ALLERGY SEASON

Today I did my monthly radio interview with Josh on his show “Here’s to Your Health.” Our topic was allergies and what other options you can use to relieve the symptoms besides the usual decongestants and antihistamines. It is always so nice to be on the show and I hope people enjoy it as much as I do and get some good information out of it. It was live but you can u-stream the show.

allergies
allergies (Photo credit: jfl1066)

Question from Host: It’s allergy season. So many people are shut-down by allergies, or their allergy medication puts them to sleep. What are their options?

Answer:

Allergies occur when a foreign substance such as pollen, (known as an allergen and is normally harmless), is misread by the body as harmful. The body then overreacts with an allergic immune response that can range from mild to severe. Although they may not pose a life-or-death situation, symptoms can be so severe that they affect your quality of life. Many people with allergies have issues with social and physical activities. For example, concentration is often difficult.

Common allergens include: Pollen, animal dander, down feathers, mites, chemicals and a variety of foods.

Here we are mainly talking about seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and upper respiratory allergies.

Hay fever is actually a misnomer: it is not usually caused by hay and there is no fever. Seasonal allergic rhinitis is the correct term. If it happens throughout the year it is called perennial allergic rhinitis. It is an irritation of the nose area caused mainly by pollen. Symptoms are nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, throat or eyes itching and tearing eyes. (Eye symptoms are referred to as allergic conjunctivitis.)  Postnasal dripping of clear mucus frequently causes cough. Loss of the sense of smell is common, and loss of taste can also happen. Nose bleeding may occur if the condition is severe. In addition it can make you more susceptible to ear or sinus infections and can lead to asthma.

Nearly 36 million of Americans (310,000 persons in the U.S.) suffer from seasonal allergic rhinitis, also known as “hay fever.” Also, an estimated 50 million Americans suffer from all types of allergies. This means lots of money is spent on treatment and many work or school days are missed.

What causes hay fever?

The main cause is pollen from certain plants. Many trees, grasses and weeds produce extremely small, light, dry particle called pollen. Pollination describes the conveying of pollen on a stigma, which is the top part of the pistil of a plant. It then goes to the ovules inside the ovary through the pollen tube of the style. Pollination can be done through air or animal transportation such as bees. The plants that are responsible are the ones that produce a very small and light and airborne pollen that is spread by the wind and is easily inhaled. On the surface of the grain there are waxes and proteins. It is mainly the proteins in pollen that cause the allergic reaction. Trees primarily pollinate in the spring while grasses pollinate in the spring and summer. Weeds usually pollinate in the late summer and fall. The number one plant in the U.S. that causes allergies is Ragweed. Here in L.A. we do not have it that much. It is more common to the Midwest and Central U.S. We have many other plants and trees that are flourishing and releasing pollen all year round though.

It is important to identify the cause of an allergy to limit exposure. Number one cause is pollen and dust (dust mite dropping). The second most common source of an allergy is food such as wheat, egg, milk, fish, nuts, chocolate, celery, beans, potato and banana. If you are allergic to a specific food you are going to stay away from it and eliminate it from your diet. Beware, though, of possible deficiencies in vitamins or minerals, especially in children. The third most common source of an allergy are substances like drugs and bacteria.

In many cases you know what you are allergic to but if you do not, there are tests you can take to find out. Here is a summary:

Allergy tests: you may do skin or blood tests. The goal is to find out what substance (allergen) may trigger an allergic response.

Skin tests (usually done first)

Blood test

rapid

Not irritating

reliable

Less reliable; “Positive” reading is typically accurate but “negative” can be inaccurate (false negative)

Less expensive

More expensive

1. Skin prick test: Involves drop of solution deposited on scratches or needle pricks. Redness and itchiness indicates a POSITIVE reaction

Looks for antibodies. Measures levels of IgE antibodies that are higher in allergic or asthmatic people.

2. Intradermal: Involves injection into the dermis. Done when negative prick test but still suspected substance.

3. Skin patch test: Involves solution on a pad taped to the skin for 24 to 72 hours. It’s for contact dermatitis.

 

The origins of allergies are not exactly known. It is a combination of factors such as family history or family predisposition, AB, vaccines, stress, environment (pollution is a factor), smoking, etc.

Once the body has identified a foreign substance as an allergen, it triggers the immune response and release antibodies (IgE) that bind to the allergens. This leads to the release of chemicals such as Histamine, prostaglandins and other mediators into the surrounding tissues and the blood. These mediators cause dilation of the surrounding blood vessels, increase their permeability and cause fluid leaking from the cells. This results in the nasal stuffiness, sneezing and mucous discharge of allergic rhinitis. They can also cause muscle spasms that can lead to lung and throat tightening as in asthma and loss of voice.

Here’s a reminder about Histamine: It is a neurotransmitter that is involved in the local immune response and triggers the inflammatory response. It also regulates the physiological functions: release of gastric acid, sleep regulation (allows the body to become alert and awake by stimulating the fight of flight response to an attack or a threat) and other functions (muscle relaxation, regulation of white blood cells in the bone marrow, etc.). It is produced by the mast cells and basophiles (white blood cells). It can increase the permeability of the capillaries to proteins and white blood cells so they can reach the infected tissues and attack foreign invaders.

So when a foreign invader enters the body or when there is an injury, the body releases histamine from its storage places and activates it to protect the body. This is one of the important defense mechanisms in our body. But in the case of allergies, this mechanism gets activated for no good reason.

SOLUTION:

General recommendations:

– Stay indoors when it is dry and windy. Go out later in the day, after 5 p.m. Shower when you get home. Use the AC instead of opening windows.

– Avoid fabrics if your allergy is due to house dust or dust mite dropping. For example, choose hardwood flooring over carpeting. Eliminate heavy curtains, stuffed animals and clutter, as they attract dust. Use vacuum cleaners with HEPA filter (High Efficiency Particulate Accumulator). These are capable of capturing more than 99 percent of particles as small as 0.3 micron. (A dust mite dropping measures between 0.3 to 10 microns). Use a mattress cover that is allergy proofed.

– Inhale steam to relieve nasal and sinus congestion

– Irrigate the nasal passages with saline solution

Place a bowl of water next to your bed. This is a very easy trick, especially when there is very little humidity in the air and your mouth gets very dry and your nose is stuffed up. You can add 2 or 3 drops of essential oils such as Eucalyptus or Pine tree. It is a simple way to humidify the area around you while you are sleeping. I recommend it to many people and always heard good results.

Treatment:

People with allergies have few choices. Over-the-counter medications and Rx medications (mostly antihistamines, decongestants, and steroid nose sprays) have unpleasant side effects. These include drowsiness (especially first generation antihistamines such as Benadryl) and dry mouth, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, restlessness and moodiness in kids, difficulty urinating, blurred vision, confusion and interactions with other medications. There are also contra-indications such as enlarged prostate, heart problems, hypertension, thyroid, kidney, liver issues, glaucoma etc. Now there’s even less help for young children. In 2008, the FDA questioned the safety and efficacy of giving antihistamines and decongestants to children. As a result manufacturers of these products re-labeled them for children 4 years of age and older.

Homeopathic medicines are among the safest choices for self-treatment in allergy sufferers, including children, seniors, and those taking other medications. They are low-cost and effective, and generally free of side effects. Unlike antihistamines, they won’t make you drowsy so you can remain alert and productive. They’re non-habit forming and they won’t interact with other drugs.

There are many different types of allergies and, remember, homeopathy is not a one-size-fits-all approach. There are many homeopathic medicines that can offer relief and you can fine-tune your treatment by choosing a single medicine that closely corresponds to your symptoms. This is the best approach if your symptoms are well-defined. Here is a summary of several medicines with their indications:

Allergy Symptom(s) Single Medicine Dilution
Applicable for all cases of allergy. Histaminum hydrochloricum (Histamine dihydrochloride) 12C
Red eyes, feeling of sand in eyes; burning, irritating tears. Euphrasia officinalis (Eyebright) 12C
Burning eyes, swelling, improved by cold compress. Apis mellifica (Honey bee) 12C
Red eyes with burning, abundant nasal discharge. Sneezing, frontal sinus pain, constricted feeling at base of nose, aggravated by cold air. Kali iodatum (Potassium iodine) 12C
Frequent, sudden sneezing, hypersensitivity to the smell of flowers, itching in back of mouth, improved by heat. Sabadilla (Cevadilla) 12C
Frequent, sudden sneezing in morning, dryness in nose, especially at night. Nux vomica (Poison nut) 12C
Frequent, sudden sneezing, watery discharge from nose and eyes, burning around nostrils, improved by cold air. Allium cepa (Red Onion) 12C
Burning discharge from nostrils, thirst for small amount of water, worse at night, improved by heat. Arsenicum album (White arsenic) 12C
Frequent, sudden cough with a sensation of nausea. Ipecacuanha (Ipecac) 12C
Frequent dry cough aggravated by heat and motion, improved by cold and rest. Bryonia alba (Bryony) 12C

Directions

First, the medicines should be matched to symptoms typically experienced by an allergy-sufferer. Next, at the onset of allergy season, it is recommended to take the determined single medicine(s): 5 pellets morning and evening. During an allergy attack, it is recommended to increase the dosage of the appropriate single(s) medicine(s): 5 pellets 3 times a day

SABADIL: This combination medicine from Boiron is a good choice when you have a set of symptoms that are not as well-defined or that are changing frequently. It comes in tablets (for ages 6 and above) and in sublingual pellets (Children’s Sabadil, for ages 2 and above).

Sabadil and Children’s Sabadil are complete multi-symptom allergy relievers. They provide safe temporary relief of hay fever or other upper respiratory allergy symptoms. It works on pollen-related allergies and also works for allergies caused by mold, pets or dust mites.

  • Relieves itchy and runny nose, sneezing, and itchy and watery eyes
  • Has no side effects, non-drowsy, non-habit forming formula
  • Does not interact with other medications
  • Doesn’t affect alertness or vigilance
  • Does not require a prescription as an over-the-counter (OTC) medicine
  • Tastes sweet
  • Available as easy-to-take melt-away pellets or quick-dissolving tablets

6 Active Ingredients: (homeopathic dilution of histamine and homeopathic dilutions of allergenic plants, onion and eyebright)

  • Allium cepa 5C (Red onion): Relieves runny nose associated with allergies (burning nasal discharge, non-burning tears), relieved by fresh air
  • Ambrosia artemisiaefolia 5C (Ragweed): Relieves spasmodic cough associated with hay fever
  • Histaminum hydrochloricum 9C: Relieves symptoms of allergic conditions; Contains homeopathic dilutions of histamine to reduce the effects of histamine that is released during allergies
  • Euphrasia officinalis 5C (Eyebright): Relieves burning, irritated eyes allergies, red eyes, feeling of sand in eyes (clear non-burning nasal discharge, burning tears); The plant is also called “glasses breaker.” This year we used close to 300 pounds. The plants are collected in September in the French Alps.
  • Sabadilla 5C (Cevadilla): Relieves sneezing associated with allergies; This is a toxic plant from Mexic with greenish flowers
  • Solidago virga aurea 5C (Goldenrod): Relieves abundant nasal discharge; It is found in dry woods of Europe

 

Warnings

Stop use and ask a doctor if symptoms persist continuously for more than 7 days or worsen.

Children 2 and younger should also be examined by a doctor before taking any treatment.

Directions: Sabadil is a good choice as a first-line treatment for allergies, especially for someone who doesn’t know much about homeopathy. Boiron’s medical advisors have combined the most useful homeopathic medicines into one formula.

Adults and children 6 years of age and older: At the onset of symptoms, dissolve 2 tablets in the mouth every 15 minutes for 1 hour. Then, dissolve 2 tablets in the mouth 3 times a day until the symptoms are relieved.  Children 2 and above: 5 pellets every 15 minutes for 1 hour. Then 5 pellets 3 times a day.

During allergy season, you can decrease your risk of allergy attacks by taking Sabadil 3 times a day.

Question: A lot of environmental conditions can affect your eyes too: Dust, ragweed, other pollens. Even wind and sand from a day at the beach can easily cause irritation. Will Sabadil work for that or is there something more specific to help with eyes?

 

Optique 1: It is an all-in-one eye drop that combats irritation, redness, and pain of eyestrain and fatigue. Optique 1 contains no vasoconstrictors or astringents, therefore there is no risk of a “rebound effect” or worsening of a condition. Some other eye drops that are commonly used to relieve “red-eye” constrict the blood vessels in the eyes to make them look whiter. Prolonged use can cause a rebound effect where the eyes actually get redder and more swollen, even after use of the product has stopped. That’s why you should only use these types of drops for a short period of time. Optique 1 works naturally and is safe for everyone in the family—even the most sensitive individuals. You can use it as often as you need without risk of overdose.

There’s also no preservative in Optique 1. That’s because it comes in individual doses that are pre-measured. It makes them more portable and easy to use. But more importantly it’s a hygienic application that guards against contamination and keeps the remaining drops sterile for future use.

Here is another trick when you use any kind of eye drops: try to never touch your eyes with the tip of the bottle, for 2 reasons:

1- if you are using a bottle that is supposed to last several day, you want it to stay as “clean” as possible, so you will not contaminate the whole bottle with an infection. Of course this is not a concern with Optique 1 since you will use a new unit dose each time.

2- if you are using it on both eyes and one of your eyes is infected, you will pass on the infection to the other one that was not so bad so far!

7 Active Ingredients:

  • Cineraria maritime 6C, 1.50% (Dusty Miller): soothes red and irritated eyes
  • Euphrasia officinalis 4X, 1.00% (Eyebright): relieves burning, irritated eyes
  • Calendula officinalis 4X, 0.25% (Marigold): relieves eye dryness associated with smoke or other airborne irritants
  • Kali muriaticum 10X, 0.25% (Potassium chloride): alleviates gritty sensation and feeling of sand in the eye; found in blood, muscles and nerve cells
  • Calcarea fluorica 10X, 0.25% (Calcium fluoride): relieves eyestrain and fatigue characterized by flickering light; it is present in large quantities in our bones and epidermis
  • Magnesia carbonica 10X, 0.25% (Magnesium carbonate): relieves sharp, flashing eye pain
  • Silicea 10X, 0.25% (Silica: sand): is for eyes hypersensitive to light and easily infected

 

Directions

Instill 1 to 2 drops, or more if needed, in the affected eye. Repeat 2 to 6 times a day, as needed.

Warnings:

Stop use and ask a doctor if you experience eye pain, changes in vision, continued redness or irritation of the eye, or if the condition worsens or persists for more than 3 days.

 

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