More Natural Solutions for Spring Allergies

By The Alliance for Natural Health USA (ANH-USA)

For some people, allergy season begins as early as January, when cedars are pollinating.  For most people, the prime season is spring (trees) or summer (grasses). It is not necessary to be crippled by pollen attacks. In our experience, the first natural solution offered below, even taken alone, will enable most people to put the problem behind them.

 1. MSM: The Anti-Allergy Heavyweight. Since this article is about the “big guns” of natural allergy remedies, let’s start with the bazooka: MSM (full name methylsulfonylmethane… no, we can’t pronounce  that, either). This inexpensive dietary supplement has given members of our staff and board complete relief from seasonal allergies. And the evidence isn’t just anecdotal: according to a study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, subjects who took 2600 mg of MSM found their upper and total respiratory symptoms significantly reduced within seven days, and improvement continued for all thirty days of the study.

In addition, as Dr. Mercola notes, MSM is 34% sulfur, which your body requires. Sulfur helps the body detoxify itself, and also helps produce glutathione, an important antioxidant. MSM is extremely safe and can be taken at high doses, even if one’s diet is full of MSM-rich foods. Those of our staff who found a complete relief took more than 2600 mg– up to 10,000 mg a day in divided doses. At these doses, it is often more convenient to take MSM as a powder rather than a capsule, most of which contain 1,000 mg.

It also helps to get started taking MSM before allergy season starts and then increase it. It seems to take much less MSM to keep the horse in the barn than to bring it back in. Once you are suffering a full blown, debilitating attack, you will need some time to bring your body back to balance.

As a general rule, sulfur is thought to be acid forming in the body. Since your internal acid/ alkaline balance is important for health, it doesn’t hurt and might help to eat lots of vegetables or other alkaline forming foods when taking more sulfur.

2. Butterbur. This is a favorite adjunct to MSM, just the thing to help you over the momentary pollen crisis. It is an Alpine herb which must be treated to remove a toxic ingredient, but once treated is non-toxic and can do wonders not only for allergies but also for headaches. Six double blind placebo controlled studies have validated butterbur’s benefits. A well known brand name is Petadolex.

3. Rosmarinic Acid, an herbal extract from rosemary available in supplement form from lef.org relieves allergy symptoms by dampening down the immune response.

4. A freeze-dried nettle/quercetin combo that can be further enhanced with bromelain. Bromelain acts as an anti-inflammatory, while freeze-dried nettles and quercetin are natural anti-histamines. Indeed, the earliest synthetic anti-histamines were basically knock-offs of quercetin, but with many negative side effects, such as causing drowsiness, that were not associated with the natural product. As useful as freeze-dried nettles and quercetin are, with or without bromelain, they are not cures. They help but don’t solve the problem, as in our experience MSM usually does.

5. Phleum pretense, or Timothy Grass extract, has been shown to have major immunotherapeutic effects (this means those who are exposed to the extract become desensitized to grass allergies). In fact, phleum pretense is so effective that it’s been developed into a patented drug (GRAZAX) by Big Pharma.

6. Tinospora Cordifolia is an ayurvedic superstar. One study, published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, on Tinospora cordifolia for the treatment of allergies showed relief from sneezing in 83% of patients, nasal discharge in 69% of patients, and nasal obstruction in 61%.

7. Strengthen the immune system. At the head of our list is vitamin D3, which reduces the incidence of respiratory infections. Also get plenty of complete vitamin E (not just alpha tocopherol, you want the gamma and other forms as well) and magnesium, and knock off the sugar, which greatly weakens the immune system. The Townsend Letter in its May issue, also recommended NAC (N-acetylcysteine) for immune system balance and allergy control and cited several studies. Finally, don’t forget vitamin C: studies indicate it’s a natural antihistamine, but one to be used cautiously, since too much can cause gastric upset.

8. Try a homeopathic remedy. The American Academy of Naturopathic Physicians recommends taking a homeopathic approach to some allergies: simply take an extremely diluted dose of the allergen. This small dose will act somewhat like a vaccination, “stimulating your immune system to an effective, rather than an extreme, response.” Much more study of homeopathy is needed to understand how it works, but it does work for many people.

The best part of utilizing these natural solutions to seasonal allergies? Avoiding the nasty effects of allergy drugs. We all know the most common side effects (drowsiness, dizziness, headache, loss of appetite, stomach upset, vision changes, irritability, dry mouth and nose), but there are some more serious ones as well. These include increased appetite, anxiety, depression, and even loss of libido! 

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