Your eyes are streaming, your nose is itching, you’re sneezing and coughing and your skin is covered in a rash. If you are one of millions of people who suffer from an allergy you will most certainly recognise these symptoms. Unfortunately current medication only hides the allergy symptoms, they don’t get to the root of the cause. You need to fight back, and this means getting your immune system in peak condition to deal with any unwanted allergens.
Allergies, known as allergens, are born when your immune system over reacts to certain substances or chemicals in your environment. There are many thousands of different allergens around you: drugs, pollen, dust, industrial chemicals and certain foods.
How is an allergy formed?
These allergens over stimulate your immune system and sometimes, for some unknown reason, your immune system not only identifies and destroys the chemical intruder, but as a side-effect it produces toxic chemicals itself. A common such chemical is histamine, which in turn is responsible for the symptoms of an allergy.
One of the more common allergies is hay fever, caused by an adverse reaction to pollen or other plant chemicals. Symptoms can occur when an allergen causes irritation and inflammation of your eyes and nose. Up to 20 per cent of the UK population are affected by a food allergy resulting in diarrhoea, nausea and stomach upset. Contact dermatitis is an allergy to a chemical coming in contact with your skin, such as a certain brand of washing powder. Your symptoms will probably appear in the form of an itchy rash.
Conventional treatments can have bothersome and even serious side-effects
The current and most widely accepted treatment for allergies is to block the exaggerated response of your immune system. This is done with the help of steroids, which can be taken in tablet form or alternatively steroid cream can be directly applied onto the affected areas of skin.
Another treatment is to take daily antihistamine tablets, which block the histamine and in return prevents your body from generating the usual symptoms of the allergic reaction.
Conventional treatments can have irritating and sometimes even serious side-effects. In the case of steroids, these side-effects are thinning of the skin with easy bruising (when directly applied using the cream), weight gain, thinning of the bones and water retention. With antihistamine medication (such as piriton or loradatine) there is the risk of drowsiness and stomach upset. More importantly, despite both types of treatment being effective in the short-term, they do nothing to deal with the underlying cause of the allergy.
Complementary practitioners recommend a diet and lifestyle that promotes a healthy liver and bowel
One theory is that the foreign chemicals that can cause allergies are always invading your body and are usually first picked up and destroyed by your liver. But when your liver is unable to function properly (due to gallstones, too much alcohol, an infection or just being run down) then it allows these foreign chemicals to escape and allergies become more likely. Also, allergens can enter your body through your bowel, which normally filters out any toxins but can, on occasions, allow some damaging material to pass through.
Many complementary practitioners are now heavily recommending a healthy lifestyle and diet that boosts your immune system and especially the health of your liver and bowel. Its strongly recommended that you follow a good diet containing fresh fruit and vegetables, body cleansing, physical exercises and other natural therapies can all help in the fight against allergies.
Three herbal answers to help alleviate your allergies
Limu Moui is a sea plant with immune-boosting properties. Found in the waters off the coast of Tonga, Limu is a type of seaweed that contains several natural chemicals and nutrients that support your immune function. This plants main ingredient is fucoidan. Fucoidan plays an important role as it can stimulate several components of your immune system, such as natural killer cells and B-cells (whose job it is to identify foreign bugs and destroy them) for an effective elimination of allergens. It can also reduce allergies by stimulating the production of interleukin and interferon (these are proteins produced by your immune cells) which help to suppress the overproduction of the chemicals causing allergic reactions. In addition Limu helps the liver cells produce growth chemicals, which stimulate and nourish your liver. The recommended dose is 1 oz taken daily.
Co-enzyme Q10 is made naturally by your body and levels can be boosted regularly by eating plenty of fresh sardines, liver, eggs, spinach and broccoli etc. However, research shows that the natural levels of co-enzyme Q10 are low in people with allergies. Co-enzyme Q10 supplements can double your body’s level of protective antibodies which in turn will boost your immune systems barrier against chemicals called free radicals, therefore allowing your immune cells to function at peak capacity. The beneficial effects of Co-enzyme Q10 on preventing allergies were known for several years, although it is only recently that renewed scientific interest in its anti-allergic properties has been revived. The recommended dosage for Co-enzyme Q10 is 30 mg a day.
Sterols, also known as phytosterols, are beneficial fats present in all plants, fruits and vegetables, but its in nuts and seeds where you can find the richest source of sterols. Sterols are chemically similar to cholesterol, but they have been shown to have many positive effects on health. Scientific studies have shown that sterols are anti-inflammatory and contain immune-boosting chemicals. They dampen the body’s response to allergen exposure and in return, they reduce the symptoms of an allergy.
Sterols help certain components of your immune system called T-helper lymphocytes. These are special cells responsible for keeping the allergens under control. In this way, sterols can be used to avoid the overreaction of the immune system (which is what happens when an allergen enters your body) and as a result, the symptoms of an allergy are reduced. The recommended dose for sterols is two to three grams a day.
In addition to plant remedies, there are many complementary therapies that can help reduce the symptoms of allergies
Tai chi, yoga and meditation both regulate and balance the immune system. You can also eliminate certain foods from your diet that can frequently cause allergies, such as; peanuts, eggs, strawberries, wheat and citrus fruit. If you wish to alleviate your allergies then these are best avoided. Instead, eat more oily fish, oats and green leafy vegetables, which contain sterols, vitamins and other antioxidants that protect your immune system.
Did you find this information useful?
Then why not get more expert health recommendations just like this delivered direct to your inbox?
"It is truly refreshing to read a newsletter on the topic of alternative medicine which is scientifically based and reviewed by professionals..." - Robert SinottWe respect your privacy and will never share your details with anyone else.
Disclaimer: Bear in mind the material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.
Br J Pharmacol. 2001 Dec;134(7):1498-504
Bratisl Lek Listy. 2002;103(10): 353-6
Biofactors. 1988 Dec;1(4):303-6
Altern Med Rev. 1999 Jun;4(3):170-7