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Seasonal Allergies
writes, "It's finally time to be outside! The weather is getting nicer every day and all of the beautiful trees and flowers are starting to bloom. Unfortunately, despite the loveliness of nature, this season can cause quite a bit of misery for allergy sufferers."
We are currently in the midst of high pollen counts here in the Treasure Valley, particularly for tree and grass pollen, which usually continues through early summer. Many people struggle with symptoms of allergies such as itchy or watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose, post-nasal drip, and fatigue. Seasonal allergies can truly make people feel as terrible as if they have a cold, even though no infection is occurring in the body.

From a naturopathic point of view, we ask, "What is causing the body to over-react to normal components of our environment?"

1) Is your digestive tract functioning optimally? When it's not, the natural balance of bacteria we harbor in our gut can get out of whack, leading to a bit more inflammation and hyper-vigilant response of our own immune systems.

2) Is your cortisol level too high? Stressful lifestyles can lead to overproduction of cortisol, a hormone that in high amounts can decrease the mucus lining coating the GI tract (among other things). That mucus lining is a huge component of what prevents allergens from getting past the body's first line of defenses and getting in to the blood stream. A blood or saliva test can be done to check your cortisol levels and supplementation can be used to regulate your cortisol, but a good first place to start is stress reduction.

3) Do you have food allergies? Many people react to foods they are eating on an everyday basis, which leads to more inflammation occurring in the body. IgG reactions are delayed response sensitivities, unlike the IgE reactions we typically think of when we hear the term "allergy." Most people who have had allergy testing have had IgE levels tested, which is useful for assessing environmental allergens and dangerous anaphylactic-type food allergens, but not useful for assessing delayed onset food reactions. By testing for and removing your food sensitivities, many people are able to reduce the severity of their other allergies (like pollen) as well.

These are just starting points for identifying the causes of why someone might be suffering from seasonal allergies.

Useful natural treatments aimed at symptomatic management include Quercetin, Bioflavinoids, and Fish oils, which help decrease the inflammation causing many allergy symptoms as well as decreasing the amount of histamine released by the body. Use of a humidifier and/or Neti pot to keep the upper respiratory tract moist is also helpful in reducing the severity of allergy symptoms.

Getting your allergies under control can make the difference between suffering through Spring or enjoying our beautiful Idaho outdoors.

Dr. Laura Glenn, ND
Treasure Valley Natural Medicine


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