Say Goodbye to Allergies


Swelling, bloating, sneezing, red eyes, runny nose, coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, itching, heartburn, hives.... allergies are ruining our lives. But you can manage your reactions with herbs. Allergies are another term for a hyper-reaction of the immune system to a trigger. It is more accurately termed an intolerance because your immune system has a very low tolerance for particular triggers. In allergic individuals, the immune system has been "armed" with receptor sites for antibodies specific to a particular allergen. When you encounter the allergen or something that mimics the allergen, your body releases mediators that produce inflammation and subsequent reactions.

The most common allergies are to animal dander, chemicals or dust. Many patients will react even when there is no obvious allergen present. Eczemas such as dermatitis and winter itch can produce symptoms so severe that the skin can crack and bleed. Part of the problem here is that the integrity of the skin weakens as a result of dehydration and lack of essential fatty acids. The skin is intimately connected to the liver and is an alternative pathway for elimination when one of the other normal pathways is blocked such as the lungs, bowels or kidneys. Increasing the efficiency of the affected pathway will help to reduce the stress placed on the skin by the overloaded system.

Food intolerances generally begin as a response to a serious insult to the gastrointestinal system such as food poisoning, giardia, Salmonella or H. Pylori. Often the system never recovers fully and the body continues to react to any challenge. This can especially be a problem depending on the general diet followed by the individual. For instance, fruits, vegetables and other raw foods contain large amounts of natural bacteria which can trigger allergic reactions in those who have suffered from bacterial gut infections in the past. In vegetarians or vegans, their diet may include a majority of raw foods, making their bacterial intake constant. At the same time, many vegetarians and vegans have reduced levels of hydrochloric acid production in the stomach due to the loss of heavy protein digestion. HCl is also responsible to kill incoming bacterial loads in foods, making vegetarians and vegans susceptible to bacterial re-infection.

There are also studies indicating that the immune factors of expectant mothers are passed on to their infants. One such study indicates that infants have nearly twice the risk of developing eczema if their mothers had asthma or eczema during their pregnancy. These same infants may also have issues with cow’s milk and require an alternative. Children’s sensitive systems are developing throughout their early years and many children’s systems exhibit gut sensitivity due to premature birth and early assault to the intestinal system. With children it is important to evaluate and eliminate additives, flavourings, colourings, wheat, dairy, yeast and salicylates.

So the first step to any allergy is to balance digestion. Here are the best options:

* Reduced gastric acid secretion — barberry, gentian, golden seal. * Feeling of food sitting in the stomach — barberry, gentian, golden seal. * Excessive burping, bloating and flatulence — barberry, gentian, golden seal. * Heartburn, reflux — golden seal, marshmallow root, meadowsweet, slippery elm. * Sluggish bowels/constipation — butternut, cascara, dandelion root, golden seal, flaxseed, yellow dock. Also use gentian and whole food fiber. * Explosive bowels/loose diarrhea — meadowsweet, chamomile, slippery elm. * Abdominal cramping/pain — chamomile, cramp bark, licorice. * Irritable bowel syndrome — boswellia, chamomile, cramp bark, valerian, wild yam.

Often it is necessary to address nervous system triggers such as nervous stomach, intestinal cramping and even hives. Skullcap, St. John’s Wort, Withania, Eleuthero and Valerian are perfect for this.

Salicylate sensitivity is to be blamed if patients complain of symptoms worsening in the summer. This is often because the foods that have large amounts of salicylates are summer foods such as strawberries, tomatoes, peaches and apricots. Symptoms that are salicylate-based are sinus issues including congestion, headache and infection; gut problems such as heartburn, abdominal cramping, pain, diarrhea and burning of the anus; skin symptoms of hives, pimple-like rash on the face, neck and arms or simply itchy skin; joint pains and even asthma.

The first thing is to remove all foods containing salicylates and then begin herbal treatment after two weeks with low-salicylate herbs such as Rehmannia, Dandelion Root and Celery Seed.

Then it’s formulating a treatment protocol based on the needs of the individual to balance their allergic reaction. Here are my favorite suggestions:

Upper Gastrointestinal Herbs for stomach — Barberry, Gentian, Golden seal Meadowsweet.

Lower Gastrointestinal Herbs for sluggish bowels — Buternut, Dandelion, Flaxseed, Licorice, Slippery Elm, Yellow Dock, Cascara.

Anti-inflammatory Herbs — Boswellia, Bupleurum, Licorice, Rehmannia

Nervine Tonics to relax the nervous system response — Chamomile, Passion flower, Skullcap, St. John’s Wort, Valerian, Wood Betony.

Adaptogens for the adrenal glands to handle stress — Bupleurum, Eleuthero, Gotu Kola, Licorice, Rehmannia.

Blood Purifiers and herbs to increase the elimination of toxins from the body tissues — Burdock, Dandelion root, Figwort, Fringe Tree, Oregon Grape, Red Clover, Cleavers.

Herbs to increase detoxification through the urinary tract — Burdock, Cleavers, Dandelion Leaves, Figwort, Heartsease, Red Clover.

Antiallergic Herbs — Albizia, Baical Skullcap, Licorice, Rehmannia.

Antioxidant Herbs to reduce the oxidative damage from inflammation — Cat’s Claw, Chaparral, Crataeva, Ginger, Ginkgo, Grape Seed, Green Tea, Propolis, Reishi, Rosemary, Schisandra, Skullcap, Milk Thistle, Turmeric.

Topical application of herbs to reduce inflammation of the skin and reduce itching — Aloe, Calendula, Chamomile, Chickweed, Comfrey, Lavender, St. John’s Wort.

Antioxidant Antiallergenic Foods — Garlic, Linoleic Acid, Olive Oil, Plums, Red Wine, Sesame Seeds, Tempeh, Wheat Grass.