April showers bring May flowers….and spring seasonal allergies. Runny noses, itchy, red eyes, and puffy faces are a common sight this time of year. While there are many excellent over the counter options for treating allergies, naturopathic medical services can offer a complementary approach to your current regime.
How can naturopathic medicine help treat allergies?
Naturopathic medicine approaches the problem from a preventative standpoint, using therapies that minimize your immune system's reaction to pollen before you even get symptoms.
The first step we do is assessment - making sure that your problem is an allergy and not an infection, and narrowing down the list of possible allergens that are causing your symptoms.
Next we work on lifestyle factors that can affect your symptoms, such as diet and exercise. If needed, we add in targeted support with select supplements.
What causes seasonal allergies?
Allergic rhinitis - the itchy, stuffy nose you get with allergies - is mediated by your IgE antibodies. In allergies, these immune cells react to things that don't cause problems for most people (such as tree pollen, ragweed, mold, animal dander, or dust). Your immune cells release a number of chemicals, one of them being histamine. This chemical is responsible for many of the typical allergy symptoms, such as red and puffy eyes and noses, runny nose, and itching.
What can I eat to reduce seasonal allergy symptoms?
Some small studies have shown that higher vitamin C intake is associated with a reduction in allergic rhinitis symptoms (PMID: 23450181, PMID: 2221490). Increasing your intake of vitamin C containing fruits and vegetables is relatively easy and cheap way to complement your current allergy treatments (and has plenty of other health benefits like increasing fiber and anti-oxidants in your diet as well). You want to aim for at least 90mg of vitamin C per day for basic health (there is currently no research-based target for allergies). My favourite vitamin C containing foods to get locally are listed below:
|Food||Vitamin C per 1 cup|
|Strawberries (fresh or frozen)||98mg|
|Raspberries (fresh or frozen)||40mg|
|Broccoli (fresh or frozen)||81mg|
|Brussels sprouts (fresh or frozen)||90mg|
For more information on naturopathic medicine, or my approach, book in a free 15 min meet and greet.