Oh no, ragweed season! To those of you who suffer at this particular time of year it can be a truly painful experience turning a wonderful summer into a September full of anguish. People of all ages suffer from this disease, which is labeled as an upper respiratory tract, immune hypersensitivity disease. You may go for your weekly shots, take antihistamines, or choose to suffer through this time of year. The choice is yours but as a Naturopathic Doctor I am here to inform you of some other perspectives.
Before I discuss these perspectives with you, I should first discuss the theories of allergies. The current most widely spread theory suggests that on a chemical level the ragweed is recognized by the body as being foreign. The body then reacts to the ragweed by producing an overabundance of histamines; this in turn creates symptoms described as allergic hypersensitivity, the worst of which is anaphylactic shock. The theory, which I find most adequate, suggests that on a chemical level the combination of ragweed and partially digested food substances in the blood precipitate the allergic reaction. This explains why on some days peoples reactions to ragweed and other airborne allergens is more pronounced than others while the concentration of ragweed in the air has not changed. It also explains why people react to allergens shortly after eating foods, which they are sensitive to.
Most of the groundwork in allergy treatment can be done through dietary changes. The most difficult part is determining what changes to make. This can be done in a number of different ways by:
- Monitoring the diet and symptoms
- Elimination diets
- Pulse testing
- AcuBase or electro-dermal testing
- Biological Terrain Assessment
- Eliminate Allergies Technique (E.A.T.)
These are only a few options that could be recommended and performed by your Naturopathic Doctor. In some cases, just by eliminating suspect foods allergies can be rectified while in others it takes the help of an individually designed program of:
- Prescribed homeopathic remedies
- Chinese botanicals
- Lifestyle modification
- Western botanicals
- Stress management
- Eliminate Allergy Technique (E.A.T.) etc.
In monitoring the diet and symptoms, preferably before ragweed season, you can possibly see patterns between certain foods and symptoms. These symptoms could range from physical to emotional and present themselves as:
- And in children hyperactivity
Some people can see patterns; in others the patterns may not be so obvious. In most cases their seems to be an association between the actual reaction time, your bodies internal toxicity and your bowel transit time; that is how long it takes food to be digested and then eliminated. Some people react to foods two to three days after eating them.
Another method is the pulse test, in which you monitor your food intake, pulse and symptoms. Prior to eating your meal you take your pulse (making certain not to hold your breath as this will slow your pulse) then you eat your meal, after your meal if you have any symptoms, rate the symptoms on a scale of one to ten and while these symptoms are occurring measure your pulse. If you experience symptoms your pulse will probably have risen substantially. If no symptoms are experienced and yet your pulse has increased you may have eaten a reactive food. By rating your symptoms you are better able to label extremely reactive foods.
- Whole-wheat buns
- Hamburger (organic beef)
- Barbecue sauce
- tomatoes and onions
- 2 glasses red wine
- Pulse before: 72 bpm (beats per minute)
- Pulse after: 95 bpm
- Gas 7 (1-10, 10=worst)
- Anxiety 4
- Itchy eyes 8
- Sneezing 4
- Lethargy 7
After keeping track of symptoms this way and eliminating suspect foods you may find an appreciable difference in your allergies. Some surprising side effects typically noted by patients are:
- More energy
- Balanced emotions
- Better powers of concentration
- Usually an alleviation of other symptoms
If you do not have success with the pulse test or the diet symptom test previously mentioned, keep your notes, as they will definitely provide information for your Naturopathic Doctor to better help you.
Another method is to go on a detoxification diet specifically and individually outlined by a Naturopathic Doctor. Then after a week or two of detoxification slowly start back on your typical diet noting any symptoms and only introducing a few foods each day and one food in each meal.
If you do not want to try any of the methods stated above Homeopathy has a lot to offer.
The most common remedies with their symptoms are listed below. I have summated the remedy indications so that they may be as brief and concise as possible.
SABADILLA – chilliness with sensitivity to cold, copious watery nasal discharge, itching in the nose, red runny nose, and spasmodic sneezing. All of these symptoms are improved by being exposed to the open air. There is also a constant desire to swallow, which feels better when eating warm food and drink.
ALLIUM CEPA – generally, allergies best helped with this remedy are worse in cold damp weather. The most noted symptoms are a clear, burning nasal discharge and profuse tearing. While the nasal discharge irritates the skin, the tearing does not. Both of these symptoms are worse in a warm room and better in the open air.
EUPHRASIA – the symptoms that indicate this remedy are the exact opposite of the allium cepas’ symptoms. They include a nonirritating, watery nasal discharge and copious burning tears. The nasal discharge is worse lying down and in the open air.
NUX VOMICA – allergies are worse in cold and cold, dry weather. For this remedy the mental symptoms are most indicative. The appropriate person tends to be oversensitive, irritable and easily offended.
ARSENICUM – profuse watery nasal discharge that burns the skin, the susceptible person is chilly and very restless, and the allergic symptoms are usually worse between 12 mid-night and 3 AM.
WYETHIA – is indicated for intense urgent itching at the back of the roof of the mouth. The nose, nasal passages, and throat feel dry in spite of a continuous, burning, watery flow from the nose.
POLLEN HERBS – is a complex mixture of nasal mucosa irritants formulated in a homeopathic preparation that have been proven to be very effective regardless of the symptoms indicated.
VITAMIN AND MINERAL SUPPLEMENTS that have proven very effective have been:
- Vitamin B1, indicated due to the high sugar consumption in most allergic individuals
- Niacinamide (B3) decreases histamine
- B6 supports the adrenals and anti-inflammatory hormones
- Vitamin C has antihistaminic effects
- Vitamin E inhibits mast cell degranulation which is part of the histamine release chemical pathway
- Vitamin A decreases cellular membrane permeability
- Zinc as with vitamin E inhibits mast cell degranulation
- Hydrochloric acid is well indicated for improving food digestion
- Physiotherapy done at home can provide immediate temporary relief of symptoms by immersing your eyes and/or nose in a sterile saline solution. Readily purchased from any neighbourhood pharmacy.
Eliminate Allergy Technique (E.A.T.) is a natural, non-invasive, drugless, pain-free method to eliminate hidden environmental and food allergies. E.A.T. identifies the unwanted allergen and then, through acupressure on specific body points, reprograms the body into accepting the foreign substance in safe, small quantities until the reaction is overcome. The negative, physiological reaction is relaxed and conditioned into acceptance. Speed of results will vary depending upon the individual and the extent of severity of the conditions being treated, but E.A.T. is the fastest and most reliable way to eliminate allergies for long-term success.
With some of the above recommendations individuals may easily help themselves! However self help can be costly and time consuming, leaving you with an inaccurate idea of how effective natural therapeutics can be. If you want successful long lasting results and want them reasonably quickly consult your local Naturopathic Doctor. He is highly trained to diagnose your condition and to set up an individualized therapeutic regime prescribing the appropriate therapies.