Do you or someone you love suffer from seasonal allergies?
Itchy, swollen eyes, stuffy nose, sore throat, fatigue, sneezing... I have such vivid memories as a kid of my mom putting eye drops in my eyes, having to take my chewable Claritin before school, and hoping for the best while I played outside with my friends at school (and then suffering the consequences with the above symptoms.) That feeling of being excited that the weather is warm and sunny after the cold NY winter, but simultaneously being afraid of the spring!
I solely relied on allergy medicine that often didn't do much for me, and of course wasn't going to actually HEAL anything, but rather suppress the symptoms with medication.
As you likely know, my skin journey led me down the holistic medicine path, opening my eyes to natural healing and alternatives to Western conventional medicine. This slowly trickled down to every aspect in my life, so it got me thinking about my seasonal allergies as well.
Are my allergies related to gut health and other organs, rather than just the pollen? If I build my immune system can I heal them? What can I take instead of medication? Will I be stuck with them forever? Why do people even get allergies? Can seasonal allergies be healed?
If you know me in real life, you know that I am curious about everything natural healing related, and love learning + researching to find answers to my questions!
In this blog post, I'll first share the tips that I've learned for diet, lifestyle, and supplement support for seasonal allergies (ie: the Health Coach perspective.) And then we'll dive deeper with juicy questions answered by an amazing Acupunturist- Dr Ariella Koplen, addressing the why and hows, and her recommendations (ie: the Medical perspective).
Diet, Lifestyle, Supplement reccs:
Fruit and veggies: Fruit such as apples, berries, citrus, strawberries, papaya, kiwi for vitamin C, antioxidant (flavonoids), anti-inflammatory, cleansing, and hydrating. Plus natural quercetin in apples, leafy greens, cruciferous veggies.
Peppers, broccoli, onion, garlic for NAC, vitamin C, and anti bacterial properties, as well as ginger, honey, turmeric.
Avoid dairy (mucus producing), and high histamine foods such as alcohol (especially beer), fermented foods (yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha), dried fruit, hot dogs/salami type meats...
Clear Nasal pathways. With a nasal spray and/or a Netti pot. (Fave spray)
Clean Air. Invest in air purifier, remove shoes at the door, vacuum and dust regularly.
Good Sleep + exercise.
Reduce stress. Impacts your nervous system and immune system, which impacts reactivity.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Approach to Seasonal Allergies:
Q & A with Dr. Ariella Koplen, DACM, LAc .
1. Why do people get seasonal allergies?
Is there a root cause for it? Is it a symptom of a deeper issue? or are some people just cursed to be allergic to pollen/trees/grass...?
According to Chinese medicine, when a person suffers with seasonal allergies, we know that there is a problem with their “wei qi” or their defensive qi . In western medical terms, you can think of wei qi as your immune system, your first line of defense against external pathogens. Weakened wei qi is rooted in underlying disharmonies in the body, which explains why some people experience allergies and others do not. Wei qi is governed by the lungs, the internal organ which most closely interacts with the external environment.
Therefore, we most commonly see allergies that stem from an imbalance or weakness of lung qi, and/or a qi deficiency in its paired organ, the spleen (the small intestine and pancreas in Western terms). Imbalances in the lungs can manifest as symptoms anywhere in the respiratory tract but can also affect the skin and the overall energy levels. A weakness of the spleen will lead to what we call “dampness” in the body which can result in mucus or phlegm that tends to collect in the lungs due to their close relationship. Dampness can also be associated with symptoms of fatigue, poor concentration, itching, bloating and other GI issues.
There are many other possible diagnoses at the root of allergy symptoms but lung qi deficiency and spleen qi deficiency are commonly involved and directly create typical allergy symptoms like runny nose, sinus congestion, fogginess, and itching.
2. True or false, people can heal from seasonal allergies?
True! It doesn’t happen overnight but with a proper diagnosis, consistent treatment with acupuncture and/or herbs, and appropriate lifestyle and dietary changes, especially in the months BEFORE allergy season arrives, the body can be strengthened and balanced. While treating the root may take a while, symptoms can still be be addressed with pretty immediate results with acupuncture.
3. What are your top recommendations for people (children and adults!) who suffer with seasonal allergies?
Get acupuncture! An acupuncturist can determine your individual underlying imbalances and work on correcting them and strengthening weakened systems and regulating your immune response.
Modify your diet. I recommend cutting back on dairy (with the exception of a good quality organic Greek yogurt), avoiding large amounts of raw vegetables, and iced drinks. Include warming foods like fresh ginger and cinnamon, mildly sweet and cooked foods like squash, grains, and fruits, and get in lots of dark leafy greens, especially in the springtime.
Include daily probiotics! This can support your immune system, reduce inflammation, and improve allergic rhinitis.
This may seem like a lot of information at once, but the good news is the body CAN heal!
If you're trying to heal from seasonal allergies, choose three takeaways that you can implement now, to get the ball rolling.
I love learning more about holistic, natural medicine, because the focus is on the body's innate ability to heal, rather than just prescribing "a pill for every ill". When given the support it needs, our bodies can do incredible things!
I hope you found this helpful and feel hopeful about being able to enjoy the Spring!
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