Treat Your Allergies at the Source

| March/April 2000

  • A Neti pot filled with warm saline solution can help soothe irritated nasal tissues.

Spring’s just around the corner—is it time to break out the picnic supplies or time to start popping antihistamines, decongestants, and steroids? Are you gearing up to plant flower beds, or are you instead practicing how to pry the tops off pill bottles?

If you suffer from allergic rhinitis, more commonly called hay fever, you’re probably focused on the latter. But these medications—which are expensive and in many cases have side effects—aren’t the only path to allergy relief.

Help for itchy eyes, headaches, sneezing, clogged sinuses, and tightness in the lungs may be as close as the colorful fruits and vegetables in your refrigerator. Air filters can help you breathe more easily at home. Nutritional supplements such as antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and anti-inflammatory herbs can quell symptoms before they start. And, best of all, a holistic allergy program can soothe your problems at their source—an imbalanced immune system.

What causes allergies?

Millions of Americans (estimates range from 10 to 17 percent of the population) suffer from allergic rhinitis. For some, the problem only occurs during one or two seasons, but for those with “perennial” allergies, the symptoms can come and go all year long.

Allergy symptoms indicate that the immune system—a complex, highly regulated system—has gotten out of balance. The symptoms resemble a bad cold that doesn’t go away. All parts of the respiratory tract can be affected, including the nose, sinuses, ears, and throat. When the lungs are involved, persistent coughing or wheezing results, a condition called asthma.

Underlying these symptoms is an inflammatory disorder—a problem that results from excessive inflammation in the body. It’s as if the eyes, nose, and lungs are “on fire.” Even though the symptoms may be confined to the respiratory tract, the whole body is involved.

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