4 Powerful Answers For Allergy Sufferers
Approximately 30 percent of men suffer from allergies. Whether we’re talking about seasonal allergies, allergies to pet dander, or otherwise, if you’re one of the sufferers, you know that “unpleasant” is an understatement.
Allergy medication is the go-to solution for many men. However, as we’ve seen in a recent article, some allergy medications are linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. And all medications come with risk and side effects. Is there a safer, natural, effective solution?
In this article we look at natural solutions that have been shown to be effective in reducing or eliminating allergies.
What Are Allergies?
Did you ever wonder what causes allergies? Understanding how allergies work can help to understand what can offer relief.
An allergy is an immune response to pollen or other allergen (dander, food, etc.). What that means is that it’s not the pollen (or other allergen) that directly causes your symptoms. It’s your own body.
Most of the time pollen is completely benign for most people. But some people become sensitized to pollen so that their bodies react as if the pollen was an infectious disease. Allergies are the body overreacting because it thinks that pollen is harmful. The mucous, inflammation, running nose, itchy eyes, and so forth are the immune response of your own body.
The same is true whether we’re talking about an allergy to pollen or to any other allergen. And therefore, the solutions are the same as well.
One of the ways in which the immune system reacts in allergies is by releasing something called histamine. Histamine is an important part of the body’s immune system as well as maintaining healthy blood vessels and healthy erections. So you want some histamine being released. But during an allergic reaction too much histamine is released, and that causes many of the symptoms.
Read on, and we’ll see what you can do.
An Apple A Day Keeps the Allergies Away
The old saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” may be true of allergies as well. Or, at least, one of the substances found in apples is proven to have that effect. That substance is called quercetin.
Quercetin, which is what is known as a bioflavonoid. Bioflavonoids are plant chemicals that have beneficial health effects in humans. Quercetin in particular is beneficial for moderating histamine release.
Quercetin is not necessarily a quick fix, however, In order to receive the benefits most people find that they have to increase quercetin intake for 4-6 weeks. However, others report that supplemental quercetin during or just prior to exposure to known allergens reduces or eliminates the symptoms.
Although apples do contain quercetin, the amount is fairly low. The very best food sources are capers, lovage, dill, and cilantro. Still, you’d have to eat quite a lot of those foods to receive a substantial amount of quercetin. So most people use supplemental quercetin. Most experts recommend around 200 mg of quercetin twice a day for seasonal allergies or to relieve symptoms.
Although quercetin is natural, that doesn’t mean that large amounts long term will be safe. In test tubes, more than 1000 mg of quercetin at a time can damage kidney tissue. And the long term effects of large amounts of supplemental quercetin are unknown. So use quercetin for seasonal allergies or for occasional allergies. It’s much safer than Benadryl. But to say safe, don’t use it every day year round.
The stinging nettle plant has a long history of use as food, medicine, and fiber. If you’ve ever touched a stinging nettle plant then you will remember because the tiny hairs on the leaves and stalk inject, among other things, histamine, into the skin, producing a stinging sensation.
It may seem odd that a plant that causes irritation could also be used to treat similar allergic irritation. However, that is the case. Nettle has long been used to treat allergies, and science has validated this use. Although the effect is only modest, several double blind, randomized human studies (considered to be the gold standard of studies) show that nettle leaf can reduce allergic reactions.
Don’t worry about the stinging, however. Only fresh plants have that effect. Once cooked, blended, or dried, nettle no longer stings. You can find stinging nettle (the Latin name is Urtica dioica) in several convenient forms in many grocery stores, pharmacies, or natural food stores. Encapsulated products are the most convenient. But dried leaves can also be steeped and strained like tea to have the benefits as well.
For seasonal pollen allergies, one of the methods that many people rely upon is local honey. This approach has not been validated by science, but so many people have success with it that it is a worthy consideration.
Honey does contain quercetin, but the amounts are unlikely to account for honey’s anti-allergy effects. A more likely explanation is that the pollen found in honey can help to desensitize those who are overly sensitive to them. And for that reason, many people insist that only local honey will do.
When looking for honey, look for a high quality honey that crystallizes. A researcher from Texas A&M found that the majority of store bought honey contained no detectable pollen - a fact that leads many to suspect that much of the “honey” for sale isn’t really honey. Unfiltered, real honey will naturally begin to crystallize sooner or later, and will no longer be pourable. If you can source honey directly from a local beekeeper, that’s the best bet.
Ironically, some people do have allergic reactions to honey and bee products! So if you are one of them, honey may not be for you.
The aforementioned solutions are most likely to provide temporary or seasonal relief rather than permanent relief. They all have the advantage of being completely natural as well as being things that you can do on your own without a doctor. However, there is one final solution that I’d like to share with you that has the potential to offer life long relief to specific allergens. The downside is that as of now, this solution does require that you work with a doctor.
A treatment called sublingual immunotherapy, called SLIT, has been used in Europe and many other parts of the world for more than half a century. It is widely accepted most everywhere other than the United States, and for that reason, most of us have never heard of it.
The regulatory bodies of many other countries have approved SLIT for use, and even the World Health Organization recognizes SLIT as an effective treatment for allergies. However, the FDA has only very recently approved the very first SLIT medicine for use. Meanwhile, until the FDA gets its act together, you’ll need to work with a doctor familiar with SLIT who can prescribe to you a SLIT medicine off-label.
The way SLIT works is this. Very small amounts of the allergen are taken under the tongue either in the form of a tablet or a drop. This is done repeatedly over time until one is effectively desensitized to the allergen. At that point, the allergy will be relieved long term.
The drawback of SLIT is that the medicines are allergen-specific. So you have to work with a doctor to determine what the specific allergens are. Then the doctor can prescribe the medicines. The medicines are reportedly completely natural, containing only the allergen (pollen, dander, etc.) and water. The medicines may be mixed with something such as glycerin as a natural preservative.
If you are interested in SLIT, look for a doctor in your area who is knowledgeable and who will prescribe you the medicines off-label. Off-label use is legal. And studies show SLIT to be very safe. However, you should work with a knowledgeable doctor to understand the process fully.
Allergies can be more than a minor inconvenience. They can interfere with your quality of life. But as we’ve seen, allergy drugs may cause more harm than good. Stick with safer, natural solutions as outlined in this article. For irregular symptom relief, consider quercetin or nettle. Local honey may provide relief from seasonal allergies. And sublingual immunotherapy shows promise for safe and natural long term relief.