include, pollen and smoke. 
  2. Drug allergies - Ex. Penicillin
  3. Food allergies - Ex. Shellfish
  4. Cosmetic allergies - An allergy to a particular ingredient that is present in a personal care product

Since respiratory allergies are the most common, that will be the focus on this article.. Respiratory allergies can be chronic or seasonal. Seasonal allergies, like hay fever, tend to be caused by pollen, so symptoms recur the same time every year, usually when the plant is blooming. Chronic allergies, on the other hand, are caused by factors that are present in the environment all year round like animal dander, dust or chemicals.  When it comes to respiratory allergies, symptoms can be obvious or they can be hidden. 

Most obvious symptoms of respiratory allergies include:

  • Stuffy, runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Red/watery eyes
  • Clear nasal discharge

Hidden symptoms of respiratory allergies include:

  • Chronic headaches
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Post nasal discharge

The hidden symptoms are often caused by an allergen that is chronically present in the air around you, but often the connection of these hidden symptoms to a potential allergy is not made. Medications used to treat allergies like antihistamines and steroids are really only effective at managing the symptoms, but also come with some unwanted side effects such as dry mouth, drowsiness, dizziness and blurred vision, and fail to address the root cause of the allergies. 

 

Here are 5 simple steps to treat respiratory allergies naturally:  

1st  - Identify the allergens 

The first step to identifying the allergen is through seeing an allergist who can perform an allergy test through testing various allergens on the surface of skin. Once the allergen is identified, the home environment can be modified to decrease exposure of possible allergens.  Below are some examples: 

1. Mites - These are spider like creatures that can be found in dust, carpets, drapery  etc. They feed off of dead skin cells that we shed off. 

  • Avoid using items that are most likely to collect dust like, cloth curtains, carpets, stuffed animals and featured pillows 
  • Vacuuming with a HEPA filter can also be quite helpful to remove allergens present in the air
  • Wash bedding weekly in hot water to kill the dust mites 

2. Pet allergies - Pet allergies are triggered by substances that are found in animal urine, feces and saliva that we breathe in. 

  • Bathe pets on a weekly basis. This can help to reduce animal dander through shedding old skin cells
  • Use an air purifier with a HEPA filter. Air purifiers are able to remove animal dander from the air around you
  • Create a “allergy free” zone. This zone can be a place in your home that you spend the most time and keep pets away from this area

3. Mould - Mould grows in dark areas that are poorly ventilated with high moisture levels

  • Close windows and doors as most of the indoor fungi comes from the outside
  • Replace water damaged walls, ceilings and carpets as this can cause mould to grow

4. Chemicals - Formaldehyde is a popular household chemical that can be found in areas of the household such as in laundry/dish detergents, bath soap and body wash.  

2nd – Identify food sensitivities

To reduce allergies, you need to reduce the overall toxin burden on the body. During routine body function, the human body produces toxins and is also exposed to environmental toxins that are found in the air. As a result of this, humans have a detoxification pathway in place to remove all of the toxins from the body. Our detoxification organs consist of the liver, kidneys, intestines and skin that work hard to eliminate all accumulated toxins. A good analogy is to visualize the detoxification system as a cup.  If you keep filling this cup with the different kind of allergies, like cosmetic allergies, respiratory allergies, and food allergies without emptying the cup, the detox pathways get overwhelmed and congested. 

By addressing food sensitivities you can help to empty the cup and reduce the load on our detox pathways which can help to decrease the severity of respiratory allergies.

The top five foods that can lead to sensitivities are wheat, dairy, soy, eggs and corn. Alternatively, a food intolerance test can be done to decipher exactly what food/s are causing the sensitivity. 

3rd – Manage your Gut

Your gut microbiome plays a big role in the development of allergies. 90% of your immune cells are made in the gut! So it is important to keep your gut balanced and healthy. Probiotics can help to improve digestion and also limit the absorption of food allergens. When it comes to respiratory allergies look for Lactobacillus Acidophilus strains & Bifidobacterium Lactis strains. These probiotic strains will have the most effect when addressing respiratory allergies. Aim for 10 billion CFU per capsule.

4th – Avoid foods that are high in Histamine

Histamine is a chemical that is released by immune cells when your body comes into contact with an allergen. While histamine helps the immune system do is job of removing offending allergens, it unfortunately causes your blood vessels to swell which leads to harmful inflammation. In addition, the histmaine build up is what is responsible for allergy symptoms (headaches, itchy nose, runny rose, etc.). 

In addition to histamine produced in your body, there are also various foods that are naturally high in histamine that should be avoided. Such foods include, dried foods, cheese, wine, fish, cottage cheese, peanuts, red meat and turkey. At the same time, include foods that are rich in antioxidants and flavonoids like, blueberries, blackberries, broccoli, green peppers and papaya. Antioxidants are able to modulate the immune system and prevent histamine from being released which can help to reduce allergy symptoms. 

 

5th – Consider nutritional supplements

Supplements can help to decrease histamine levels which would lower inflammation in the body to help decrease allergic symptoms.

  • Vitamin D - A deficiency in Vitamin D levels can put you at a higher risk of developing allergies. Get your Vitamin D levels tested through blood work! Supplementing 1000 IU/day of Vitamin D can help to bring those values up if you are deficient 
  • Bioflavonoids (Quercetin, Catechin) – These are natural antihistamines can that can manage those annoying allergy symptoms. Take 2-3 grams a day and up to 5 grams when symptoms are at their worst. Vitamin C helps to increase bioflavonoid absorption so taking a combination product can be helpful 
  • Vitamin C - Vitamin C is a great antioxidant that can help to reduce damage from free radicals. Vitamin C can also help to modulate the immune system and help decrease the release of histamine. Take 1-3 grams a day. 
  • NAC is a great mucolytic agent that helps to thin the mucous membranes. It also helps with liver cell regeneration to aid the body in getting rid of toxic wastes. Aim for 1000-2000 mg/day
  • Nettle can be very helpful for drying out the sinuses. Aim to drink 3-4 cups of nettle tea daily. 
  • Butterbur (Petasites Hybridus) is an herbal extract used to help with symptoms such as rhinorrhea, itchy eyes and red eyes. 50-100 mg/day

 

Remember, the earlier you intervene and treat your allergies the sooner you will start to feel better! So if you suffer from seasonal or chronic allergies, speak with your Naturopathic Doctor to see how can they help you! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

**Disclaimer

The advice in this article is for informational purposes only. It does not replace the care of a Naturopathic physician.