Itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing and sore throat – about one in six Canadians experience these symptoms each year in the form of seasonal allergies. Seasonal allergies are a long-term health problem that typically begins between 8 and 12 years of age and can last for a lifetime. With allergies on the rise in developed countries, it’s important to know what preventive measures can be taken to ensure that itching and sneezing is either manageable or doesn’t happen at all.
Allergies are a disorder of the immune system that is caused by the improper activation of the immune response. When our body tags a normally harmless substance in our environment as a threat, our immune system sets out to create antibodies against these substances, known as immunoglobulin E (IgE). An excess amount of IgE in the system encourages the release of inflammatory substances such as histamine, leukotrienes and cytokines from immune cells. This in turn generates inflammation, swelling and itching. In addition to the typical seasonal allergy symptoms, allergies have also been shown to cause a list of nonspecific symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, poor concentration, snoring and loss of sleep.
So what can be done to either prevent or lessen the severity of those annoying allergy symptoms? Here are my top three recommendations:
Vitamin D is well known for its role in immune system regulation and can be used for a multitude of immune concerns, from autoimmunity to frequent colds and flus to allergy. Vitamin D has an effect on multiple aspects of the immune system, such as regulating T-cells, B-cells and inhibiting the production of IgE antibodies. When given in adequate doses, vitamin D is also anti-inflammatory and can even be applied topically for allergic skin conditions like atopic dermatitis. Because vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it’s important to have serum levels tested on occasion and dose accordingly to ensure you’re getting the proper dose for your individual needs.
As Hippocrates said, “all disease begins in the gut” and there is no exception when it comes to seasonal allergies. The world of probiotic research is booming right now and the results are absolutely fascinating. We have learned that each strain of probiotic is unique and exerts specific therapeutic effects. Simply taking a daily general probiotic is no longer the best way to prevent or treat specific conditions. For example, research suggests that Bifidobacterium lactis NCC2818 provides therapeutic benefit for those suffering from seasonal allergic rhinitis to grass pollen. The take home: not all probiotics are the same!
Intravenous vitamin C
Intravenous nutrient therapy is an excellent way to attain therapeutic doses of key nutrients that can be helpful in preventing or lessening the severity of seasonal allergies. Intravenous vitamin C in particular has been shown to decrease serum histamine levels – an inflammatory chemical in the body that is heavily involved in allergy symptoms. Even in my own clinical experience I have seen tremendous relief for patients suffering from seasonal allergies with weekly intravenous vitamin C infusions during allergy season. It’s a highly safe and effective treatment with minimal side effects.
Natural anti-allergy supplements and infusions in addition to basic dietary and lifestyle changes can provide tremendous relief for patients with seasonal allergies, either on their own or in addition to conventional over the counter medications.
Gaby AR. (2002 Oct). Intravenous nutrient therapy: the “Myers’ cocktail”. Altern Med Rev. 7(5):389-403.
Hagel AF, et al. (2013 Sept). Intravenous infusion of ascorbic acid decreases serum histamine concentrations in patients with allergies and non-allergic diseases. Naunyn Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmacol. 386(8):789-93.
Singh A. (2013 Feb). Immune-modulatory effect of probiotic Bifidobacterium lactis NCC2818 in individuals suffering from seasonal allergic rhinitis to grass pollen: an exploratory, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Eur J Clin Nutr. 67(2):161-7.